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COVID-19

Global Coronavirus cases exceed 15 million

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(Last Updated On: July 22, 2020)

Global coronavirus infections surged past 15 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic gathering pace even as countries remain divided in their response to the crisis.

In the United States, which has the highest number of cases in the world with 3.91 million infections, President Donald Trump warned: “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”

The top five countries with the most cases are the US, Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa.

But, the Reuters tally shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in the Americas, which account for more than half the world’s infections and half its deaths.

Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.

After the first COVID-19 case was reported in Wuhan, China, in early January, it took about 15 weeks to reach two million cases. By contrast, it took just eight days to climb above 15 million from 13 million reached on July 13.

Health experts stress that official data almost certainly underreports both infections and deaths, particularly in countries with limited testing capacity.

The official number of coronavirus cases at 15,009,213 is at least triple the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to World Health Organization data, while the death toll of more than 616,000 in seven months is close to the upper range of yearly influenza deaths.

With the first wave of the virus still to peak in several countries and a resurgence of case numbers in others, some countries are reintroducing strict social distancing measures while others relax restrictions.

Stung by low approval ratings for his handling of the epidemic and downplaying the risks during the early stages, Trump made a significant shift in rhetoric on Tuesday, encouraging Americans to wear a face mask.

While the epidemic worsened in the United States, Trump’s focus ahead of a presidential election in November has been on reopening the economy, and governors in the hard-hit states of Texas, Florida, and Georgia continue to push back hard against calls for stricter restrictions.

In Brazil, more than 2.15 million people have tested positive including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 81,000 people have died.

While Bolsonaro has played down the outbreak, its scale has made Brazil a prime testing ground for potential vaccines.

India, the only other country with more than one million cases, reported almost 40,000 new cases on Wednesday.

Having been keen to reopen its economy, India is now facing the twin challenge of combating the pandemic and massive flooding in the country’s northeast.

Two ministers in South Africa’s cabinet were admitted to hospital with COVID-19, as Africa’s most-industrialized country counted a total of 372,628 confirmed cases and 5,173 deaths.

Other countries are reintroducing restrictions in response to fresh outbreaks.

In Spain, the number of people allowed on Barcelona’s beaches was limited after crowds flocked to the seaside over the weekend despite advice to stay home.

In Australia, residents of Melbourne, the country’s second-biggest city, were ordered to wear masks in public from Wednesday after the country reported a record 501 new cases.

Officials in Canada were closely watching a spike in cases as the economy reopens, attributing the rise in part to large numbers of young people gathering in bars.

China, meanwhile, announced that passengers on inbound flights must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding, as authorities seek to reduce the risk of imported cases amid increased international travel.

COVID-19

17 Loya Jirga delegates test positive for COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health on Saturday confirmed 17 Loya Jirga delegates had tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to officials, the delegates infected with the virus had not been allowed to enter the hall. 

Noorullah Taraki, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said the members of the Loya Jirga who tested positive have been taken to a COVID-19 treatment facility in Kabul. 

Critics meanwhile raised their voices on Friday over the apparent lack of adherence to health protocols by the delegates on Friday in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was clear that very few delegates wore face masks and no social distancing practices were followed as 3,200 delegates sat shoulder to shoulder in the hall. 

This comes after a Public Health Ministry report released last week indicated up to 10 million Afghans had been infected with coronavirus – which has had an enormous impact on the country’s already fragile health system and economy. 

The Jirga will decide on the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners and the way forward regarding intra-Afghan talks. 

Comprising tribal elders, community leaders and politicians, 3,200 people from around the country are attending the event. 

Chairing the Jirga is Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. 

He said Saturday on Twitter that Friday’s deliberations had continued late into the night but that a resolution would be announced on Saturday. 

We began the second working day of the Consultative Peace Jirga. Yesterday 33 out of 50 working committees of the #CPJ submitted their suggestions, which continued till late evening. Today, the remaining 17 committees will submit their suggestions.

The outcome of the committees suggestions on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners & other peace related issues will be announced today. The people of Afghanistan, & the international community looking forward for a positive, & constructive outcome to start the intra-Afghan talks.”

 

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COVID-19

Turkmenistan president sends COVID-19 tests to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the President of neighboring Turkmenistan has ordered the country’s ministry of health to send COVID-19 test kits as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. 

Turkmen TV reported the president also ordered the Foreign Ministry to deliver the tests to Afghanistan. 

This comes after repeated reports that point towards the limited testing facilities and the fragile health system in the country. 

Just this week, the World Bank fast-tracked additional grants to Afghanistan to help desperate families and ensure food security. 

On Wednesday however, the Ministry of Public Health released details of an official survey conducted with the help of the World Health Organization that found the coronavirus has likely infected a third of the country’s population –  roughly 10 million people.

The Afghan health ministry released the estimates Wednesday, saying they are based on antibody tests on about 9,500 people in 34 provinces. 

Acting Health Minister, Ahmad Jawad Osmani told a news conference in Kabul the survey showed 31.5 percent of Afghanistan’s population has been infected by COVID-19.

Osmani noted that 53 percent of Kabul’s nearly five million residents had contracted the coronavirus.

Officially, the number of cases reported on Thursday stood at just 36,937. 

Last month, the International Federation of Red Cross warned: “Afghanistan is on the edge of potential health, social and economic catastrophes caused by COVID-19 as the disease places a crippling burden on one of the 10 most fragile states in the world.” 

“The real toll of the pandemic on the Afghan population is expected to be much higher and remains under-reported due to limited testing and weak health systems,” it added.

 

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Survey finds at least 10 million Afghans infected with COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health said Wednesday that 10 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the country.

Addressing a press conference, acting Health Minister Jawad Osmani said according to a survey conducted across the country, 31.5 percent of Afghans – which is about 10 million people – have contracted the Coronavirus.

He said the survey had been based on antibody tests on people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organisation.

Osmani said that 11,500 people from 34 provinces participated in the survey.

The highest infection rate was in Kabul where more than half of the city’s five million population was thought to have been infected.

Osmani said 37 percent of the population in cities and 27 percent of the population in villages have been infected with the virus.

“The studies divided 34 provinces of the country into nine zones, of which Kabul as a zone – 53 percent of its total population is affected by the Coronavirus.

He said 42.9 percent of the total population in eastern provinces had been infected along with 36.3 percent of the population in central provinces, 34.1 percent in the north and 32.4 percent of the total population in northeastern provinces.

He also said the survey found that 25.3 percent of children had contracted the virus. That was 24.2 percent of all boys in the country and 26.8 percent of all girls.

With the adult population, 35.2 percent had contracted the virus. This meant 33.9 percent of all men in the country had contracted COVID-19 and 37.2 percent of all women had been infected.

But the country of around 32 million people has only limited testing capacity and has an official recorded number of cases of just under 37,000.

Earlier Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health announced its daily updates and said 36,782 people had so far tested positive for COVID-19.

The ministry stated that so far 1,288 people had died of the virus while 25,556 had recovered.

The ministry meanwhile warned people of a second wave of the pandemic, asking the public to fully adhere to precautionary measures to prevent the continued spread of the virus.

“A second wave of the infection is happening everywhere in the world and we cannot be an exception. We will use the findings of this survey to better prepare ourselves for a possible second wave,” Osmani said.

More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year.

The virus entered Afghanistan in February as thousands of migrants returned from neighbouring Iran, which at the time was the region’s worst-hit nation for the virus.

Since then Afghanistan has been ravaged by COVID-19.

A survey on the mortality rate of coronavirus in Afghanistan is now under way.

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