World Coronavirus Dispatch: Italy misled WHO on pandemic readiness

US counts 500,000 Covid-related deaths

Even as new variants take hold, the United States has reached the staggering milestone of over 500,000 deaths from the pandemic, by far the highest in the world. The maginitude of the loss can be measured from the fact that more Americans have died due to the virus than World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. America, which accounts for just 4.25 per cent of the global population, now makes up for 20 per cent of the global death toll. Keeping aside the numbers, the grief of the loved ones, the harrowing accounts from the intensive care wards will keep haunting the Americans for many many years to come even after the pandemic ends. Read here

Let’s look at the global statistics

Global infections: 111,742,243

Global deaths: 2,474,725

Nations with most cases: US (28,190,403), India (11,016,434), Brazil (10,195,160), United Kingdom (4,138,233), Russia (4,130,447).

Source: John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Italy ‘misled WHO on pandemic readiness’ weeks before outbreak

Less than three weeks before the outbreak began in Italy, the country misled the World Health Organization (WHO) on its readiness to face the pandemic, according to a report in the Guardian. Countries that are part of international health regulations treaty have to file the status of their readiness for health emergenices every year. According to the last filed report of Italy on February 4 last year, the country said it is in the highest status of preparedness— “Level 5.” However, it emerged last year that Italy had not updated its national pandemic plan since 2006, a factor that may have contributed to at least 10,000 Covid-19 deaths during the first wave. Read here

Corruption threatens Cambodia’s Covid success

Hailed for its handling of coronavirus, Cambodia, a country of 15.5 million, is yet to register a Covid-related death. However, a recent cluster, among mostly the Chinese nations is threatening the success story. It also underlined the threat of corrpuption, that might reverse the gains. The cluster has been linked to four Chinese nationals who allegedly bribed two security guards to leave hotel quarantine before finishing the mandated 14-day stay. The outbreak also comes in the wake of a Covid-related corruption scandal involving a local police chief stationed near Cambodia’s border with Thailand. Now a former official, the man faces charges for allegedly aiding smugglers moving people illegally across the international boundary. Prior to the outbreak in the capital, migrant workers returning from Thailand were Cambodia’s largest source of infections. Read here

Air New Zealand to try out vaccine passport on Sydney flights

Air New Zealand will start trials on a digital vaccine passport in April on flights between Auckland and Sydney with Qantas investigating similar technology. As vaccination begins in Australia, attention has turned to the potential resumption of international travel and how Australia could track whether potential visitors have been vaccinated. Several tech companies have been working with the World Health Organization to develop a secure digital vaccination record system that could be used to prove to airlines and governments that passengers have had a Covid vaccine. Read here

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