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COVID-19

India’s new COVID-19 cases stay above 300,000, army called to help

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(Last Updated On: April 27, 2021)

India’s coronavirus death toll neared the bleak milestone of 200,000 with another 2,771 fatalities reported on Tuesday, while its armed forces pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections.

Over the past 24 hours, India recorded 323,144 new cases, slightly below a worldwide peak of 352,991 reached on Monday, with overrun hospitals turning away patients due to a shortage of beds and oxygen supplies.

“Please note that a huge fall in daily cases … is largely due to a heavy fall in testing,” Rijo M John, a professor and health economist at the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala, said on Twitter.

“This should not be taken as an indication of falling cases, rather a matter of missing out on too many positive cases!”

India has called on its armed forces to help tackle the devastating crisis. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said late on Monday that oxygen would be released from armed forces reserves and retired medical personnel would join health facilities that are struggling under the strain of cases.

Nations including Britain, Germany, and the United States have pledged aid, while Indian Americans in U.S. Congress and the technology sector have joined forces to help. read more

A shipment of vital medical supplies from the United Kingdom, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in Delhi early on Tuesday, Reuters partner ANI reported. France is also sending oxygen generators that can provide year-long oxygen for 250 beds, the embassy said.

The first “Oxygen Express” train for Delhi carrying around 70 tonnes of the life-saving gas also reached the national capital early Tuesday.

But the crisis in the metropolis of 20 million people is unabated.

Dr K.Preetham, chief of medical administration at the city’s Indian Spinal Injuries Centre which is treating scores of COVID-19 patients, said the scarcity of oxygen was such the hospital was splitting oxygen cylinders on patients.

“For seven days, most of us haven’t slept. Because of the scarcity, we are forced to put two patients on one cylinder and this is a time consuming process because we don’t have long tubes,” he said.

‘WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution amid the “storm” of infections.

In some of India’s worst-hit cities, bodies were being cremated in makeshift facilities in parks and parking lots. Critically ill patients lay on beds outside overwhelmed hospitals waiting for admission.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned the Indian economy, the world’s sixth largest, could falter as a result of the spike in cases, creating a drag for the global economy.

“We expect that this could get worse before it gets better,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the Chamber, the biggest U.S. business lobby, told Reuters. read more

Australia paused direct passenger flights from India until May 15, the latest on a growing list of countries to curb travel from India to prevent more virulent virus variants from entering their borders. read more

Three Australian cricketers cut short their Indian Premier League season to head home amid the uncertainty.

India, home to around 1.3 billion people, has so far reported 17.64 million COVID-19 infections and 197,894 deaths, but experts believe the tally runs significantly higher.

The country is negotiating with the United States, which has said it will share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine with other countries.

“Major lobbying is on at this point of time to secure as much as possible for India,” a senior Indian official part of ongoing negotiations told Reuters, adding that Modi had been assured that India would be given priority.

“At this juncture even harshest critics of India are pushing the U.S. regime” to aid India, the official added.

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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