WHO warns pandemic at ‘critical point’ as cases surge in South Asia

Published April 13, 2021
People stand in a queue as they wait for food to be distributed by social workers during weekend lockdown restrictions imposed by the state government amidst rising Covid-19 coronavirus cases, in Mumbai on April 11. — AFP/File
People stand in a queue as they wait for food to be distributed by social workers during weekend lockdown restrictions imposed by the state government amidst rising Covid-19 coronavirus cases, in Mumbai on April 11. — AFP/File

LONDON: The Covid-19 pandemic has entered a critical phase as infections exponentially increase despite widespread measures aimed at stopping them, the WHO warned on Monday, with record case numbers in South Asia triggering tough new restrictions.

However, Britons enjoyed the freedoms of a pint and a haircut for the first time in months as curbs eased, illustrating how fast-vaccinating countries are leaving other — mostly poorer — nations behind. The coronavirus has already killed more than 2.9 million people and infected nearly 136 million across the world.

But the World Health Organisation’s technical lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said “the trajectory of this pandemic is growing... exponentially.” “This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, when we have proven control measures,” she told reporters, adding “we are in a critical point of the pandemic right now”.

India on Monday overtook Brazil as the country with the second-highest number of infections, after logging more than 168,000 new cases in a single day.

The recent, rapid increase of infections has taken India’s total number of cases to 13.5 million, above Brazil’s 13.48 million.

“The solution is for everyone to stay home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public doesn’t listen,” said Rohit, a 28-year-old waiter in Mumbai.

“Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant... If we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.” Experts have warned that huge, mostly maskless and tightly packed crowds at political rallies, religious festivals and other public places have fuelled the new wave.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021

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