India may have been severely hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic but it is not the only country in the world battling with record spikes in COVID-19 cases, heavy death tolls and vaccine shortages.
According to data compiled by the John Hopkins University, a CNBC report suggested that four other countries are also grappling with a significant health crisis caused by the rapid and relentless surge in the COVID-19 cases. India is in a bad situation, but other countries too are sailing in the same boat.
This was brought home by a comment made by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation during a press briefing, in which he had said that he remains hugely concerned about India, but it is not only India that has “emergency needs”.
For example, Argentina has been recording a high number of daily cases and deaths since the beginning of May. The country had more than 3.5 million cases, and 74,000 deaths (cumulative as of May 23) said the report quoting Hopkins data.
In early March, the south American nation, which has gone through three straight years of recession, which has been further fuelled by the pandemic, was recording just 5,000 a day in early-March. But, it had hit a record-high of more than 39,000 on May 19, Hopkins data showed.
The number of deaths also went up from 112 on March 1 to a record 744 on May 18, which prompting President Alberto Fernandez to comment that they were living the worst moment since the pandemic began. Their vaccination programme too has been limping along with just 19 per cent of the population having received at least one dose.
India’s neighbour too seems to be not holding up too well in this pandemic. Their medical infrastructure is unable to handle the pressure of COVID-19 patients swamping their hospitals and they are also grappling with lack of oxygen supply. With a population of roughly 29 million, Nepal, which was recording cases below 200 at the beginning of April, saw a jump in cases to more than 9,300 in mid-May, according to the Hopkins data.
Media reports attributed the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases to the returning Nepalese migrant workers from India, which has gone into lockdown in many states.
Nepal is a small country and is struggling to secure COVID vaccines. The country, which is in the midst of a major political turmoil, started vaccinating its people in January with Astra Zeneca vaccine provided by India and Covax, a global alliance aimed at the fair distribution of vaccines. The country has no more vaccines as of now what with the Serum Institute of India not yet delivering the doses that Nepal had ordered.
This Arab nation is in an uneasy situation since despite nearly vaccinating 51.8 per cent of its population (Our world in data report), cases went up from 600 a day in early-March to above 2,000 a day in the third week of May.
Many COVID-19 vaccines are in use in Bahrain such as Pfizer-BioNTech, China National Pharmaceutical Group of Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik vaccine. But the steady spike in cases has raised questions about the efficacy of the vaccines but fortunately, the number of deaths have been relatively low at 820 as of May 23, as shown in Hopkins data.
Taiwan was a COVID success story, at first. But this democratically-ruled island off the coast of China, is currently fighting a severe coronavirus outbreak.
The island with a population of roughly 24 million recorded just 1,128 cases — of which a large majority were imported — and 12 deaths by end-April. But the number of daily cases surged past 330 cases on the third week of May prompting their health ministry to claim that their island was in a “critical condition”.
The surge in this small island has been blamed on Taiwan’s complacency, according to media reports. The authorities had relaxed quarantine requirements which probably led to the spike. Now they have clamped down and imposed new social distancing measures and closed their bars, clubs and gyms around the island, and restricted indoor gatherings in Taipei and the surrounding New Taipei City to five people.
Taiwan reportedly has one of the lowest vaccination rates globally and is trying to boost its efforts to vaccinate its population.