The World Health Organisation on Tuesday urged Southeast-Asian countries to take an “aggressive” action to battle the COVID-19 coronavirus warning that some countries were heading towards community transmission of the deadly disease.
Infections have soared across the region in recent weeks, forcing several countries to introduce drastic measures ranging from closing their borders to foreign arrivals and imposing nighttime curfews to closing schools and cancelling sports events.
WHO calls for urgent, aggressive actions to combat COVID-19, as cases soar in South-East Asia Region.
— WHO South-East Asia (@WHOSEARO) March 17, 2020
There are concerns that weaker public health care systems in many or the region’s countries will be unable to cope with a major coronavirus outbreak.
“We need to immediately scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director. “We clearly need to do more, and urgently.
The cases in India rose to 147 on Wednesday, a day after the country reported its third death due to the coronavirus. The global toll has crossed 7,500, with nearly 200,000 people infected. China continues to lead the pack with 82,000 cases, followed by Italy at 27,980 and Iran at 16,169 cases.
However in China, where the virus broke out, only one new case was reported on Wednesday for the second consecutive day. The case was reported in Wuhan, the epicentre, which remains in total lockdown along with several parts of the country. In the US, the death toll due crossed 100 as the virus reached all 50 states, with at least 5,600 cases in the country.
In India, the 147 cases include 25 foreign nationals and the three persons who died in Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Over 5,700 people, who had come in contact with these positive cases, are under surveillance, the Ministry said.
Delhi has so far reported ten positive cases which includes one foreigner while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 16 cases, including one foreigner.
Maharashtra has the highest number of cases which has crossed 40.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has recommended the use of anti-HIV drugs on a “case-to-case basis” for “high-risk patients” aged above 60 years with underlying conditions, after two COVID-positive Italian tourists, a 69-year-old man and his 70-year-old wife, who were administered the Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination, usually a second-line HIV medication, recovered in Jaipur.