Coronavirus cases ‘exploding across much of Asia’

Seven out of 10 countries globally that are doubling their infection numbers the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific, the Red Cross said.

Health workers in personal protective equipment sanitise a train prepared as a Covid-19 care centre at a railway station in Gauhati, India
Health workers in personal protective equipment sanitise a train prepared as a Covid-19 care centre at a railway station in Gauhati, India

Coronavirus cases are exploding in Asia and the Pacific, with over 5.9 million new confirmed infections in the past two weeks, more than in all other regions combined, the International Federation of the Red Cross said.

It warned that the surge is pushing hospitals and health systems to the brink of collapse.

Seven out of 10 countries globally that are doubling their infection numbers the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific, it said.

Laos took just 12 days to see its cases double, and the number of confirmed infections in India has doubled in under two months to more than 23 million, the Red Cross said in a statement.

It said Oxford University’s Our World in Data reported more than 5.9 million new Covid-19 infections in Asia and the Pacific during the two weeks.

Official figures for much of the region are widely believed to be undercounts.

Red Cross Asia Pacific director Alexander Matheou said: “Covid-19 is exploding across much of Asia, overwhelming hospitals and healthcare.

“More people have been diagnosed with the disease in Asia over the past two weeks than in the Americas, Europe and Africa combined.”

He said: “Right now, we need global solidarity for regional support, with more medical equipment, support for prevention and urgent access to vaccines.”

Covid-19 patients receive oxygen outside a government-run hospital in Jammu, India
Covid-19 patients receive oxygen outside a government-run hospital in Jammu, India (Channi Anand/AP)

While vaccination campaigns are under way in the region, the Red Cross said they are hampered by shortages, hesitancy and the costly logistics of reaching many areas across the region.

It said: “To bring this pandemic under control, we need greater global co-operation so that lifesaving resources, medical equipment, vaccines and money get where they are needed to help people most at risk.

“We’re only safe when everyone is safe.”

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