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Mystery illness strikes town in India: Hundreds hospitalized and 1 dead



A mystery illness has left hundreds of people hospitalized in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh over the weekend and left one of them dead. The illness first appeared in the town of Eluru where residents presented epilepsy-like symptoms such as seizures and loss of consciousness, as well as burning eyes, nausea and vomiting.

District surveillance officer Dolla Joshi Roy said that 200 people were already discharged by Monday out of the 455 people with the symptoms. However, a 45-year-old man with the symptoms died due to a heart attack. State Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas said that all patients tested negative for the coronavirus and that they’re still looking into the cause of the illness.

This comes as India’s coronavirus caseload remains the second-highest in the world, with Andhra Pradesh being one of the worst-hit states. Officials are worried that the illness will further overwhelm hospitals in the area.

Chemical poisoning linked to mystery illness

News of the illness broke out on Saturday when 45 people from different Eluru localities were sent to hospitals and clinics after complaining of strange symptoms. Many others soon exhibited a similar pattern of illness and were subsequently hospitalized.

“The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning eyes,” an official from the Eluru Government Hospital told the Indian Express. “Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures.”

There’s no sign that the illness is contagious and blood samples from the patients did not indicate a viral infection, including COVID-19, according to Srinivas. Several health specialists were already sent to the affected areas to investigate and had since conducted door-to-door surveys and water sampling. They were initially looking into possible food and water contamination or airborne poisoning but had later ruled out these two causes, according to Srinivas.

“It is some mystery illness and only lab analysis will reveal what it is,” he added.

What’s apparent is that the unexplained disease affects all age groups and is “very localized, the people affected all lived in the same city,” said Roy. Medical teams are now looking into other chemical agents such as poisonous organochlorine substances, which contain DDT and are commonly found in pesticides used in agriculture and mosquito control. High-level exposure to DDT can cause vomiting, shaking and seizures, and while it is already banned in the United States, the toxic chemical is still used in India.

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Hundreds of Indonesian healthcare workers contract COVID-19 despite vaccination, dozens hospitalised



JAKARTA: More than 350 Indonesian doctors and healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalised, officials said, as concerns rise about the efficacy of some vaccines against more virulent virus strains.

Most of the doctors were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, said Badai Ismoyo, head of the Kudus district health office in Central Java, but dozens were in hospital with high fevers and declining oxygen saturation levels.

Kudus is battling an outbreak believed to be driven by the more transmissible Delta variant which has pushed bed occupancy rates above 90 per cent in the district.

Designated as a priority group, Indonesian healthcare workers were among the first to be vaccinated when the inoculation drive started in January.

Almost all have received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

While the number of Indonesian healthcare workers dying from COVID-19 has decreased significantly – dropping from 158 deaths this January to 13 this May, according to data initiative group LaporCOVID-19 – public health experts say the Java hospitalisations are cause for concern.

“The data shows they have the Delta variant so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before because as we know the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University.

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China’s Covid-19 vaccine flops in Singapore too



New Delhi: In a major setback to Chinas Covid vaccines, Singapore is not counting its citizens who received Sinovac Biotech shots as being vaccinated against Covid-19 due to lack of data to show that the doses are effective against coronavirus, especially the Delta strain.

“We don’t really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta,” local media cited health minister Ong Ye Kung as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.

The decision comes close on the heels of serious doubts arising over Chinese vaccines in Indonesia as those who have received the shots are also contracting Covid-19 and infections are surging in the country.

The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Singapore and was identified in the city state in May. Only people who have received the Moderna and Pfizer shots, are being considered as vaccinated in the official records.

Singapore had allowed some private clinics to offer the Sinovac shot, CoronaVac, from mid-June. Around 17,000 people are reported to have received one dose of CoronaVac.

Local media had also reported Singapore’s director of medical services saying last month that evidence from other countries showed people who had taken CoronaVac were still getting infected.

Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have also come from China’s Sinovac Biotech. Some health workers inoculated with Sinovac jabs have been hospitalized due to Covid-19. A few have even died despite being fully immunized, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.

The Indonesian Doctors Association says that of the 14 doctors who died from the virus between February and May, ten had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, while the rest had been given one dose.

Although there is a serious problem with Chinese vaccines due to inadequate data to show their efficacy, some countries are being forced to opt for them because of the cute shortage of vaccines worldwide amid the devastating pandemic.

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102 people qualify for S$451,000 in Covid-19 vaccine injury financial aid to date: Ong Ye Kung



SINGAPORE — The authorities have approved S$451,000 worth of financial aid to people who had suffered serious side effects from Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Tuesday (July 6).

The payments have either been paid out or are being processed to 102 applicants under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (Vifap) introduced by the Government in January.

They were among a total of 292 applicants who had submitted a complete Vifap application as of June 25, Mr Ong said.

Of these, 159 did not meet the eligibility criteria and 31 applications are waiting to be reviewed by an independent clinical panel or pending more medical information from the applicant’s doctor.

Mr Ong was responding in a written answer to a parliamentary question filed by Ms He Ting Ru, Member of Parliament for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, who had asked about the applications made and payments approved under the programme.

TODAY has asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) for details of these approved payouts.

Vifap provides three tiers of support to people assessed to be adversely affected by their Covid-19 inoculation.

The first is a one-time payout of S$2,000 for patients who need hospitalisation and medical intervention and who later recover.

The second is a payout of up to S$10,000 that will be given to those who were hospitalised and required care in a high dependency or intensive care unit, but later recover from the side effects caused by the vaccine.

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