The coronavirus situation in India remains “hugely concerning” as several states in the country were continuing to see a “worrying number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths”, said World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday.
“WHO is responding and has shipped thousands of oxygen concentrators, tents for mobile field hospitals, masks and other medical supplies,” Tedros said at a media briefing. “And we thank all the stakeholders who are supporting India.”
India has been reporting an alarming number of cases, registering more than 3 lakh infections a day every day for the past three weeks, since April 22.
India on Saturday reported 3,26,098 new Covid-19 cases and 3,890 fatalities in 24 hours. This pushed the country’s case count to 2,43,72,907 and toll to 2,66,207 since the pandemic began in January. There are 36,73,802 active cases and 2,04,32,898 patients have recovered from the disease so far.
At Friday’s media briefing, the WHO chief pointed out that other countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt were also facing a crisis and needed emergency supplies. “Some countries in the Americas still have high numbers of cases and as a region, the Americas accounted for 40% of all Covid-19 deaths last week,” he said. ‘There are also spikes in some countries in Africa.”
Tedros also said that this year of the pandemic would be “far more deadly” than the first. The coronavirus pandemic broke out in December 2019.
The WHO chief asserted that the combination of public health measures and vaccination was the only way to tackle the pandemic.
While he expressed concern on the vaccine supply , saying only 0.3% of it was going to low-income countries, he said that world leaders were addressing problems related to it.
Tedros said that a number of new countries have announced sharing vaccines with COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. “Second, new deals involving tech-transfer and sharing of know-how between international manufacturers to scale up vaccine production have been announced,” he said. “And third, leaders including the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, have called for all trade barriers to be lifted as soon as possible.”
At the briefing, the WHO chief also said the global health body convened researchers and scientists to take stock of what was known about the coronavirus infection and identify the knowledge gaps in it.
“In the past 18 months, major advances have been made in the understanding of modes of transmission, epidemiological trends, clinical management, development of point of care diagnostics, treatments and a large number of vaccines,” Tedros said.
He said he hoped that this breakthrough innovation will continue at a record speed.
Globally, the coronavirus has now infected 16.15 crore people and killed over 33.53 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.