In another dispiriting setback for the nation’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, scientists who studied a big COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts concluded that vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots. Health officials on Friday released details of that research, which was key in this week’s decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges. The authors said the findings suggest that the CDC’s mask guidance should be expanded to include the entire country, even outside of hot spots. The findings have the potential to upend past thinking about how the disease is spread. Previously, vaccinated people who got infected were thought to have low levels of virus and to be unlikely to pass it to others. But the new data shows that is not the case with the delta variant. The outbreak in Provincetown — a seaside tourist spot on Cape Cod in the county with Massachusetts’ highest vaccination rate — has so far included more than 900 cases. About three-quarters of them were people who were fully vaccinated. Travis Dagenais, who was among the many vaccinated people infected, said “throwing caution to the wind” and partying in crowds for long nights over the July Fourth holiday was a mistake in hindsight. “The dominant public messaging has been that the vaccine means a return to normal,” the 35-year-old Boston resident said Thursday. “Unfortunately, I’ve now learned it’s a few steps toward normal, not the zero-to-sixty that we seem to have undertaken.” Dagenais credits being vaccinated with easing the worst of the flu-like symptoms in a couple of days. He has recovered. Like many states, Massachusetts lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in late May, ahead of the traditional Memorial Day start of the summer season. Provincetown this week reinstated an indoor mask requirement for everyone. Leaked internal documents on breakthrough infections and the delta variant suggest the CDC may be considering other changes in advice on how the nation fights the coronavirus, such as recommending masks for everyone and requiring vaccines for doctors and other health workers. Read: Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated? The delta variant, first detected in India, causes infections that are more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox and the Ebola virus, and it is as infectious as chickenpox, according to the documents, which mentioned the Provincetown cases. The documents were obtained by The Washington Post. As they note, COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective against the delta variant at preventing serious illness and death. The Provincetown outbreak and the documents highlight the enormous challenge the CDC faces in encouraging vaccination while acknowledging that breakthrough cases can occur and can be contagious but are uncommon. The documents appear to be talking points for CDC staff to use with the public. One point advised: “Acknowledge the war has changed,” an apparent reference to deepening concern that many millions of vaccinated people could be a source of wide-ranging spread. An agency spokeswoman declined to comment on the documents. The White House on Friday defended its approach to rising virus cases and shifting public health guidelines, repeatedly deferred to the CDC while stressing the need for vaccinations. “The most important takeaway is actually pretty simple. We need more people to get vaccinated,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. Pressed about the changing guidance, Jean-Pierre repeatedly said, “We don’t make those types of decisions from here.” People with breakthrough infections make up an increasing portion of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths among COVID-19 patients, coinciding with the spread of the delta variant, according to the leaked documents. Although experts generally agreed with the CDC’s revised indoor masking stance, some said the report on the Provincetown outbreak does not prove that vaccinated people are a significant source of new infections. Read: Should vaccinated people mask up with COVID-19 cases rising? “There’s scientific plausibility for the (CDC) recommendation. But it’s not derived from this study,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher. The CDC report is based on about 470 COVID-19 cases linked to the Provincetown festivities, which included densely packed indoor and outdoor holiday events at bars, restaurants, guest houses and rental homes. Researchers ran tests on a portion of them and found roughly the same level of virus in those who were fully vaccinated and those who were not. Three-quarters of the infections were in fully vaccinated individuals. Among those fully vaccinated, about 80% experienced symptoms with the most common being cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and fever. Dagenais said he started to feel ill the evening he returned home and initially chalked it up to long nights of partying in packed Provincetown nightclubs. But as the days wore on and the fever, chills, muscle aches and fatigue set in, he knew it was something more. In the report, the measure researchers used to assess how much virus an infected person is carrying does not indicate whether they are actually transmitting the virus to other people, said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan. CDC officials say more data is coming. They are tracking breakthrough cases as part of much larger studies that involve following tens of thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated people across the country over time.
An 18-member contingent from Bangladesh, including six athletes who will represent the country in various disciplines and 12 officials, will join the world's biggest sports carnival, the Olympic Games, to be held in Japanese capital Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 next. The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the 32nd Olympiad and branded as Tokyo 2020, the world's biggest international multi sports festival, finally looks set to proceed, after being held over from last year due to the pandemic -the first time in the Games' history that they have been postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled. The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for July 24 to August 9 in 2020, was postponed in March 2020 for the Covid-19 pandemic and later rescheduled for 2021. It will now be held largely behind closed doors with no spectators permitted under the state of emergency. Also read: Genuinely excited to welcome Bangladesh Olympic team to Tokyo: Japanese envoy Six Bangladeshi athletes will compete in four disciplines of sports --archery, swimming,athletics and Shooting --in their dream.
Some 61.2 percent of young people, aged 18-25, have been suffering from depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, and among them 3.7 percent have attempted suicide. It was revealed in a survey conducted by Aachol Foundation, a student oriented non-profit social organization. The foundation's aim is to create awareness among students about taking care of their mental health. It works primarily to make students aware of mental health and to build them into a skilled, efficient workforce. The survey report was formally disclosed at a virtual press conference on Saturday. Among others, Tansen Rose, founder and president of the Aachol Foundation, Mental health specialist and play therapist Mushtaq Ahmed Imran and officials of the Foundation attended the virtual press conference. Last March, the Aachol Foundation conducted a survey on Suicidal rate during corona situation, which found that about 49% of those who committed suicide were young girls and boys, ages between 18- 35. Also read: Covid patient ‘commits suicide’ in Satkhira To find out the reasons for the rising suicide rate among the young people, the Aachol Foundation conducted a survey titled " thoughts of young people on Suicide and Mental Health" from June 1 to 15, this year. The aim of the survey was to identify reasons behind of committing suicide and finding a way out and finally, it is important to emphasize that everyone take initiative for mental health. A total of 2,026 youths, both girls and boys, took part in the survey. The largest group of participants in the survey was 1,720 young people aged 18-25 or 84.9 percent. A total of 243 people aged 26-30 took part in the survey which is 12 percent of the survey. In addition, 63 people aged 31-35 occupied 3.1 percent of the survey. Among them, the number of women was 1293 or 63.8 percent, while the number of male was 731 or 37.1 per cent and the third sex was 0.10 per cent. Of the 2,026 young people participated surveyed, only 787 (38.6) percent said they did not suffer from depression. However, 1,239 young boys and girls ( 61.2 percent) said they were suffering from depression. Among the participants, 55.7 percent said they don’t get anyone beside them to share their depression or emotional turmoil. Also read: Bangladeshi brothers who killed family in Texas were suffering from ‘depression’ According to the survey, 49.9 percent of young people did not think of suicide but the remaining 50.1 percent thought of committing suicide. Among them, 21.3 percent thought of committing suicide during the corona period. Some 38.1 percent of people thought of suicide but did not attempt suicide. But 8.3 percent thought of suicide, they prepared suicide materials but came back and 3.7 percent of young people tried to commit suicide but they failed. Commenting on the survey, Tansen Rose, founder and president of the Aachol Foundation, said: "young people are the Craftsman to build the country of the future. When young people are suicidal tendency or mentally depressed, it is definitely a bad signal for the country,” he said. Rather, the problem must be solved by finding out the reasons why a young person has suicidal tendency or is emotionally disturbed, he added.
The head of the World Health Organization says the world is in “a very dangerous period” of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the more contagious delta variant is identified in nearly 100 countries. At a press briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the delta variant, first found in India, is continuing to evolve and mutate, and it is becoming the predominant COVID-19 virus in many countries. Also read: Delta variant exploits low vaccine rates, easing of rules “I have already urged leaders across the world to ensure that by this time next year, 70% of all people in every country are vaccinated,” he said, adding that would effectively end the acute phase of the pandemic. He noted 3 billion doses of vaccine have already been distributed and, “it’s within the collective power of a few countries to step up and ensure that vaccines are shared.” Also read: What should I know about the delta variant? Of the vaccine doses given globally, fewer than 2% have been in poorer countries. Although rich countries including Britain, the U.S., France and Canada have pledged to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines, WHO estimates 11 billion doses are needed to immunize the world.
No mosque in Dhaka, sometimes called the City of Mosques, has gone as far as cancelling Friday’s Jummah prayer. All that is really expected of them is to follow the government guidelines on social distancing amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Visiting two mosques in the capital, two different scenarios have been captured by the UNB photographers. A relatively small number of devotees at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque have offered Jummah prayer maintaining social distance.
As the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 started a downward spiral in India, health experts have begun to press the alarm bells for another wave of the outbreak, citing the flouting of health protocols amid eased restrictions and a sluggish vaccine rollout. On Wednesday morning, India reported 50,848 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the case tally to cross the 30 million mark and reach 30,028,709, while the death toll reached 390,660. The recovery rate in the country has increased to 96.56 percent. The declining number of daily cases allowed local governments across the country to order relaxations, but warnings from experts and watchdogs pointed towards the risks of another wave of outbreak. The devastating second wave of the pandemic caught India unawares. It saw the country's hospitals overwhelmed especially in major cities and towns. Unable to cope with the rush of patients, doctors saw themselves struggling for oxygen supplies and essential medicines. Experts have blamed Indian authorities for ignoring warnings and going ahead with conducting elections in several states, besides allowing a mega Hindu religious congregation called Kumbh Mela. CALLS FOR CAUTION The easing of restrictions in the capital Delhi recently saw thousands crowd metro stations and shopping centers, prompting health experts to warn of the possible resurgence in COVID-19 infections. Last week, the Delhi high court warned that the breach of COVID-19 protocol will only hasten the third wave of the pandemic. It asked authorities to take strict measures against violators and sensitize shopkeepers about the COVID-19 protocol. The high court said if flouting of COVID-19 norms continues, "we will be in great trouble." Also read: India's COVID-19 tally crosses 30 million With the resumption of business in the capital, doctors have also cautioned that Delhi could face a "worse than second wave situation" if people lower their guard or do not adhere to safety norms. Director of India's premier health institute - All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Randeep Guleria said last week that the third wave of COVID-19 could hit the country in the next six to eight weeks. "It (third wave) could happen within the next six to eight weeks or maybe a little longer. It all depends on how we go ahead in terms of COVID-19 appropriate behavior and preventing crowds." "We don't seem to have learnt from what happened between the first and the second wave. Again crowds are building up. People are gathering. It will take some time for the number of cases to start rising at the national level," Guleria said. "Mini-lockdown in any part of the country, which witnesses a surge and a rise in positivity rate beyond 5 percent, will be required. Unless we're vaccinated, we're vulnerable in the coming months," he said. Jai Prakash Narain, a former regional official of the World Health Organization, also expressed his concern. "Sadly we... tended to celebrate victory prematurely, much before the battle was actually won. As a result, the country was caught off guard and unprepared to respond adequately when the second wave suddenly hit us and many lives were lost and families tragically devastated by the rampaging virus," Narain wrote in an article in a local daily. Also read: Vaccine hesitancy puts India’s gains against virus at risk SLUGGISH VACCINATIONS Currently, vaccinating its huge population remained one of the main challenges facing the Indian government. V K Paul, member (health) of the Indian government's top policy think tank, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (commission), said vaccination against the COVID-19 gives at least 94 percent protection from the infection and reduces the chances of hospitalization by 75-80 percent. The nationwide vaccination against COVID-19 started in India on Jan. 16, and so far only about 50 million people, or some 5 percent out of the country's total adult population of 940 million, have received two doses of the vaccine, according to the health ministry. As per the health ministry, over 294 million doses have been administered across the country. A vast majority of the population that have been vaccinated have so far received only one dose. As the Indian government aims to vaccinate the entire eligible population by the end of this year, experts said the country needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve this target.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina expressing his optimism that humanity will overcome the pandemic very soon. "I remain optimistic that humanity shall overcome the pandemic very soon," Modi said in his letter marking the International Day of Yoga that falls on June 21. The theme for this year's International Day of Yoga is "Yoga for Wellness", which is particularly relevant in the current context. Modi extended his deepest gratitude for the cooperation and efforts extended by one and all in making the International Day of Yoga celebrations a resounding success every year in Bangladesh. "It was heartening to see our sisters and brothers in Bangladesh turning out in massive numbers in the last few years to perform Yoga at the Bangabandhu National Stadium," he said. Also read: India will always stand by Bangladesh: Modi The Indian Prime Minister said International Day of Yoga celebrations will continue to enjoy Sheikh Hasina government's support in the years ahead. In 2014, the overwhelming response of the United Nations General Assembly to recognize June 21 as International Day of Yoga underlined the universal appeal of Yoga that transcends all barriers. Since then, the International Day of Yoga has been marked globally with great fervour. The world will mark the seventh International Day of Yoga. "Like the year gone by, this year's International Day of Yoga will also be marked under the shadow of the Covid-19 global pandemic," Modi said. In the midst of this monumental challenge, the Indian Prime Minister said the Covid-19 warriors have waged a remarkable fight against the pandemic. "While the threat of the pandemic remains, there have been positive developments since the last International Day of Yoga," he said. In addition to various treatment protocols, scientific understanding about the virus, Modi said, they now also have several vaccines to protect people from the pandemic. "Vaccination drives are underway in several nations, including India. I remain optimistic that humanity shall overcome the pandemic very soon," Modi said. Also read: Ground-level cooperation needed to check all border incidents: Modi Yoga has many benefits for the body as well as the mind. Despite all the efforts and precautions, Covid-19 may infect any person. However, the Indian Prime Minister said, a strong immune system can aid in the fight against it. "Yoga can help build that immunity, for instance, through breathing exercises that strengthen the lungs. At the same time, across the world, millions of people have been forced to stay indoors for months. This has taken a toll on their mental health as well. Regular practice of Yoga can also help them recover," he said. The Indian Prime Minister said Yoga has an inherent power to connect. Yoga is good for community, immunity, and unity. The theme of International Day of Yoga celebrations this year reflects the concern for the good health and wellbeing of people across the globe. "It’s an endeavour to ensure that we focus on fitness as well as wellness," Modi said.
Can you mix and match two-dose COVID-19 vaccines? It’s likely safe and effective, but researchers are still gathering data to be sure. The authorized COVID-19 shots around the world are all designed to stimulate your immune system to produce virus-fighting antibodies, though the way they do so varies, noted Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of the World Health Organization’s vaccine unit. “Based on the basic principles of how vaccines work, we do think that the mix-and-match regimens are going to work,” she said. Also read: Why do some people get side effects after COVID-19 vaccines? Scientists at Oxford University in the United Kingdom are testing combinations of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer-BioNTech. Smaller trials are also ongoing in Spain and Germany. “We really just need to get the evidence in each of these (vaccine) combinations,” O’Brien said. So far, limited data suggests an AstraZeneca shot followed by the Pfizer shot is safe and effective. The combination also appears to come with a slightly higher likelihood of temporary side effects like aches and chills. That might be because mixing and matching different types of vaccines can often produce a stronger immune response, said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Also read: How long does protection from COVID-19 vaccines last? In some places, health officials already suggest mixing in select circumstances. After the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to extremely rare blood clots, many European countries including Germany, France and Spain recommended people who got it as a first dose get a Pfizer or Moderna shot as a second dose instead. In Britain and Canada, officials say people should aim to get the same vaccine for their second dose if possible. If they got AstraZeneca as their first shot, they’re advised to get another vaccine only if they have a history of blood clots or other conditions that might put them at higher risk of clots.
Hati Maronjei once swore he would never get a COVID-19 shot, after a pastor warned that vaccines aren’t safe. Now, four months after the first batch of vaccines arrived in Zimbabwe, the 44-year-old street hawker of electronic items is desperate for the shot he can’t get. Whenever he visits a clinic in the capital, Harare, he is told to try again the next day. “I am getting frustrated and afraid,” he said. “I am always in crowded places, talking, selling to different people. I can’t lock myself in the house.” A sense of dread is growing in some of the very poorest countries in the world as virus cases surge and more contagious variants take hold amid a crippling shortage of vaccine. The crisis has alarmed public health officials along with the millions of unvaccinated, especially those who toil in the informal, off-the-books economy, live hand-to-mouth and pay cash in health emergencies. With intensive care units filling up in cities overwhelmed by the pandemic, severe disease can be a death sentence. Africa is especially vulnerable. Its 1.3 billion people account for 18% of the world’s population, but the continent has received only 2% of all vaccine doses administered globally. And some African countries have yet to dispense a single shot. Health experts and world leaders have repeatedly warned that even if rich nations immunize all their people, the pandemic will not be defeated if the virus is allowed to spread in countries starved of vaccine. “We’ve said all through this pandemic that we are not safe unless we are all safe,” said John Nkengasong, a Cameroonian virologist who heads the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are only as strong as the weakest link.” Zimbabwe, which has imposed new lockdown measures because of a sharp rise in deaths and cases in the country of over 15 million people, has used just over a million of 1.7 million doses, blaming shortages in urban areas on logistical challenges. Long lines form at centers such as Parirenyatwa Hospital, unlike months ago, when authorities were begging people to get vaccinated. Many are alarmed as winter sets in and the variant first identified in South Africa spreads in Harare, where young people crowd into betting houses, some with masks dangling from their chins and others without. Also read: G-7 leaders agree on vaccines, China and taxing corporations “Most people are not wearing masks. There is no social distancing. The only answer is a vaccine, but I can’t get it,” Maronjei said. At the start of the pandemic, many deeply impoverished countries with weak health care systems appeared to have avoided the worst. That is changing. “The sobering trajectory of surging cases should rouse everyone to urgent action,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Africa director of the World Health Organization. “Public health measures must be scaled up fast to find, test, isolate and care for patients, and to quickly trace and isolate their contacts.” New cases on the continent rose by nearly 30% in the past week, she said Thursday. In Zambia, where a vaccination campaign has stalled, authorities reported that the country is running out of bottled oxygen. Sick people whose symptoms are not severe are being turned away by hospitals in Lusaka, the capital. “When we reached the hospital, we were told there was no bed space for her,” Jane Bwalya said of her 70-year-old grandmother. “They told us to manage the disease from home. So we just went back home, and we are trying to give her whatever medicine can reduce the symptoms.” Uganda is likewise fighting a sharp rise in cases and is seeing an array of variants. Authorities report that the surge is infecting more people in their 20s and 30s. Intensive care units in and around the capital, Kampala, are almost full, and Misaki Wayengera, a doctor who heads a committee advising Uganda’s government, said some patients are “praying for someone to pass on” so that they can get an ICU bed. Many Ugandans feel hopeless when they see the astronomical medical bills of patients emerging from intensive care. Some have turned to concoctions of boiled herbs for protection. On social media, suggestions include lemongrass and small flowering plants. That has raised fears of poisoning. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni imposed new restrictions this month that included closing all schools. But he avoided the extreme lockdown measures of last year, saying he didn’t want to hurt people’s livelihoods in a country with a vast informal sector. Also read: S Korea pledges $200mn to provide vaccines in lower-income countries For beauticians, restaurant workers and vendors in crowded open-air markets struggling to put food on the table, the threat from COVID-19 may be high, but taking even a day off when sick is a hardship. Testing costs $22 to $65, prohibitive for the working class. “Unless I am feeling very sick, I wouldn’t waste all my money to go and test for COVID,” said Aisha Mbabazi, a waiter in a restaurant just outside Kampala. The 28-year-old had a scare weeks ago, she said, noting that a COVID-19 infection could cost her the job if her employer found out. But she has been unable to get a shot. “I really wanted the vaccine because for us, any time you can get COVID,” she said. “Even just touching the menu.” Dr. Ian Clarke, who founded a hospital in Uganda, said that while vaccine demand is growing among the previously hesitant, “the downside is that we do not know when, or from where, we will get the next batch” of shots. Africa has recorded more than 5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 135,000 deaths. That is a small fraction of the world’s caseload, but many fear the crisis could get much worse. Nearly 90% of African countries are set to miss the global target of vaccinating 10% of their people by September, according to the World Health Organization. One major problem is that COVAX, the U.N.-backed project to supply vaccine to poor corners of the world, is itself facing a serious shortage of vaccine. Amid a global outcry over the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the U.S., Britain and the other Group of Seven wealthy nations agreed last week to share at least 1 billion doses with struggling countries over the next year, with deliveries starting in August. Also read: UK to donate 100 mn coronavirus vaccine doses In the meantime, many of the world’s poor wait and worry. In Afghanistan, where a surge threatens to overwhelm a war-battered health system, 700,000 doses donated by China arrived over the weekend, and within hours, “people were fighting with each other to get to the front of the line,” said Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ghulam Dastigir Nazari. The vaccine rush is notable in a country where many question the reality of the virus and rarely wear masks or social distance, often mocking those who do. At the end of May, approximately 600,000 Afghans had received at least one dose, or less than 2% of the population of 36 million. But the number of those fully vaccinated is minute — “so few I couldn’t even say any percentage,” according to Nazari. In Haiti, hospitals are turning away patients as the country awaits its first shipment of vaccines. A major delivery via COVAX was delayed amid government concern over side effects and a lack of infrastructure to keep the doses properly refrigerated. “I’m at risk every single day,” said Nacheline Nazon, a 22-year-old salesperson who takes a colorful, crowded bus known as a tap-tap to work at a clothing store in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, because that is all she can afford. She said she wears a mask and washes her hands. If the vaccine becomes available, she said, “I’ll probably be the first one in line to get it.”
Child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, an increase of 8.4 million in the last four years as countries are trying to turn the corner and break the cycle of poverty and child labour, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Unicef. They also warn that 9 million more children are at risk as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and this number could rise to 46 million if they do not have access to critical social protection coverage.