Tue, 11 May 2021

DHAKA, April 16 (Xinhua) -- A "humanitarian calamity" is engulfing South Asia as the number of COVID-19 infections has skyrocketed across several countries including Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, with more than 200,000 people infected per day, a global humanitarian organization said Friday.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), South Asia is fast becoming the new global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This deadlier and more infectious new wave is overwhelming hospitals and social systems, heaping more distress on hundreds of millions of people already experiencing poverty and hardship, said the IFRC in a statement.

It said Bangladesh is recording almost 50 percent more deaths per day than its previous peak in June 2020.

On Friday, India reported yet another fresh high of 217,353 new COVID-19 cases, as the daily spike surpassed 200,000 for the second consecutive day, taking the total tally to 14,291,917.

The IFRC said Pakistan's daily cases are spiking, with the highest ever COVID-19 daily death rate.

IFRC Head of Delegation in South Asia Udaya Regmi said the spreading speed in the region is frightening.

"Thousands of lives are being lost, this is a tragic warning to all countries, that every effort must be maintained and we cannot afford to relax in containing this deadly coronavirus," he said.

"The impact on frontline workers is catastrophic. Thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have stepped up efforts to help the elderly and those most at risk with access to lifesaving medical care, testing and vaccinations. Millions already face extreme poverty and we're helping with food, water and other relief."

According to the IFRC, there is growing evidence from health authorities that more virulent COVID-19 variants are fueling this current surge in South Asia.

"We must place every effort to resource health workers and hospitals so people who are suffering receive the healthcare they need. This is a wake-up call to the world. Vaccines must be available to everyone, everywhere, rich and poor to overcome this terrible pandemic," said Abhishek Rimal, IFRC's Asia Pacific Coordinator for Emergency Health.

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