File photo of Paris | Wikimedia Commons
File photo of Paris | Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 3.1 crore cases and more than 9.7 lakh deaths.

Authorities in Birmingham have suggested that citizens get tested even if they lack symptoms of Covid-19. Fujifilm Holding Corp in Japan has developed a drug called Avigan that has proved to be effective in reducing viral load and hospitals in Jakarta are grappling with long waiting lists.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

Birmingham testing asymptomatic citizens

Some residents of Birmingham in the UK have been asked to get tested for the novel  coronavirus even if they don’t have any symptoms. This is in stark contrast to the government’s earlier policy, reports The Guardian.

The UK government had earlier maintained that people who are asymptomatic must not get tested since the health care system is already not being able to keep up with the high demand. However, many health experts had expressed their concerns that this system would not give a true picture of the spread of the infection, since many carriers were asymptomatic.

“The biggest programme of home testing in England revealed earlier this month that 72% of people who tested positive had shown no symptoms on the day of the test or the week prior,” explained the report. “Separate analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that only 16% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported symptoms on the day of their test.”

On Tuesday, the Birmingham city council said that it would recommend a “drop and collect” testing service for asymptomatic citizens as well.

The UK has recorded 4,03,551 cases of Covid-19 and 41,825 deaths.

55 departments in France put under ‘red zone’

More than half of the total departments in France have now been allocated ‘red zone’ status, reports The Connexion.

“A ‘red’ status means that the epidemic dynamic is seen to be deteriorating, and the incidence level is at more than 50 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days,” explains the report. “In some areas, a department may be declared “red” when the incident level reaches 30,” it adds.

France has recorded 4,68,069 cases of Covid-19 and 31,416 deaths.

Also read: New Covid restrictions could last 6 months, says Boris Johnson, asks people to work from home

Japan’s Fujifilm drug successful in reducing Covid symptoms

On Wednesday, Fujifilm Holdings Corp said that its drug called Avigan had been effective in “reducing viral load and symptoms of Covid-19 patients”. This will lead to the drug undergoing necessary approvals for use in Japan, reports Reuters.

During the Phase-3 trials, in which 156 patients were being treated, it was found that patients symptoms improved after 11.9 days. This was in contrast to the placebo group, which took 14.7 days.

“Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had touted Avigan’s potential as Japan’s contribution to a global race for coronavirus treatments, aiming for domestic approval in May,” says the report.

Japan has recorded 79,438 cases of Covid-19 and 1,508 deaths.

Jakarta hospitals completely occupied

Amid the spike in cases in Indonesia, main hospitals in Jakarta have run out of capacity, with some reporting waiting lists of upto 20 Covid-positive patients seeking treatment, reports The Straits Times.

In order to generate more capacity, the government is now opening up rooms at Wisma Atlet, an athlete’s residence that has been converted into a hospital. The authorities will also make use of hotels as quarantine facilities.

“Earlier this month, the country’s Covid-19 spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said Jakarta’s 67 Covid-19 referral hospitals had an occupancy rate of 77 per cent, with 69 per cent of intensive care unit beds already occupied,” says the report, but since then, many hospitals have reported a rise in cases.

Indonesia has recorded 2,52,923 cases of Covid-19 and 9,837 deaths.

Bahrain to postpone instalments for housing for residents affected by Covid

The Bahrain government has allowed citizens who were affected by Covid-19 to postpone paying for their housing, reports Arab News.

“Housing Minister Bassem bin Yacoub Al-Hamar requested the government to submit documents showing the financial status of Covid-19 affected citizens as proof to allow the postponement of their instalments,” says the report.

Bahrain has recorded 66,402 cases of Covid-19 and 227 deaths.

Outbreak declared in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital

On Tuesday, 96 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in British Columbia. Currently, 1,465 active cases have been recorded in the province, out of which 61 are being treated in hospital, reports the Vancouver Sun.

“According to the Ministry of Health, there were three confirmed cases among people working on the eighth floor of the Downtown Vancouver hospital. The floor will remain open, with all staff to be tested, and no visitors,” says the report. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that there has been a “resurgence” of Covid-19 in B.C. At the same time, she didn’t call it a second wave.

Canada has recorded 1,46,663 cases of Covid-19 and 9,234 deaths.

What else we are reading:

Gearing up for the holidays in China and South Korea amid Covid-19 pandemic: The Straits Times

The misinformation was coming from inside the house: The New York Times

Also read: Hotels, pipelines, stores — what investors with $3.4tn in Asia, Europe are buying during Covid


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