India has seen a record 6,000 new cases of coronavirus today as it accumulates the highest number of infections in Asia, while the death toll is increasing in Indonesia and fears of a second wave in Iran are mounting.
The 6,088 new cases in India have increased to 66,330 in a $ 1.3 billion country where closure has been partially relaxed and some hospital departments are running at full speed.
India accounted for nearly a quarter of new infections in Asia yesterday, and the continent as a whole accounted for 23 percent of the world’s daily count – up from just 8 percent in March and April.
Turkey has seen 152,587 cases, most in Asia, and died of 4,222 deaths, although new infections have been delayed and the government says it has controlled the outbreak.
China and Iran – the birthplace of the pandemic and an early hotspot, respectively – both face fears of a second wave, and there are doubts about the accuracy of the figures from both regimes.
Meanwhile, Indonesia has already suffered 1,242 deaths in Southeast Asia after confirming only 19,189 cases so far amid a shortage of testing capacity.
This chart shows the daily coronavirus deaths in six of the worst affected countries. China was the first leader after the outbreak started in Wuhan late last year, but India is now becoming the epicenter of Asia, while the death toll is also increasing in Indonesia. The crisis in Iran has eased from its peak, but there is fear of a second wave of the disease
After the outbreak started in China, Asia accounted for the vast majority of new cases in January and still accounted for more than 90 percent of new infections throughout most of February.
That figure plummeted in early March when the virus began to devastate Europe, which registered more new cases than Asia on March 6 for the first time.
When virus cases piled up in the United States, the proportion of new cases in Asia fell to 7.5 percent on March 24 and 7.8 percent on April 4.
However, it has surged again since then – May 11 by 20 percent and only once below that threshold since then.
Asia has now overtaken Europe again, although North America is still seeing more cases, while South America is now the continent with the fastest growth in infections.
The fastest growth is taking place in India, where the Ministry of Health has today reported more than 6,000 new cases per day for the first time. Only the United States, Brazil and Russia registered more new cases yesterday than India.
An epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India acknowledged that “this wave of cases has occurred after people have been partially displaced” following a nationwide blockade.
“But in general, this is a much lower exponential trajectory compared to the rest of the world,” said Giridhar Babu.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the world’s largest shutdown in late March, which has been extended until May 31 but has eased in some areas.
Airlines are allowed to resume flights with about a third of flights from Monday, but only on domestic routes and under strict rules.
India’s contamination hotspots include the capital New Delhi, Mumbai financial center, the home state of Gujarat in Modi, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The country has seen 3,583 deaths.
“Our Covid units have been full for the past week and we are expanding capacity to accommodate more patients,” said Dr. Lancelot Pinto at the P.D. Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.
INDIA: Health workers wearing white and blue protective clothing carry an 80-year-old woman’s casket from a morgue to an ambulance in Srinagar after she died of a coronavirus infection
INDONESIA: A motorcyclist gestures when questioned today by an Indonesian official at a checkpoint in Jakarta, as the government urges people not to travel unnecessarily to mark the end of Ramadan
In the Middle East, Iran has seen 126,949 cases and revealed yesterday that about 10,000 health workers are among the infected, admitting that “some of them have died.”
Iran was blamed for exporting the virus to the region in the early weeks of the pandemic, with many cases related to the Shiite pilgrimage site of Qom, which was not initially closed.
The Iranian regime now fears a second wave of the disease and urges people not to travel at the end of Ramadan, as 90 percent of the population in some areas is not yet exposed to the virus.
The official death toll is 7,183, the highest in Asia, and since the outbreak of the epidemic it has been suspected that the regime’s figures are far too low.
A report from a parliamentary research center suggested that the actual number of infections and deaths in Iran could be nearly twice as high as announced by the Ministry of Health.
However, Iran has eased closure measures in hopes of reviving an economy already battered by US sanctions.
Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, has suffered 62,545 cases, the fifth in Asia, although authorities have only announced 339 deaths – a very low death rate of 0.5 percent.
Saudi Arabia is also facing an economic crisis after oil prices collapsed as a result of the pandemic and at some point entered negative territory.
The kingdom has also lost income due to the suspension of Muslim pilgrimages to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, which were closed to visitors due to Covid-19.
The country’s finance minister says it needs “strict and painful measures,” including major cuts to deal with the crisis.
SAUDI ARABIA: People pray during Ramadan while practicing social distance in the Great Mosque of Mecca, which has been closed to pilgrims because of the coronavirus pandemic
IRAN: People wear mask in Tehran metro on Wednesday, after Iran began to lift lock restrictions despite a continued surge of infections – amid fears of a second wave
Elsewhere, Turkey is home to the largest outbreak in Asia, but yesterday, the daily number of new cases dropped below 1000 for the first time in weeks.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began easing lock restrictions earlier this month, allowing travel between cities in some provinces and easing curfews for vulnerable people.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country is ready to accept “medical tourists” from 31 countries and said it will ease fears of a second wave of infections.
“If we stick to the rules of social distance, wear a mask, and have a limited social life, we don’t see a risk of a second wave,” Koca said yesterday.
‘Just like the rest of the world, we will actively monitor such a risk around September or October. But we can take the necessary measures in case of a second wave. ‘
Turkey has registered a total of 152,587 cases, but the government says more than 110,000 have already recovered from the disease. The country has seen 4,222 deaths.
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the highest death toll in the region at 1,242 as the government struggles to increase its testing capacity.
Indonesia has performed approximately 50 tests per 100,000 people to date, compared to 2,500 per 100,000 in neighboring Singapore.
President Joko Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests per day would be conducted, but the goal has not yet been reached, with a test rate of less than half that figure.
Moreover, there are fears that millions of people will leave Jakarta at the end of Ramadan in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
The government has banned people from traveling for the holidays, but some people have been allowed to travel if they provide proof of travel reasons and a health certificate.
Ganjar Pranowo, Governor of Central Java, said this week that he expected a million people from Jakarta to return to his province this year.
TURKEY: Istanbul morgues wear protective suits and face mask as they pull the chest of a coronavirus victim out of the building in Turkey’s largest city yesterday
CHINA: A foreign journalist is being tested by a medical worker wearing a blue protective suit and face shield prior to the Chinese People’s Political Advice Conference in Beijing yesterday
Vietnam, on the other hand, has not yet reported any coronavirus deaths and has reduced the number to only 324 after taking early action to close its borders and quarantine thousands of people.
In mid-March, Vietnam made it mandatory to wear masks in public places nationwide, well ahead of most other countries.
Kidong Park, the World Health Organization representative in Vietnam, has said there are no outbreaks other than what the government has reported.
China has reported only a small number of new cases and deaths in recent weeks after shutting down Wuhan for more than two months, but has recently found a cluster of cases in two northeastern provinces.
A National Health Commission physician has also expressed concerns that the pathogen is changing after discovering that patients in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces reacted differently than those in Wuhan.
Patients in the northeastern clusters also carried the virus longer than previous cases in Wuhan, and took longer to recover, said Qiu Haibo, a critical care expert.
Patients in the Northeast also rarely showed a fever and tended to suffer damage to the lungs rather than across multiple organs, he said.
South Korea has been widely acclaimed as a model for dealing with the outbreak, although it recently saw a new cluster of cases related to bars and nightclubs in Seoul.
Some nightclubs and bars in the capital are due to close again and the authorities have also postponed the planned reopening of schools by a week.
The country has conducted over 800,000 tests, yielding 11,142 positive results, leading to 264 confirmed deaths.
Secretive North Korea claims there are no virus cases at all, but many experts and North Korean defectors find this unbelievable.