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World Glimmer of hope seen in India, but virus crisis not over yet

09:05  17 may  2021
09:05  17 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

Personal ties: Harris' family in India grapples with COVID

  Personal ties: Harris' family in India grapples with COVID WASHINGTON (AP) — G. Balachandran turned 80 this spring — a milestone of a birthday in India, where he lives. If not for the coronavirus pandemic, he would have been surrounded by family members who gathered to celebrate with him. But with the virus ravaging his homeland, Balachandran had to settle for congratulatory phone calls. Including one from his rather famous niece: Vice President Kamala Harris. “Unfortunately, because of the COVID, I cannot have such an elaborate function,” the retired academic said in a Zoom interview Thursday from his home in New Delhi.Harris' uncle says he spoke with the vice president and her husband, Doug Emhoff, for quite a while.

"Our hope is, things will get back on track, but the situation in India is uncertain… and a huge concern." Unicef is calling on the G7 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, as well as the EU, to donate their surplus supplies urgently. Some countries have ordered enough to vaccinate There are grave concerns that events in India could play out in other countries too - both near and far from the region. "Cases are exploding and health systems are struggling in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives… and also in Argentina and Brazil," said Unicef director Henrietta Fore.

Tantrums of ‘terrible twos’ seen in much older children in pandemic. Gyawali is also a member of the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre, known as CCMC, which is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel. Experts say the threat is not over yet and what is concerning is the Oli government might get into a complacent mode, claiming " India remains hugely concerning, with several states

BENGALURU, India (AP) — For the first time in months, Izhaar Hussain Shaikh is feeling somewhat optimistic.

FILE- In this May 11, 2021 file photo, a health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a Kashmiri man to test for COVID-19 in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE- In this May 11, 2021 file photo, a health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a Kashmiri man to test for COVID-19 in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin, File)

The 30-year-old ambulance driver in India’s metropolis of Mumbai has been working tirelessly ever since the city became the epicenter of another catastrophic COVID-19 surge slashing through the country. Last month, he drove about 70 patients to the hospital, his cellphone constantly vibrating with calls.

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  'How Can Modi Be Forgiven?' India's COVID-19 Crisis May Be Turning the Middle Class Against the Prime Minister 'How Can Modi Be Forgiven?' India's COVID-19 Crisis May Be Turning the Middle Class Against the Prime MinisterIt was an unusual request, she admitted, but these are unusual times. The doctor’s own mother was in a bed next to the critical patient, and she feared that his corpse might be left there throughout the night. Mortuaries throughout the Indian capital are overstretched, the doctor says, and bodies sometimes lie around uncovered among the living till the muscles harden and rigor mortis sets in.

India 's supply of vaccine doses should rise to 516 million doses by July, and more than 2 billion between August to December, boosted by domestic production and imports, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement. Vaccines were resulting in milder infections and preventing loss of life, states told Vardhan on Saturday, according to the statement. But surges have been seen in states such as Tamil Nadu in the south and rural areas. The government issued new guidelines on Sunday to curb the spread of the virus in India 's vast countryside, urging more surveillance of flu-like symptoms.

In India , distressing images of families begging for hospital beds and life-saving supplies have been emerging for more than 10 days, while morgues and crematoriums remain overwhelmed. Twelve people died on Saturday at Delhi's Batra Hospital after it ran out of oxygen - for the second time in a week. The Times of India newspaper reported 16 deaths in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh due to oxygen shortages in two hospitals, and six in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon. Delhi High Court has now declared it will start punishing officials if life-saving supplies don't make it to hospitals.

FILE- In this May 10, 2021, file photo, people waiting to get vaccinated against the coronavirus stand outside the closed gates of a hospital in Ghaziabad, outskirts of New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE- In this May 10, 2021, file photo, people waiting to get vaccinated against the coronavirus stand outside the closed gates of a hospital in Ghaziabad, outskirts of New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma, File)

But two weeks into May, he’s only carried 10 patients. Cases are falling and so are the phone calls.

“We used to be so busy before, we didn’t even have time to eat,” he said.

FILE- In this May 13, 2021 file photo, people sit at a vegetables market in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections.  (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE- In this May 13, 2021 file photo, people sit at a vegetables market in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

In the last week, the number of new cases plunged by nearly 70% in India’s financial capital, home to 22 million people. After a peak of 11,000 daily cases, the city is now seeing fewer than 2,000 a day.

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The authorities in the Indian capital Delhi have called for help from the army as the city grapples with a brutal second wave of Covid-19 cases. Hospitals in the city are in crisis , with intensive care beds full and an acute shortage of medical oxygen. Delhi's government wants the army to run Covid care facilities and intensive care units. Experts say total Covid cases and deaths in India are likely to be much higher, citing lack of testing and patients dying at home without being seen by doctors.

The emergency in India , where a worrying virus variant is spreading rapidly, is driving a new global surge in the pandemic. It also carries implications for countries relying on India for the AstraZeneca vaccine, millions of doses of which are manufactured there. “It’s a desperate situation out there,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, the founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, adding that donations would be welcome but might make only a “dent on the problem.” Indian -American businessmen have pledged millions in cash from the companies they lead.

The turnaround represents a glimmer of hope for India, still in the clutches of a devastating coronavirus surge that has raised public anger at the government.

A well-enforced lockdown and vigilant authorities are being credited for Mumbai's burgeoning success. Even the capital of New Delhi is seeing whispers of improvement as infections slacken after weeks of tragedy and desperation playing out in overcrowded hospitals and crematoriums and on the streets.

With over 24 million confirmed cases and 270,000 deaths, India’s caseload is the second highest after the U.S. But experts believe that the country’s steeply rising curve may finally be flattening — even if the plateau is a high one, with an average of 340,000 confirmed daily cases last week. On Monday, infections continued to decline as cases dipped below 300,000 for the first time in weeks.

It is still too early to say things are improving, with Mumbai and New Delhi representing only a sliver of the overall situation.

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  Begging for air: India's oxygen crisis imperils its COVID-19 response Indians are blaming a national government that did not prepare for a second wave. Officials are now scrambling to distribute supplies.They had come from all over to this makeshift oxygen tank-refilling center in a city 40 miles northeast of the Indian capital of New Delhi in a desperate bid to score what has become the most precious commodity in this pandemic-stricken nation.

In a glimmer of hope , cases of Covid-19 appear to be levelling off in the North East of England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cases there remain high, but have not continued the skyward trajectory of other badly hit regions such as the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. Prof Tim Spector, who analyses the app data at King's College London, said: "We are still seeing a steady rise nationally, doubling every four weeks, with the possible exception of Scotland which may be showing signs of a slow down." Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the

Comes amid concern that cases of new Indian variant are being found across UK. Tory MPs urged him to reject scientist suggestions of extending lockdown curbs. Sir Graham Brady, a senior Tory MP, urged the Prime Minister not to 'panic' over the new variant, which is still rare in the UK. And his colleague Iain Duncan Smith said it was 'bonkers' to even consider further delays to reopening when evidence suggested existing vaccines worked against the Indian strain.

For one, drops in the national caseload, however marginal, largely reflect falling infections in a handful of states with big populations and/or high rates of testing. So the nationwide trends represent an incomplete and misleading picture of how things are faring across India as a whole, experts say.

FILE - In this April 29, 2021, file photo, people wait to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds.  (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 29, 2021, file photo, people wait to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade, File)

“There will always be smaller states or cities where things are getting worse, but this won’t be as clear in the national caseload numbers,” said Murad Banaji, a mathematician modeling India’s cases.

FILE - In this May 8, 2021, file photo, Indians wait to refill oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a gas supplier facility in New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 8, 2021, file photo, Indians wait to refill oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients at a gas supplier facility in New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan, File)

Given India’s size and population of nearly 1.4 billion, what’s more important to track is a cascade of peaks at different times instead of a single national one, experts said.

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“It seems like we are getting desensitized by the numbers, having gotten used to such high ones,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a University of Michigan biostatistician tracking the virus in India. “But a relative change or drop in overall cases does not diminish the magnitude of the crisis by any means."

FILE - In this May 11, 2021, file photo, family members and volunteers carry the body of a COVID-19 victim for cremation in New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 11, 2021, file photo, family members and volunteers carry the body of a COVID-19 victim for cremation in New Delhi, India. The capital of New Delhi is seeing some improvement in the fight against the coronavirus, but experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. Hospitals are still overwhelmed and officials are struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma)

With active cases over 3.6 million, hospitals are still swamped by patients.

Experts also warn that another reason for an apparent peak or plateau in cases could be that the virus has outrun India's testing capabilities. As the virus jumps from cities to towns to villages, testing has struggled to keep pace, stirring fears that a rural surge is unfurling even as data lags far behind.

Combating the spread in the countryside, where health infrastructure is scarce and where most Indians live, will be the biggest challenge. “The transmission will be slower and lower, but it can still exact a big toll,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

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FILE - In this May 6, 2021, file photo, health worker tries to adjust the oxygen mask of a patient at the BKC jumbo field hospital, one of the largest COVID-19 facilities in Mumbai, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 6, 2021, file photo, health worker tries to adjust the oxygen mask of a patient at the BKC jumbo field hospital, one of the largest COVID-19 facilities in Mumbai, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Even in big cities, testing has become increasingly harder to access. Labs are inundated and results are taking days, leading many to start treating symptoms before confirming a coronavirus infection. In the last month, cases have more than tripled and reported deaths have gone up six times — but testing has only increased by 1.6 times, said Mukherjee. Meanwhile, vaccinations have plummeted by 40%.

FILE - In this May 13, 2021, file photo, Indian Muslims shop during a relaxation of lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr in Hyderabad, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 13, 2021, file photo, Indian Muslims shop during a relaxation of lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr in Hyderabad, India. A dip in the number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai is offering a glimmer of hope for India, which is suffering through a surge of infections. But experts say the crisis is far from over in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people, with hospitals still overwhelmed and officials struggling with short supplies of oxygen and beds. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)

One of the biggest concerns for experts is that India may never know the full death toll from the virus, with fatalities undercounted on such a scale that reporters are finding more answers at crematoriums than official state tallies.

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  Cascade of Rare Complications Deepen India’s Covid Misery Rare, life-threatening Covid-19 complications appear to be escalating in India, creating a fresh wave of critical medical challenges in a country that has already seen short supplies of oxygen and other basic needs. Pharmacists are warning of a shortage of a crucial drug to treat an invasive fungal infection preying on patients with weakened immune systems. An uptick in cases across India of a dangerous inflammatory syndrome in children -- also seen in the U.S. and Europe at the height of their outbreaks -- is a harbinger of a potentially deadly spate of the pediatric illness in the coming weeks.

But while authorities previously appeared to struggle to even acknowledge the scale, they’re now taking action. “Before, there just wasn’t a focused attention. But now everyone is focused on containing it as much as possible,” Reddy said.

Hit by a staggering shortage of beds, oxygen and other medical supplies, many states are now adding thousands of beds a week, converting stadiums into COVID-19 hospitals, and procuring as much equipment as possible. States across India are preparing to be hit by another torrent of infections and even courts have intervened to help untangle oxygen supplies.

Aid from overseas, while still facing bureaucratic hurdles, is starting to trickle in. More than 11,000 oxygen concentrators, nearly 13,000 oxygen cylinders and 34 million vials of antivirals have been sent to different states.

Still, help is arriving too slowly in many districts as new infections surface in every single region, even the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Indian Ocean.

Even though Mumbai looks as if it might have turned a corner, surrounding Maharashtra state is still seeing around 40,000 daily cases. “You have a really, really complicated and mixed picture,” said Banaji, the mathematician.

But in at least one Mumbai hospital, “the burden is 30% to 40% less than before,” said Dr. Om Shrivastav, a doctor and member of Maharashtra’s COVID-19 task force.

Already, the city and state are bracing for more infections. A court told Maharashtra this week to continue updating and ramping up measures as authorities look into getting vaccines from abroad to fill a domestic shortage.

“We are making sure we’re not caught napping. In the event this happens again, we’re going to do better,” Shrivastav said.

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Ghosal reported from New Delhi. Associated Press journalist Rafiq Maqbool in Mumbai, India, contributed.

As COVID-19 cases and deaths spike in India, 'a sense of alarm and horror' in US

  As COVID-19 cases and deaths spike in India, 'a sense of alarm and horror' in US As India experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Indian residents in the U.S. are looking for ways to help family and friends overseas.“You don't know whether the phone call is from someone in India who you know has been touched by this virus,” Kamath said. “Most of us have known somebody who’s received bad news.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

As COVID-19 cases and deaths spike in India, 'a sense of alarm and horror' in US .
As India experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Indian residents in the U.S. are looking for ways to help family and friends overseas.“You don't know whether the phone call is from someone in India who you know has been touched by this virus,” Kamath said. “Most of us have known somebody who’s received bad news.

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