War-Torn Yemen Faces Virus Case Spike, Charity Says

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Hani Mohammed/Associated Press

War-torn Yemen, where the overwhelming most the population is unvaccinated, is seeing coronavirus cases multiply and deaths soar, in accordance with a report this week by the British charity Oxfam.

Oxfam found that Covid deaths had increased by significantly more than fivefold in the past month and that recorded Covid cases had tripled. The charity said actual figures were likely to be much higher, with many unregistered cases and deaths.

The official Covid death toll about 1, 658, and recorded cases have reached 8, 789. But the situation in the country of about 30 million is hard to gauge. “Countless” others have died in their homes or have not been diagnosed due to scarce tests and hospital beds, Oxfam said.

Yemen is still embroiled in a war that began in 2014 when Iran-backed rebels know as the Houthis seized the country’s northwest, like the capital, Sana, sending the us government into exile. The government has effectively collapsed, and thousands have died.

The united states already faced many health challenges ahead of the coronavirus emerged. Hunger is widespread , medicines are hard to find and there were outbreaks of cholera along with other diseases.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the situation, and rights groups say it is adding to the burden of an already wrecked health care system.

“Covid has made life even worse for people across the country, ” Abdulwasea Mohammed, Oxfam’s policy and advocacy lead for Yemen, said by phone from Sana.

Some relief could come with vaccines, but fewer than 1 percent of Yemenis have so far received a single vaccine dose, and only 0. 05 % are fully vaccinated, based on Oxfam.

The country is depending on vaccines from the worldwide Covax program. But Covax is struggling to meet its global supply target, and only half a million out of a promised 4. 2 million doses reach Yemen so far, Oxfam said.

Few isolation centers exist for Covid patients. Those that are operating are found only in major cities just like the capital Sana, and they are filled with people, Mr. Mohammed said. The poorly equipped hospitals are also seeing more people than they can accommodate. And many Yemenis cannot afford transportation to health care facilities.

With half the population having lost their source of income, staying at home means possibly dying of hunger for many Yemenis who have become day earners, Mr. Mohammed said. But appearing to be sick means being shunned, so if they have mild symptoms, people are reluctant to seek health care bills or testing for the herpes virus at the very few testing centers available.

In shelters that host over 4 million internally displaced people, a family of 10 will probably share one small tent, making precautionary measures impossible.

“The country is not able to cope with yet another health crisis, ” Mr. Mohammed said.

Most Yemenis survive on humanitarian aid, which Oxfam says has been around short supply. Only half a $3. 9 billion crucial aid package requested by the United Nations from donor countries has been received. The health care system is dangerously underfunded, working with only 11 percent of what it needs, the organization says.

Some had hoped that the pandemic would force Yemen’s warring parties into a truce, but the war continues.

“If anything, it is amazing how little the pandemic has affected the fighting, ” said Peter Salisbury, a senior analyst on Yemen for the International Crisis Group, in an interview.

The terror and uncertainty of the war, which has forced people to deal with loss every day for years, remains a larger concern for many Yemenis than the pandemic itself. “This speaks to the trauma of the conflict, ” Mr. Salisbury said.

Loren Holmes/Anchorage Daily News, via Associated Press

Alaska, once a leader in vaccinating its citizens, is now in the throes of its worst coronavirus surge of the pandemic, as the Delta variant rips through the state, swamping hospitals with patients.

By Thursday, the state was averaging 125 new cases per day for every 100, 000 people, more than any other in the world, according to recent data trends collected by The brand new York Times . That figure has shot up by 42 percent in the last a couple of weeks, and by more than twentyfold since early July.

200 hospitalized

7–day average

212

About this data

Source: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-day average may be the average of a day and the previous six days of data. Currently hospitalized could be the most recent number of patients with Covid-19 reported by hospitals in the state for the four days prior. Dips and spikes could be because of inconsistent reporting by hospitals. Hospitalization numbers early in the pandemic are undercounts due to incomplete reporting by hospitals to the federal government.

On Wednesday, the state said it had activated “crisis standards of care, ” giving hospitals legal protections for triage decisions that force them to give some patients substandard care. Hawaii also announced an $87 million contract to bring in hundreds of temporary health care workers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, said that while hospitals were strained, that he did not see a need to implement restrictions aimed at curbing transmission. Still, he encouraged individuals who had not yet received a vaccination to seriously consider it.

“We have the tools available to us for individuals to be able to take care of themselves, ” Mr. Dunleavy said. While the state led the country in vaccinations early in the year, it has been lagging lately, with under half of its population fully vaccinated, in contrast to 55 percent nationally, in accordance with federal data .

Jared Kosin, the head of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, called the surge “crippling” in an interview on Tuesday. He added that hospitals were full, and medical care workers were emotionally depleted. Patients recently were kept waiting for care within their cars outside overwhelmed emergency rooms.

There is certainly growing anxiety in outlying communities that depend on transferring seriously ill patients to hospitals in Anchorage, Mr. Kosin said. Transfers are becoming harder to arrange and are usually delayed, he said.

“We are all wondering where this goes, and whether that transfer will be available, even tomorrow, ” Mr. Kosin said.

Critically ill people in rural areas, where many Alaska Natives reside, often have to be taken by plane to a hospital that can provide the treatment they require, said Dr . Philippe Amstislavski, an associate professor of public health at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“Unlike in the lower 48, you don’t have that capability to move people quickly, due to the distances and remoteness, ” said Dr . Amstislavski, who had been formerly the public health manager for the Interior Region of Alaska, focusing on rural and predominantly Alaska Native communities.

Mr. Kosin said that if hospitalizations rise much further, hospitals and clinics around the state might be forced to apply crisis standards of care and more extreme triage decisions. “That may be the worst-case scenario we could be heading to, ” he said.

Alaska Natives, who have historically suffered from health disparities in the state, are disproportionately struggling during the latest virus wave, Dr . Amstislavski said.

Doctor Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said a few factors may be contributing to the surge, including summer tourists bringing in and spreading the herpes virus.

“We’re hoping that whilst the snow falls and we’ve less people visiting, those numbers will settle down, ” Dr . Zink said within an interview Tuesday night.

On the other hand, she noted that cooling weather drives residents indoors, where the virus spreads more readily.

The state’s Canadian neighbors to the east, Yukon and British Columbia, have not suffered such severe outbreaks, Dr . Amstislavski said, possibly because of that country’s stricter travel restrictions and less strained healthcare system.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday overruled a recommendation by an agency advisory panel that had refused to endorse booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for frontline workers. It was a highly unusual move for the director, Doctor Rochelle Walensky, but aligned C. D. C. policy with the Food and Drug Administration’s endorsements over her very own agency’s advisers.

The C. D. C. ’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Methods on Thursday recommended the boosters for a wide range of Americans, including tens of an incredible number of older adults and younger people at high risk for the disease. But they excluded healthcare workers, teachers and others whose jobs put them at an increased risk. That put their guidelines at odds with the F. D. A. ’s authorization of booster shots for all adults with a top occupational risk.

Dr . Walensky’s decision was a boost for President Biden’s campaign to offer a broad swathe of Americans access to boosters. The White House had come under criticism for getting ahead of the regulatory process.

The C. D. C. ’s statement arrived well past midnight, an indication of the complicated and confusing decision-making surrounding the boosters. The C. D. C. advisers similarly spent two days debating who should get boosters when, and could not agree on whether occupational risk should qualify as a criterion.

“I am surprised that Doctor Walensky overturned one of the four A. C. I. P. votes today, and I really believe others will be as well, ” said Dr . Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease expert at Stanford and the American Academy of Pediatrics liaison to the committee.

But the vote on boosters for occupational risk “was close, ” Dr . Maldonado said, and agreed with Dr . Walensky’s decision.

“This addresses not only waning immunity but those at high-risk of exposure, ” Doctor Maldonado added.

Minutes before Dr . Walensky’s statement, Doctor Amanda Cohn, who oversaw the two-day meeting of the panel, tried to organize the advisers for the director’s decision.

“Dr. Walensky is reversing the decision not to recommend use of a booster dose in persons at high risk for occupational or institutional exposure, ” Doctor Cohn wrote in the e-mail. “I am hoping to fairly share this news with you before you see it in the press. ”

Doctor Walensky’s decision to not in favor of her own agency’s advisers came as a surprise to at least some of her workers: The C. D. C. director’s endorsement of the advisory committee’s recommendations is normally just a formality. Hours before her statement, agency insiders predicted she would stick with the typical protocol because doing otherwise would undermine the process and upset the advisers along with her own staff.

But experts outside the C. D. C. said Dr . Walensky might have had no choice but to align herself with the F. D. A. ’s decision. “There’s a complexity here, because Doctor Walensky was part of the White House announcement” on boosters, noted Dr . Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr . Walensky said providing booster shots to health care workers and others who risk contracting the disease face to face would “best serve the nation’s public health needs. ”

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