Displaying items by tag: pandemic
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is thanking supporters after they increased their giving enabling it to step up its response to the pandemic. Benefactors donated £14 million more last year than in 2019 as the charity rushed out emergency Covid projects amid growing persecution globally. The pandemic dramatically worsened the plight of Christians who found themselves literally, almost overnight, without work, pay or food. ACN's benefactors remain true to the charity with great generosity, for which the charity and those in need are profoundly grateful.
On 11 June Uganda recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began. Cases were up 137% this week, forcing the state to impose a partial curfew. Last week, the UAE banned flights from Uganda after recording cases of the Indian virus while already struggling with the South African and British mutants. Uganda has a curfew between 9 pm and 5:30 am and has closed all learning institutions. The ministry of health announced a halt to the vaccination process citing the lack of jabs. All intensive care and high-dependency beds in the country are already occupied and vaccination against Covid-19 is progressing very slowly. Barely 750,000 people have received one dose (35,000 have received two doses), in a country of 45 million people.
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as nations entered into the uncertainty of lockdown, we saw an outpouring of neighbourliness. Unable to venture away from our homes, we reached out, perhaps for the first time, to the people who lived around us. This was a beautiful thing. Wonderful stories emerged of people helping each other in a time of need – a poignant demonstration of why community is so vital. Churches responded to local needs by supporting the bereaved and lonely, increasing foodbank provision, and helping out in whatever ways they could. Surely this was a perfect example of what Jesus meant when he told us that the greatest commandment, in addition to loving God, was to love our neighbours.
Connect, Scotland’s largest independent parents’ group, is challenging assessments which replaced Covid-hit exams. Schools are taking ‘different approaches’ across Scotland and they are alarmed that tests and answers are being widely shared on TikTok. The Scottish Qualifications Authority said results will be based on ‘demonstrated attainment’ on a combination of course work and teacher judgement. Instead it mimics the very worst elements of the system it replaces. Wales cancelled GCSE and many schools scheduled assessments to collect evidence for grades while pupils are having to self-isolate. Head teachers and pupils speak of the system’s pressures when grades are decided by schools. Across the UK £13.5bn is needed to reverse the damage to pupils' education caused by the pandemic as they have lost almost two months of learning in reading, and three months in maths. Many are calling for the school day to be extended and increased funding for poor pupils to help recovery.
Parents with Covid, unable to look after their children and living in Gaza, have problems bigger than childcare arrangements. One such couple sent their children to their grandparents' apartment, then two days later the worst violence in years erupted on their doorstep between Israel's military and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Rockets and mortars flew everywhere. The couple have no access to health services, despite their worrying symptoms, and they are struggling with the separation from their children as Israeli airstrikes pound nearby. Less than 2% of Gaza's population had received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of April, and thousands are evacuating to shelters, the above couple included. Medical staff and humanitarian agencies are worried the enclave could be hit by a third wave of Covid-19 as dozens of schools are transformed into shelters. The health ministry believes the wave has already started, with 30% of people being tested proving positive and over 100 in intensive care units.
France’s parliament has given the green light for so-called Covid ‘health passes’ which people will have to carry when attending crowded events and venues. Some MPs have said it may lead to discrimination. The law committee of the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, has approved a bill on health passes which citizens will be required to carry in order to attend gatherings of more than 1,000 people. According to this proposal, the pass will prove that a person has been vaccinated, has tested negative for Covid-19, or has recovered from the virus. See The Norwegian prime minister has said the country will bring in Covid vaccine passports, which will allow holders to attend events, before the government brings in EU-compliant certificates later that month. The certificate means Norway can open society more quickly. It can be used for public events, cruises, and package tours.
Hospitals rely on daily oxygen deliveries, but they are constantly sending desperate messages for extra supplies. A doctor described the situation: ‘Once you've emptied your main tank, there is nothing to fall back on’. Delhi is running out of cremation space for Covid dead. Pyres burn in families’ gardens. One doctor says hospital patients dying without oxygen prevents him sleeping: ‘I should be concentrating on treating my patients, not running around to get oxygen.’ Many hospitals face the same ordeal. Federal officials reported ‘no shortage of oxygen’, and say the challenge has come from transportation. People are paying a price for political wrangling between the state and federal governments. The price is their life. In November a parliamentary standing committee on health warned of inadequate oxygen supplies and ‘grossly inadequate’ government hospital beds. On 5 May the Supreme Court decided against immediately punishing Indian officials for failing to end an erratic supply. However, significant amounts of oxygen and ventilators are now reaching India from Europe and the USA.
The Covid variant behind a devastating surge of infections and deaths in India has been detected in many European nations. Data obtained from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed that the B.1.617 variant - also known as the Indian variant because it was first detected there - has now been found in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and the UK. On 21 April the UK had detected 132 cases, the most of any European country. The other European countries have observed fewer than ten cases each, though this may be due to different levels of testing. See also the world article ‘India: Covid crisis’.
Harrowing scenes from India have shocked the world, as it struggles with soaring Covid cases. But the outbreak isn't just India’s crisis - it's a crisis for everyone. ‘Viruses don’t respect borders, nationalities, age, sex or religion; what’s playing out now unfortunately has been played out in other countries’, said the World Health Organisation's chief scientist. We can pray for travel restrictions, multiple tests and quarantine to prevent infections leaking out and for enough vaccines to be available across the nation. Pray for misinformation and mistrust to be replaced by trust and positive take up of Immunisation. Dr Jeff Barrett, director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative, said, ‘The higher the number of cases a country has, the more likely new variants will emerge. Every single infection gives the virus a chance to evolve.’ A major concern is that mutations could arise, rendering vaccines ineffective. Pray for God to give medics stamina and hope as they double down on hospital care and vaccination.
Eritrea remains one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution. Imprisoned Christians are tortured, starved, and forced into hard labour. Conditions are worse for pastors and theological students who are singled out for beatings or have their jail terms extended as a warning to others. Many Christians are held indefinitely, often without trial, not knowing when they will be released. Some are kept in shipping containers, where they are exposed to the searing desert heat by day and cold by night. 69 Christian prisoners were released in September 2020 in Covid-19 control measures. Most had been held for over ten years without trial, some for 16 years. The releases were made on condition that bail securities were lodged, usually in the form of property deeds, with guarantors held liable for the detainees’ future actions. None of the known imprisoned pastors or senior Christian leaders were among those released. Tens of thousands of Christians have fled from Eritrea to Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Israel.