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COVID-19

Iran reports 258 coronavirus deaths, highest daily toll since Dec

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(Last Updated On: April 11, 2021)

Iran reported 258 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Sunday, the highest daily toll since early December.

That brings the total number of fatalities from the coronavirus to 64,490 in Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 21,063 new cases were identified in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of identified cases since the pandemic began to 2,070,141.

“Unfortunately, in the past 24 hours 258 people have died from the virus,” Lari said. State TV said it was the country’s highest daily death toll since Dec. 10.

Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki, in a televised news conference, warned about more fatalities in the coming week if Iranians fail to adhere to health protocols.

On Saturday, Tehran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country to curb the spread of a fourth wave of the coronavirus. The lockdown affects 23 of the country’s 31 provinces.

Businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday in Iran.

COVID-19

India records another record number of COVID cases

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2021)

India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu announced new lockdown measures on Saturday as officials reported a nationwide record number of single-day COVID-19 deaths as cases continue to surge.

India’s health ministry reported 4,187 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to just under 240,000. Cases rose by 401,078, increasing the total since the start of the pandemic to 21.9 million, Reuters reported.

Officials in Tamil Nadu said the state-wide lockdown would begin on Monday and last until May 24. Shops and other businesses will be allowed to open on Saturday and Sunday to give residents time to prepare for the sweeping shutdown.

Neighbouring Karnataka, home to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, announced late on Friday it was extending movement restrictions, also until May 24.

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India has brought the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, with a scarcity of hospital beds and oxygen, Reuters reported.

Morgues and crematoriums have struggled to handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burn in parks and car parks.

Medical experts say the real numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities are likely to be far higher than official tallies.

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COVID-19

293 new covid cases and 9 deaths reported in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

On Thursday, the Ministry of Public Health reported 293 new cases of COVID-19 out of 2,185 samples tested in the last 24 hours.

The ministry also reported nine deaths and 211 recoveries from COVID-19 in the same period.

The new cases were reported in Nangarhar (96), Kabul (88), Herat (3), Kandahar (31), Balkh (7), Takhar (1), Baghlan (6), Kunduz (2), Paktia (6), Parwan (2), Maidan Wardak (3), Badakhshan (2), Kapisa (6), Logar (1) Ghazni (4), Kunar (3), Laghman (4), Zabul (4), Ghor (12), Khost (7) and Paktika (5) provinces.

Deaths were reported in Kabul (2), Khost (2), Kandahar (1), Takhar (1), Paktia (1), Logar (1) and Zabul (1) provinces.

The ministry reported that the cumulative total of known COVID-19 cases is 61,455, the total number of reported deaths is 2,673, and the total number of recoveries is 53,961.

So far, 414,983 samples have been tested in government centers and there are 4,821 known active COVID-19 cases in the country, data by the ministry indicates.

This comes after Pakistan recently banned inbound pedestrian movement from neighboring Afghanistan and Iran in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

The ban will be effective from May 4 to May 20 and only Pakistani nationals and people with extreme emergency medical issues will be allowed to enter the Pakistan from both countries.

All outbound pedestrian movement will be allowed.

Border terminals between the three countries will also remain open throughout the week for trade and cargo purposes.

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As COVID-19 rages in India, scientist warns further waves ‘inevitable’

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(Last Updated On: May 5, 2021)

A top scientific adviser to the Indian government warned on Wednesday the country would inevitably face further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, as almost 4,000 people died in the space of a day.

With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to a deadly second surge in infections, the World Health Organization said in a weekly report that India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarter of the deaths.

Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a seemingly unstoppable flow of bodies.

The government’s principal scientific adviser, K. VijayRaghavan, warned that even after infection rates subside the country should be ready for a third wave.

“Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” he told a news briefing. “But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur… We should prepare for new waves.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became “super spreader” events.

“We are running out of air. We are dying,” the Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy wrote in an opinion piece that called for Modi to step down.

“This is a crisis of your making,” she added in the article published on Tuesday. “You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse….So please go.”

India’s delegation to the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in London is self-isolating after two of its members tested positive for COVID-19, Britain said on Wednesday

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in London, said in a Twitter message that he would attend virtually.

GOVERNMENT RESISTING LOCKDOWN

Deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed, and daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday. The number has been in excess of 300,000 every day for the past two weeks.

Medical experts say India’s actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country has added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach its first 10 million.

The opposition has urged a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose one for fear of the economic fallout, although several states have adopted social curbs.

In the latest move the eastern state of West Bengal, where voters dealt Modi’s party a defeat in an election last week, suspended local train services and limited working hours for banks and jewellery shops, among its steps to limit infections.

The central bank asked banks on Wednesday to allow more time for some borrowers to repay loans, as the crisis threatens a nascent economic revival.

FALL IN VACCINATIONS, TESTING

The surge in infections has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations because of supply and delivery problems, despite India being a major vaccine producer.

At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some inoculation centres.

Lengthy queues formed outside two centres in the western city that still have vaccine supplies, and some of those waiting pleaded for police to open their gates earlier.

The government said production capacity for the antiviral drug remdesivir, used to treat COVID-19 patients, has trebled to 10.3 million vials per month, up from 3.8 million vials a month ago.

But daily testing has fallen sharply to 1.5 million, state-run Indian Council of Medical Research said, off a peak of 1.95 million on Saturday.

OUTBREAK SPREADING

Two “oxygen express” trains carrying liquid oxygen arrived in the capital, New Delhi, on Wednesday, railways minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter. More than 25 trains have distributed oxygen supplies nationwide.

The government says supplies are sufficient but transport woes have hindered distribution.

Meanwhile, the outbreak continues to spread.

In the remote state of Mizoram bordering Myanmar, beds in its biggest coronavirus hospital are in such short supply that all victims of other diseases have been asked to leave, said government official Dr Z R Thiamsanga.

Just three of a total 14 ventilators were still available.

“In my opinion, a complete lockdown is required to control the situation,” he told Reuters from the state capital, Aizawl.

Neighbouring Nepal is also being overwhelmed by a surge of infections as India’s outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

With 57 times as many cases as a month ago, Nepal is seeing 44% of tests come back positive, it added. Towns near the border with India are unable to cope with the growing numbers seeking treatment, while just 1% of its population was fully vaccinated.

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