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COVID-19

Over seven million children at risk of hunger – Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2020)

Save the Children, in a press report on May 01, 2020, revealed that over 7 million children in Afghanistan were at risk of hunger because of the sky rising prices of food amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

It says, “At a time when Afghan children need adequate daily nutrition to help strengthen their immune systems to fight the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the price of basic foods is rising under the lockdown, making it harder for families to feed themselves.”

According to the report, a third of the population, including 7.3 million children, will face food shortages in April and May due to the current pandemic.

It refers to a survey of the World Food Program, which indicates that only in the past month, the price of wheat flour and cooking oil in Afghanistan’s main city markets have increased by up to 23 percent as supply is unable to meet demand, while the cost of rice, sugar, and pulses have increased by between 7 and 12 percent.

“While food prices are increasing, the financial ability of daily wage laborers to buy food is decreasing, as casual work dries up because of nationwide restrictions. A large portion of the Afghan workforce relies on the informal sector, with no safety nets when work is scarce,” the report states.

This comes as even before the global COVID-19 crisis, reportedly, the total number of children who needed some form of humanitarian support this year stood at 5.26 million, making war-torn Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child, it underlines.

According to the report, the most recent nutrition surveys in Afghanistan show that an estimated two million children under five will suffer from the most life-threatening form of extreme hunger annually.

“The effects of the lockdown coupled with one of the weakest health systems in the world – Afghanistan has just 0.3 doctors per 1,000 people – means malnourished and sick children are much less likely to get the life-saving treatment they need to survive,” says the report.

Save the Children, narrates the story of a 13-year-old Mustafa in Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan with his four siblings and mother.

“Mustafa goes to school and works in a local food shop to supplement the family income. But since the lockdown, he is at home, unable to neither go to school nor earn any money to help put food on the table.”

Mustafa tells Save the Children, “We don’t have any food at home. From three meals a day we are down to two and sometimes just one. My mother is trying to find food for us, she is weaving carpets to sell but everywhere is closed right now. She can only make us tea with dry bread. My other siblings sometimes ask for good food, but my mother can’t afford to feed us. It’s hard to be alive.”

Timothy Bishop, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, said, “We are deeply concerned that this pandemic will lead to a perfect storm of hunger, disease, and death in Afghanistan unless the world takes action now to ensure vulnerable children and their families have enough to eat, especially those in remote areas and the urban poor.”

“The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 means many families are stressed about putting food on the table, with no clear indication of how long the current crisis will go on.”

Meanwhile, children who miss out on their daily nutritional needs are at a far greater risk of getting sick, he said adding that in extreme cases the lack of food may even affect a child’s physical and mental development, with devastating consequences for the rest of their lives.

Bishop further said, “For many Afghans, the biggest impact of the pandemic will not be the virus itself, but the hunger caused by lockdown measures and a breakdown in supply lines. We are facing the very real risk that children could die from starvation.”

He underlines that what is needed is for the international community to urgently fly in food supplies to be distributed to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, malnourished, and those who are sick.

Bishop calls on the government to provide food amid the lockdown, noting “We also urge the Afghan government to facilitate the rapid distribution of food, despite the nationwide lockdown.”

He concludes his statement emphasizing, “Afghan children have suffered enough. Most have known nothing but conflict in their lives. We cannot allow COVID-19 to further rob them of their futures.”

COVID-19

Global COVID-19 cases surpass 226.8 mln, death toll tops 4.66 mln: WHO

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

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.

The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States neared 42 million as of Friday, with the death toll surpassing 672,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Specifically, the country’s case count rose to 41,942,199 on Friday, the CSSE tally showed.

The United States continues to lead the world in the numbers of both confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Another 32,651 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 7,371,301, according to official figures released on Friday.

The country also recorded another 178 coronavirus-related deaths as the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 134,983.

These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Germany’s federal disease control agency, said in its latest report released on Friday that the country registered 11,022 new infections and 20 new deaths within 24 hours.

A total of 4,125,878 COVID-19 infections have been officially registered in Germany since the outbreak of the pandemic, with the death toll climbing to 92,857 as of Friday, said the RKI.

Russia registered 19,905 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 7,234,425 infections, the official monitoring and response center said on Friday.

The nationwide death toll grew by 791 to 196,626 fatalities while the number of recoveries increased by 16,619 to 6,469,017.

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Friday that the situation with the coronavirus in the country is stable but remains tense.

India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 33,417,390 on Saturday, as 35,662 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, the federal health ministry’s latest data showed.

An additional 281 deaths were also recorded since Friday morning, taking the death toll to 444,529.

Most of the new cases and deaths were reported from the southern state of Kerala.

Currently, there are 340,639 active cases in the country with an increase of 1,583 during the period.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 23,134 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 2,347,550.

The DOH also reported 255 coronavirus-related deaths, raising the country’s death toll to 36,583.

Vietnam reported 11,521 new COVID-19 cases and 212 deaths on Friday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

The new infections brought the country’s total tally to 667,650, with 16,637 deaths, the ministry said.

Most of the community cases were detected in southern localities, including 5,972 in the epicenter Ho Chi Minh City, 4,013 in the nearby Binh Duong province and 345 in Dong Nai province.

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COVID-19

COVID-19 cases close to 41 million in US, hospitals overwhelmed

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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2021)

The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 40.92 million on Saturday, with the death toll exceeding 659,000 and COVID-19 hospitalizations topping 100,000 due to raging highly contagious Delta variant.

This has pushed health systems in many states to limit, Reuters reported.

The country’s case count stood at 40,920,379 as of Saturday, with the death toll reaching 659,675, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Health systems in the United States, especially those with low vaccination rates, are trying to deal with hiking hospitalizations as the nationwide total topped 100,000 as of September 9, with 26,000 patients being treated in intensive care units, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Hospitals across the U.S. are facing mounting pressure, with the national average of intensive-care unit availability at just 20 percent. Medical resources in many regions are in short supply, and medical staff are overwhelmed.

St Anthony’s Hospital in Florida is one of 15 hospitals in the area that has seen a tenfold increase in hospitalizations since July, and 85 percent of its patients have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the hospital’s president.

Doctors at the hospital also said that unvaccinated infected patients are more likely to suffer more serious conditions and need to be kept alive by a ventilator. The patients usually want to make a phone call with their family members before intubation. Unfortunately, this is often their final goodbye to their families.

An intensive care nurse at the hospital said that, as a health care worker, she thought she could “survive the epidemic without vaccination,” but the raging epidemic has forced her to change her attitude and choose to get vaccinated.

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COVID-19

Australia’s New South Wales records highest COVID-19 daily caseload

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2021)

Australia’s New South Wales state, the epicentre of the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak, reported 1,599 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections on Saturday, its biggest one-day rise in the pandemic.

New South Wales, in which its largest city of Sydney has been under strict stay-at-home orders for nearly three months, said a further eight people died, Reuters reported.

A four-stage national reopening plan unveiled by the federal government in July aims to relax several tough curbs once the country reaches a 70-80% immunization target from 40% now.

Australia has now recorded nearly 73,000 COVID-19 cases and a death toll of 1,084.

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