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In Brazil, Covid increasingly hitting the young

22-year-old COVID-19 patient was first person in Sao Paulo to die waiting for an ICU bed
Leading the morning medical meeting at an intensive care unit in Sao Paulo

(Asian News Hub) – Leading the morning medical meeting at an intensive care unit in Sao Paulo, Jaques Sztajnbok reviews his COVID-19 patients.

Two, aged 56 and 53, are on ventilators. A third is breathing on his own, but writhing in agony. He is 26 years old.

There are fewer wrinkles and less gray hair among patients in Brazil’s intensive care units as the country reels from a surge in COVID-19 that is increasingly hitting people under 60.

“We’re seeing a high prevalence of younger patients, with no pre-existing conditions, hospitalized with very severe cases,” Sztajnbok, head of intensive care at Emilio Ribas Hospital, told AFP.

“The same trend is being reported at ICUs across Brazil.”

Brazil variant

In Brazil, like most of the world, severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 were mainly among the elderly during the first wave of the novel coronavirus last year.

Now, the country is dealing with a devastating resurgence of the virus, blamed partly on the emergence of a new strain known as “P1” or the “Brazil variant.”

The recent surge has pushed hospitals across Brazil close to the breaking point, as the country’s death toll has soared to 285,000 – second only to the United States.

This time, the demographic profile of the victims is increasingly young.

Before the trend emerged last December, the 30- to 59-year-old age group represented 20 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Brazil. In about three months, that figure increased to 27 percent, according to health ministry data.

Meanwhile, the share of the death toll for over-60s fell from 78 percent to 71 percent. “Half the (Covid-19) patients hospitalized in our nursing wards are under 60,” said Luiz Carlos Pereira Junior, the director of Emilio Ribas.

A year ago, at the start of the first wave in Brazil, that figure was 35 percent, he said.

Living dangerously

Health experts say part of the issue is that young people are following social distancing and masking recommendations less than the elderly.

In a country whose president, far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, has railed against stay-at-home measures and face masks, many people have continued with life as usual despite the pandemic, especially the young.

It is common to see packed subways and buses, streets crowded with mask-less pedestrians and police raids to break up illegal parties and clandestine bars.

“Last year, I think the fear of an unknown disease had such an impact on people that they listened to experts’ recommendations. But they aren’t anymore,” said Sztajnbok.

“Young people have lost their fear.”

Vaccine effect

Even as the young expose themselves more to the virus, the elderly are starting to benefit from the protection of vaccines.

“Some states have already finished vaccinating over-75s,” said epidemiologist Walter Ramalho of the University of Brasilia.

“And the elderly generally stay home more than the young,” he told news site Poder 360.

Public health institute Fiocruz warned this week that the country of 212 million people is facing “the worst health care and hospital collapse” in its history.

Having to hospitalize more young people only adds to the pressure.

The average stay in intensive care has nearly doubled, from 15 to 28 days, according to Graccho Alvim, head of the Private Hospital Association of Rio de Janeiro.

“That’s because we’re receiving a lot of young patients, and they resist the disease better than the elderly,” Alvim told newspaper Globo.

In what some called a troubling warning sign, a 22-year-old COVID-19 patient on Thursday became the first person in Sao Paulo to die while waiting in line for an ICU bed.


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COVID-19: Strict week-long Lockdown in Bangladesh from April 14

(Asian News Hub) – A strict 7-day lockdown is going to be enforced in Bangladesh, from April 14, allowing only emergency services to remain in operation, it was announced on Friday.

All government and private offices, and factories will remain closed during the week-long lockdown to curb the Covid-19 spread, Public Administration Farhad Hossain said.

A gazette notification in this regard will be issued soon, he added.


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Myanmar: 114 civilians killed in deadliest day since Coup

(Asian News Hub) – At least 114 civilians were killed across Myanmar on Saturday as the military junta continued to crackdown on peaceful protests, CNN reported citing Myanmar Now.

The killings in 44 towns and cities across the country would represent the bloodiest day of protests since a military coup last month.

Among those killed is a 13-year-old who was shot in her house after the junta’s armed forces opened fire in residential areas of Meikhtila.

State television had said on Friday that protesters risked being shot ‘in the head and back.’

Despite this, demonstrators against the February 1 coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns.

On February 1, Myanmar’s military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency while detaining civilian leaders including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The coup triggered mass protests which were met by the junta’s deadly violence.

The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the UN office in Myanmar spoke out against the violence.

‘The continuing military crackdown, which today resulted in the highest daily death toll since demonstrations against the coup began last month, is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified and resolute international response. It is critical to find an urgent solution to this crisis,’ said a statement issued by Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general.

‘The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the killing of dozens of civilians,’ Haq said.

The UN office in Myanmar said it ‘is horrified by the needless loss of life today with reports of dozens of people shot dead by the military across the country, in the bloodiest day since the coup.’

‘The violence is completely unacceptable and must stop immediately. Those responsible must be held to account,’ the UN office added.

‘As the Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener has said, ensuring peace and defending the people should be the responsibility of any military, but the Tatmadaw has turned against its own people,’ it added.

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Horrifying day of bloodshed in Myanmar

(Asian News Hub) – Security forces killed more than 90 people, including some children, across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since a military coup last month, news reports and witnesses said.

The lethal crackdown, which took place on Armed Forces Day, drew strong renewed criticism from Western countries. British Ambassador Dan Chugg said the security forces had “disgraced themselves” and the U.S. envoy called the violence horrifying.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a parade to mark Armed Forces Day that the military would protect the people and strive for democracy.

State television had said on Friday that protesters risked being shot “in the head and back”. Despite this, demonstrators came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done almost daily since the Feb. 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Myanmar Now news portal said 91 people were killed across the country by security forces.

At least 29 people, including a 13-year-old girl, were killed in Mandalay, and at least 24 people were killed in Yangon, Myanmar Now said. A boy as young as five was earlier reported among the dead in Mandalay but there were conflicting reports later that he may have survived.

Another 13-year-old was among the dead in the central Sagaing region.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.

Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people – including a lieutenant colonel – and losing one of its own fighters.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on the killings by security forces or the insurgent attack on its post.

“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw in the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed. “We will keep protesting regardless… We must fight until the junta falls.”

The deaths on Saturday would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to well over 400.


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