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COVID-19

Afghanistan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2021)

Afghanistan officially launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Tuesday aimed at immunizing hundreds of thousands of people across the country. 

Health workers, Afghan Security Forces members, and journalists were the first volunteers to get doses of the Indian-made Covishield vaccine in a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the campaign, President Ashraf Ghani stated: “Efforts are underway to provide Coronavirus vaccine to cover 40 percent of the population in the second round.” 

India donated 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.

The Public Health Ministry said that 250,000 people – mostly health workers and Afghan security forces and media workers – would be inoculated in the first stage.

Acting Health Minister Waheed Majroh stated: “The fair implementation of the Corona vaccine is the main responsibility of the Ministry of Public Health, and we call on the public, civil society, and the media to cooperate with the Ministry in terms of implementing this responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Ambassador to Kabul Rudrendra Tandon called for global solidarity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “The Outbreak of Coronavirus has had serious effects on the world. In addition to grave economic impacts, it left casualties; therefore, it is impossible to fight COVID-19 without global solidarity,” Tandon stated.

 Afghanistan has officially registered 55,646 COVID-19 cases and 2,430 deaths

COVID-19

Australia suffers deadliest day of pandemic as Omicron drives up hospital cases

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic on Tuesday as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak continued to push up hospitalization rates to record levels, even as daily infections eased slightly.

Australia is dealing with its worst COVID-19 outbreak, fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that has put more people in hospitals and intensive care than at any time during the pandemic, Reuters reported.

A total of 77 deaths was recorded, exceeding the previous national high of 57 last Thursday, official data showed.

“Today, is a very difficult day for our state,” New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said during a media briefing as the state reported 36 deaths, a new pandemic high.

Only four of those who died in NSW had received their booster shot, prompting the state’s health officials to urge people to avoid delays and get their third dose soon. Thirty-three were double-dosed.

“There needs to be a sense of urgency in embracing the booster doses,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said. “For Omicron, we know that the protection is lower and we need that next boosting to get that higher level of protection.”

To help public hospitals cope, the federal government has activated a plan for private hospitals to provide up to 57,000 nurses and more than 100,000 staff to Omicron-affected areas around the country, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

While authorities usually do not specify the coronavirus variant that leads to deaths, officials have said most patients in intensive care were infected with the Omicron strain, with unvaccinated young people forming a “significant number”.

Queensland said none of Tuesday’s record 16 deaths in the state had received booster shots. Of the 45 people who have died in the state due to COVID-19 since Dec. 13, only one had received their third dose.

“Please come forward and get your booster, we know that it makes a difference,” state Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

About 73,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday, down from a high of 150,000 last Thursday. So far, Australia has reported about 1.6 million infections since the pandemic began, of which around 1.3 million were in the last two weeks. Total deaths stood at 2,776.

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COVID-19

Afghanistan unable to detect omicron variant: health ministry

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Public Health Ministry officials said Monday that Afghanistan’s health sector does not have the medical equipment needed to detect the newly mutated version of the coronavirus and as such, they have no idea how many people are infected with the omicron variant.

While the case number in Afghanistan is lower compared to neighboring countries, the ministry of health says the latest data put the number of cases at 40. However, it’s not known how many have the omicron variant.

“We have problems to identify the new variant of COVID-19. We call on the international community to help us. They vowed that they will continues their help,” said Javid Hazher, spokesman for the ministry of public health.

Meanwhile, staff at the Afghan-Japan Hospital, the main COVID-19 treatment center in Kabul, said that between 15 and 20 patients seek treatment at the hospital daily, however they are not able to detect the variant.

“So far, the mutated type of COVID-19 has not been identified because we have not received the diagnostic device and we have asked the Ministry of Health to make the device available as soon as possible,” said Mohammad Anil, HR director of the hospital.

Members of the public meanwhile have called on the ministry to take special measures to help curb the spread of the virus – which is currently in its 4th wave in the country.

“It has been 15 days that my mother is sick and we are satisfied with the hospital but we ask people to not go outside without wearing masks and washing their hands,” said Mohammad Juma, one Kabul resident.

“People should wear masks, and this is Islamic law, when we pray and wash our hands, we do not get sick,” said Mohammad Arif, another resident.

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COVID-19

Beijing orders travellers to take COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in city – state media

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2022)

Chinese travellers into Beijing from Jan. 22 to end-March are required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival in the city, Beijing Daily, a government newspaper reported on Sunday.=

China has reported local cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in at least five provinces and municipalities, including a first infection in Beijing itself on Saturday, just weeks ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in February, Reuters reported.

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