Some of the world's COVID-19 hot spots, such as Poland, set new records for daily case numbers, with more proposing or imposing restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, which in many spots is fueled by more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Meanwhile, Brazil passed the somber mark of 300,000 deaths as its surge rages and some doctors worry about having enough drugs to intubate the sickest patients.
Brazilian hospitals fear ventilation drug shortages
Yesterday, Brazil's health ministry reported more than 2,000 deaths, lifting it above 300,000, only the second country behind the United States to pass that mark, according to the Associated Press. The country is in the grips of a surge occurring in all parts of the country and involving the more transmissible P1 variant.
As activity threatens to swamp intensive care units, some of the country's doctors are warning of shortages of drugs that make it possible to keep patients sedated during mechanical ventilation, according to the BBC.
Sedatives and muscle blockers are becoming scarce in all of the country's states, and some are using less common drugs such as antipsychotics, opioids, and allergy drugs to keep intubated people sedated. Medical teams are creating contingency plans and cancelling elective surgeries to free up more supplies of analgesics and sedatives.
Leonardo Camargo, an anesthesiologist at a hospital in the city of Bento Goncalves, told the BBC that without restocked supplies, some of Brazil's hospitals could run out of drugs in 10 to 15 days.
India's cases climb ahead of festival gatherings
In India, cases are at a 5-month high, with more than half of new illnesses reported from Maharashtra state in the west, which includes Mumbai, the country's financial capital, according to Reuters. India has the third highest total in the world, behind the United States and Brazil.
Local officials ordered lockdowns for the state's worst-hit areas. Officials have been bracing for a religious festival and pilgrimage called Kumbh Mela, which cycles between four sacred river bank sites on a 12-year schedule, drawing millions of visitors. According to NDTV, the duration of the event has been scaled back to just 1 month, slated between Apr 1 and Apr 30. Pilgrims must show results from a negative COVID-19 test.
Meanwhile, restrictions have been lifted in other areas due to Holi, a popular annual Hindu festival—which occurs this year on Mar 29—celebrating love, colors, and spring, according to Reuters.
Surge continues in Europe
In Europe, where COVID-19 activity is rising in many countries due to the B117 variant, some countries reported more record single-day highs, including Poland with more than 34,000 cases. and More restrictions are expected from the Polish government, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Ukraine also reported a new record daily high yesterday and has set new daily death totals for the last 3 days in a row, according to the Kyiv Post. A lockdown in Kyiv that began on Mar 20 is in effect until Apr 9. Other lockdowns are underway in a few other cities.
Elsewhere, Finland's government yesterday proposed lockdowns for five cities, including the capital Helsinki, to slow rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, according to Reuters.
In other global developments:
- The Philippines is among the hot spot countries reporting record daily cases, recording 8,773 today.
- Denmark extended its pause on the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine another 3 weeks, with the government saying it was waiting for more data before deciding to restart immunization. Meanwhile, Sweden said it would restart using the vaccine for elderly people, given that suspected blood clot cases have only been reported in younger people.
- The COVAX program for ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine has hit some supply snags, according to Reuters. Most of the deliveries involve AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine produced in India and South Korea, but the program is having problems securing export licenses for more doses produced in India, and there are lower-than-expected supplies from South Korea related to the challenges of rapid scale-up.
- The global COVID-19 total today topped 125 million cases and is at 125,167,534 cases with 2,748,908 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.