Ambulances full of patients unable to breathe lined up in Brazil, and several nations around the world set new records for COVID-19 death figures, as well as new cases, on Thursday. Infections were rebounding even in countries that have kept the virus in check.
In the United States, authorities in Detroit began to devise a plan to go door-to-door to try to persuade people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
And this week, Brazil reported more than 4,000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day, just the third country to cross that threshold. The other two have been the United States and Peru.
Meanwhile, India recorded a peak of about 127,000 cases in the past 24 hours, and Iran set a record for new infections for the third day in a row by recording nearly 22,600 cases.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, emergency services face the most pressure since the pandemic began, as ambulances transport patients of all ages to overcrowded hospitals that have trouble treating all who arrive. Authorities said more than 90% of the beds in the state’s intensive care units are occupied by COVID-19 patients, and many cities are reporting that people are dying in their homes due to a lack of available medical care.
“We are already experiencing the third wave. We have three times more calls” compared to previous waves, said Adriano Pereira, director of the mobile emergency care service in Duque de Caxias, a poor city on the outskirts of Rio.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Brazil has exceeded 340,000, the second highest in the world, only surpassed by the United States, which has confirmed the death of nearly 560,000 people.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, urged his population to get vaccinated. “Vaccination is one of the few ways we have to defeat the virus. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, do it soon,” he posted on Twitter.
So far, the United States has applied the two doses of the vaccine to about 20% of its adult population, and New Mexico became the first state to inoculate 25% of its residents, achievements that remain a long way off for many countries. that have been strongly affected by the pandemic.
In India, which has 1.4 billion people, just 11 million of them are fully vaccinated. While in Brazil, less than 3% of the population of 210 million people have received both doses, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
South Korea reported 700 more cases, the largest daily increase since January 5. Authorities are expected to announce measures to reinforce social distancing after a meeting on Friday.
Meanwhile, health officials in Thailand, which has recorded 95 deaths during the pandemic, reported the first local cases of the variant of the coronavirus first detected in Britain. This comes at a time when just 1% of the population has been inoculated and Thais are preparing to celebrate Songkran, the traditional New Year’s holiday that is generally a time of travel.
This variant is more contagious, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it is now the most common mutation in the North American nation, raising the possibility of more infections.
Associated Press journalists Felipe Dana in Rio de Janeiro, Mauricio Savarese in São Paulo, and Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.