Covid-19: Global caseload nearing 100 million, as travel bans loom in reaction to new variants

Published : 25 Jan 2021, 16:36

Sahos Desk

More than 99 million people have been infected with Covid-19 across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The total case count reached 99,177,542 with 2,129,134 fatalities as of Monday morning, said the data.

The US – the world’s worst-hit country – crossed the grim milestone of 20 million cases on New Year’s Day. The country’s infection tally reached 25,124,064 and fatalities stood at 419,204 on early Monday.

Brazil registered 592 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 217,037 - the second-highest death toll in the world- the country's Ministry of Health said Sunday.

Another 28,323 COVID-19 cases were reported over the past day, bringing the national caseload to 8,844,577, the ministry said. Sao Paulo, the most populous state in the country, is the hardest hit, with 1,699,427 cases and 51,502 deaths.

Brazil's outbreak is the third-largest in the world, after the United States and India. The country is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, with cases and deaths on the rise since December. India’s total tally reached 10,654,533 while the country’s death toll mounted to 153,339 on Monday.

The United Kingdom has been another raging hotspot for the pandemic over the winter, and the country now stands poised to become the first country in Europe, and only the fifth overall (after the USA, Brazil, India and Mexico), to reach 100,000 fatalities - despite a population (66 million) that is almost half that of the smallest among the other four (Mexico with a population of 127 million). As of Monday, the UK has recorded a caseload of 3.62 million, and 97, 329 deaths from COVID-19.

Apart from the high morbidity, the UK has also been in the news  throughout the winter for the identification of a new variant of the virus, which came to be known as the UK Variant, and is now the most common form of the virus, or dominant strain, in England and Northern Ireland, and has spread to more than 50 other countries.

While it was established quite early on that it is a more infectious form of the virus, transmitting more easily from person to person, this week it was revealed that it may even be deadlier than the original.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing: "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant - the variant that was first identified in London and the south east - may be associated with a higher degree of mortality." Apart from the UK variant, strains emerging out of Brazil and South Africa are also causing headaches to policymakers, and causing governments to consider re-imposing travel bans to or from those countries.

New US President Joe Biden will reinstate a re-entry ban on nearly all non-US travelers trying to come into the country from the United Kingdom, Ireland, 26 other European countries and Brazil — and impose a new ban on travel from South Africa, a report said Sunday.

Situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh recorded a daily infection rate (also known as positivity rate, it tells us out of the number of tests conducted, how many come back positive for COVID-19) of 3.34% with 473 new cases reported until early Sunday. Since January 6, the daily positivity rate has consistently been below 6%, and over the last week, it has been below 5%.

According to WHO's guidance to governments from May 2020, a daily positivity rate below 5% for two consecutive weeks is indicative that the epidemic is under control in a jurisdiction.  Bangladesh has reported 531,799 cases so far. And the country’s fatalities rose to 8,023 and death rate to 1.51%, with 20 more Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, since the first fatality was reported on March 18.

So far, 3,555,558 tests, including 14,169 reported Sunday, have been carried out. The overall infection rate stood at 14.96%, the Directorate General of Health Services said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to launch a pilot Covid-19 vaccination drive at Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital on January 27. Two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine “gifted” by India reached Dhaka on Thursday.

On January 18, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Bangladesh would receive the first consignment of 5 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine during January 25-26.

Source: UNB

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