‘Hugely Concerning’: WHO Chief on COVID Surge in India

In another dismal warning, the global health expert said that the second year of COVID-19 would be far more deadly.

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The Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday, 14 May, said that India's COVID-19 situation remains "hugely concerning as several states continue to witness a worrying number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths,” PTI reported.

In another dismal warning, the global health expert said that the second year of COVID-19 would be "far more deadly", AFP reported.

At a media briefing, Ghebreyesus said that the WHO is sending aid for managing the surge in infections in India and has shipped thousands of oxygen concentrators, tents for mobile field hospitals, masks, and other medical supplies.

"We thank all the stakeholders who are supporting India," Ghebreyesus added.

The daily infection tally in India has been roughly equal to daily COVID cases in the rest of the world combined, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, the country is deploying its first foreign-made vaccine, Russia's Sputnik V to expand its inoculation drive to curb the spread of the virus.

The first token batch of Sputnik vaccines, reportedly 150,000 doses, arrived on 1 May and a second delivery is expected in the next few days, AFP reported.

Japan & the Olympics

The development also comes in the background of Japan extending its state of emergency amid growing calls for the upcoming Olympics to be cancelled.

Hiroshima, Okayama and northern Hokkaido – the Japanese cities that are scheduled to hold the Olympic marathon – joined Tokyo and several other areas already under restrictive orders until the end of May.

The calls to scrap the Games comes as the country grapples with a fourth wave of the virus that has put Japan's healthcare system under strain.

Former Tokyo governor candidate Kenji Utsunomiya urged Games organisers to "prioritise life" over ceremony as he submitted the petition to capital authorities, AFP reported.

The pandemic has killed at least 3,346,813 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in late 2019, as per an AFP tally of official data.

In Taiwan, which has been leading in COVID management at entertainment venues, libraries and sports centres have been closed in Taipei in view of an outbreak of infections first detected among pilots.


Nations Move Towards Normalcy

However, in the US, the top health agency said that it was easing its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday even as Biden declared a victory over the virus that has seen more than 580,000 Americans succumb.

"I think it's a great milestone, a great day," he said, AFP reported.

Around 60 percent of all adults in the US have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as cases dip to a seven-day average of 38,000, AFP reported.

In Europe, countries like Greece, France and Spain have launched tourism campaigns, while Italy revoked its quarantine requirement for the EU, British and Israeli tourists and visitors tourist.

In the US, the Pfizer vaccine was given emergency authorisation for use among adolescents aged 12-15, and the inoculation drive began on Thursday.

However, WHO has urged wealthy countries to postpone vaccinating children and donate doses to poorer nations.

The WHO Chief said, "I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now, I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to Covax.”

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Topics:  India   Japan   WHO 

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