Coronavirus Global Roundup, April 25: NASA develops new ventilator prototype, cases rise in Africa and Brazil

There are now over 2.85 million cases of COVID-19 across the world and over 198,000 deaths. Over 800,000 have recovered so far.

Myupchar April 25, 2020 20:17:12 IST
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Coronavirus Global Roundup, April 25: NASA develops new ventilator prototype, cases rise in Africa and Brazil

There are now over 2.85 million cases of COVID-19 across the world and over 198,000 deaths. Over 800,000 have recovered so far, out of which over 100,000 are from Germany.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a new ventilator called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) in the span of 37 days. It has passed a key test this week and NASA is currently seeking approval for the device from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Representational image. AP

On the other hand, earlier this week, President Trump said in a press conference that doctors should study the idea of injecting disinfectants since they kill off viruses so easily. He also suggested there could be a way to get sunlight into the body since sunlight can kill off coronavirus es. Doctors, politicians and even disinfectant makers have condemned his suggestions and have urged people to not ingest or inject disinfectants since the results can be fatal. Further, reports from the White House have suggested that following this debacle, President Trump will not appear regularly at press conferences. On Friday his briefing was short and he left without taking any questions.

Here is a look at other major global developments.

Vanuatu, the Pacific Island nation streams live cricket match 

COVID-19 has stopped international sports dead in their tracks; the Olympics have been postponed, Wimbledon cancelled for the year, the NBA has been postponed indefinitely. Broadcasters have been showing recordings of classic games and player interviews, but there has been no live-action for a while now.

Vanuatu, the island nation of 300,000 people, treated cricket fans the world over with a live stream of a string of matches on Saturday. The women’s club super league finals took place with a men’s exhibition match before. The stream was broadcast on Facebook, and some fans could be seen enjoying the game in the stands as well - all a suitable distance away from each other.

Vanuatu is one of the very few countries that have not registered a single case of COVID-19 yet but went under lockdown in March anyway. A tropical storm Harold left parts of the country devastated on April 6, following which the lockdown was lifted so that people could rebuild after the disaster.

The matches aimed to provide some relief from the disaster as well - fans were asked to drop off clothes, medicines and essentials at the stadium which would be donated to aid programs.

Cases in the African continent jump up

Last week, the African continent saw a 43% jump in cases. There are now over 26,000 cases, up from 16,000 around a week ago.

Egypt and South Africa have the highest number of cases with over 4,000 each. South Africa has received praise for its rigorous lockdown measures - even activities like jogging and dog-walking are prohibited and subject to heavy fines. Further, South Africa has been aggressive with testing as well, with over 140,000 tests conducted.

John Nkengasong, Director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, sees a grim future ahead. He acknowledges that the health infrastructure of most of the continent is strained; ten countries do not have a single ventilator and testing capacity overall is very limited. The WHO has warned that over 300,000 people in the continent can die and 30 million may be pushed into poverty as well.

Nkengasong said that the aim is to roll out 1 million more tests in the next four weeks and 10 million in the next four months; currently testing is low in the continent with 325 tests per million people.

Cases rise in Brazil 

Brazil has officially reported over 54,000 cases and over 3,700 deaths from COVID-19 . However, some experts argue that this number is very likely divorced from reality; minimal testing and delays in getting test results mean that the actual numbers could be much higher. The University of Sao Paulo has said the actual figures could be as high as 1.1 million.

Hospitals in Rio de Janeiro and four other major cities have said that they are almost completely overwhelmed with cases. There have been reports of morgues and cemeteries being overrun as well.

President Jair Bolsonaro has maintained his cavalier stance on the virus and has said it is nothing more than the flu and social distancing only needs to be practised by those at high risk.

For more information, read our article on Causes of death in COVID-19 patients.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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