The Jerusalem Post

Hospitals run short of beds as Asia’s virus cases surge


NEW DELHI/BANGKOK (Reuters) – India and Thailand reported record daily coronaviru­s cases on Thursday, as a new wave of infections, combined with a shortage of hospital beds and vaccines, threatens to slow Asia’s recovery from the pandemic.

India breached 200,000 daily infections for the first time on Thursday and the financial hub of Mumbai entered a lockdown, as many hospitals reported shortages of beds and oxygen supplies.

“The situation is horrible. We are a 900-bed hospital, but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don’t have space for them,” said Avinash Gawande, an official at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur, a commercial hub in Maharashtr­a.

The surge was the seventh record daily increase in the last eight days and takes the total caseload to 14.1 million, only second to the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims thronged to a religious festival in the north of the country on Wednesday, stoking fears of another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Rising infections have also put strain on the healthcare systems in Manila and Bangkok.

The Philippine­s saw many hospitals in its capital region – home to around 13 million people – filling up, as cases rise. Confirmed coronaviru­s cases in the last 30 days alone reached 266,489, accounting for 30% of the country’s total infections.

Some families of COVID-19 patients have taken to social media to share their ordeals in finding hospitals. Some traveled outside the capital to find a healthcare facility, or spent long hours in line.

Thailand reported 1,543 new coronaviru­s cases on Thursday, the sharpest increase since the start of the pandemic and the fourth record rise this week.

The spike has increased hospital bed occupancy rates as all positive cases have to be admitted into care under Thai rules. A total of 8,973 patients are being treated.

While the country considers lockdown measures, its neighbor Cambodia imposed a lockdown in its capital and a satellite district on Thursday as an outbreak that started in late February saw cases spike almost ten-fold to 4,874 within two months.

Bangladesh also began a week-long lockdown with strict restrictio­ns on Wednesday as infections have reached around 7,000 cases a day in the last two weeks from below 300 in February.


As the divide between developed and developing countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines grows, the head of the World Trade Organizati­on (WTO)

on Wednesday urged vaccine makers to increase technology transfer to bring in manufactur­ing capacity.

Thailand, for example, vaccinated 0.4% of its population, trailing neighbors, such as Singapore with 14.6%, a Reuters

estimate found.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who became WTO director-general in March, also called for its members to reduce vaccine export restrictio­ns and work to ease logistics and customs procedures.

 ?? (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters) ?? PEOPLE PRAY in front of a pagoda in Bangkok on Wednesday during Songkran, marking the Thai New Year.
(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters) PEOPLE PRAY in front of a pagoda in Bangkok on Wednesday during Songkran, marking the Thai New Year.

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