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COVID tragedy unfolding in India as Ganges festival continues

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

India’s new coronavirus infections hit a record high on Wednesday, as crowds of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival despite oxygen shortages and strict curbs in other areas.

The country reported 184,372 new cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, taking total infections to 13.9 million. Deaths rose by 1,027, to a total of 172,085.

Despite the spike in infections, hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges river on Wednesday, the third key day of the weeks-long Kumbh Mela – or pitcher festival.

Reuters quoted Sanjay Gunjyal, the inspector general of police at the festival, as having said around 650,000 people had bathed on Wednesday morning.

“People are being fined for not following social distancing in non-crowded ghats (bathing areas), but it is very hard to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said.

There was little evidence of social distancing or mask-wearing, according to a Reuters witness.

More than one thousand cases have been reported in Haridwar district in the last two days, according to government data.

From reporting less than 10,000 cases per day earlier this year, India has been the world’s worst-hit country since April 2 by new daily cases, with the government blaming a widespread failure to heed curbs on movement and social interaction.

Reuters reported that India’s richest state Maharashtra, the epicentre of the nation’s second wave, which accounts for about a quarter of the country’s cases, is due to impose stringent restrictions from Wednesday to try to contain the spread.

Elsewhere, overstretched private hospitals are turning patients away, placing an increasing burden on government facilities.

In the western state of Gujurat, local media showed a long queue of ambulances waiting outside Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, with some patients being treated there while they waited.

A hospital source, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, said this was because a lot of private hospitals were short of oxygen and were sending their patients to the public hospital, Reuters reported.

This comes after cases have risen exponentially over the past week.

According to Gulf News, patients are also being given oxygen in waiting rooms, lobby areas in hospitals were being converted into COVID wards, doctors in the country’s top hospital were sick en masse and the gas furnace grills at crematoriums were melting with bodies piling up at cremation centres.

Gulf News also reported that this comes amid relentless outrage and questioning – from citizens and the Congress – for the government to fast track approvals for foreign made vaccines.

According to Gulf News, unlike last year, there is real fear among Indians today who claim the country is in complete meltdown.

The complacency that ‘it doesn’t happen to us’ has finally been pricked – although not at the Ganges festival.

Reports indicate that Bollywood has virtually shut down, judges have the virus, the variants are more critical than what the country realises and the people are staring at lockdowns amid frantic pleas for help.

COVID-19

US braces as Omicron ‘almost definitely here’

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Americans have been advised to prepare to eventually encounter the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, but US health officials on Sunday said the travel ban starting Monday on most travelers from southern Africa should help buy time to assess any new risk.

“Well, it’s almost definitely here already, just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend. It’s almost a certainty that there have been cases that have gotten into the United States.”

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that while much is not known about the variant, vaccination remains key, Reuters reported.

“If you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a booster vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant.”

Thirty percent of the US population remains unvaccinated – possibly undermining the nation’s recovery nearly two years after COVID-19’s emergence.

Rising cases as colder weather forces more people indoors have already overwhelmed some hospital systems and led some US states, including New York, to declare emergencies.

Omicron was first detected in southern Africa, igniting a flurry of travel bans restricting passengers from several southern African countries – something South African President Cyril Ramaphosa strongly pushed back against in a speech on Sunday.

“These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”

The variant has now also been confirmed in Australia, Hong Kong, the U.K., Europe and the middle east.

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New coronavirus variant Omicron keeps spreading, Australia detects cases

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

The new Omicron coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with two cases detected in Australia, even as more countries tried to seal themselves off by imposing travel restrictions.

Health officials in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine, NSW Health said. Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

The Australian cases were the latest indication that the variant may prove hard to contain. First discovered in South Africa, it has since been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong. Austria was investigating a suspected case on Sunday.

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” last week by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Many countries have imposed a wave of travel bans.

In the most far-reaching effort to keep the variant at bay, Israel announced late on Saturday it would ban the entry of all foreigners and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days. Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective vaccines are against Omicron.

Many countries have imposed or are planning restrictions on travel from southern Africa. The South African government denounced this on Saturday as unfair and potentially harmful to its economy – saying it is being punished for its scientific ability to identify coronavirus variants early.

In Britain, where two linked cases of Omicron identified on Saturday were connected to travel to southern Africa, the government announced measures to try to contain the spread, including stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country and requiring mask wearing in some settings.

The German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant on Saturday. In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

Although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating, many countries – including the United States, Brazil, Canada, European Union nation

Hanafi says that during 20 years of occupation there are 5 million addicts, among them 1 million are women and children.

Hanafi says that if TAPI project is implemented, Afghanistan will earn annually around $1 billion dollars through its transit rights.

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Czech Republic reports 20,315 daily coronavirus cases

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

The Czech Republic reported 20,315 new coronavirus cases for Friday, the first week-on-week drop in the daily tally in two months, although its hospitals were still filling and the government toughened restrictions.

On the same day last week, the country of 10.7 million people reported 22,957 new cases of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Although hospitalisations dropped to 6,169 on Friday compared to the previous day, the number of people treated in hospitals has doubled over the past three weeks and some stopped non-urgent procedures.

The Czech government ordered bars and clubs to close at 10 p.m. as of Friday and banned Christmas markets in an attempt to stem one of the world’s highest infection rates.

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