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Coronavirus: Where are global cases rising and falling?

With the coronavirus pandemic reaching a global total of 10m cases, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a dangerous new phase in the crisis.

Coronavirus: Where are global cases rising and falling?

While many countries in western Europe and Asia have the virus under some degree of control, other regions of the world are now seeing the disease spread at an accelerating rate.

It took three months for the first one million people to become infected, but just eight days to clock up the most recent million.

And because these numbers only reflect who has tested positive, they’re likely to be “the tip of the iceberg”, according to one senior Latin American official.

Where are cases rising fast?

Coronavirus: Where are global cases rising and falling?

The graphs are moving in completely the wrong direction in parts of the Americas, south Asia and Africa. 

The US, already recording the most infections and most deaths from Covid-19 anywhere in the world, is seeing further startling increases. The number of positive tests recorded in the past few days has reached a daily record total of 40,000, and it’s still climbing, fuelled by an explosion of clusters in Arizona, Texas and Florida.

This is not a “second wave” of infections. Instead, it’s a resurgence of the disease, often in states which decided to relax their lockdown restrictions, arguably too early.

Brazil, the second country after the US to pass 1m cases, is also experiencing dangerous rises. Its biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are the hardest hit but many other areas of the country are doing little testing, and the real numbers are bound to be far higher.

Something similar is happening in India. It recently recorded its greatest number of new cases on a single day – 15,000. But because there’s relatively little testing in some of the most heavily populated states, the true scale of the crisis is inevitably larger.

Why is this happening? Deprived and crowded communities in developing countries are vulnerable. Coronavirus has become “a disease of poor people”, according to David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid-19.

When whole families are crammed into single-room homes, social distancing is impossible, and without running water, regular hand-washing isn’t easy. Where people have to earn a living day-by-day to survive, interactions on streets and in markets are unavoidable.

For indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest and other remote areas, healthcare can be limited or even non-existent.

Coronavirus: Where are global cases rising and falling?

And the rate of infection itself is often worryingly high: of everyone tested in Mexico, just over half are turning out to be positive. That’s a far higher proportion than was found in hotspots like New York City or northern Italy even at their worst moments.

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline medical staff are far more severe where budgets are small.

In Ecuador, where at one stage bodies were being dumped in the streets because the authorities could not cope, a key laboratory ran out of the chemicals needed to test for coronavirus.

And where economies are already weak, imposing a lockdown to curb the virus potentially carries far greater risks than in a developed nation.

Dr Nabarro says there is a still a chance to slow the spread of infections but only with urgent international support. “I don’t like giving a depressing message,” he says, “but I am worried about supplies and finance getting through to those who need them.”

The political angle

Coronavirus: Where are global cases rising and falling?

But these are not the only things driving the rise. Many politicians have chosen for their own reasons not to follow the advice of their health experts.

The president of Tanzania took the bold step of declaring that his country had largely defeated the virus. Since early May he has blocked the release of proper data about it, though the signs are that Covid-19 is still very much a threat.

In the US, President Trump has either played down the disease or blamed China and the WHO for it, and urged a rapid re-opening of the American economy.

He praised the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, for being among the first to bring his state out of lockdown, a move now being reversed as cases rise.

Even the wearing of masks in public, which has been an official US government recommendation since early April, has become a symbol of political division.

Mr Abbott has refused to allow Texan mayors to insist on them so that, as he put it, “individual liberty is not infringed”. By contrast the governor of California, a Democrat, says the “science shows that face coverings and masks work”. Mr Trump, meanwhile, has refused to wear one.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has been caught up in the same kind of argument. Having dismissed the coronavirus as “a little cold”, he’s repeatedly tried to stop officials from doing anything that might disrupt the economy. And after regularly appearing in public without a mask, he’s now been ordered by a court to wear one.

It’s attitudes like this that prompted the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to warn that the greatest threat is not the virus itself but “the lack of global solidarity and global leadership”.

Where are cases under control?

As a remote set of islands in the Pacific, New Zealand is able to isolate easily, and the government of Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for an aggressive response which recently led to a 24-day period with no new cases.

That came to an end as citizens started to return from abroad, some of them infected, and further measures have been needed to monitor people on arrival. But rather than this being a blow to New Zealand’s hopes of becoming Covid-free, many experts see it as evidence of a surveillance system that generally works effectively.

Similarly, South Korea is lauded for using technology and contact tracing to drive down infections to extremely low numbers and had three days in a row with no new cases.

Its officials now say they are seeing a second wave, with clusters centred on nightclubs in the capital Seoul, though the numbers are relatively small.

The mayor of Seoul has warned that if cases go above 30 for three days, social distancing measures will be re-imposed. By contrast, the UK has roughly 1,000 new cases a day.

Proudest of all is Vietnam, which claims to have had no deaths from Covid-19 at all. A rapid lockdown and strict border controls combined to keep the numbers of infections low.

What’s next? A big unknown is what happens in most of the countries of Africa, which in many cases have not seen the scale of disease than some feared.

One view is that a lack of infrastructure for mass testing is obscuring the true spread of the virus. Another is that with relatively young populations, the numbers becoming afflicted are likely to be lower.

A third perspective is that communities with fewer connections to the outside world will be among the last to be touched by the pandemic.

In countries that have most successfully controlled the virus, the challenge is remaining vigilant while trying to allow some normality to resume.

But the reality for many of the rest is Dr Nabarro’s grim forecast of “continued increases in the numbers of people with coronavirus and the associated suffering”.

Which is why he and many others are hoping that developing countries will get the help they need, before the crisis escalates any further. BBC



One dies, two foreigners hospitalised with alcohol poisoning


Roman Stavrov now can breathe slowly and his condition has improved. — VNA/ Photo

KHÁNH HÒA — One Vietnamese person has died and two foreigners are being treated for alcohol poisoning in the central province of Khánh Hòa’s General Hospital after they drunk a mixture of methanol and beer.

Nguyễn Lương Kỷ, head of the hospital’s Anti-poison Intensive Care Unit, said two foreigners were hospitalised on Tuesday and early Wednesday in a state of severe respiratory distress. 

He said they were a couple named Petrova Nadejda, born in 1987, from Uzbekistan, and Roman Stavrov, born in 1987, from Kazakhstan. Both patients were stable but suffered severe poisoning.

Doctor Lê Đăng Khoa, who treated the two patients, confirmed that both had improved and had a positive prognosis.

The male patient can breathe slowly, while the female patient was still in a coma.

The female patient was transferred from Military Hospital 87 (in Nha Trang City) on Tuesday to the hospital.

The male patient was hospitalised on Wednesday morning.

They were diagnosed with methanol poisoning at the time of admission.

One of the patients said they had gone fishing with two Vietnamese friends and bought beer to drink. Because of the light alcohol content in the beer, they added methanol to increase its strength. After drinking the mixture, one of the Vietnamese friends died.

Methanol is very toxic, drinking even a small amount can cause blindness, and more can be fatal. —







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High-tech shrimp breeding yields high profits for Vietnamese farmers

More farmers, co-operatives and companies in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau are seeing much higher profits by using advanced farming techniques to breed shrimp.

High-tech shrimp breeding yields high profits for Vietnamese farmers

Breeding shrimp with advanced farming techniques in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Vung Tau City. 

Under high-tech farming models which use super-intensive farming, the beds of shrimp breeding ponds are covered with plastic sheets and anti-sunlight nets are hung above. The models are also equipped with oxygen-generating facilities.

Besides shrimp breeding ponds, other ponds filter water which is released into shrimp breeding ponds or used for treatment of waste water.

High-tech shrimp farming has a success rate of 90 per cent and offers far higher profit than traditional shrimp breeding in mud ponds, according to farmers.

Bui The Vuong began using advanced farming techniques to breed shrimp on a 7ha farming area in Long Dien District’s An Ngai Commune last year.

In the 7ha area, he uses 1.5ha for shrimp breeding ponds and the rest for ponds to filter water and to treat waste water.

High-tech shrimp farming can produce three shrimp crops a year, up nearly two times against traditional farming models, Vuong said.

The death rate of shrimp bred in high-tech shrimp farming is significantly lower compared to traditional farming models.

He has bred five shrimp crops under the model and earns about VND1.2-1.4 billion (US$51,000-60,400) each crop.

In Vung Tau City’s Ward 12, 20 salt farmers have switched to breed shrimp because of low salt prices and unfavourable weather, and eight of them are applying high-tech shrimp farming, according to the Ward 12 Fishery, Agriculture and Salt Production Division.  

Le Quang Hung, one of the salt farmers in Ward 12, switched from salt monoculture to rotating black-tiger shrimp breeding and making salt in 2005, and then later switched completely to breeding shrimp.

In 2018, Hung invested VND1 billion ($43,000) in high-tech shrimp farming for his 1.5ha. He built two ponds for breeding shrimp and three ponds for treating water, and bought oxygen-generating facilities, plastic sheets and anti-sunlight nets for shrimp ponds.

He now breeds three shrimp crops a year with an output of more than 16 tonnes of shrimp a year.

“I earn a profit of nearly VND1 billion a year,” he said.

Last year, the Quyet Thang Agriculture Co-operative in Ba Ria City’s Long Huong Ward used a recirculating aquaculture system and poly-greenhouse to breed shrimp on 2,000sq.m.

The high-tech farming helps manage the quality of water used to breed shrimp, reduces the shrimp death rate and disease risks caused by weather, and protects the environment as the waste water is treated thoroughly.  

The model offers a yield of 15 tonnes per 2,000sq.m per crop, according to the co-operative.

The province has about 352ha of shrimp bred under high-tech shrimp farming, up nearly 100ha against a year ago, according to the province’s Fisheries Sub-department.

Under high-tech shrimp farming, shrimp can be bred at a density of 250-500 shrimps per sq.m. Water used for breeding shrimp is closely managed and is not affected by weather conditions, so shrimp can be bred year round.

Nguyen Huu Thi, head of the sub-department’s Aquaculture Management Division, said the high-tech shrimp farming models in the province have had positive results and helped shrimp breeders cope with climate change.  

“High-tech shrimp farming has also improved production efficiency since shrimp are bred at a high density,” he said.

To encourage more farmers to apply high-tech farming, the division is organising courses on advanced farming techniques to help farmers make the switch from traditional shrimp farming.  VNS


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346 Vietnamese citizens brought from US amid COVID-19 pandemic

A total of 346 Vietnamese citizens are brought home safe from the US on Thursday. — Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

HÀ NỘI — A total of 346 Vietnamese citizens were brought home safely from the US on Thursday.

The flight was arranged by domestic agencies, the Vietnamese Embassy in the US, the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, and US agencies.

Passengers were mostly children, pregnant women, students who face difficulties in accommodation and visa extension, and some businesspeople and experts.

To help citizens complete necessary procedures, the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC sent officials to Dulles airport.

Preventive measures were taken during the flight. After landing at Hà Nội’s Nội Bài International Airport, crew members and passengers had their body temperature checked and were quarantined as regulated.

Under the Prime Minister’s instruction, Vietnamese authorities and representative offices abroad will continue conducting more flights to bring Vietnamese citizens home, based on the citizens’ aspirations and quarantine capacity in localities.

Gifts to New York City

Customs procedures for two tonnes of Vietnamese-made antibacterial cloth and surgical facemasks, a gift from Hà Nội to New York City, have been completed to hand over to New York City, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

On behalf of the New York government and people, the New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs, Penny Abeywardena, on Thursday conveyed gratitude to the Hà Nội authorities and people, saying the move was very practical as New York City is still struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Đặng Đình Quý, head of the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said that he hoped the gift of Hà Nội’s people will contribute a small part to help New Yorkers overcome the pandemic.

The ambassador also expected New York City and Hà Nội to have more opportunities for co-operation in the future, especially between businesses, to promote economic and social development and overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. —


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