South Asia nearing zero new Covid cases; virus wildfire engulfs China


Photo credit Twitter Duan Qiaozi

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 18: China had set off vaccine nationalism after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which had suspected origins in Wuhan, while Beijing till date has not told the world how it spread the pandemic to the world. Reports suggest that the people in China are struggling to access even fever medicines, as new case have gone to a scale that shows state healthcare collapse. In contrast, South Asia is fast closing in on zero new Covid-19 cases.

Nepal reported zero new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Sri Lanka reported just 11 news Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Bangladesh had reported just 19 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Bhutan has touched zero new Covid-19 daily cases. India reported 176 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Thus, South Asia as a block is a picture in contrast to the pandemic blast in China.

Big cities in China are reporting non-availability of fever medicines. The people are confining themselves at homes. The partial relaxation of the ‘Zero Covid Policy’ norms of Xi Jinping-led China has circumstantially spread the pandemic like wildfire in China, with big industrial cities reporting clampdown and the people staying away from the public places. Multiple media reports, quoting ground situations, said that the pandemic situation has gone out of control in China.

The Corona blast in China has come at a time when a few airlines from India are bracing up to launch their flights to the Chinese cities from next month onwards. However, the government in India has not yet come out with any policy direction for the Indians to stay away from China or to restrict the air connectivity to the pandemic-hit country. With China being an opaque country, which kept the world in the dark about the Wuhan outbreak of the Coronavirus, health experts are wondering if the global community should disconnect with Beijing. “Only two people working at The Economist Group’s Beijing office today, including myself. Feels like half of Beijing got Covid in just five days. A city of 23 million people,” tweeted Qian Liu.

Data shows that there is an increasing hospitalization in the US in the last few weeks on account of the pandemic. Global health experts have faulted China for pursuing vaccine nationalism, while Beijing had failed to vaccinate the elderly citizens. Reports stated that more than 30 per cent of the senior citizens were not vaccinated in China even while the efficacy of the vaccines have been questioned. Global health experts had urged upon Beijing to accept the US made vaccines.

In contrast, the South Asian nations largely banked on the India made Covid-19 vaccines, while also following the India example of proactively vaccinating their respective population. Bhutan had been aggressive to shut its border. Bangladesh also banked on its robust rural healthcare infrastructure to vaccinate the population. Similar was the experience in Sri Lanka.

In India, the new Covid-19 cases have been less than 200 for a few days now even while there has been calls from the health experts to the government to stay alert and extend incentives to the vaccine manufacturers to ready doses. India now has multiple vaccine options against Covid-19.

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