Coronavirus around the world: numbers, vaccines and untold stories

Marriam Jamali's son Bruno helps pour water on her hands while she washes them. They received soap as part of hygiene distribution to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Malawi.
Marriam Jamali's son Bruno helps pour water on her hands while she washes them. They received soap as part of hygiene distribution to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Malawi.
News30 June 2021Lucy Bloxham

As of 29 June 2021 there have been 181.1 million confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19) cases worldwide and 3.9 million deaths across nearly 200 countries. Of these countries, Concern works in 23 of the poorest and most fragile. Here we breakdown the Covid-19 situation in some of the other parts of the world.

Africa

General View of the centre of Kibera slum area in Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram
General View of the centre of Kibera slum area in Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram

Numbers at a glance:

  • 47 countries affected
  • Almost 4 million cumulative cases
  • Over 94,000 deaths

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of cases and deaths in Africa has increased by almost 40% in the past week, and in some countries, the number of deaths has tripled or quadrupled.

According to the Lancet in May 2021, Covid-19 was the twelfth leading cause of death worldwide, the sixth leading cause of death in high-income countries, and the 41st leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the reasons why the numbers of cases and deaths were lower in sub-Saharan Africa were unclear. One possibility is that there are inadequate levels of testing, which could translate to unreported Covid-19 deaths. Another possibility is that the continent acted quickly. Among fears that the new virus could quickly overwhelm generally fragile health systems, governments took drastic measures to slow the virus. According to experts, the age of the population in most African countries is also likely to have played a role in suppressing the spread of Covid-19. Globally, most of those who have died have been aged over 80, while Africa is home to the world's youngest population with an average age of 19 years.

Agness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people handwashing. Photo: Henry Mhango
Agness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people handwashing. Photo: Henry Mhango

However, it has since been reported that the spread of new coronavirus variants in Africa has contributed to an increase in both cases and deaths across the continent. A mix of public fatigue, socialising, ineffective use of public health and social measures, and vaccine inequity, as well as the spread of new variants are said to be all potential contributors to the recent rise. At least 12 countries have so far confirmed the presence of the variant first detected in India late last year. There is concern that new variants can't easily be tracked because the testing required to identify them isn't widely available. The continent also falls behind with vaccination, accounting for just under 1.5% of all the vaccines administered globally so far.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the current rise in Covid-19 cases in Africa is "extremely worrying" as more countries record increases in cases.

Middle East and Asia

A family member looks on as several funeral pyres of patients who died of Covid-19 burn during the mass cremation at Ghazipur cremation ground in New Delhi, India. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A family member looks on as several funeral pyres of patients who died of Covid-19 burn during the mass cremation at Ghazipur cremation ground in New Delhi, India. Photo: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Numbers at a glance:

  • 55,576,000 reported infections
  • 787,000 reported deaths

 

Last year, the situation in Asia looked promising. While Western Europe and North America experienced surges of infection and death and lockdowns, many Asian countries were praised for protecting their populations from the worst of the pandemic. However, more recently the situation has begun to change. As India battled a major coronavirus wave, there was concern about rising infection levels in neighbouring countries. Bangladesh saw case numbers rising from early March, and brought in a national lockdown on 5 April. They have now seen a decline in cases, however the South African variant has also been reported.

Kobra* washes their hands at the newly installed hand-washing station, Afghanistan. Photo: Stefanie Glinski
Kobra* washes their hands at the newly installed hand-washing station, Afghanistan. Photo: Stefanie Glinski

As reported by Aljazeera on June 5, Afghanistan is in the midst of battling a brutal surge in Covid-19 infections as health officials plead for vaccines, only to be told by the World Health Organization that the three million doses the country expected to receive by April will not be delivered until August. By official figures, Afghanistan has seen a total of 78,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths from the pandemic. But those figures are likely a huge undercount, registering only deaths in hospitals, not the far greater numbers who die at home.

According to Reuters, there have been at least 55,576,000 reported infections and 787,000 reported deaths caused by Covid-19 in Asia and the Middle East so far. Of every 100 infections last reported around the world, about 44 were reported from countries in Asia and the Middle East. The region is currently reporting a million new infections about every eight days and has reported more than 55,576,000 since the pandemic began.

Caribbean

Louismene pictured outside the home she shares with her children four children in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery
Louismene pictured outside the home she shares with her children four children in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery

Haiti has one of the lowest Covid-19 death rates in the world. Since January 3 2020 and 29 June 2021, there have been 18,341 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 415 deaths, reported to WHO in Haiti.

There are a number of speculations as to why the death rate is so low in Haiti, particularly considering it is one of the world’s poorest countries. One theory is that Haiti is a young country, with an average age of 23, and the virus tends to affect older people more severely. Additionally, houses in Haiti tend to be open with good ventilation.

Our response

Despite the challenges of local restrictions and the impact of the pandemic, we have been able to pivot and adapt our programmes to make them Covid secure and respond to ever-growing needs. None of this could have been achieved without our amazing staff who have met the challenges by being more productive and effective than ever.

Danny Harvey - Executive Director, Concern Worldwide UK

Africa

  • In South Sudan, we set up over 1,200 handwashing stations in key locations, provided over 14,134 people with soap and sanitiser, and ensured over 49,000 people had improved access to water as part of our Covid-19 response.
  • In the Central African Republic, we worked with 75 health centres to train staff in Covid-19 infection control and response.
  • In Chad, we implemented mass awareness campaigns to prevent and limit the spread of Covid-19 through a number of means, including local radio. We also provided practical assistance to prevent transmission of the virus, including strengthening access to protective equipment for health workers, rehabilitating boreholes to increase access to water for 10,000 IDPs, and distributing water, sanitation and hygiene kits to 5,000 vulnerable households.

 

Read more about our response in Africa here.

Asia and Middle East

Concern Bangladesh in collaboration with local partners launched New Digital Booths for screening and testing of Covid-19. The service was free. Photo: EHD
Concern Bangladesh in collaboration with local partners launched New Digital Booths for screening and testing of Covid-19. The service was free. Photo: EHD
  • Our work in Iraq focussed specifically on supporting preventive measures for over 200,000 people living in camps in northern Iraq. With support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), we produced Covid-19 hygiene kits, distributing bars of soap, detergent and sanitary products to 84,500 individuals.
  • We installed handwashing stations across our areas of intervention in northern Afghanistan, where our network of community development facilitators conducted hygiene awareness campaigns specifically tailored to Covid-19.
  • We built cutting-edge digital booths in Bangladesh to help increase the country’s capacity to test and screen people for coronavirus.

 

Read more about our response in the Middle East and Asia here.

Haiti

Cherica washes her hands in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Cherica washes her hands in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

In Haiti, we supplied soap and provided money and training for unemployed people to make their own soap to use and sell in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum. This initiative helped vulnerable community members to make an income, and protect themselves against Covid-19.

 

We remain focussed on maintaining our existing programmes, raising awareness of the tools used to fight the spread of the infection and supporting the communities most impacted by the crisis.

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