India Sees Cases Slow As Outbreak Spills Into Nepal; Regional Mutant Arrives In US
It finally looks like India’s brutal second wave of COVID-19 is easing, as cases again slowed on Monday, while daily deaths remained near record highs. New cases dropped below 300K on Monday, to 281,386, while deaths remained stubbornly above 4K at 4,106. In total, India has counted 24,965,463 cases (with many more likely uncounted) and 274, 390 deaths.
Vaccinations, meanwhile, have lagged with just 182M doses administered across the country of 1.4 billion.
Source: Johns Hopkins
However, there’s a new threat on the horizon that could cripple India’s health-care system at what is probably its most vulnerable moment: a cyclone called Cyclone Tauktae, which is hammering the western part of the country, including drenching the financial capital of Mumbai.
In Gujarat, where on Sunday and overnight nearly 150,000 people from 17 districts were evacuated, all Covid-19 patients in hospitals with five kilometres of the coast were also moved. In some places, to ensure that hospitals are not faced with power outages, 1,383 back-up generators have been installed, according to local officials.
Virus safety protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing and the use of sanitisers would be observed in the shelters for evacuees, officials added.
Data released Monday showed new cases in Mumbai have declined 70% in the past week, from 11,000 daily cases to fewer than 2,000 in Mumbai.
Across India, active cases number more than 3.6 million, meaning hospitals are still swamped by patients.
Izhaar Hussain Shaikh, an ambulance driver in Mumbai, drove about 70 patients to the hospital last month. Two weeks into May, he’d carried only 10 patients, according to Newsweek. “We used to be so busy before, we didn’t even have time to eat.”
Meanwhile, more signs that India’s outbreak is spreading beyond its borders emerged as the worsening outbreak in neighboring Nepal made headlines in the West. NBC News reported that cases have exploded in Nepal in recent weeks, which is one reason why China installed a border “line” at the summit of Mt Everest to warn mountaineers to stay out of China.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed worry about the unfolding crisis.
“India remains hugely concerning,” he said at a news briefing. “But it’s not only India that has emergency needs. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations.”
Others warned that the situation in Nepal might worsen in the coming days as some 9K cases are reported daily, while many more likely go undiagnosed.
“We are in the initial phase,” said Sushila Pandit, a Nepalese aid worker with Mercy Corps, an international nongovernmental aid group. “I think the condition will be more critical in the the coming days.”
Experts in Europe warned last week that mutant strain known as B.1.617 and some of its variants had been traced to parts of Europe and the UK. Well on Monday, scientists warned that B.1.617 had officially been tracked to the US, according to USA Today.
Mon, 05/17/2021 – 22:50