By Robin Gomes
The world’s largest humanitarian network has raised an alarm that the world's fastest surge of Covid-19 is taking place in Asia, pushing hospitals and health systems in the continent to the brink of collapse. “To Bring this pandemic under control we need greater global cooperation so that lifesaving resources, medical equipment, vaccines and money, get where they are needed to help people most at risk. We’re only safe when everyone is safe,” Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
The IFRC is the world's largest humanitarian network that reaches 150 million people in 192 National Societies through the work of over 13,7 million volunteers.
Matheou said, “Covid-19 is exploding across much of Asia, overwhelming hospitals and healthcare. More people have been diagnosed with the disease in Asia over the past two weeks than in the Americas, Europe, and Africa combined.”
Asia's has the highest infection rate
Asia has fast become the global Covid-19 hotspot, suffering more than twice as many new infections than any other region in the past two weeks. Citing Oxford University's “Our World in Data”, IFRC said across more than 5.9 million people have been reported newly infected with the virus across Asia in the past 14 days.
Seven of the world’s 10 countries that are doubling their infection numbers the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific. Laos took just 12 days to see its caseload double. India has become the worst-case scenario with the number of its cases doubling in under two months to more than 23 million.
IFCR said the speed and scale of this surge have stretched hospitals and overwhelmed medical staff to breaking point. Vaccination campaigns are underway, but they are hampered by shortages, hesitancy, and the costly logistics of reaching many areas across Asia and the Pacific.
Question of human lives
Matheou said that “behind these staggering numbers are people who are struggling to breathe, desperate for help and scared they will never see their loved ones again”. “Frontline workers are risking their lives and doing an incredible job despite being under-resourced and exhausted, but they cannot manage this crisis alone.”
He said, “millions of dedicated Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are going above and beyond to fill gaps, providing ambulance services, clinics, vaccines and other relief in all corners of every country in Asia and the Pacific”.
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 50% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world. (Source: IFRC)