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India’s ‘precarious’ coronavirus crisis: Five things to know | India News

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India is struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, with its total number of cases having now surged past the three million mark.

It is the third-worst affected country hit by the virus after the United States and Brazil.

But, for the past three weeks, the South Asian nation has been reporting the world’s highest daily new infections.

On Friday, the health ministry reported a record jump of 77,266 cases and 1,057 related deaths over the past 24 hours.

“India is at a precarious stage in the containment and management of the COVID-19 epidemic. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has been increasing undaunted,” Sanghmitra Sheel Acharya, a professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Al Jazeera.

What is leading to the record rise and why has India struggled to flatten the coronavirus curve?

Here are five things to know: 

Mass rapid testing

Health authorities have ramped up testing across the country by nearly five-folds within two months.

More than 39 million cumulative tests have been conducted so far, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), with an average of 800,000 samples being taken on a daily basis.

In the capital, New Delhi, the chief minister said testing will be doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 tests a day within a week.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Southeast Asia office, said the increased surveillance was contributing to the surge in numbers.

“Over the last few weeks, testing has been rapidly scaled up across the country,” Singh told Al Jazeera.

Since June, several states have authorised the use of cheaper and less accurate rapid antigen testing kits.

This testing technique is faster than most standard PCR tests and many do not require a lab for processing or any specialised equipment or trained personnel.

But health experts have raised concern that the antigen tests – which test for the viral proteins – can miss infections and and lead to false negatives, contributing to the spread of the virus in hard-hit areas.

Low death rate

India’s case death rate – the number of deaths among the positive cases – has remained relatively low. It is currently at less than 2 percent.

Similar trends have been observed in other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

But some experts have questioned whether deaths are being accurately documented in India, with as many as 78 percent of deaths not being medically certified under normal circumstances.

The recovery rate is nearly 76 percent, with more than 2.5 million people recovered among the 3.3 million cases registered.

Flattening the curve

Since early August, India has been reporting the world’s highest daily new infections – between the 60,000 to 70,000 case range.

Its three-million-case milestone on Sunday came just 17 days after it crossed the two million mark.

The virus is spreading particularly rapidly in the rural areas – where two-thirds of the country’s 1.3 billion population lives.

Lockdown restrictions have been eased and businesses reopened in most parts of the country. People are seen not wearing masks in public places or practising physical distancing.

Acharya from JNU said despite the country’s efforts and comparison to the devastation caused by the pandemic in the developed countries, India has “not managed to flatten the curve”.

Largest lockdown

In late March, India imposed a nationwide lockdown, the world’s largest affecting, 1.3 billion people. At the time, the country had recorded 519 infections, including 10 deaths.

The nearly two-month-long strict shutdown sparked a humanitarian crisis, with tens of millions of migrant workers stranded in cities across the country losing their jobs, battling hunger, running out of money and struggling to return to their home villages.

Acharya, the professor at JNU in New Delhi, said the government should have formulated a formidable plan to mobilise the healthcare system and better prepare for the pandemic during that time, instead of focusing on symbolic rituals of lighting up candles and banging pots and pans on balconies.

“The lockdown was imposed restricting movement across cities and states, when the government needed to facilitate reaching home safely and providing safety if unable to reach home,” she added.

WHO’s Singh said scaling up response capacities has been challenging, but the strict public health measures have been largely effective.

“India used the lockdown period to strengthen and scale up its health systems, set up facilities for COVID-19 care, train healthcare workers and procure essential medical supplies. Now, as the world transitions to a new normal, India, much like other countries is gradually opening up to regular business.”

 

Healthcare system

The pandemic has exposed India’s fragile health infrastructure.

Hospitals across the country are overwhelmed, with many running out of beds and ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Officials in India’s two largest cities – the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai – have reported an alarming shortage of space in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) and general wards.

Meanwhile, thousands of women health workers on the front line of the pandemic went on strike this month to demand better pay and proper protective gear.

Acharya said the onus was on the state governments, which oversee the health sector, to provide care to the needy and direct its efforts towards those in need of critical care rather than all the infected cases.

Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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