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COVID-19

India records world’s biggest single-day rise in COVID cases

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(Last Updated On: April 23, 2021)

India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections on Thursday as a second wave of the pandemic raised new fears about the ability of crumbling health services to cope.

Reuters reported that health officials across northern and western India including the capital, New Delhi, said they were in crisis, with most hospitals full and running out of oxygen.

Doctors in some places were advising patients to stay at home while a crematorium in the eastern city of Muzaffarpur said it was being overwhelmed with bodies and grieving families had to wait their turn.

“Right now there are no beds, no oxygen. Everything else is secondary,” Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, told Reuters.

“The infrastructure is crumbling.”

Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical University of South Carolina in the United States, said on Twitter the crisis was leading to a collapse of the healthcare system.

The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply.

India’s total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to the latest health ministry data.

Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities as they scrambled to save relatives in hospital.

In the western city of Ahmedabad, a man strapped to an oxygen cylinder lay in the back of a car outside a hospital as he waited for a bed, a Reuters picture showed.

“We never thought a second wave would hit us so hard,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, executive chairman of the healthcare firm Biocon & Biocon Biologics, wrote in the Economic Times.

“Complacency led to unanticipated shortages of medicines, medical supplies and hospital beds.”

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there was a shortage of intensive care unit beds, with the city needing about 5,000 more than it could find. Some hospitals had enough oxygen to last 10 hours, others just six.

“We can’t call this a comfortable situation,” he told Reuters.

Similar surges of infections elsewhere around the world, in South America in particular, are threatening to overwhelm other health services.

COVID-19

COVID-19 sends northern Chinese city into semi-shutdown

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

China’s northeastern city of Harbin, with a population of 10 million, went into semi-shutdown after reporting new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for the first time since early February.

Three of 16 new local cases reported in China for September 21 were in Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday. The last reported locally transmitted cases in the city were on February 4.

Harbin on Wednesday vowed to complete an initial round of city-wide testing by Thursday, and told its residents to refrain from stepping outside their homes, unless necessary, before their test results are out.

The city has already told its residents to avoid leaving town unless for essential reasons, and those who do leave must produce proof of negative test results within 48 hours from departure.

Indoors venues such as cinemas, gyms and mah-jong parlours were also shut, and tourist sites were ordered to limit visitor traffic at half of their capacity, state television reported on Tuesday.

The city would also suspend offline classes at all kindergartens, primary schools and high schools for a week from Wednesday, state television said late on Tuesday.

It was unclear if the three new Harbin cases were linked to the current outbreak in the eastern province of Fujian.

According to state television, one of the cases was found when the person went to a local hospital for testing.

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COVID-19

Brazil’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19 in NYC

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for COVID-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the government said.

Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government’s communications office said, Reuters reported.

“The minister is doing well,” the statement said. It added that the rest of the delegation tested negative for the virus.

According to the report Queiroga told CNN Brasil that he had worn a mask the entire time that he was in the U.N. building.

Bolsonaro, a vaccine skeptic, defied U.N. rules that asked all those attending the assembly to be vaccinated. He has bragged about not getting vaccinated, Reuters reported.

In his speech to world leaders at a meeting where the global coronavirus pandemic was top of the agenda, Bolsonaro said his government did not support the use of a vaccine passport and stood by treatment of the virus with unproven drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine.

He said Brazil’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 had been successful and that all adults who wanted a vaccine would be fully inoculated by November.

With unvaccinated diners barred from eating in New York restaurants, Bolsonaro and his entourage ate pizza on a sidewalk on their first night in the city on Sunday.

The health minister was the second member of the Brazilian delegation in New York to have tested positive. A young diplomat who was part of an advance team preparing Bolsonaro’s visit tested positive on the weekend and was isolated, Reuters said.

COVID-19 has killed 591,440 Brazilians in the world’s second-deadliest outbreak after the United States.

As vaccination advances in the country, the rolling 14-day average of COVID deaths has fallen to 519 a day, compared with almost 3,000 at the peak of the pandemic in April.

On a trip to the United States to meet former U.S. President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate last year, 22 members of Bolsonaro’s delegation caught coronavirus in the worst case of transmission in a government that ignored precautions.

Bolsonaro, who regarded Trump as a political role model, has opposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and seldom uses a mask, read the report.

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COVID-19

Brazil reports 150,000 COVID-19 cases in one day amid counting backlog

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2021)

Brazil reported 935 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday and 150,106 additional cases, according to data released by the nation’s Health Ministry, an unusually large number due to what officials said was an adjustment in how case numbers are tabulated.

Some 92,614 cases occurred in Rio de Janeiro in recent months, but only entered into the official count in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Rio’s state-level health ministry attributed the number of cases registered to new demands from the federal Health Ministry regarding case counting, the details of which were not revealed, Reuters reported.

The state health ministry “emphasizes that these are not cases that occurred in the last 24 hours, but rather cases that were not displayed before due to changes in the federal (case counting) system,” it said. “Of these cases, 62% occurred in 2021.”

At least two other states – Paraiba in the northeast and Sao Paulo in the southeast – have seen unusual case jumps in recent days due to changes in the federal case count, according to national media reports.

The South American country has registered a total of 590,508 coronavirus deaths and 21.2 million total confirmed cases.

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