India recorded the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 on a single day in the history of the pandemic on May 18
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has expressed grave concern that Bangladesh may be the next country to face the surge of Covid-19 sweeping through South Asia.
The UN agency made the remark in a press release calling for $164 million from donors to help save lives in the South Asia region.
India recorded the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 on a single day in the history of the pandemic on May 18 at 4,529. Their neighbour Nepal recently saw Covid-19 test positivity rates as high as 47%, while Sri Lanka and the Maldives are also facing record breaking numbers of infections.
Hospitals in the Maldivian capital Malé are being pushed to capacity.
South Asia, home to almost two billion people, accounts for half of all known new infections globally. More than three new Covid-19 cases are being recorded every second, and more than three people are dying from the infection every minute in the region.
“Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bhutan could all face similar devastating surges. In almost all countries in the region, with the exception of the Maldives and Bhutan, fewer than 1 in 10 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19,” the press release read.
Unicef urgently requires $164 million to procure oxygen and testing supplies, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control material to help save lives amid the surge, it added.
“The sheer scale and speed of this new surge of Covid-19 is outstripping countries’ abilities to provide life-saving treatment,” said George Laryea-Adjei, Unicef regional director for South Asia.
“The current upsurge is four times the size of the first. We need to do everything within our power to prevent and treat Covid-19, while keeping the critical health care services that children and mothers so heavily depend on running,” he added.
Laryea-Adjei further said the deadly surge in South Asia threatens to reverse global gains against the Covid-19 pandemic and roll back hard-earned progress on child and maternal survival.
“We are asking for support to help make sure this doesn’t happen,” he said.
The funding requirements include:
- $32 million for oxygen equipment including on-site oxygen-generating plants for hospitals, portable oxygen concentrators and cylinders
- $40 million for medical and diagnostic equipment including RT-PCR and RNA extraction machines
- $60 million for masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, visors, and other personal protective equipment needed to keep health & frontline workers safe
- $28 million for infection prevention and control including handwashing stations, sanitizer, autoclaves, laundry machines and hygiene supplies required to deliver essential health care safely
- $3.7 million for therapeutics and medical supplies, including nutrition support and consumables.