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COVID-19

COVID-19 deaths in Latin America surpass 1 million as outbreak worsens

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(Last Updated On: May 22, 2021)

The death toll from COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean passed 1 million people on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic worsening in the part of the world with the highest per capita death rate.

From the dusty highlands of Bolivia to the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo, the pandemic has swamped underfunded healthcare systems after spreading fast across nations where many people survive hand-to-mouth and have been unable to enter lockdown.

In Peru, among the hardest hit nations in the region, COVID-19 patients have died in crowded hospital corridors of the capital Lima. Deep in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, many residents of the city of Manaus have died at home with no oxygen to fill damaged lungs, after supplies ran out there this year, Reuters reported.

With cases falling in Europe, Asia and North America, and flat in Africa, South America is the only region where new infections are rising rapidly on a per capita basis, according to Our World in Data. Although India is currently struggling through one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the pandemic.

On average in May, 31% of the COVID-19 deaths in the world have been in Latin America and the Caribbean – home to just 8.4% of the global population.

Doctors and epidemiologists say the coronavirus pandemic took unprepared governments by surprise last year and its impact has been worsened by leaders who downplayed its gravity and failed to secure timely vaccine supplies.

The top eight countries registering the most COVID-19 deaths per capita over the past week were all in Latin America, Reuters reported.

“Instead of preparing for the pandemic, we minimized the disease, saying the tropical heat would deactivate the virus,” said Dr. Francisco Moreno Sanchez, head of the COVID-19 program at one of Mexico’s main hospitals and a critic of the government’s vaccination plan.

“Unfortunately, we are among the most-affected regions, where the handling of the pandemic has been the most mistaken, and now we are suffering the consequences,” the epidemiologist told Reuters.

Brazil Hard Hit

With the death toll steadily mounting, grave diggers in several countries have been forced to expand cemeteries with row after row of new tombs. In a break with the region’s predominantly Catholic traditional culture, dead are often buried with few or no relatives there to say goodbye, Reuters reported.

Most of the deaths – more than 446,000 – have occurred in Brazil, which became a coronavirus epicenter this year with the second-deadliest outbreak outside the United States, though it appears likely to be surpassed soon by India.

Brazil recorded 2,215 new deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Friday, pushing Latin America’s total to over 1 million COVID-19 fatalities.

COVID-19

Universities to reopen once students and staff have been vaccinated

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday that the ministries of public health, higher education and education have agreed that class-based lectures for university and college students will gradually resume over the next two weeks.

The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) said that the first step will see all students and teaching staff get COVID-19 vaccines before classes resume.

“Class-based lessons will restart gradually at all institutions registered with the MoHE,” said Hamid Obaidi, spokesman for the MoHE adding that classes will first resume in provinces that have a low coronavirus infection rate.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said that school examinations will start during this solar month.

According to the ministry, a decision has yet to be made on resuming classroom lessons for school students.

“The examination process will take time because we want to hold exams in many shifts to avoid large gatherings,” said Najiba Arian, a spokeswoman for the MoE.

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that the impact of people having travelled around the country over Eid al-Adha will also determine the COVID-19 situation within the next week.

This comes after the MoPH reported 32 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours across Afghanistan.

The MoPH said 203 new infections were registered in the mentioned time.

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COVID-19

Olympics-Athlete COVID-19 infections rise in Tokyo

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(Last Updated On: July 18, 2021)

Tokyo Olympics organisers on Sunday reported three new cases of COVID-19 infection among athletes, up from one new case a day earlier, as the population of the athlete’s village swells ahead of the start of the pandemic-hit Games next week.

Organisers reported 10 new cases connected to the Olympics including media, contractors and other personnel, down from 15 on Saturday.

An International Olympic Committee member from South Korea tested positive for the coronavirus on landing in Tokyo. Ryu Seung-min, a former Olympic athlete, is vaccinated, reflecting the infection risk even from vaccinated attendees.

Infection rates are climbing among the general population of the capital, topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese oppose holding the Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.

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COVID-19

First COVID case found at athletes’ village, stoking fears ahead of Olympics

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(Last Updated On: July 17, 2021)

Tokyo Olympics organisers said on Saturday a person has tested positive for COVID-19 at the athletes’ village, the first case at a site where most competitors will be staying, raising new doubts over promises of a “safe and secure” Games.

The organisers confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games had tested positive during a routine test on Friday, Reuters reported.

The person’s nationality was not revealed due to privacy concerns.

The Summer Olympics are taking place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.

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