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Hospitals overwhelmed as coronavirus cases explode in India |NationalTribune.com

When Manit Parikh’s mother tested positive for the new coronavirus, she was rushed by ambulance to Mumbai’s private Lilavati Hospital, but officials told the family no critical-care beds were available. Five hours and dozens of phone calls later, the family found a bed for her at the private Bombay Hospital. A day later, on May…

Hospitals overwhelmed as coronavirus cases explode in India |NationalTribune.com

When Manit Parikh’s mother tested positive for the new coronavirus, she was rushed by ambulance to Mumbai’s private Lilavati Hospital, but officials told the family no critical-care beds were available.
Five hours and dozens of phone calls later, the family found a bed for her at the private Bombay Hospital. A day later, on May 18, Parikh’s 92-year-old diabetic grandfather had breathing difficulties at home and was taken to the city’s Breach Candy Hospital, another top private facility, but there were no beds.
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“My dad was pleading with them,” Parikh told Reuters. “They said they didn’t have a bed, not even a normal bed.” Later that day, they found a bed at Bombay Hospital, but his grandfather died hours later. His test results showed he was infected with the virus.
Parikh said he believes the delays contributed to his grandfather’s death. Officials at Lilavati and Bombay Hospital declined to speak with Reuters. Representatives of Breach Candy hospital did not respond to requests for comment.
630,000 to 2.1 million could be infected by July
For years, India’s booming private hospitals have taken some of the strain off the country’s underfunded and dilapidated public health network, but the ordeal of Parikh’s family suggests that as coronavirus cases explode in India, even private facilities are at risk of being overrun.
India on Sunday reported 6,767 new coronavirus infections, the country’s biggest one-day increase.
Government data shows the number of coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous country are doubling every 13 days or so, even as the government begins easing lockdown restrictions. India has reported more than 145,380 infections, including 4,167 deaths.
“The increasing trend has not gone down,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, referring to India’s cases. “We’ve not seen a flattening of the curve.”
Mukherjee’s team estimates that between 630,000 and 2.1 million people in India – out of a population of 1.3 billion – will become infected by early July.
The increasing trend has not gone down. We’ve not seen a flattening of the curve.
Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan

More than a fifth of the country’s coronavirus cases are in Mumbai, India’s financial hub and its most populous city, where the Parikhs struggled to find hospital beds for their infected family members.
India’s health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on how it will cope with the predicted rise in infections, given that most public hospitals are overcrowded at the best of times.
The federal government has said in media briefings that not all patients need hospitalisation, and it is making rapid efforts to increase the number of hospital beds and procure health gear.
The federal government’s data from last year showed there were about 714,000 hospital beds in India, up from about 540,000 in 2009. However, given India’s rising population, the number of beds per 1,000 people has grown only slightly in that time.
India has 0.5 beds per 1,000 people, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), up from 0.4 beds in 2009, but among lowest of countries surveyed by the OECD. In contrast, China has 4.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people, and the United States has 2.8, according to the latest OECD figures.

India has reported more than 145,380 infections, including 4,167 deaths [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

While millions of India’s poor rely on the public health system, especially in rural areas, private facilities account for 55 percent of hospital admissions, according to government data. The private health sector has been growing over the past two decades, especially in India’s big cities, where an expanding class of affluent Indians can afford private care.
Mumbai’s municipal authority said it had ordered public officials to take control of at least 100 private hospital beds in all 24 zones in the city of 18 million people to make more beds available for coronavirus patients.
Still, there is a waiting list. An official at a helpline run by Mumbai’s civic authorities told Reuters that patients would be notified about availability.
Shortage of staff
It is not just beds that are in short supply. On May 16, Mumbai’s municipal authority said it did not have enough staff to operate beds required for patients critically ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
As a result, resident doctors will receive less time off than prescribed by the federal government, the authority said. Some medical professionals told Reuters they are already overburdened and treating patients without adequate protective gear, exposing them to a higher risk of infection.
Several hospitals in Mumbai, western Gujarat state, the northern city of Agra and Kolkata in the east have in recent weeks shut partially or fully for days because some medical staff were infected with the virus. The federal government has not reported any deaths of medical staff from the virus.
“In our country, healthcare has never gotten priority,” said Dr Adarsh Pratap Singh, head of the 2,500-strong resident doctors association at New Delhi’s top public hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). “The government is now realising the reality, but it’s already too late.”
The AIIMS group has in recent weeks protested about the lack of health gear and publicly rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for doctors to donate part of their salaries to his coronavirus fund.
Some health experts say India’s struggle to treat coronavirus patients is the result of chronic underinvestment in healthcare. The Indian government estimates it spends only about 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health. That figure is higher than it was – about 1 percent in the 1980s and 1.3 percent five years ago – but India still ranks among the world’s lowest spenders in terms of percentage of GDP.

Some health experts say India’s struggle to treat patients is the result of chronic underinvestment in healthcare [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

This year, Modi’s federal government raised its health budget by 6 percent, but that is still short of the government’s own goal of increasing public health spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025, according to New Delhi-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation.
‘Too many patients’
Keshav Desiraju, a former Indian health secretary, said more investment in the health system before the virus outbreak might have made the health system more resilient. “At the times of a crisis, all the holes show up,” he told Reuters.
Dr Chaitanya Patil, a senior resident doctor at King Edward Memorial government hospital, one of Mumbai’s largest, said the facility had a shortage of medical staff, and the 12 coronavirus wards catering to about 500 patients were almost full.
“There are just too many patients coming in,” said Patil, “It is lack of preparedness or a lack of insight of the people planning.”
Last week Rajesh Tope, health minister of the state of Maharashtra, which contains Mumbai, said the lack of hospital beds for critically ill patients would not last long.
“In the next two months, more than 17,000 vacant posts of doctors, nurses, technicians and other health workers will be filled,” he said in a public address.
India’s United Nurses Association, which represents 380,000 medics, took a list of 12 issues they said they are facing – including lack of protective gear and accommodation – to the Supreme Court in April. The court told them they could lodge complaints on a government helpline.
Some nurses are leaving the big cities. Earlier this month, some 300 nurses working at hospitals in the eastern city of Kolkata left for their hometowns 1,500 km (930 miles) away in India’s remote northeastern state of Manipur.
A group representing them said they had left because of irregular salaries and inadequate safety gear, among other issues.
“We love our profession,” said 24-year-old Shyamkumar, who quit his nursing job in one of Kolkata’s hospitals and is planning to head back to Manipur. “But when we are going to work, please give us proper equipment.”

A hospital that has been constructed to treat patients who test positive for the coronavirus in Mumbai [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

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COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…

Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
IAEA-Iran relations
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.

“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.

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Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…

Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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