Virus Cases Up Sharply in Africa, India07/11 10:25
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- South Africa's confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled
in just two weeks to a quarter-million, and India on Saturday saw its biggest
daily spike as its infections passed 800,000. The surging cases are raising
sharp concerns about unequal treatment in the pandemic, as the wealthy hoard
medical equipment and use private hospitals and the poor crowd into overwhelmed
Globally more than 12.5 million people have been infected by the virus and
over 560,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Experts say the pandemic's true toll is much higher due to testing shortages,
poor data collection in some nations and other issues.
Some of the worst-affected countries are among the world's most unequal.
South Africa leads them all on that measure, with the pandemic exposing the gap
In Johannesburg, the epicenter of South Africa's outbreak, badly needed
oxygen concentrators that help COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe
are hard to find as private businesses and individuals are buying them up, a
public health specialist volunteering at a field hospital, Lynne Wilkinson,
told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, South Africa's public hospitals are short on medical oxygen ---
and they are now seeing a higher proportion of deaths than private ones, the
National Institute for Communicable Diseases says.
South Africa now has more than 250,000 confirmed coronavirus cases,
including more than 3,800 deaths. To complicate matters, the country's troubled
power utility has announced new electricity cuts in the dead of winter as a
cold front brings freezing weather. Many of the country's urban poor live in
shacks of scrap metal and wood.
And in Kenya, some have been outraged by a local newspaper report that says
several governors have installed intensive care unit equipment in their homes.
The country lost its first doctor to COVID-19 this week.
"The welfare, occupational safety & health of frontline workers is a
non-negotiable minimum!!" the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and
Dentists Union tweeted after her death. On Saturday, the union and other
medical groups urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to implement a promised
compensation package to ease the "anxiety and fear that has now gripped health
More than 8,000 health workers across Africa have been infected, half of
them in South Africa. The continent of 1.3 billion has the world's lowest
levels of health staffing and more than 550,000 cases, and the pandemic is
reaching "full speed," the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many parts of the world are facing fresh waves of infections as they try to
reopen their economies.
In India, which reported a new daily high of 27,114 cases on Saturday,
nearly a dozen states have imposed a partial lockdown in high-risk areas. Cases
jumped from 600,000 to more than 800,000 in nine days. People are packing
India's public hospitals as many are unable to afford private ones that
generally uphold higher standards of care.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged top officials to improve infection
testing and tracking, especially in states with high positivity rates.
Officials on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa said dozens of U.S.
Marines have been infected at two bases there in what is feared to be a massive
outbreak. The officials said the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not
"We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease
prevention measures," Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters.
In Australia, the beleaguered state of Victoria reported 216 new cases in
the past 24 hours, down from the record 288 the previous day. It hopes a new
six-week lockdown in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city with a
population of 5 million, will curb the spread.
"We cannot pretend that doing anything other than following the rules will
get us to the other side of this," said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
In Latin America, where inequality is sharp and Brazil and Peru are among
the world's top five most badly hit countries, the COVID-19 pandemic is
sweeping through the continent's leadership, with two more presidents and
powerful officials testing positive in the past week.
Yet developing countries are not the only ones overwhelmed. Confirmed
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have hit 3 million, with over 130,000 deaths --- the
worst outbreak by far in the world. The surge has led to equipment shortages as
well as long lines at testing sites.
Texas is among the U.S. states setting records for infections and deaths
almost daily after embarking on one of America's fastest reopenings. Republican
Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday extended a statewide disaster as the state surpassed
10,000 hospitalized patients for the first time.
"Things will get worse," Abbott told Lubbock television station KLBK. "The
worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people