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Pandemic

In Peru’s hinterland, a town battles world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

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Set amid green hills in rural northern Peru, the city of Chota is on the verge of collapse under the weight of COVID-19 as the Andean nation battles the world’s deadliest outbreak of the virus.

Chota is struggling with severe infections exacerbated by the lack of intensive care beds and medical resources. It is on Peru’s “extreme alarm list” along with a handful of other rural provinces – all far removed from affluent urban centers.

As developed countries from the US to Europe return to normal with rapid vaccine rollouts, Latin America is still firmly in the grip of COVID-19 with daily cases and deaths in the region topping the global charts.

Peru this week almost tripled its official death toll, based on revised numbers, to over 180,000, making it by far the highest per capita figure in the world and underscoring the havoc the virus has wreaked on the resource-rich continent.

Chota, a town with around 40,000 inhabitants in the Cajamarca region, can be reached via partially unpaved roads that meander through lush hills. The next intensive care bed is a three-hour drive away.

“This is the worst moment. Many people have died,” Daniel Idrogo, general secretary of the local government of Chota, told Reuters. “The hospital collapsed.”

Outside this hospital, desperate relatives pleaded for better care while family members waited inside. The chances of getting a ventilator were slim and there were no intensive care beds. Even the closest centers they have are 96% occupied, OpenCovid Peru data shows.

“I lived this in person because my sister died of COVID-19,” said Betty Campos Ochoa, who works at Chota’s small hospital, the only one in town. “Several colleagues died and I had neighbors who died.”

The total death toll in Chota is unclear, but Feliciano Altamirano Guevara, a Catholic priest in the city, said around half a dozen masses are celebrated daily for the dead or sick.

‘NO SOLUTION’

Chota is one of 16 rural Peruvian provinces that are in the worst shape, underscoring the gap between those who have access to hospital beds and equipment in major cities like Lima and the vast hinterland, where poverty has risen under the pandemic.

The copper-rich country will vote in the crossroads elections on Sunday. The narrow favorite to win is a socialist candidate: an outsider from a humble background as a teacher in the same northern region of Cajamarca.

Peru’s coronavirus crisis challenges the election winner, with a stalled vaccine campaign and social spending to alleviate poverty and improve health care for many voters. The race is still going head to head.

Despite strict lockdowns with curfews continuing to this day, Peru’s weak and unequal health system has resulted in many patients dying without care, the main reason for the country’s death toll.

“High-income countries registered most of the COVID-19 deaths in part because they have good access to testing,” said Mateo Prochazka, a Peruvian epidemiologist who was involved in the latest government review.

Overall, it is estimated that more than one in 200 Peruvians has died of COVID-19, in many cases due to collapsed hospitals and a critical shortage of ventilators and oxygen tanks, which led to price spikes that left many Peruvian families in high debt.

In the Cajamarca region, despite a population of over 1 million, only three hospitals have intensive care beds. Like Chota, seven other hospitals in Cajamarca have no intensive care beds at all, according to regional health officials.

While all of Peru has suffered badly, according to the government and the World Health Organization, Cajamarca has only a fifth of the hospital bed capacity relative to the population size of the entire country.

This affects people like the mother of Enrique Peralta Linares, who was hospitalized in Chota’s hospital for COVID-19 on Sunday. Doctors say they need a ventilator and an intensive care bed, but they don’t have access to both.

“Doctors keep telling us we need a ventilator, but there are no ventilators in Chota and that really worries us,” Peralta Linares said outside the hospital. “There is no solution for us.”

COUNTLESS DEAD

Peru and cities like Chota reflect the wider crisis that countries around South America are facing – as well as the worrying fact that many deaths could be untold.

Uruguay and Paraguay currently have the world’s highest average daily death toll per capita; Argentina is not far from it, with around 80,000 deaths and a dangerous fall wave. Infections are spreading rapidly in Colombia and Bolivia, while regional giant Brazil approaches 470,000 deaths.

Peru, which has increased its death toll after analyzing so-called excess deaths, has the worst overall death rate per capita in the world, more than double that of Brazil and several times higher than India, both of which have hit themselves badly from the virus.

Chota residents say the city has suffered collective trauma due to the pandemic that no one in the area has ever experienced before.

“We suffer because we have five, six, seven masses every day,” said Priest Altamirano Guevara. “It’s about illness, it’s all about death.”

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pandemic

Utah’s COVID-19 death toll is nearly 3,600

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More than 3,400 new cases have been reported in the past three days.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nurse Ashley Hafer fills syringes with the Moderna vaccine for people waiting in line on Thursday, March 18, 2021.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune offers free access to critical stories about the coronavirus. Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter sent to your inbox every morning. To support journalism like this, please donate or become a subscriber.

The Utah Department of Health reported 32 more COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the state’s death toll since the pandemic started to 3,595.

Twenty-one of the deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; 11 occurred before November 1 and was only recently confirmed to be caused by COVID-19 after further testing.

16 of the deceased were under 65 years of age. Of these, three were between 25 and 44 years old and 13 were between 45 and 64 years old.

The Ministry of Health reported 3,457 new coronavirus cases in the past three days – 912 on Friday, 1,166 on Saturday and 1,452 on Sunday, an average of just over 1,152 per day. The 7-day rolling average of the new positive cases is 1,550.

The number of children being vaccinated continues to rise – 74,363 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since it was approved; That’s 20.4% of children that age in Utah, according to the Department of Health.

The intensive care units in the state remain almost fully utilized. UDOH reported Monday that 95.4% of all ICU beds in Utah and 97.5% of ICU beds in major medical centers in the state are occupied. (Hospitals consider anything above 85% functional). Of all intensive care patients, 42% are being treated for COVID-19.

Vaccine Doses Delivered / Total Doses Delivered In Last 3 Days • 41,000 / 4,237,422.

Number of Utahns Fully Vaccinated • 1,834,977 – 56.1% of the total Utah population. That’s an increase of 17,425 in the last three days.

Cases reported in the last three days • 3,457.

Cases in School-Age Children • K-12 children accounted for 653 of the new cases reported Monday – 18.9% of the total. In children aged 5 to 10 years, 361 cases were reported; 132 cases in children 11-13; and 160 cases in children between the ages of 14 and 18.

Tests Reported in Last Three Days • 23,888 people were tested for the first time. A total of 49,052 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past three days • 32.

Six of the dead were Salt Lake County residents – men between the ages of 25 and 44; a man and a woman 45-64; a man and a woman 65-84; and a man over 85.

Weber County also reported six deaths – one man and two women between the ages of 45 and 64; a man 65-84; and two women over 85.

Five Davis County residents died – two women 45-64; a man and a woman 65-84; and one woman over 85. And there have been four deaths in Utah County – a woman between the ages of 25 and 44; a man 45-64; and a man and a woman 65-84.

Three Washington County residents also died – a woman 64-84 and a man and woman 85-plus. And two Sanpete County residents died – a woman 45-64 and a woman over 85.

Four counties each reported a single death – a Box Elder County man aged 45 to 64; a man from Cache County 25-44; a man from Iron County 65-84; and a man from Sevier County 45-64.

Two men between the ages of 45 and 64, whose whereabouts were unknown, also died.

Hospital stays reported on the last day • 502. That is 11 fewer than reported on Friday. Of the current hospital admissions, 204 are in the intensive care unit, five more than reported on Friday. And 41% of patients in intensive care units are being treated for COVID-19.

Percentage of positive tests • According to the original state method, the rate over the past three days is 14.5%. That’s less than the 7-day average of 15.3%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests on the same person. On Monday, the rate was 7%, below the seven-day average of 10%.

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Risk Rates • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahners were 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to an analysis by the Utah Department of Health. Unvaccinated people were nine times more likely to be hospitalized and 3.6 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Total numbers so far • 605,409 cases; 3,595 deaths; 26,268 hospital stays; 4,030,046 people tested.

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Pandemic

Innovative Testing Gives Virginia Department of Corrections a Jump on COVID-19 — Virginia Department of Corrections

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Press release

Innovative testing gives the Virginia Department of Corrections a leap on COVID-19

December 06, 2021

RICHMOND – Last year, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) used an innovative method: examining wastewater samples at 40 of its facilities.

VADOC facilities offer unique tracking benefits as they provide small, controlled, relatively immutable populations that can quickly and clearly identify trends.

“Wastewater testing provides a highly reliable snapshot of a facility’s health for COVID. If someone has COVID-19, sewage tests tell us immediately, ”said Meghan Mayfield, VADOC’s energy and environmental administrator.

Under normal circumstances, patients may not show symptoms of COVID-19 for eight to ten days after exposure. Regular wastewater testing gives health officials a potential head start in fighting an outbreak and greatly improves their ability to monitor infection rates in the facility.

“The program is designed to detect COVID as early as possible to prevent the spread and suffering among inmates, employees and the public,” said Robert Tolbert, VADOC plant administrator.

The department was among the first state prison systems to conduct wastewater tests. It began testing last October and worked with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to conduct and monitor Virginia prison facilities on a weekly basis.

“We are always ready to work with our community partners to keep everyone in our community and our world safe,” said Harold Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections. “This is in line with our public safety mission to help people get better.”

Wastewater testing is also significantly more cost-effective than many other types of testing. Prior to its launch, health officials relied on point prevalence testing, an expensive, labor-intensive nasal swab measure that can cost up to $ 180,000 for a one-time test of all inmates and staff in an average-sized facility. For comparison, wastewater tests for a similar facility cost about $ 200.

“We have abolished the planned point prevalence tests at VADOC. Sewage tests are a much cheaper and extremely accurate predictor, ”Mayfield said. “We can use this data as a preliminary indicator of the presence of COVID-19 in a facility. By taking into account other factors such as community prevalence and existing COVID infections in the facility, we can use these results to make better decisions about running targeted point prevalence tests in each facility. “

The sewage process was developed after the pandemic broke out and may be used to track other viruses in the future.

VADOC’s approach worked so well that the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked VADOC to help validate the results of a new one biological diagnostic test device. This device, LuminUltra, is being tested in five state prison facilities across the Commonwealth and will help other state prisons and smaller rural communities monitor wastewater for COVID-19.

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S.Korea’s COVID-19 rules put some vaccinated foreigners in limbo

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A woman wearing a mask to prevent contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) takes a nap at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on November 30, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji

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SEOUL, Dec 6 (Reuters) – South Korea on Monday imposed stricter measures to curb the growing coronavirus infections and the Omicron variant, effectively banning some foreign residents who have been vaccinated abroad from places like restaurants, cafes and movie theaters are.

South Korea recognizes the vaccination status of Korean citizens who have been vaccinated abroad, but not foreign nationals unless they entered the country under quarantine.

Some foreign residents, particularly those from Europe and the United States, were vaccinated earlier this year, when South Korea had not yet made vaccines available and not eligible for the quarantine exemptions granted to certain individuals in business, education, or humanitarian reasons became.

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How many people are affected is unclear, but the problem has caught the attention of several foreign embassies, which have been campaigning for a change for weeks without success.

“We continue to advocate an urgent review of the guidelines to ensure fair treatment of foreign and Korean citizens who have been vaccinated abroad,” Stephen Burns, a spokesman for the UK embassy in Seoul, told Reuters.

The Australian embassy is in constant contact with the South Korean government on this matter and continues to advocate a change in its policy, said Ambassador Catherine Raper in a post on Twitter on Monday.

The Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency says the directive affects a small number of people and is necessary in the face of rising COVID-19 cases.

“A cautious approach is needed at this point as there are locally and globally confirmed cases of the Omicron variant and the possibility of further spread in the community,” a spokesman said, adding that officials are reviewing the rules depending on the domestic outbreak situation will.

The KDCA reported 4,325 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a total of 477,358 since the pandemic began, with a total of 3,893 deaths. The country has discovered 24 cases of the new variant of Omicron.

In response to the daily growing number of cases, South Korea has suspended previous efforts to “live with COVID-19”, instead imposing new vaccination record requirements and ending quarantine exemptions for all travelers arriving from overseas.

The problem for foreigners with unregistered vaccines will be exacerbated as previous rules that required a state vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 test to enter gyms, saunas and bars now apply to cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public places Rooms were expanded.

Unvaccinated people or people without proof of vaccination can still dine in restaurants, but only if they are sitting alone.

“An example that South Korea is not yet a truly global, international country,” tweeted Jean Lee, Korean affairs analyst at the US Wilson Center.

In March, authorities sparked a riot in several major cities, including Seoul, by ordering that all foreign workers be tested for coronavirus. Some of these measures were dropped following complaints from embassies and a human rights investigation.

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Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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