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Protests in China against Covid curbs

At one point a large group began shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping, free Urumqi!”, according to witnesses and videos, in a rare public protest against the Chinese leadership…reports Asian Lite News

Protests simmered in Shanghai early on Sunday, as residents in several Chinese cities, many of them angered by a deadly fire in the country’s far west, pushed back against heavy COVID-19 curbs nearly three years into the pandemic.

A fire on Thursday that killed 10 people in a high-rise building in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, has sparked widespread public anger as many internet users surmised that residents could not escape in time because the building was partially locked down, which city officials denied.

In Shanghai, China’s most populous city and financial hub, residents gathered on Saturday night at the city’s Wulumuqi Road – which borrows its name from Urumqi – for a vigil that turned into a protest in the early hours of Sunday.

“Lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China!” the crowds in Shanghai shouted, according to a video circulated on social media.

At one point a large group began shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping, free Urumqi!”, according to witnesses and videos, in a rare public protest against the Chinese leadership.

A large group of police looked on and sometimes tried to break up the crowd.

Meanwhile, Joyce Karam, senior US correspondent at The National, also posted a video on her Twitter handle in which people were seen protesting against COVID-19 restrictions in Wulumuqi Road. “Rare protests erupt in #China’s largest city over Covid restrictions & gov. rules. “We want freedom” the crowd chants in this video from Wulumuqi road tonight,” Karam tweeted.

While sharing the protest video on Twitter, Axial Vibe Studio Co-founder Vivian Wu wrote, “Scale of the protest tonight in Shanghai. Notice police didn’t do anything but stand calmly watching ppl protest and shout. It’s not benevolence. My guess: they need to ask for directives from the top authorities. Police might be stunned as nobody dares to do so for decades.”

Surge in infections

China is battling a surge in infections that has prompted lockdowns and other restrictions in cities across the country as Beijing adheres to a zero-COVID policy even as much of the world tries to coexist with the coronavirus.

China defends President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system. Officials have vowed to continue with it despite the growing public pushback and its mounting toll on the world’s second-biggest economy.

Videos from Shanghai widely shared on Chinese social media showed crowds facing dozens of police and calling out chants including: “Serve the people”, “We don’t want health codes” and “We want freedom”.

Some social media users posted screenshots of street signs for Wulumuqi Road, both to evade censors and show support for protesters in Shanghai. Others shared comments or posts calling for all of “you brave young people” to be careful. Many included advice on what to do if police came or started arresting people during a protest or vigil.

Anger nationwide

Shanghai’s 25 million people were put under lockdown for two months earlier this year, an ordeal that provoked anger and protest.

Chinese authorities have since then sought to be more targeted in their COVID curbs, but that effort has been challenged by a surge in infections as China faces its first winter with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

While low by global standards, China’s case numbers have hit record highs for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections reported by health authorities on Sunday for the previous day.

On Friday night, crowds took to the streets of Urumqi, chanting “End the lockdown!” and pumping their fists in the air after the deadly fire, according to videos circulated on Chinese social media.

Many of Urumqi’s 4 million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

In Beijing, 2,700 km (1,700 miles) away, some residents under lockdown staged small protests or confronted local officials on Saturday over movement restrictions, with some successfully pressuring them into lifting the curbs ahead of a schedule.

A video shared with Reuters showed Beijing residents in an unidentifiable part of the capital marching around an open-air carpark on Saturday, shouting “End the lockdown!”

The Beijing government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

The next few weeks could be the worst in China since the early weeks of the pandemic both for the economy and the healthcare system, Mark Williams of Capital Economics said in note last week, as efforts to contain the outbreak will require additional localised lockdowns in many cities.

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COVID-19 UK News

Covid cases rise as one in 37 has virus in Britain

More time and more data will help clarify whether infections are rising or falling in these areas…reports Asian Lite News

The latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest one in 37 people in the UK has coronavirus, a rise from one in 50 the week before.

Experts warn of a “notable rise” in older people in England and Wales.

They say vaccines are the best defence against the virus and urge people aged 50 and over and others eligible for booster jabs to get them. There are fears of a flu and Covid “twindemic” this winter.

Sarah Crofts, deputy director for the ONS Covid survey, said there was a need for close monitoring as we moved through colder months.

She added: “Infections have risen again across much of the United Kingdom, continuing the pattern of steady increases seen over recent weeks, although Scotland and the North East of England had uncertain trends in the latest week.”

More time and more data will help clarify whether infections are rising or falling in these areas.

The latest ONS figures suggest Covid is infecting around 2.7% of the population – around 1.7 million people overall.

But the proportion of people infected is higher in older age groups. In people aged 70 and over around 3.7% have the virus in England.

Dr Mary Ramsay, from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said it was “particularly worrying” that the number of infected older people was rising “because they are the age group that are likely to get severe Covid and go to hospital.”

She said people over 50 should be encouraged to get their boosters to protect them and help prevent them ending up in hospital, but also to protect the NHS from pressures that are likely to get worse over the winter.

Everyone in England aged 50 and over is now able to book a Covid booster and flu jab.

Over-50s in Wales and Northern Ireland are also already eligible for both jabs. The Scottish government says that it will begin inviting 50 to 64-year-olds soon. The number of people in hospital with Covid has also been rising in the last few weeks.

As of 12 October, figures show there were 10,608 patients in hospital who had a positive coronavirus test.

That was up 10% on the week before but still far below the levels at the beginning of the pandemic.

Around two-thirds of patients in hospital who test positive for Covid are being treated primarily for other things.

But they may need to be isolated from other patients, putting extra demand on hospitals.

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-Top News Asia News COVID-19

How Team India won the war against Covid-19

At a time when many developed countries struggled with the anti-vaxxers movement, Indians showed through their overwhelming participation in the vaccination drive that it’s a country where scientific temper trumps hesitancy hands down, writes Adar Poonawalla

In the far from normal last two-and-a-half years, where humanity came the closest to living in a science fiction, India and Indians under the untiring leadership of PM Narendra Modi can collectively claim that we learnt crucial, once-in-a lifetime lessons during the Covid-19 crisis and we demonstrated resilience, determination and strength that has earned respect of the world.

Such a claim can be made for the vaccine space, too in India. Be it the vaccine manufacturing prowess of India; be it innovation trials in R&D; be it unleashing the potential of public-private partnerships; be it digitization of vaccination drive; be it how government departments came together on a mission mode; under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, efforts taken to communicate and convince a billion people to take life-saving jabs, we can claim to have put together lessons of decades into two years, to succeed on many fronts. That’s no small achievement, particularly amid rapidly shifting realities, and real-time evolving science and given social discord and vaccine hesitancy in so many different countries

The development of safe, effective vaccines for a novel virus like SarsCoV2 in less than a year, will go down as one of the most impressive feats in the history of modern science. And the role of India’s vaccine ecosystem will get etched in that history. Despite myriad local challenges such as accidents, and global ones such as acute shortage of raw-materials, Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses and other Indian vaccine-makers churned out well over 2 billion doses, sufficient to cover almost a third of humanity on the planet if one dose offered immunity to an individual. That scale of manufacturing is a mere indicator of the potential India has to offer to the world as vaccines grow more high-tech and offer life-course protection against several other diseases across ages.

The country also excelled in providing health tech solutions best showcased by Co-Win, the digital backbone of the vaccination drive. The speed with which India adopted e-Vin, its smart vaccine supply chain management system used in universal vaccination programme meant for children and expecting women into Co-Win has been exemplary. India had started issuing digital vaccine certificates right from the start, at a time when many developed countries were struggling to digitise vaccine certificates and were issuing it manually. Co-Win remains that valuable platform that can prove handy if other universal or age-specific vaccines are to be administered, either responding to an emergency or in a well-planned programme. It’s an asset that can also be adapted for other public health programmes in various ways.

Three areas where the country took a leap in attempting novel experiments and reaped rich learnings are vaccine research and development, the drug regulatory system, and the deep engagement of the government, across departments with private players to shape the Covid-19 response. First, fully aware of how uncertain the path of vaccine discovery could turn out to be particularly during a raging pandemic, the government chalked out a well thought out strategy.

That made sense, as one didn’t know at the time which one would click, and even if multiple vaccine candidates succeeded, which one would emerge the safest, most efficacious and most convenient to use. In vaccine-making, a science so complex, the first is not necessarily the best. Betting on a pipeline that was numerically rich, and technology-wise diverse, meant that the scientific community and innovation ecosystem packed a decade of learning into a year. It also showed us what was possible in vaccine development if companies, policymakers, and scientists came together.

Our drug-regulatory system, traditionally badgered as slow-moving, learnt to put in place accelerated pathways to approve vaccines, like many global regulators in mature markets. Keeping patient safety as the top priority, these lessons of agility and efficiency would seep into the workflow of the regulatory system, if the war against other diseases, equally or more dreaded than Covid-19, have to be waged effectively and forcefully.

What also helped in shaping the pandemic response was the way the government turned into one ‘whole’. Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a number of inter-disciplinarian inter-departmental empowered groups broke the culture of working in specialised silos and practiced what is now hailed as ‘whole of government’ approach taking swift decisions. Industry too was involved as an important stakeholder in many areas. All stakeholders including media, local influencers, civil societies and international as well as national partners played supportive roles. Continuing this approach well into the future has the potential to strengthen our country’s response to other public health challenges.

Finally, one of the most fundamental but valuable lessons we have learnt is to communicate transparently and engage effectively with the community in public health contexts and exhort them to place their faith in science in a language they understand best. From cutting-edge technologies like drones to deeply traditional auspicious symbols such as turmeric, from 24×7 public health and risk communication disseminated across the county, coupled with a range of innovative communication strategies were employed to invite people for vaccination or reach the last mile with vaccines.

At a time when many developed countries struggled with the anti-vaxxers movement, Indians showed through their overwhelming participation in the vaccination drive that it’s a country where scientific temper trumps hesitancy hands down. Despite being the second most populous country, 96.7% of the eligible population have been vaccinated with the first dose, 89.2% have taken both doses, and over 18.7 crore precaution doses have been administered. It is a clear testament to Covid-19 vaccination’s grand success. Special campaigns are being conducted across the country to encourage eligible beneficiaries to take up their due doses.

In 2021 alone, Covid-19 vaccination programmes averted nearly 20 million deaths globally, according to an estimate cited in Human Development Report 2022. Despite all the challenges, India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has truly turned the response to covid pandemic into a janandolan (people’s movement) through the whole of government approach thorough the participation by all stakeholders.

(Adar Poonawalla is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Serum Institute of India)

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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-Top News China COVID-19

Nearly a million in lockdown in Wuhan

Of the four cases, two were reported 48 hours ago as a result of regular testing, which was quickly followed by the third and fourth via contact tracing…reports Asian Lite News

Nearly a million people in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province where the Covid-19 pandemic was first recorded, have been placed under a lockdown after four asymptomatic cases were detected, the media reported on Thursday.

According to a BBC report, the lockdown has been imposed in the city’s Jiangxia district and the residents have been asked to stay inside their homes or compounds for three days.

Of the four cases, two were reported 48 hours ago as a result of regular testing, which was quickly followed by the third and fourth via contact tracing, the report said.

Soon after, the city’s authorities imposed the lockdown.

Wuhan, a city of 12 million people, became popular across the world as the first place where scientists detected the Covid-19. It was also the first city to be put under harsh restrictive measures as the global pandemic broke out in early 2020.

A staff member helps a villager disinfect baggage when he returns to Lianqin Village of Beicai Town in Pudong New Area, east China’s Shanghai, April 26, 2022. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang/IANS)

Earlier this week, scientists said there was “compelling evidence” that Wuhan’s Huanan seafood and wildlife market was at the centre of the Covid outbreak, says the BBC report.

Two peer-reviewed studies have re-examined information from the initial outbreak in the city.

Meanwhile, China has adopted a “zero Covid-19” strategy under which authorities conduct mass testing, declare strict isolation rules and impose local lockdowns.

In June, Shanghai emerged from a strict two-month lockdown, but residents are still adapting to a “new normal” of frequent mass testing, the BBC report adds.

As of Thursday morning, China has reported a total of 2,167,619 confirmed Covid cases and 14,647 deaths.

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COVID-19 Saudi Arabia

Covid-19: Saudi reports 522 new cases, 3 deaths

The ministry also announced that 574 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 789,766…reports Asian Lite News

As many as 522 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the Ministry of Health has announced. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 806,401.

The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,236.

Of the new infections, 154 were recorded in Riyadh, 95 in Jeddah, 37 in Dammam, 29 in Makkah and 22 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 20 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 574 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 789,766.

It said that 7,399 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 18,099 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to almost 44 million. The ministry said that of the current cases, 139 were in critical condition.

Nearly 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with more than 25 million people fully vaccinated.

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COVID-19 India News

India records 21,566 new Covid cases in 24 hours

While the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25 percent, the weekly positivity rate is at 4.51 percent…reports Asian Lite News

India on Thursday reported 21,566 fresh infections of coronavirus in a day, taking the total tally to 43,825,185. With this, the country’s active cases are now nearing the 1.50 lakh mark. Currently, the active caseload stands at 1,48,881 – or 0.34 percent of cumulative cases.

According to the union health ministry data, India reported 45 deaths due to the virus in the past 24 hours – taking the total fatalities count to 5,25,870. Meanwhile, a total of 18,294 people recovered in the last 24 hours. The recovery rate in the country stands at 98.46 percent.

While the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25 percent, the weekly positivity rate is at 4.51 percent.

India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded the milestone 200 crore mark. In the 12-14 age group, 3.82 crore people have gotten their first doses and 2.66 crore the second. Over 6.09 crore people in the 15-18 age group have gotten their first doses and more than 5.03 crore their second. Over 4.68 crore precautionary doses have been given to people above 60, healthcare workers, and frontline workers, and over 1.66 crore to those between 18 and 59.

A total of 87.11 crore Covid tests have been conducted so far with 5,07,360 tests being conducted in the last 24 hours.

The Centre on Wednesday reviewed the Covid-19 surge in nine states – Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh. The union health ministry said that the nine states will “have to monitor and report district-wise cases of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) on a daily basis”.

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Asia News COVID-19

Moscow registers 5 cases of Covid-19 subvariant ‘Centaurus’

Earlier this month, the director-general of the World Health Organisation said authorities were aware of the variant and were monitoring it closely…reports Asian Lite News

Five cases of the Covid-19 subvariant Omicron BA.2.75, or “Centaurus,” have been detected in Moscow, the country’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has said.

“Five genomic sequences assigned to the BA.2.75 subvariant of the Omicron strain have been added to the VGARus (Virus Genome Aggregator of Russia) database.” 

Rospotrebnadzor said the samples were taken in July in Moscow, adding the patients all have a mild form of the virus and have not been hospitalized.

“Centaurus” was first detected in May in India and is believed to be highly transmissible.

Centaurus, which has the official designation BA.2.75, has been found mostly in India, although cases have been detected in Australia as well as the US, UK, Canada and Germany.

Earlier this month, the director-general of the World Health Organisation said authorities were aware of the variant and were monitoring it closely.

But WHO COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove​, said only now were sufficient samples becoming available to enable proper analysis of the subvariant.

“There are about 200 sequences available from about 14 countries. Our understanding of this virus is quite limited so far because we have very few sequences available,” she said.

Dr Michael Lydeamore, a research fellow in infectious diseases at Monash University, says centaurus is a form of Omicron, but with some unique mutations that distinguish it.

Omicron, he explains, refers to the high-level variant, which has undergone gene mutations to give rise to the BA.1 and 2, and BA.4 and 5 subvariants. “Those are called subvariants because you have the same high-level structure as Omicron but with a few extra mutations,” he says.

“Centaurus has the BA.2 mutations and then a few extra again, so it’s a kind of sub-subvariant.”

However, he says it is still not clear whether those extra mutations mean centaurus is more transmissible, better able to evade immunity, or produces a more severe illness.

“We’re seeing variants with high immune evasion become common in Australia,” he says. “But that makes sense because we have high levels of immunity in the community, so the only a way a variant can take off is immune evasion.”

He says the majority of Australia’s COVID-19 cases are now due to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, with a lower number of BA.1 and BA.2 infections.

Previous variants of concern such as Delta have now largely been wiped out by the family of Omicron subvariants.

It is important to note that centaurus is an unofficial nickname given to the subvariant by a Twitter user, and adopted by scientists and journalists alike as an easy moniker. Because it is a subvariant, WHO has not given it an official Greek letter such as those given to high-level variants.

Professor Nigel McMillan, program director of infectious diseases and immunology at Griffith University, says SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, does not seem to be following a “standard” pattern of viral evolution.

“What we would expect over time is that these strains get less and less problematic, with less and less clinical consequences,” he says.

“That makes sense from a viral evolution point of view because if a virus can keep you upright and walking around infecting other people, then it will spread much better.

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COVID-19 India News

India Reaches 200 Crore Covid Jab Milestone

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also congratulated the people on achieving this landmark in only 18 months and said that this extraordinary achievement will be etched in history…reports Asian Lite News

India on Sunday reached the historic milestone of 200 crore mark in Covid-19 vaccination. The milestone has been achieved after 18 months when the nation began the mass vaccination on January 16, 2021.

According to the Co-Win Portal, with a total 1.91 lakhs of vaccine being administered so far on Sunday, the number crossed the milestone mark of 200 crore. A total of 199.97 crore Covid vaccine doses were administered across the country until Saturday night, which includes 5.48 crore doses of the precaution dose.

On January 16, 2021, two Made-in-India vaccines — Covaxin and Covishield — were made available for the Indian citizens. After nine months, India completed the first 100 crore vaccination mark on October 21, 2021. The nation has completed 200 crore mark again after nine months on July 17, 2022.

It took 277 days to reach the earlier milestone of 100 crore doses. On September 17 last year, the highest 2.5 crore vaccine doses were administered in a single day.

Congratulating the nation on this historic mark, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that India has made a new record. “India has set a new record by completing the target of 200 crore vaccinations in just 18 months. Hearty congratulations to all the countrymen on this achievement”, said Mandaviya in a tweet. He said that this day is to be remembered forever.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, also congratulated India on administering 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses.

“Congratulations India for administering over 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses. This is yet another evidence of the country’s commitment and efforts to minimise the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Covid-19 vaccines provide protection against severe disease and death for all variants. We must continue our efforts to ensure everyone everywhere benefits from these life-saving vaccines. Let us not forget that the pandemic is still around even after taking the vaccine we must remember to take all precautionary measures to curtail the virus spread,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.

India’s first patient infected with Covid virus was reported in Thrissur District of Kerala on January 30, 2020. However, the global health body World Health Organisation also declared Covid outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020. Later on, March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

Modi hails India’s vaccination drive as unparalleled

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed India’s vaccination drive as ‘unparalleled in scale and speed’.

India crossed the 200 crore mark in Covid-19 vaccination on Sunday.

Congratulating the nation on the occasion, the prime minister said that India has created history again.

“India creates history again! Congrats to all Indians on crossing the special figure of 200 crore vaccine doses. Proud of those who contributed to making India’s vaccination drive unparalleled in scale and speed. This has strengthened the global fight against COVID-19,” said PM Modi in a tweet.

In a subsequent tweet he added, “Throughout the rollout of the vaccine, the people of India have shown remarkable faith in science. Our doctors, nurses, frontline workers, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs have played a key role in ensuring a safer planet. I appreciate their spirit and determination.”

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also congratulated the people on achieving this landmark in only 18 months and said that this extraordinary achievement will be etched in history.

“Congratulations India! With everyone’s efforts, the country has crossed the figure of 200 crore vaccines today. India has scripted history under PM @NarendraModi Ji’s visionary leadership. This extraordinary achievement will be etched in the history!” Mandaviya said in a tweet.

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar also thanked the healthcare workers for their hard work, vision and innovation in setting a new record in the service of humanity.

India’s nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme was launched by PM Modi on January 16, 2021. Despite the decline in cases across the country, consistent efforts are ongoing to vaccinate all eligible citizens.

It took almost nine months to reach the 100 crore mark and another nine months to reach the 200 crore vaccination mark since the start of the vaccination drive, with the highest single-day vaccination record of 2.5 crore doses achieved on September 17, 2021.

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COVID-19 UAE News

UAE reports 1,500 new COVID-19 cases

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced that it conducted 241,098 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment…reports Asian Lite News

In a statement, the Ministry stressed its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment. As part of its intensified testing campaign, MoHAP announced 1,500 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 969,097.

According to the Ministry, the infected individuals are from various nationalities, are in a stable condition, and receiving the necessary care.

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The Ministry added that no COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, keeping the total number of deaths in the country unchanged at 2,325.

MoHAP also noted that an additional 1,541 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 949,218. (WAM)

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COVID-19 UK News

Death toll from Covid-19 surpasses 200,000 in UK

The country’s excess mortality rate is also higher than other European averages which stand at 2,070 per million people, more than twice that of Germany’s which stand at 1,110…reports Asian Lite News

More than 200,000 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded across the UK, showed the latest data released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The grim milestone has been reached in late June, but not revealed until Wednesday due to a delay in registration. Up to the start of July, a total of 200,247 Covid-19 deaths have occurred, the ONS said. The figures include deaths due to Covid-19 as well as those involving the virus.

In the week ending July 1, 2022, 11,828 deaths were registered in the UK, 12.1 per cent above the five-year average (1,278 excess deaths), said the ONS.

By early January 2021, more than 100,000 Covid-19 deaths had been registered nationwide. It has taken more than a year and a half for the death toll to double, with vaccination uptake, better understanding of how to treat the virus and social distancing measures all contributing to fewer deaths, said British newspaper The Guardian.

According to figures from Our World In Data, as of July 12, Britain has one of the highest Covid-19 death tolls in Europe, with a death rate of about 2,689 per million people, compared with a rate of 2,295 deaths per million people for Spain, 2,230 for France and 1,704 for Germany.

The country’s excess mortality rate is also higher than other European averages which stand at 2,070 per million people, more than twice that of Germany’s which stand at 1,110.

With testing no longer free, data on cases is provided mainly through the ONS weekly infection survey, which showed in the latest release the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus continued to increase across Britain, likely caused by increases in infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.

In late June, Covid-19 infection levels in Britain have risen by more than 30 percent in a week, with an estimated 2.3 million infected with the disease.

In a recent interview, Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist and a professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said that levels of infection with the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in Britain are probably going to peak very soon.

“At the moment, given the levels of infection in the UK, it’s a bit of a wake up call that we’re not, as some would have us believe, in the post pandemic phase of Covid. We’re currently seeing an increase in hospitalizations,” said Young.

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