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HomeWorldIndia’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund


7 May 2021

A new wave of COVID-19
infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India,
leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund
UNICEF
said on Friday.

In the last 24 hours, India
registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths
and 414,188 cases “which is the highest daily case count
recorded by any country in the history of COVID-19
pandemic”, said Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in
India.

“UNICEF is of course very concerned about
this deadly daily surge in new cases”, she added. “This
wave is almost four times the size of the first wave and the
virus is spreading much faster. On average, there were more
than four new cases every second and more than two deaths
every minute in the last 24 hours.”

Overwhelmed
health centres

The UN official noted that health
facilities have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, amid
reports that pregnant women have struggled to find the
support they need to give birth.

“With 27 million
births and 30 million pregnancies every year, life-saving
services to help women give birth are critical in India”
Ms. Ali Haque said. “What is happening in India should
raise alarm bells for all of us. The pandemic is far from
over. COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate across
South Asia, especially in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the
Maldives.”

Very low levels of vaccination in most
South Asian countries – less than 10 per cent in India, Sri
Lanka and Nepal – were also adding to concerns of the
virus spiralling even further, the UNICEF representative
noted.

Second wave impact

UNICEF is also
concerned that the COVID-19 surge has also led to “dire
consequences” for a greater number of children than during
the first wave of infections, with access to essential
health, social, protection and education services
constrained.

“Children are facing mental health
issues and are at greater risk of violence, as lockdowns
shut them off from their vital support networks”, Ms. Ali
Haque said.

Although there is no indication that the
proportion of children getting infected is any different to
the first wave, “the numbers are far greater”, she
insisted. “We’re seeing the virus entering a household;
it just takes one member of the household to be affected and
it seems to spread like wildfire throughout the
family.”

Illegal adoptions

This has been
accompanied by a likely spike in illegal adoption pleas on
internet platforms by families desperate to find homes for
orphaned relatives, prompting fears of child exploitation,
the UN official said.

Authorities were “beginning to
pick up on numbers” of vulnerable children, the UNICEF
official continued, in a call to promote family tracing and
speedier help for destitute families.

“When we see
that children are being orphaned and we do see that there is
a lot of trafficking of children which is reported, children
go missing, those systems are beginning to pick up on
numbers”, she said.

There is a greater alertness
around any family seeing that children (that) have been
affected get reported…While there isn’t enough data yet,
we can see that illegal adoption pleas have surfaced on
social media, making these orphans vulnerable to trafficking
and
abuse.”

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