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COVID-19

Indian hospitals turn away patients in COVID-19 ‘tsunami’

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(Last Updated On: April 25, 2021)

Overwhelmed hospitals in India begged for oxygen supplies on Saturday as the country’s coronavirus infections soared again overnight in a “tsunami” of disease, setting a new world record for cases for the third consecutive day, Reuters reported.

Max Healthcare, which runs a network of hospitals in north India, tweeted that it had less than two hours of oxygen left while Fortis Healthcare, another big chain, said it was suspending new admissions in Delhi.

“We are running on backup, waiting for supplies since morning,” Fortis said.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one COVID-19 death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital’s underfunded health system buckles, Reuters reported.

The government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen to Delhi from the far corners of the country and overseas including Singapore.

The number of cases across the country of around 1.3 billion rose overnight by 346,786, the Health Ministry said, for a total of 16.6 million cases, including 189,544 deaths.

COVID-19 deaths rose by 2,624 over the past 24 hours, the highest daily rate for the country so far. Crematoriums across Delhi said they were full up and asked grieving families to wait.

Hospitals in Delhi have gone to the city’s high court this week seeking it to order the state and federal governments to make emergency arrangements for medical supplies, mainly oxygen.

“It’s a tsunami. How are we trying to build capacity?” the Delhi high court asked the state and federal governments in response to this plea.

Television showed families tending to the sick in hospital corridors and streets as they waited for medical attention, Reuters reported.

One man identified as Amit who was grieving for his brother at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden hospital said he had seen families running around with oxygen cylinders trying to get them refilled.

“You can’t leave me in the lurch,” a lawyer appearing for the Jaipur Golden hospital told the high court on Saturday, seeking its intervention.

The court asked the government to ensure supplies, as well to make security arrangements for medical centres amid people’s desperation.

“We know how people react, let’s not have a law and order situation,” the court said in its direction to the authorities.

India surpassed the U.S. record of 297,430 single-day infections anywhere in the world on Thursday, making it the global epicentre of a pandemic that is waning in many other countries.

The federal government had declared it had beaten back the coronavirus in February.

Health experts said India became complacent in the winter, when new cases were running at about 10,000 a day and seemed to be under control. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing for the resumption of big gatherings.

Others said that it could also be a more dangerous variant of the virus coursing through India. It is the world’s second most populous country and people live in close proximity, often six to a room.

“While complacency in adhering to masks and physical distancing might have played a role, it seems increasingly likely that this second wave has been fuelled by a much more virulent strain,” wrote Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health at Harvard Medical School, in the Indian Express.

Experts say the only way India can turn the tide is to ramp up vaccinations and impose strict lockdowns in the so-called red zones of high infection. It has opened up the immunisation programme to all adults but faces a shortage.

India is currently using the AstraZeneca shot and homegrown Covaxin. It has also approved Russia’s Sputnik V and has urged Pfizer Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to provide it with vaccines.

COVID-19

State Department spokesperson Ned Price tests positive for COVID

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2021)

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday (September 27) after experiencing symptoms and is isolating for 10 days, Reuters reported.

Price had been in close contact last week with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Price announced the positive test result in a Twitter post.

The State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had tested negative for COVID-19 after Price had tested positive.

According to the report Price joined more than half a dozen meetings with Blinken last week in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

In a call with reporters, Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Blinken had tested negative as recently as Monday morning and none of the other members of the traveling party were currently exhibiting symptoms, Reuters said.

Price also spent a good part of last week within the close circle of Blinken, including Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who have held their own separate meetings with a number of foreign delegations.

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UK records 31,348 new COVID-19 cases, 122 deaths

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2021)

Britain reported 31,348 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 122 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

The figures compared to 35,623 new cases and 180 deaths reported on Friday.

The cumulative total of global COVID-19 cases increased to more than 226.8 million, with the death toll exceeding 4.66 million as of Friday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There had been 226,844,344 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,666,334 deaths as of Friday, the WHO’s COVID-19 dashboard revealed.

A total of 5,634,533,040 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide as of Tuesday, the WHO reported.

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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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