Gulf Today

One-in-six Indians tests positive as demand for oxygen increases


NEW DELHI: More government hospital beds will be freed for COVID-19 patients, India’s health ministry said on Sunday, as the vast nation grappled with a worsening virus crisis and states appealed for additional supplies of oxygen and treatment drugs.

The country of 1.3 billion people added a record-high of 261,500 new cases on Sunday, with one-in-six people who underwent tests returning positive coronaviru­s results, the ministry said.

India is the world’s second most-infected nation with almost 14.8 million cases.

Hospitals usually reserved for employees of ministries or public sector companies should convert some of their wards into COVID-19 facilities equipped with ICU and oxygen-supported beds, ventilator­s, laboratori­es and healthcare staff, the government said.

In the capital New Delhi — the worst-hit city in India — 25,500 infections were reported in the past 24 hours.

“The cases are rising very fast,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a video statement.

“Only 100 beds let. Even oxygen is in short supply.”

Kejriwal said additional beds would be set up at some schools and a sport complex.

His government added that millions of pilgrims who atended an ongoing religious festival -- the Kumbh Mela -- had to quarantine for two weeks if they returned to Delhi.

Nearly 3,700 people have tested positive in the past week in the city of Haridwar, which lies along the Ganges river where the Kumbh Mela is being observed, the Utarakhand state government said.

UAE vaccines are best: Dr Farida Al Hosani, Official Spokespers­on of the UAE Health Sector and Director of the Communicab­le Diseases Department of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre ( ADPHC), said that the types of vaccines available in the country are among the best in the world, noting that the UAE aims to enlarge the scope of people taking the vaccine to reach acquired immunity, which will reduce infections.

She emphasised several key pillars, most notably using face masks, and stressed the importance of using licenced medical face masks to protect everyone’s health and safety, as well as refraining from taking children to crowded areas, especially playground­s. Children over the age of three should wear face masks, and those under that age should wear face shields, she added.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) announced that it conducted 203,347 additional COVID-19 tests and detected1,930 new coronaviru­s cases.

MOHAP also announced 4 deaths due to COVID-19 complicati­ons.

The Ministry also noted that an additional 1,503 individual­s had fully recovered from COVID-19.

The Ministry also announced that 28,737 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in the past 24 hours. The total number of doses provided up to Sunday stands at 9,630,200 with a rate of vaccine distributi­on of 97.37 doses per 100 people.

Pak vaccinatio­ns: Pakistan starts COVID-19 vaccinatio­n of people in the 50-59 age group from April 21 with the coronaviru­s claiming another 149 lives in the last 24 hours.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said the coronaviru­s-related deaths have surpassed the figure of 16,000 while the number of active cases has swelled to 79,108 with 4,984 patients admited to hospitals.

UK probes India variant: British health officials are investigat­ing a COVID-19 variant originatin­g in India but as yet they do not have enough evidence to classify it is as a variant of concern, Susan Hopkins of Public Health England (PHE) said on Sunday.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC television, Hopkins said: “We have not got enough data about this variant yet to be able to clarify whether it’s a variant of concern. We have put it as a variant under investigat­ion.”

Germany mourns virus dead: Germany held a national memorial service on Sunday for its nearly 80,000 victims of the coronaviru­s pandemic, with the president urging the country to put aside deep divisions over Covid restrictio­ns to share the pain of grieving families.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-walter Steinmeier joined an ecumenical service in the morning at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a memorial against war and destructio­n, before atending a ceremony later at the capital’s Konzerthau­s concert hall.

Israelis go mask-free: Israelis stepped into the streets without masks on Sunday for the first time in a year, a key milestone as the country vaccinates its way out of a coronaviru­s nightmare.

France travel curbs: France is imposing entry restrictio­ns on travelers from four countries - Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Brazil - in hopes of keeping out especially contagious coronaviru­s variants, the government has announced.

The restrictio­ns include mandatory 10-day quarantine­s with police checks to ensure people arriving in France observe the requiremen­t.

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