India hospitals overwhelmed, Japan declares emergency

Global coronavirus toll rises to 30,73,969

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 01:12, Apr 24,2021


The novel coronavirus has killed at least 30,73,969 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1000 GMT on Friday.

At least 14,46,60,360 cases of coronavirus have been registered. The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.

On Thursday, 13,054 new deaths and 8,44,310 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were India with 2,263, followed by Brazil with 2,027 and United States with 786.

The United States remains the worst-affected country with 5,70,346 deaths from 3,19,30,188 cases.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 3,83,502 deaths from 1,41,67,973 cases, Mexico with 2,14,095 deaths from 23,19,519 cases, India with 1,86,920 deaths from 1,62,63,695 cases, and the United Kingdom with 1,27,345 deaths from 43,98,431 cases.

Europe overall has 10,42,124 deaths from 4,89,98,073 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean 8,83,098 deaths from 2,77,49,603 infections, and the United States and Canada 5,94,157 deaths from 3,30,81,191 cases.

Asia has reported 3,08,839 deaths from 2,28,15,176 cases, the Middle East 1,25,517 deaths from 75,01,071 cases, Africa 1,19,197 deaths from 44,72,959 cases, and Oceania 1,037 deaths from 42,295 cases.

Hospitals in India launched desperate appeals for oxygen on Friday as the nation’s Covid crisis spiralled, while Japan issued a state of emergency in some areas just three months before the Olympics are due to open.

Covid-19 surges are placing a major strain on healthcare systems across the world, with no end in sight to a pandemic that has killed more than three million people.

Governments are desperate to accelerate vaccine campaigns to help their countries — and economies — recover from the virus, and the EU said Friday it would have enough vaccines to inoculate 70 per cent of adults in July.

The country on Friday reported more than 3,30,000 new infections and 2,000 deaths in a single day, as healthcare facilities sounded the alarm on oxygen supplies for patients on ventilator support.

‘SOS — less than an hour’s oxygen supplies at Max Smart Hospital & Max Hospital Saket,’ one of the biggest private hospital chains in Delhi said on Twitter.

‘Over 700 patients admitted, need immediate assistance.’

Prime minister Narendra Modi was set to hold at least three crisis meetings to discuss oxygen supplies and the availability of critical medicines.

Compounding the misery, 13 Covid patients died in Mumbai when a fire broke out in their hospital — the latest in a string of blazes at Indian healthcare facilities.

Many parts of the country have now tightened restrictions, with the capital in lockdown and all non-essential services banned in Maharashtra. The northern state of Uttar Pradesh, home to 240 million people, goes into a shutdown this weekend.

Other countries have closed their doors to India, fearing the new virus strain. The United Arab Emirates on Thursday became the latest nation to impose restrictions, while Canada halted flights from both India and Pakistan.

Many countries are seeing fresh waves of the virus despite vaccine programmes gaining ground.

Japan on Friday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other regions, just three months before the country is supposed to host the Olympics.

‘Today we decided to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo prefectures,’ prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced, citing the rise of infections involving new virus variants.

The country’s minister for virus response Yasutoshi Nishimura earlier warned of a ‘strong sense of crisis,’ saying current restrictions were not sufficient.

The measure will run from April 25 to May 11, coinciding with the annual Golden Week holiday, Japan’s busiest travel period.

Authorities want bars and restaurants to stop selling alcohol or close, and to shutter major commercial facilities like malls.

Spectators will also be barred from sports events, which can continue behind closed doors, and remote working will be encouraged.

And in a sign concerns were mounting about the fate of the Summer Games, Australia’s diving team withdrew from an Olympics test event, saying it was ‘not safe’ to travel to Japan.

Governments were grappling with new surges elsewhere.

Russia announced Friday it would impose a 10-day non-working period in May to stem the virus spread, a departure from the government’s hands-off approach in recent months.

Russia has been hard hit by Covid-19, with the Rosstat state statistics agency recording more than 224,000 virus-related deaths — more than double the 107,501 that health officials reported as of Friday.

If correct, the Rosstat toll would mean Russia has the third-highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, after the United States and Brazil.

Countries are now looking to vaccines as the road out of the pandemic, as populations tire of prolonged virus restrictions.

Vaccination programmes that started very sluggishly in many European countries are now beginning to pick up speed.

The EU offered said Friday it would have enough doses for most of its adults population by the summer.

‘I’m confident we will have enough doses to vaccinate 70 per cent of all EU adults already in July,’ European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

The EU chief had previously set a goal of late September for the target, but announced the new date during a visit to a Belgian vaccine plant that is ramping up production.

And Germany is expecting to open up inoculation to all adults in June at the latest, health minister Jens Spahn said.

Europe’s biggest economy is in talks with Russia to buy 30 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, according to Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer, who discussed the issue with president Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

The AstraZeneca vaccine’s troubles show no sign of abating, with the European Commission seeking to launch legal action against the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker for under-delivering doses to the EU, which hobbled the bloc’s early inoculation rollout.

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