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‘Catastrophic’: South Asia Stumbles from the Virus Rise

‘Catastrophic’: South Asia Stumbles from the Virus Rise

Initial optimism that South Asia might have avoided the gravest wreckness of the COVID-19 outbreak has gone as rising infection figures shift the highly populated region into a global hot spot.

After many months of tracking the US and western Europe, cases of the virus are climbing across South Asia — home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population — where the infection is wreaking destruction on weak medical infrastructure and low-funded health organizations are driven to breaking point.

Overflowing hospitals from Kabul to Dhaka are turning away suspected virus victims, morgues are being submerged as graveyards, and crematoria strive to cope. Desperate families are seeking help for critically sick loved ones.

“The circumstances are catastrophic,” Abdur Rob, a superior doctor at Bangladesh’s Chittagong General Hospital, told Agence France-Presse.

“Sufferers are dying in the ambulances on the streets as they deter by hospitals seeking (intensive care) beds or hospital admittance.”

Archie Clements, the vice-chancellor of the health sciences faculty at Curtin University in Western Australia, said things would likely worsen. The increase trajectory “is still in an exponential stage. We might be heading towards a bigger number of deaths within the weeks ahead.” Clements said.

Worldwide quite eight million people are infected by COVID-19, and over 446,000 have died, with the virus accelerating across South Asia and Latin America.

Disastrous situations are striking out as cash-strapped authorities choose from executing lockdowns or seeing low-income families slide further into poverty, usually with no safety gains.

'Catastrophic': South Asia Stumbles from the Virus Rise
People enquire about their relatives from a health worker at a COVID designated hospital in New Delhi, India, June 10, 2020. Image Source: AP

India is that the fourth worst-hit nation in the world with pretty 354,000 verified cases — though insufficient testing determines the significant figure is going much higher.

The number of fatalities leaped by quite 2,000 to top 11,900 on Wednesday after Mumbai and New Delhi updated their figures.

The government won plaudits in late March for imposing one among the world’s strictest lockdowns. But many migrant workers were left jobless and unable to urge home, sometimes held in crowded facilities that increased the danger of transmission.

“The dilemma is that in a nation like India, with its large-scale poverty and large migrant society, you cannot assume everyone to shelter in spot and avoid out the storm,” remarked Michael Kugelman, an analyst from the Washington-based Wilson Center.

In neighboring Pakistan, which has registered 160,000 cases and over 3,000 fatalities, Prime Minister Imran Khan countered a countrywide lockdown, maintaining the nation could ill bear it.

'Catastrophic': South Asia Stumbles from the Virus Rise
People stand outside a government office to get their identity cards verified to receive aid from the government in Peshawar, Pakistan, June 16, 2020. Image Source: AP

Many preferred to neglect physical distancing SOPs, and provincial lockdowns were loosened during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, boosting the current increase in infections.

“When Eid festivities began, the people took the liberty of the lockdown as a token that the infection was everywhere. They swamped the markets, attended burials, and had no implementation of the physical distancing measures,” said Samra Fakhar, a surgeon within Peshawar.

Experts have predicted that Pakistan would possibly see quite a million cases by July, and hence the World Health Organization has advised new lockdowns methods, a step Khan declined.

In Pakistan’s overwhelmed hospitals, doctors say national leaders wasted precious early months to brace for a possible onslaught.

“We had a chance to prepare for this, but sadly, it didn’t occur. Things are becoming to worsen,” said Saeedullah Shah, a doctor with the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association COVID-19 task force.

“Are we ready for it? Not at all. … People will start getting violent once they don’t find beds.”

Further complicating the crisis is restricted testing, which is skewing data lower.

'Catastrophic': South Asia Stumbles from the Virus Rise
A medical official with protective gear checks the body temperature of a traveler in Afghanistan. Image Source: Reuters

Last week, funeral figures issued by nine state-run cemeteries within the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, as well as dozens of small graveyards throughout a neighboring city, noted a minimum of 1,600 further deaths in April, a top Bengali news site published.

Yet health ministry data show only 450 people died from COVID-19 within the two cities during the amount.

The same anecdotes are rising in conflict-battered Afghanistan, which has only registered 26,000 cases and 500 fatalities, apparently unlikely low figures for a rustic that did not implement lockdowns amid ongoing fighting and where impoverished day laborers are unable to remain home.

“We have news of quickening suspected fatalities, people burying dead bodies in the dark,” stated Kabul governor Mohammad Yakub Haidary last week, continuing that the Afghan capital was assumed to get more than a million infected people.

“There is a disaster approaching.”

Tags : AfghanistanbangladeshCOVID-19Global PandemichealthIndiapakistanSouth AsiaVirus OutbreakWHO

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