WHO warns new virus waves hitting not only India, but all countries are at risk

*World Health Organisation chief has warned other countries that as Laos, Nepal and Thailand risk facing India-like COVID-19 crisis because of more contagious virus variants, the situation in India can happen anywhere

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As renewed calls for medical supplies and aid intensify as countries battle fierce new waves of the damaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, a report has said it is not just India but other several developing countries of the world are affected.

Fierce new COVID-19 waves are enveloping other developing countries, thereby placing severe strain on their healthcare systems and prompting appeals for immediate help, Bloomberg report said.

It was learnt that countries ranging from Laos to Thailand in Southeast Asia, and those bordering India, including Bhutan and Nepal, have been reporting significant surges in COVID-19 infections in the past few weeks.

The increase, report noted, is mainly because of more contagious virus variants, though complacency and lack of resources to contain the spread have also been cited as reasons.

In Laos last week, the Health Minister sought medical equipment, supplies and treatment, as cases jumped more than 200-fold in a month.

Nepal is seeing hospitals quickly filling up and running out of oxygen supplies.

Likewise, health facilities are under pressure in Thailand, where 98% of new cases are from a more infectious strain of the pathogen, whereas some island countries in the Pacific Ocean are facing their first COVID waves.

Although nowhere close to India’s population or flare-up in scope, the reported spikes in these countries have been far steeper, signalling the potential dangers of an uncontrolled spread, according to report.

The resurgence ─ and first-time outbreaks in some places that largely avoided the scourge last year ─ heightens the urgency of delivering vaccine supplies to poorer, less influential countries and averting a protracted pandemic.

Hans Kluge, Regional Director at World Health Organisation for Europe, during a recent briefing said: “It’s very important to realise that the situation in India can happen anywhere.

“This is still a huge challenge.”

The virus is threatening the developing world less equipped to curb it.

Ranked by the change in newly recorded infections in the past month over the previous month, Laos came first with a 22,000% increase, followed by Nepal and Thailand, both of which saw fresh caseload skyrocketing more than 1,000% on a month-over-month basis.

Also on top of the list are Bhutan, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Cambodia and Fiji, as they witnessed the epidemic erupt at a high triple-digit pace.

“All countries are at risk.

“The disease appears to be becoming endemic, and will therefore likely remain a risk to all countries for the foreseeable future,” said David Heymann, a Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Described as a ‘very serious’ development, Ali Mokdad, Chief Strategy Officer for Population Health at the University of Washington, in the United States, stated that the situation is “very serious”.

Mokdad said: “New variants will require a new vaccine, and a booster for those already vaccinated ─ they will delay the control of the pandemic.”

According him, the economic hardship of poorer countries makes the battle even tougher.

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