World Health Organization (WHO)
Dhaka’s air quality is still in the 'unhealthy' zone this morning (March 10, 2023). With an air quality index (AQI) score of 163 at 9:30 am, the capital of Bangladesh ranked 11th in the list of cities worldwide with the worst air quality. Pakistan’s Lahore, India’s Delhi, and China’s Wuhan occupied the first three spots, with AQI scores of 239, 213, and 203, respectively. An AQI between 151 and 200 is considered ‘unhealthy’ while between 201–300 is ‘’very unhealthy’, and 301–400 is 'hazardous', posing severe health risks to residents. The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, informs people how clean or polluted the air of a particular city is and what associated health effects might be a concern for them. The AQI in Bangladesh is based on five pollutants: particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2, and ozone. Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution issues. Its air quality usually turns unhealthy in winter and improves during the monsoon. Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide. Breathing polluted air has long been recognised as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, and cancer, according to several studies. As per World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, mainly due to increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections.
Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of Covid-19 vaccines worth about Tk 20,000 crore free from the World Health Organization (WHO), said Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Wednesday. “At the same time, we have been able to vaccinate about 98 per cent people of the targeted population against Covid-19 in the country, which is about 75 per cent of the total population,” the minister said this while addressing a meeting of Awami League members at Manikganj district on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. Also read: Children aged 5-12 to be vaccinated by June: Health Minister “By the grace of Allah, under the guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we have been able to control Covid situation today,” he said. Maleque further said this time Eid is being celebrated in full swing in the country following continuous downtrend in the Covid infection rate due to the mass vaccination. Also read:Ensure wearing masks, social distance, health guidelines amid Covid surge in world: NTAC He said, “The country's economy is moving on with six per cent GDP growth.” In countries where Covid situation is out of control, the economy is in recession, he said. “Bangladesh is one of the countries with the strongest economy in the world,” he added.
Japan announced Monday it will suspend entry of all foreign visitors from around the world as a new coronavirus variant spreads, prompting an increasing number of countries to tighten their borders. “We are taking the step as an emergency precaution to prevent a worst-case scenario in Japan,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. He said the measure will take effect Tuesday. The decision means Japan will restore border controls that it eased earlier this month for short-term business visitors, foreign students and workers. Kishida urged people to continue with mask wearing and other basic anti-virus measures until further details of the new omicron variant are known. Many countries have moved to tighten their borders even as scientists warn it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much is still not known about it, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines. But many countries rushed to act, reflecting anxiety about anything that could prolong the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people. Israel decided to bar entry to foreigners, and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming flights for two weeks starting Monday — among the most drastic of a growing raft of travel curbs being imposed by nations around the world as they scrambled to slow the variant’s spread. Scientists in several places — from Hong Kong to Europe to North America — have confirmed its presence. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron cases on Sunday, and both Canada and Australia each found two. Read:WHO criticizes travel bans on southern African countries Noting that the variant has already been detected in many countries and that closing borders often has limited effect, the World Health Organization called for frontiers to remain open. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, meanwhile, emphasized that there is no data yet that suggests the new variant causes more serious illness than previous COVID-19 variants. “I do think it’s more contagious when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in South Africa. It has the earmarks therefore of being particularly likely to spread from one person to another. … What we don’t know is whether it can compete with delta,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Collins echoed several experts in saying the news should make everyone redouble their efforts to use the tools the world already has, including vaccinations, booster shots and measures such as mask-wearing. “I know, America, you’re really tired about hearing those things, but the virus is not tired of us,” Collins said. The Dutch public health authority confirmed that 13 people who arrived from South Africa on Friday have so far tested positive for omicron. They were among 61 people who tested positive for the virus after arriving on the last two flights to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport before a flight ban was implemented. They were immediately put into isolation, most at a nearby hotel. Canada’s health minister says the country’s first two cases of omicron were found in Ontario after two individuals who had recently traveled from Nigeria tested positive. Authorities in Australia said two travelers who arrived in Sydney from Africa became the first in the country to test positive for the new variant. Arrivals from nine African countries are now required to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival. Two German states reported a total of three cases in returning travelers over the weekend. Israel moved to ban entry by foreigners and mandate quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad. And Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Japan is considering stepping up border controls. Kishida told reporters that he planned to announce new measures in addition to the current 10-day quarantine requirement for travelers from South Africa and eight other nearby countries. Japan still has its border closed to foreign tourists from any country. Morocco’s Foreign Ministry tweeted Sunday that all incoming air travel to the North African country would be suspended to “preserve the achievements realized by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic, and to protect the health of citizens.” Morocco has been at the forefront of vaccinations in Africa, and kept its borders closed for months in 2020 because of the pandemic. The U.S. plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries starting Monday. “It’s going to give us a period of time to enhance our preparedness,” the United States’ top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said of the ban on ABC’s “This Week.” Many countries are introducing such bans, though they go against the advice of the WHO, which has warned against any overreaction before the variant is thoroughly studied. Fauci says it will take approximately two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity and other characteristics of omicron, according to a statement from the White House. South Africa’s government responded angrily to the travel bans, which it said are “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker.” Read:New omicron variant stokes world fears, triggers travel bans The WHO sent out a statement saying it “stands with African nations” and noting that travel restrictions may play “a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.” It said if restrictions are put in place, they should be scientifically based and not intrusive. In Europe, much of which already has been struggling recently with a sharp increase in cases, officials were on guard. The U.K. on Saturday tightened rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two omicron cases, but British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government was nowhere near reinstituting work from home or more severe social-distancing measures. “We know now those types of measures do carry a very heavy price, both economically, socially, in terms of non-COVID health outcomes such as impact on mental health,” he told Sky News. Spain announced it won’t admit unvaccinated British visitors starting Dec. 1. Italy was going through lists of airline passengers who arrived in the past two weeks. France is continuing to push vaccinations and booster shots. David Hui, a respiratory medicine expert and government adviser on the pandemic in Hong Kong, agreed with that strategy. He said the two people who tested positive for the omicron variant had received the Pfizer vaccine and exhibited very mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. “Vaccines should work but there would be some reduction in effectiveness,” he said.
The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant. WHO's regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions. “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement. “If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.” Moeti praised South Africa for following international health regulations and informing WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the omicron variant. Read: More omicron cases pop up as world rushes to learn more “The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended," said Moeti. "WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID-19.” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the restrictions “completely unjustified." “The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant,” said in a speech Sunday evening. "The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries, and undermine the ability to respond to, and also to recover from, the pandemic.” Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. While investigations continue into the omicron variant, WHO recommends that all countries “take a risk-based and scientific approach and put in place measures which can limit its possible spread.” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, emphasized that there is no data yet that suggests the new variant causes more serious illness than previous COVID-19 variants. “I do think it’s more contagious, when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in South Africa,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Israel decided to bar entry to foreigners, and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming flights for two weeks starting Monday — among the most drastic of a growing raft of travel curbs being imposed as nations scrambled to slow the variant’s spread. Scientists in several places — from Hong Kong to Europe — have confirmed its presence. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron cases on Sunday, and Australia found two. Read: In omicron hot spot, somber mood as S Africa faces variant The U.S. plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries starting Monday. “With the omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity," said Moeti. “COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.” WHO said it scaling up its support for genomic sequencing in Africa so sequencing laboratories have access to adequate human resources and testing reagents to work at full capacity. WHO also said is ready to offer additional help, reinforcing COVID-19 responses including surveillance, treatment, infection prevention and community engagement in southern African countries, it said.
The overall number of Covid cases is fast approaching 245 million amid the global race to vaccinate masses against the infectious disease. According to Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the total case count mounted to 244,980,203 while the death tally from the virus reached 4,971,409 Thursday morning. The US has recorded 45,703,865 cases to date and more than 741,231 people have died so far from the virus in the country, as per the university data. The United States tallied the largest number of new cases over the last seven days -- nearly 513,000 new cases, though that was a 12% drop from the previous week – and over 11,600 deaths, which was about the same number as the previous week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. Read: Merck agrees to let other drug makers make its COVID pill Brazil, which has been experiencing a new wave of cases since January, registered 21,766,168 cases so far, while its Covid death toll rose to 606,679. India's Covid-19 tally rose to 34,215,653 on Wednesday, as 13,451 new cases were registered in 24 hours across the country, according to the federal health ministry. Besides, 585 deaths due to the pandemic since Tuesday morning took the total death toll to 455,653. However, Europe stood out as the only major region worldwide to report an increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths over the past week, the UN health agency said Wednesday. The World Health Organization said new Covid-19 cases in its 53-country European region, which stretches as far east as the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, recorded an 18% increase in corona cases over the last week -- a fourth straight weekly increase for the area, reports AP. In WHO’s weekly epidemiological report on Covid-19, Europe also saw a 14% increase in virus-related deaths. That amounted to more than 1.6 million new cases and over 21,000 new deaths. Meanwhile, Russia is reporting an increasing number of coronavirus infections and Covid deaths as the country approaches a week of non-working days aimed at stemming the surge in cases. Russia has reported 36,582 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 8,352,601, the official monitoring and response center said on Wednesday. The nationwide death toll grew by 1,123, the highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, to 233,898. Situation in Bangladesh Covid-19 claimed seven more lives and infected 306 more people in 24 hours till Wednesday morning. The daily case positivity rate increased slightly to 1.53 percent from Tuesday’s 1.44 percent. Read:US financing body, Biological E finalise agreement to expand COVID manufacturing capabilities in India The fresh cases were detected after testing 19,951 samples, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). With the fresh numbers, the Covid-19 fatalities reached 27,841 while the caseload climbed to 1,568,563 in Bangladesh, according to the DGHS. Among the latest deceased, three were men and four were women. The recovery rate increased slightly to 97.70 percent, with 288 more patients getting cured.
The Covid pandemic will "go on for a year longer than it needs to" because poorer countries are not getting the vaccines they need, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Dr Bruce Aylward, senior leader at the WHO, said it meant the Covid crisis could "easily drag on deep into 2022", reports BBC. Less than 5% of Africa's population have been vaccinated, compared to 40% on most other continents. The UK has delivered more than 10 million vaccines to countries in need. Read:Mosquirix: WHO Recommends World's First Malaria Vaccine RTS,S It has pledged a total of 100 million. Dr Aylward appealed to wealthy countries to give up their places in the queue for vaccines in order that pharmaceutical companies can prioritise the lowest-income countries instead. He said wealthy countries needed to "stocktake" where they were with their donation commitments made at summits such as the G7 meeting in St Ives this summer. "I can tell you we're not on track" he said. "We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to." The People's Vaccine - an alliance of charities - has released new figures suggesting just one in seven of the doses promised by pharmaceutical companies and wealthy countries are actually reaching their destinations in poorer countries. The vast majority of Covid vaccines have been given in high-income or upper middle-income countries. Africa accounts for just 2.6% of doses administered globally. Read:World misses most 2020 mental health targets: WHO The group of charities, which includes Oxfam and UNAids, also criticised Canada and the UK for procuring vaccines for their own populations via Covax, the UN-backed global programme to distribute vaccines fairly. Official figures show that earlier this year the UK received 539,370 Pfizer doses while Canada took just under a million AstraZeneca doses. The original idea behind Covax was that all countries would be able to acquire vaccines from its pool, including wealthy ones. But most G7 countries decided to hold back once they started making their own one-to-one deals with pharmaceutical companies. Oxfam's Global Health Adviser, Rohit Malpani, acknowledged that Canada and the UK were technically entitled to get vaccines via this route having paid into the Covax mechanism, but he said it was still "morally indefensible" given that they had both obtained millions of doses through their own bilateral agreements. Read: WHO okays vaccination of those below 18 in Bangladesh: Health Minister "They should not have been acquiring these doses from Covax," he said. "It's nothing better than double-dipping and means that poorer countries which are already at the back of the queue, will end up waiting longer." The UK government pointed out it was one of the countries which had "kick-started" Covax last year with a donation of £548m. The Canadian government was keen to stress that it had now ceased to use Covax vaccines. The country's International Development Minister, Karina Gould, said: "As soon as it became clear that the supply we had secured through our bilateral deals would be sufficient for the Canadian population, we pivoted the doses which we had procured from Covax back to Covax, so they could be redistributed to developing countries." Covax originally aimed to deliver two billion doses of vaccines by the end of this year, but so far it has shipped 371m doses.
Rozina Begum’s tin-roofed house in Uttar Chandpai village in Mongla upazila is surrounded by water on three sides. Yet excessive salinity has rendered the water unfit for use in cooking or drinking. Every day middle-aged Rozina walks three kilometres from her home to fetch water from a river even for cooking the family’s meals. And she has to buy saline-free drinking water. “There have been days we passed without eating rice as there was no water to cook it,” said Rozina as she narrated her miseries to the UNB correspondent this week in her Chandpai village of the upazila. Read:Covid fear deprives Bagerhat of its legendary Shikdar Bari’s Puja She said her poor family also spends up to Tk 30 to 40 to collect the day’s drinking water. Rozina’s neighbours Fuljaan Bibi, Khalil Mia, Haoa Begum, Mukul Molla and Dulal Sheikh have similar tales of water woes to share. An invasion of saline sea water has made the sweet water in ponds, canals and other water bodies of the district’s coastal villages unfit for any use. Salinity higher than the permissible limit has been found in underground water too, making it difficult for the villagers to use well water. Read Agro revolution to be seen in saline areas: Dr Razzaque Up to 85 per cent of the district’s population have now little access to sweet drinkable water, according to studies. Diseases related to long-time excessive use of saline water have also become a big problem. Many are turning to harvesting rainwater with the technology being provided by NGOs like Brac.
Bangladesh logged seven Covid-19 deaths, the lowest since March, in 24 hours till Friday morning with 645 infections reported during this time. The single-day daily death toll was the lowest since March 17 this year when the country recorded 11 Covid-related deaths. Read:Covid: Dhaka advocates an equal shot at recovery The fresh cases were detected after testing 23,302 samples which have slightly decreased the daily-case positivity rate to 2.77 per cent from Thursday’s 2.97 per cent, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). With this, the daily-case positivity rate in the country remained below 5 per cent for the 15th consecutive day which marks the country ready for mass unlocking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the daily-case positivity rate remains at 5 per cent or below for 14 days it is considered to be safe for mass unlocking. In Bangladesh, the daily-case positivity rate reached its peak 32.55 per cent on July 24 this year. The fresh numbers took the total fatalities to 27,654 while the caseload mounted to 15,61,463, the DGHS. Read: Bangladesh calls for fair, balanced IP regime system to fight COVID However, the mortality rate remained static at 1.77 per cent. The recovery rate slightly increased to 97.51 per cent with the recovery of 814 more patients during this time. So far, 15,22,591 people have recovered from the deadly virus infections, the DGHS added.
Bangladesh logged 38 more Covid-19 deaths and 1,907 fresh cases in 24 hours till Friday morning. The daily case positivity rate increased to 6.41 per cent on Friday, a slight rise from Thursday’s 5.98 per cent, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Read: Covid claims 51 more lives in Bangladesh, case positivity rate falls to 5.98 per cent The new cases were detected after testing 30,169 samples during the period. Meanwhile, the fatality rate remained static at 1.76 per cent, said the DGHS. The fresh numbers pushed the country’s Covid death tally to 27,147 while the caseload mounted to 15,40,110. The recovery rate rose to 97.20 per cent with the recovery of 2,919 more patients during the 24-hour period. Read:Covid in Bangladesh: Daily deaths rise again as 51 more die On Tuesday, the country recorded 35 deaths, the lowest in around three months. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the daily case positivity rate should remain at 5 per cent or below for 14 days before mass unlocking.
The global Covid-19 caseload has surpassed 221 million as the vaccination rollout has failed to keep pace. According to US-based Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the total case count mounted to 221,051,151 and the death toll to 4,574,419 on Tuesday morning. So far, 5,489,941,974 vaccine doses have been administered across the globe. Read: Bangladesh’s international airports to have PCR booths for Covid tests India administered more Covid-19 vaccine doses in August than all the G7 nations combined, the government said on Monday, reports NDTV. The total Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country so far has crossed 68.46 crore. Canada administered three million doses and Japan 40 million doses in the two lowest and highest range, respectively, among G7 nations, according to data tweeted by MyGovIndia. The US, which is the world's worst-hit country in terms of both cases and deaths, has so far logged 40,018,268 cases. Besides, 649,319 people have lost their lives in the US to date, as per the JHU data. Brazil currently has the world's second-highest pandemic death toll after the United States and the third-largest caseload after the United States and India. The country has recorded 20,899,933 cases with 583,810 fatalities so far, according to the health ministry. India's Covid-19 tally surpassed the 33-million mark, rising to 33,027,621 on Monday, as 38,948 new cases were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, the federal health ministry's latest data showed. Besides, as many as 219 deaths were registered due to the pandemic since Sunday morning, taking the total death toll to 440,752. Read: 2nd doses to be administered under mass vaccination on 3 days in cities, 1 day outside cities: PMO Situation in Bangladesh Bangladesh logged 65 Covid-19 deaths and 2,710 cases in 24 hours till Monday morning, showing a slight fall in fatality and uptrend in cases from a day before. The country reported 70 Covid-related deaths and 2,430 cases on Sunday. The daily case positivity rate also increased slightly to 9.82% from Sunday's 9.66%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The fresh numbers pushed the country’s total fatalities to 26,628 while the cases reached 15,17,166, the DGHS said. The new cases were detected after testing 27,595 samples during the 24-hour period. Besides, the recovery rate rose to 95.91%, while the case fatality also increased to 1.76 per cent compared to the corresponding period. Read:Those aged 12-17 to be vaccinated after WHO’s approval: Minister The country last saw 67 Coronavirus-related deaths on June 17 and the upswing in the fatalities reached its peak on August 5 and 10 when 264 deaths were recorded. However, the situation was much more catastrophic than June in the latter part of August as the country experienced a surge of Covid-related caseloads and deaths during that time. Between May and June this year, there was a 273% rise in monthly caseloads and 162% in fatalities. In July, there was a 150% increase in caseloads and a 170% rise in deaths compared to the previous month, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).