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Asia: 5.9 million COVID-19 infections overwhelm hospitals

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Health workers attend to patients suffering from COVID-19 at an Indian Red Cross hospital in Maharashtra. The hospital in Panchgani has been designated a dedicated COVID-19 health centre. In coordination with the district administration, Red Cross has also prepared two institutional quarantine facilities. © Pankaj Nangia/IFRC

Kuala Lumpur/Delhi/Geneva, 12 May 2021 – The world's fastest surge of COVID-19 is pushing hospitals and health systems to the brink of collapse as Asia has fast become the global COVID-19 hotspot, suffering more than twice as many new infections than any other region in the past two weeks.

Across Asia, more than 5.9 million people have been reported newly infected with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, according to Oxford University's - Our World in Data.

Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said:

"COVID-19 is exploding across much of Asia, overwhelming hospitals and healthcare. More people have been diagnosed with the disease in Asia over the past two weeks than in the Americas, Europe, and Africa combined.

"Right now, we need global solidarity for regional support with more medical equipment, support for prevention and urgent access to vaccines."

Seven of the 10 countries globally that are doubling their infection numbers the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific. Laos took just 12 days to see its caseload double, and the number of cases in India has doubled in under two months to more than 23 million.

The speed and scale of this COVID-19 surge has slammed into hospitals and overwhelmed medical staff already struggling to cope. Vaccination campaigns are underway, but they are hampered by shortages, hesitancy, and the costly logistics of reaching many areas across Asia and the Pacific.

"We must remember that behind these staggering numbers are people who are struggling to breathe, desperate for help and scared they will never see their loved ones again,” Mr Matheou said.

“Frontline workers are risking their lives and doing an incredible job despite being under-resourced and exhausted, but they cannot manage this crisis alone.

“Millions of dedicated Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are going above and beyond to fill gaps, providing ambulance services, clinics, vaccines and other relief in all corners of every country in Asia and the Pacific.

“To bring this pandemic under control we need greater global cooperation so that lifesaving resources, medical equipment, vaccines and money, get where they are needed to help people most at risk. We’re only safe when everyone is safe.”

The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 50% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60-12-230-8451,

In Wellington: Ellie van Baaren, +64 21 774 831,

In Geneva: AnnVaessen, +41 79 405 77 50,

Note to editors
The analysis of global infections in the past fortnight - ‘Biweekly confirmed COVID-19 cases’ is based on Oxford University’s ‘Our World in Data’ (latest available data used).

Photos available for download of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and health teams in action supporting people in the COVID-19 response across Asia.