Responding to COVID-19 around the world - part 4

By Aldis Brennan, communications advisor, operations
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries that avoided a serious first wave are now experiencing devastating second, third, and fourth waves of the virus. While the quick development of vaccines is positive news, COVID-19 remains an ongoing crisis and its effects will still be seen for years to come.
Here are some examples of how Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies continue to provide support wherever it is needed during the pandemic.
A woman in mask and goggles standing inside an arena where chairs and tables are set up 
   Luc Alary / Canadian Red Cross
From coast to coast, the Canadian Red Cross has been busy responding to the ferocious third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments the Red Cross is working to support the vaccination efforts so that every Canadian wanting to receive vaccines will have access. The roll out of vaccines is an important milestone in the continued fight against the virus’ spread and marks a turning point in Canada’s response. As the immunization campaign continues, it is essential to follow trusted sources for accurate and up-to-date information about vaccines, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and local and provincial health authorities.
A man in mask and goggles standing in front of an ambulance 
   Garry Andrew Lotulung
The Indonesian Red Cross Society, or Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) as it’s called in Indonesia, has mobilised volunteers and staff throughout the country to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Volunteers are providing ambulance service, administering vaccines, supporting at vaccine centres, and assisting with contact tracing to help identify potential cases in the community. The Red Cross Hospital in Bogor, West Java has been designated as a COVID-19 facility with 66 isolation rooms, two ICU beds, and five beds for isolation in emergency room. More than 718 patients have been treated at the facility so far, and more than 3,000 PCR tests have been performed.
   Video by Ethiopian Red Cross Society
The Canadian Red Cross is supporting the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and the Ethiopian Red Cross to carry out life-saving activities for people affected by the Tigray conflict. In Ethiopia, efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 continue to promote the importance of proper hygiene practices and following public health measures (as seen in the video above). However, the humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, which has led to displacement and food insecurity affecting millions of people is further complicates the country’s response to the pandemic.
Two people in masks sitting across the table from two Red Cross members in protective equipment 
   Photo by Fiji Red Cross Society
While Fiji has largely been spared from the deadly consequences of COVID-19 thanks to its geographic isolation and decision to quickly close its borders, cases have now begun to rise at an alarming rate. Border closures have also taken a heavy toll on the small island nation’s economy as international trade has been disrupted, the tourism has completely evaporated, and financial support sent home to Fiji from those working abroad has significantly decreased. However, more than 100 Fiji Red Cross volunteers have been part of the country’s vaccination campaign, working alongside government health workers, registering people in vaccine centres, and providing information about the vaccines.
A man in personal protective equipment standing in front of an ambulance in Mexico 
   Photo by Mexican Red Cross Society
The Mexican Red Cross is on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, providing support to millions of people across the country. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have been communicating with the public about the risks of the virus and to encourage proper hygiene practices, providing life-saving services by transporting patients to hospitals, performing COVID-19 testing, and, more recently, administering vaccinations. Red Cross volunteers are also delivering healthcare and family reunification services to extremely vulnerable migrant populations impacted by the pandemic.
A woman in a mask filling a syringe 
  Photo by Iranian Red Crescent Society
As vaccines became available to countries around the world, the next question became how they could be accessed. In Iran, this process was entrusted to the Iranian Red Crescent, which was granted permission to oversee the importation of the COVID-19 vaccine. The organization has mobilized thousands of volunteers to vaccinate the public, cared for people who tested positive for the virus in Red Crescent-run hospitals, and provided emergency medical support to thousands of others impacted by the pandemic.
A woman in a mask sitting at a table talking to a man in mask in Red Cross vest. 
   Photo by Malaysian Red Crescent Society
During the summer months, Malaysia experienced an enormous spike in cases, overwhelming hospitals and forcing communities to go into lockdown. The Malaysian Red Crescent is playing a vital role in the efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by racing to vaccinate as many people as possible, including working with leaders from the community of refugees from Somalia living in the country to ensure they have access to the vaccine.
A man in a mask and Red Cross vest listening intently to a seated woman talking 
   Photo by the Guatemalan Red Cross
For many people with a hearing loss, the necessity of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 presents a real challenge as they often rely on lip-reading to understand others. Guatemalan Red Cross volunteers are making sure they can reach those with hearing loss to provide them with the information and services they need to overcome the pandemic. This includes using clear masks designed to allow for easier lip-reading, while also keeping the wearer safe from the virus.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent remain dedicated to providing vital assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Canada and around the world. Do your part by following local public health recommendations. Together, we can reduce suffering around the world.

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