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COVID-19

WHO warns vaccines alone won’t curb spread of Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said governments and individuals cannot rely solely on vaccines to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

The organization said vaccines alone will not keep them ‘safe’ and that basic public health measures remain the basis of the response.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said at a media briefing that: “Vaccines will help to save lives, but if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”

For public health authorities, that means testing, contact tracing, isolation, supported quarantine and quality care, while for individuals, it means avoiding crowds, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks and ventilation.

”This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response,” he added.

In the past week, Ghebreyesus noted, the number of reported cases of Covid-19 increased for the first time in seven weeks.

”Reported cases increased in four of WHO’s six regions: the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean – so we don’t report increases in Africa and the Western Pacific.

”We’re working to better understand these increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be due to relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard,” he added.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire started vaccinating health workers against Covid-19, becoming the first countries to start vaccination campaigns with doses supplied through COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

”A further 11 million doses will be delivered this week. Between now and the end of May, 237 million doses of vaccines will be allocated to 142 participating economies and countries in COVAX,” he said.

UAE’s Emirates SkyCargo and Etihad Cargo have signed separate agreements with UNICEF to prioritise the transport of Covid-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to help fight the pandemic, gulfbusiness reported.

According to the report the UNICEF drive convenes a number of partners capable of distributing essential supplies to more than 100 markets in support of the COVAX Facility, the global effort aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

In January 2021, Emirates SkyCargo joined hands with three other Dubai-based entities- DP World, International Humanitarian City and Dubai Airports to form an alliance for the rapid transport of Covid-19 vaccines to the developing world through the emirate, report added.

The UAE has administered a total of 6,028,417 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine till March 1.

COVID-19

India reports another record daily rise in COVID-19 infections

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

India reported a record daily increase of 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday.

It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days.

Total cases reached nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States which has reported more than 32 million infections, Reuters reported.

India’s deaths from COVID-19 rose by 1,341 to reach a total of 175,649, the data showed.

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Indian doctors describe COVID situation as chaotic

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(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

India reported a record 200,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the financial hub of Mumbai entered a lockdown and many hospitals treating coronavirus patients reported severe shortages of beds and oxygen supplies.

The surge was the seventh record daily increase in the last eight days and comes as India battles a massive second wave of infections that has its epicentre in the economically significant state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, Reuters reported. The western state accounts for about a quarter of the country’s total cases.

India reported 200,739 COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data released Thursday. Deaths stood at 1,038, taking the total to 173,123.

The total caseload reached 14.1 million, only second to the United States, which leads the global tally with 31.4 million cases.

According to Reuters, hospitals and doctors in Maharashtra as well other regions including Gujarat and Delhi in the north reported chaotic scenes as healthcare facilities were overwhelmed with a surge in admissions of COVID-19 patients.

“The situation is horrible. We are a 900-bed hospital, but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don’t have space for them,” said Avinash Gawande, an official at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur, a commercial hub in Maharashtra.

Hospitals in other places including Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, reported oxygen shortages. “If such conditions persist, the death toll will rise,” the head of a medical body in Ahmedabad wrote in a letter to the Gujarat state chief minister.

India’s government said the country was producing oxygen at its full capacity everyday for the last two days and it had boosted output.

“Along with the ramped up production of the oxygen manufacturing units and the surplus stocks available, the present availability of oxygen is sufficient,” the health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims still thronged to a religious festival in the north of the country on Wednesday, stoking fears of a new surge in COVID-19 cases in the region, Reuters reported.

In capital Delhi, daily COVID-19 cases are hitting new records, with doctors warning the surge could be deadlier than in 2020.

“This virus is more infectious and virulent …. We have 35-year olds with pneumonia in intensive care, which was not happening last year,” said Dhiren Gupta, a pediatrician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. “The situation is chaotic.”

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COVID tragedy unfolding in India as Ganges festival continues

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

India’s new coronavirus infections hit a record high on Wednesday, as crowds of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival despite oxygen shortages and strict curbs in other areas.

The country reported 184,372 new cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, taking total infections to 13.9 million. Deaths rose by 1,027, to a total of 172,085.

Despite the spike in infections, hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges river on Wednesday, the third key day of the weeks-long Kumbh Mela – or pitcher festival.

Reuters quoted Sanjay Gunjyal, the inspector general of police at the festival, as having said around 650,000 people had bathed on Wednesday morning.

“People are being fined for not following social distancing in non-crowded ghats (bathing areas), but it is very hard to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said.

There was little evidence of social distancing or mask-wearing, according to a Reuters witness.

More than one thousand cases have been reported in Haridwar district in the last two days, according to government data.

From reporting less than 10,000 cases per day earlier this year, India has been the world’s worst-hit country since April 2 by new daily cases, with the government blaming a widespread failure to heed curbs on movement and social interaction.

Reuters reported that India’s richest state Maharashtra, the epicentre of the nation’s second wave, which accounts for about a quarter of the country’s cases, is due to impose stringent restrictions from Wednesday to try to contain the spread.

Elsewhere, overstretched private hospitals are turning patients away, placing an increasing burden on government facilities.

In the western state of Gujurat, local media showed a long queue of ambulances waiting outside Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, with some patients being treated there while they waited.

A hospital source, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, said this was because a lot of private hospitals were short of oxygen and were sending their patients to the public hospital, Reuters reported.

This comes after cases have risen exponentially over the past week.

According to Gulf News, patients are also being given oxygen in waiting rooms, lobby areas in hospitals were being converted into COVID wards, doctors in the country’s top hospital were sick en masse and the gas furnace grills at crematoriums were melting with bodies piling up at cremation centres.

Gulf News also reported that this comes amid relentless outrage and questioning – from citizens and the Congress – for the government to fast track approvals for foreign made vaccines.

According to Gulf News, unlike last year, there is real fear among Indians today who claim the country is in complete meltdown.

The complacency that ‘it doesn’t happen to us’ has finally been pricked – although not at the Ganges festival.

Reports indicate that Bollywood has virtually shut down, judges have the virus, the variants are more critical than what the country realises and the people are staring at lockdowns amid frantic pleas for help.

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