Paris, April 18 2021: The global death toll from the novel corona virus has surpassed the 3 million mark as countries in South Asia are forced to impose lock downs to curb a spike in infections.
Thanks to disproportionate roll out of vaccines, developed countries like Britain have seen a decrease in cases while in densely populated India, despite tougher lock downs, the case tally on Saturday touched 234,000 new infections and 1341 deaths. The virus to date has infected more than 139 million people world wide, has ravaged the global economy and shows no signs of abating as 829,596 new infections reported worldwide on Friday is the highest number yet.
To put in perspective the new grim milestone, three million people is more than the population of Jamaica or Armenia, while its three times the death toll of the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-1988.
Victims of the virus in India clamor for medicines and hospital beds as India records 2 million cases alone this month and with the amount of young people now getting seriously ill, hopes of a recovery in the region are seriously dashed. Bangladesh and Pakistan are also experiencing the worst of the crisis so far as they impose stricter lock downs. According to Udaya Regmi of the International Red Cross the “truly frightening” South Asian surge was a “wake-up call to the world”.
With richer countries able to wage a more concerted effort against the virus, infection numbers there have plummeted. For example; Britain, which has given 60 percent of its population at least one vaccination dose, now records around 30 deaths a day compared to 1,200 in January.
While on Friday, Germany removed the United Kingdom from the list of countries whose travelers needed to quarantine upon arrival. Even so, public events continue to be marked by the taint of the virus, as on Saturday, Prince Philip received a socially distanced funeral with only 30 people in attendance.
In a recent development, Israel too announced it was scrapping the obligation to wear masks outside from Sunday.
On the other hand, Bangkok is banning alcohol sales from Sunday as its bustling night life contributed to the more than 1000 new cases on Saturday while entertainment venues will also likely be shut down. Elsewhere in Asia, the situation is just as grim, as senior politicians in Japan warn the Olympics may have to be cancelled if the virus shows no signs of slowing down even as the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden, said his government was listening to experts and doing its best to prepare for the games in July.
Across the globe in South America meanwhile, Brazil, where more than 365,000 have already died in the third highest recorded death toll, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead. Nevertheless, the state of Sao Paulo has said it will let businesses and places of worship to open.
As the virus rages in Latin America, France and Spain have banned incoming flights from Brazil and imposed mandatory quarantine for those coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa.
In badly hit Italy, restrictions are being gradually lifted as schools and restaurants get the green light to open from the 26tt. In Rome, entertainment industry workers marched on Saturday calling for more state support and a timeline for opening of venues.
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