Global covid-19 situation
Hospitals in Turkey and Poland are filling up fast. Pakistan is restricting domestic travel to contain a surge in coronavirus infections. Even Thailand, which has weathered the pandemic far better than many nations, is now struggling to contain a new COVID-19 spike. The only exceptions to the deteriorating worldwide situation are countries that have advanced vaccination programs, mostly notably Israel and Britain. Even the U.S., which is a vaccination leader globally, is seeing a small uptick in new cases, and the White House announced Friday that it would send federal help to Michigan to control the state’s worst-in-the-nation transmission rate. The World Health Organization said Friday that it’s concerned about infection rates that are rising in every global region, driven by new virus variants and too many nations coming out of lockdown too soon. “We’ve seen rises (in cases) worldwide for six weeks. And now, sadly, we are seeing rises in deaths for the last three weeks,” Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said at a briefing in Geneva. In its latest weekly epidemiological update, the WHO said over 4 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the last week. New deaths increased by 11% compared to last week, with over 71,000 reported. Also read: Countries worldwide hit new records for virus cases, deaths The increasing infections, hospitalizations and deaths extend to countries where vaccinations are finally gaining momentum. That leaves even bleaker prospects for much of the world, where large-scale vaccination programs remain a more distant prospect. In Turkey, which is among the badly hit countries, most new cases of the virus can be traced to a variant first found in Britain. Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, said the surge was beginning to strain the nation’s relatively advanced health care system and “the alarm bells are ringing” for intensive care units, which are not yet at full capacity. “The mutant form of the virus is causing more harm to the organs,” Cinel said. “While 2 out of 10 patients were dying previously, the number is now 4 out of 10. And if we continue this way, we will lose six.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eased COVID-19 restrictions in early March to minimize pain to his nation’s ailing economy. The new spike forced him to announce renewed restrictions, such as weekend lockdowns and the closure of cafes and restaurants during Ramadan, which starts April 13. Also read: Global Covid cases top 132 million Turkish medical groups say the reopening in March was premature and that the new measures do not go far enough. They have been calling for full lockdowns during the holy Muslim month. In the U.S. capital, President Joe Biden’s administration outlined how the federal government planned to help Michigan better administer the doses already allocated to the state, as well as expand testing capacity and the availability of drugs. The effort will not include any extra vaccine doses, a move Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sought. Doses are currently allocated to states proportionally by population. Whitmer has called for extra doses to be shifted to states like hers experiencing a sharp rise in cases. The death toll in Iran is also rising, prompting new restrictions that will take effect for 10 days in 257 cities beginning Saturday. They involve the closure of all parks, restaurants, confectionaries, beauty salons, malls and bookstores. Authorities in Pakistan, which is in the middle of a third surge of infections, are restricting inter-city transportation on weekends starting at midnight Friday as part of measures aimed at limiting coronavirus cases and deaths. Also read: COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery Elsewhere in Asia, authorities in Thailand on Friday ordered new restrictions in an effort to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak just days before the country’s traditional Songkran New Year’s holiday, when millions of people travel. Japan, meanwhile, announced tougher measures ahead of the Summer Olympics. In Germany, Poland and other countries in the 27-member European Union, vaccination programs are finally ramping up after a slow start in the first three months of the year due to delivery shortages. Thousands of German medical practices joined the vaccination campaign this week. That helped Germany reach its second consecutive daily record on Thursday of almost 720,000 doses administered — meaning that 14.7% of the population has now received at least one dose and 5.8% have received both shots. Yet German health officials are warning of a steep rise in intensive care patients and are calling for stronger action to contain infections. Also read: Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said nearly 4,500 COVID-19 patients are receiving intensive care, with the number increasing by 700 over the past week — a 20% rise. Neighboring Poland is also seeing a dramatic spike in deaths, and hospitals have been forced to turn away cancer and other patients as ICU and other hospital beds are taken by COVID-19 patients. Hospitalizations of virus patients there have jumped 20% in the past two weeks. Harris, from the WHO, said the world knows how to fight these surges. She cited good news from the U.K., where new coronavirus cases dropped 60% in March amid a strong vaccination program, “but we have to do it all.” “We have to keep on social distancing. We have to avoid indoor crowded settings. We have to keep wearing the masks, even if vaccinated,” she said. “People are misunderstanding, seeming to think that vaccination will stop transmission. That is not the case. We need to bring down the transmission while giving the vaccination the chance to stop the severe disease.”
Do some Covid-19 vaccines work more effectively than others? It’s hard to tell since they weren’t directly compared in studies. But experts say the vaccines are alike on what matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths. “Luckily, all these vaccines look like they’re protecting us from severe disease,” said Dr Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, citing study results for five vaccines used around the world and a sixth that’s still in review. Also read: Countries worldwide hit new records for virus cases, deaths And real-world evidence as millions of people receive the vaccines show they’re all working very well. Still, people might wonder if one is better than another since studies conducted before the vaccines were rolled out found varying levels of effectiveness. The problem is they don’t offer apples-to-apples comparisons. Consider the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, found to be about 95% effective at preventing illness. Studies for those shots counted a Covid-19 case whether it was mild, moderate or severe — and were conducted before worrisome mutated versions of the virus began circulating. Also read: Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine Then Johnson & Johnson tested a single-dose vaccine and didn’t count mild illnesses. J&J’s shot was 66% protective against moderate to severe illness in a large international study. In just the U.S., where there’s less spread of variants, it was 72% effective. More importantly, once the vaccine’s effect kicked in it prevented hospitalization and death. AstraZeneca’s two-dose vaccine used in many countries has faced questions about the exact degree of its effectiveness indicated by studies. But experts agree those shots, too, protect against the worst outcomes. Also read: COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery Around the world, hospitalizations are dropping in countries where vaccines have been rolling out including Israel, England and Scotland — regardless of which shots are given. And the US government’s first look at real-world data among essential workers provided further evidence that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly protective -- 90% -- against infections whether there were symptoms or not.
Nations around the world set new records Thursday for COVID-19 deaths and new coronavirus infections, and the disease surged even in some countries that have kept the virus in check. In the United States, Detroit leaders began making a plan to knock on every door to persuade people to get shots. Brazil this week became just the third country, after the U.S. and Peru, to report a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths that exceeded 4,000. India hit a peak of almost 127,000 new cases in 24 hours, and Iran set a new coronavirus infection record for the third straight day, reporting nearly 22,600 new cases. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to get vaccinated, writing in a tweet: “Vaccination is among the few ways we have to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon.” The U.S. has now fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its adult population, and New Mexico became the first state to get shots in the arms of 25% of its residents — milestones that are still far off for many hard-hit countries. Also read: Global Covid cases top 132 million In India, home to 1.4 billion people, only 11 million are fully vaccinated. In Brazil, less than 3% of the country’s 210 million people have received both doses, according to Our World in Data, an online research site. South Korea reported 700 more cases, the highest daily jump since Jan. 5. Health authorities were expected to announce measures to strengthen social distancing following a meeting Friday. In Thailand, which has reported only 95 deaths during the pandemic, health officials reported the country’s first local cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain. The news comes at a time when only 1% of the population has been vaccinated and as Thais prepare to celebrate the traditional Songkran New Year’s holiday next week, typically a time of widespread travel. That variant is more contagious, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it is now the most common variant in the United States, raising concerns it will drive infections and cause more people to get sick. Also read: Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine Michigan has averaged more than 7,000 new cases a day — a number that makes the state second in the nation behind New York. Michigan also has the highest number of new cases per capita, with 1 of every 203 state residents getting diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 31 and April 7, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In Detroit, which is about 80% Black, officials said they plan to start visiting homes to talk about the importance of protecting themselves from the virus with vaccinations and how to sign up to receive the shots. “We’re going to knock on every residential door in the city, making sure every Detroiter knows how to make an appointment,” Victoria Kovari, an executive assistant to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, told The Detroit News. Only 22% of Detroit residents have received at least one vaccine dose compared to 38% for all of Michigan, according to Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. Also read: COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery Other Midwestern states have seen troubling signs in recent days, including a school district in Iowa where 127 students and five staff members tested positive for the coronavirus or are presumed positive. In Massachusetts, where the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen to over 2,100 new cases per day, the Massachusetts Public Health Association called on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to reinstate public health measures. The group urged Baker to limit indoor dining capacity and other indoor activities, saying the rise in cases and hospitalizations followed Baker’s decision to loosen those restrictions. “We are currently in a race between the vaccines and the variants,” Carlene Pavlos, the group’s executive director said Thursday. “Without these public health measures, even more innocent lives will be needlessly lost.”
As the Coronavirus infection cases keep rising in Bangladesh, 26 more deaths and 1,719 new cases were reported in 24 hours till Tuesday morning, mounting concerns among people.
Bangladesh's daily Covid-19 cases have continued to pass the 1,000-mark for the last three days. The country recorded 1,066 new cases in the last 24 hours until early Friday.
Bangladesh recorded six more Coronavirus related deaths and 635 new cases in the last 24 hours until Friday morning, registering a rise in daily infection rate.
The government of Dubai on Wednesday ordered all hospitals to cancel nonessential surgeries for the next month as coronavirus infections surge to unprecedented heights in the United Arab Emirates.