According to the plan by the Emergency Committee to Prevent the Outbreak of the Coronavirus, the working hours of Afghan government offices will be set from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, and government employees will be going to work in two shifts on even and odd days.
In this plan, the National Statistics and Information Authority and the Kabul Municipality, due to the high volume of customer demand, are exceptions, and their employees must be present at work every day.
In addition, the authorities have decided to keep public and private schools and universities close until August 5th, and their gradual reopening after the 5th of August will depend on the results of the Ministry of Public Health’s investigation into the general health situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The reopening of public and private schools and universities requires the views of the Ministry of Public Health, and if the ministry deems it appropriate, the government will decide on the gradual reopening of educational centers, said Sarwar Danesh, the second vice president. According to Danesh, the health and well-being of students is their priority.
At today’s meeting of the Emergency Committee to Prevent the Outbreak of the Coronavirus, the plan to start cricket sports competitions without spectators was presented and approved.
The representative of the national cricket board said that they want the resumption of the tournament, considering that the sport of cricket is played in an open atmosphere and the social distance is naturally observed in this sport.
He added that they hold the matches without spectators, but efforts are being made to broadcast the matches live on television and social media so that people can watch it.
COVID-19 victims among the bodies dumped in India’s Ganges
Bodies of COVID-19 victims have been found dumped in some Indian rivers, a state government letter seen by Reuters says, in the first official acknowledgement of the alarming practice, which it said may stem from poverty and fear of the disease in remote areas.
Images of corpses drifting down the Ganges river, which is considered holy in Hinduism, have shocked the country, reeling under the world’s worst surge in COVID-19 cases.
Although media reports have linked the increase in the number of bodies found floating in the river and its tributaries in recent days to the pandemic, India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, home to 240 million people, has until now not publicly revealed the cause of the deaths, Reuters reported.
“The administration has information that bodies of those who have succumbed to COVID-19 or any other disease are being thrown into rivers instead of being disposed of as per proper rituals,” a senior state official, Manoj Kumar Singh, said in a letter dated May 14 to district heads that was reviewed by Reuters.
“As a result, bodies have been recovered from rivers in many places.”
Singh was not immediately reachable for comment.
The acknowledgment comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called on officials to strengthen healthcare resources in rural areas and step up surveillance as the virus spreads rapidly in those areas after ravaging the cities.
Uttar Pradesh, home to more people than Brazil or Pakistan, has been badly hit by India’s dramatic second surge in COVID-19 cases. Health experts say many cases are now going undetected in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, where most of its people live.
Singh in the memo to district heads said a lack of funds to buy materials like firewood for cremation, religious beliefs in some communities, and families abandoning COVID-19 victims for fear of the disease, were among the likely reasons for the surge in body dumpings, Reuters reported.
He asked village-level officials to ensure no corpses are thrown into water and said the state government would pay poor families of the dead 5,000 rupees ($68) each to cremate or bury bodies. The state has also asked police to patrol rivers to stop the practice.
India has been officially reporting around 4,000 deaths each day from the disease for nearly two weeks, but health experts say the toll is likely much higher due to poor testing in rural areas and other factors.
The jump in deaths has in many places led to backlogs at crematoriums and multiplied the cost of last rites.
Uttar Pradesh spokesman Navneet Sehgal on Saturday denied local media reports that as many as 2,000 corpses of potential COVID-19 victims had been recovered from rivers in the state and neighbouring Bihar in recent days.
“We keep recovering 10 to 20 bodies every now and then,” Sehgal told Reuters, adding that some riverside villages did not cremate their dead due to Hindu traditions during some periods of religious significance.
Bihar officials did not respond to requests for comment.
India’s daily COVID-19 deaths near 4,000 as WHO flags concern
India reported a smaller rise in daily coronavirus infections on Saturday, but deaths stayed near the 4,000 mark, with the World Health Organisation warning that the second year of the pandemic could be worse than the first.
Reuters reported that over the past 24 hours, India had 326,098 new coronavirus infections for its lowest rise in nearly three weeks, taking the tally to 24.37 million, along with 3,890 deaths.
But the slow growth may reflect lower test rates, which are at their lowest since May 9.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization’s chief said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern, Reuters reported.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s remarks to an online meeting on Friday came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm over the rapid spread of the disease through the vast countryside.
During the past week, the south Asian nation has added about 1.7 million new cases and more than 20,000 deaths. Its death toll stands at 266,207, health ministry data shows.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country would accelerate its vaccination programme, to try to contain a fast-spreading Indian variant that could knock off-track the re-opening of Britain’s economy, Reuters reported.
Johnson’s comments came soon after India accepted a government panel’s recommendation for a longer gap of 12 to 16 weeks between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, from six to eight weeks now.
Cases have fallen steadily in states hit by an initial surge in infections, such as the richest state of Maharashtra and the northern state of Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns.
But the eastern state of West Bengal, which held elections recently, experienced its biggest single-day spike, suggesting a fall in the overall caseload may take a while.
Infections in Modi’s western home state of Gujarat fell below 10,000 after four straight weeks but officials warned against any relaxation in curbs until they return to levels seen before the breakout of India’s second wave in mid-February, Reuters reported.
WHO urges rich countries to donate shots instead of vaccinating children
The World Health Organization urged rich countries on Friday to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to the COVAX scheme that shares them with poorer nations.
The WHO is hoping more countries will follow France and Sweden in donating shots to COVAX after inoculating their priority populations to help address a gulf in vaccination rates.
Canada and the United States are among countries that have authorised vaccines for use in adolescents in recent weeks. However, a WHO official said talks with Washington on sharing doses were under way.
“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to #COVAX,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual meeting in Geneva.
COVAX, which has delivered around 60 million doses so far, has struggled to meet supply targets partly because of Indian export restrictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine due to its growing epidemic.
So far, around 1.26 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally.
Tedros also said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm over the rapid spread of the coronavirus through India’s vast countryside on Friday, as the country’s official tally of infections crossed 24 million and over 4,000 people died for the third straight day.
More than 160.71 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and nearly 3.5 million have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
WHO officials urged caution in lifting measures that contain transmission, such as mask wearing, and warned that more variants were bound to be detected.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks outdoors and could avoid wearing them indoors in most places.
“Very few countries are at the point where they can drop these measures,” said Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
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