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Situation in India ‘beyond heartbreaking’, WHO chief says

(Asian News Hub) – The situation in India, where COVID-19 cases have surged, is “beyond heartbreaking”, and the World Health Organization is sending extra staff and supplies there to help fight the pandemic, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies,” Tedros told a briefing.

The WHO has redeployed 2,600 staff members from other programmes in India to help support the effort to fight the disease, he said, citing figures provided last Friday.

India ordered its armed forces on Monday to help tackle surging new coronavirus infections that are overwhelming hospitals, as countries including Britain, Germany and the United States pledged to send urgent medical aid.

“The exponential growth that we have seen in case numbers is really, truly astonishing,” Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told the news conference.

“We have seen similar trajectories of increases in transmission in a number of countries, it has not been at the same scale and it has not had the same level of impact of burden on the healthcare system that we have seen in India,” she said.

The COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, run by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO, has provided more than 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 120 economies. The majority so far are the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) shot made by the Serum Institute of India.

GAVI CEO Seth Berkley, asked how COVAX was compensating for India’s decision to delay vaccine exports, said: “We had expected 90 million doses for March and April for the 60 lowest income countries including India and those have not been made available. Given the crisis in India now they are being used domestically.

“And we are waiting for when supplies will resume, we are looking at other options at the same time,” he said.

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Kangana Ranaut tests positive for COVID-19

(Asian News Hub) – Actor Kangana Ranaut on Saturday said she has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and is under home quarantine.

The 34-year-old actor, whose Twitter account was permanently suspended for repeated violations of rules earlier this week, shared her diagnosis on Instagram.

“I was feeling tired and weak with slight burning sensation in my eyes for past few days, was hoping to go to Himachal so got my test done yesterday and today the result came I am covid positive.

“I have quarantined myself, I had no idea this virus is having a party in my body,” she wrote.

Terming COVID-19 a “small time flu”, Ranaut said she is determined to “destroy” the virus from her body.

“…Now that I know I will demolish it, people please don’t give anything any power over you, if you are scared it will scare you more, come let’s destroy this Covid -19 it is nothing but a small time flu which got too much press and now psyching few people,” she added.

On Friday, Mumbai reported 3,040 new COVID-19 cases and 71 fresh fatalities.

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COVID situation going from bad to worse; PM, health min refuse to own responsibility: Chidambaram

(Asian News Hub) – Asserting that the COVID-19 pandemic situation is going from bad to worse, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan are refusing to own responsibility and are making a “mockery of democratic principles”.

His remarks came after the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday showed a record 4,14,188 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day in India, raising the country’s tally to 2,14,91,598. The active cases have crossed the 36-lakh mark.

“The pandemic situation is going from bad to worse. The insufficient supply of vaccines is a hard, bitter truth, but the government is in denial,” Chidambaram tweeted.

“In Tamil Nadu, not all among 45 plus are getting the first dose and a small number the second dose. Nobody between 18 and 44 is getting the vaccine,” he claimed.

The situation in other states is not very different, Chidambaram added.

“The PM and the Health Minister refuse to own responsibility and are making a mockery of democratic principles,” the former Union minister alleged.

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Govt’s failures have made another national lockdown inevitable: Rahul Gandhi to PM

(Asian News Hub) – Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the government’s alleged failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable, and called for providing financial and food support to the most vulnerable.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he suggested that the government should not be concerned about the economic impact of the lockdown as the human cost of the spread of of the virus would have tragic consequences for the people.

“Your government’s lack of a clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy, as well as its hubris in declaring premature victory as the virus was exponentially spreading, has placed India in a highly dangerous position: today the disease is growing explosively.

“It is currently on the verge of overwhelming all of our systems. GOI’s failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable,” he told the prime minister.

India has seen a record number of 4.14 lakh fresh Covid cases and around 4000 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Gandhi said it is critical that our people are prepared for such an eventuality of a lockdown. He has been demanding that the government provides Rs 6000 in the accounts to each poor family to tide over the crisis.

“To prevent a repeat of the manifold suffering caused by last year’s lockdown, the government must act with compassion and provide critical financial and food support to our most vulnerable people,” he said, adding that it must be also ready with a transportation strategy for those who will require it.

The former Congress chief said that when the COVID-19 tsunami continues to ravage our country unabated, the people of India must be your foremost priority in such an unprecedented crisis.

“I urge you to do everything in your power to stop the needless suffering that our people are going through,” he said.

Gandhi also called for rapidly vaccinating the entire population and dynamically assess the efficacy of all vaccines against all new mutations as they are identified.

He also called for scientifically tracking the virus and its mutations across the country using genome sequencing as well as its disease patterns.

Gandhi also urged the government to be transparent and keep the rest of the world informed about our findings.

“I am aware that you are concerned about the economic impact of a lockdown. Inside and outside India, the human cost of allowing this virus to continue its march unimpeded will result in many more tragic consequences for our people than any purely economic calculations your advisors are suggesting,” he said in his letter to PM.

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