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International update: Global Covid infections pass 153 million as cases surge across Asia

04 May 2021 (Last Updated May 4th, 2021 09:50)

4 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising past 3 million with a figure of 3,213,878 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 153 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 577,523 according to Johns Hopkins University data. In the US, the seven-day rolling average of new cases has fallen below 50,000 for the first time since October. The CDC recorded the average as of 2 May as 48,164.

Asia: Nations ranging from Laos to Thailand in Southeast Asia, and those bordering India such as Bhutan and Nepal, have been reporting significant surges in infections in the past few weeks. The increase is mainly because of more contagious virus variants, though complacency and lack of resources to contain the spread have also been cited. “It’s very important to realize that the situation in India can happen anywhere,” Hans Kluge, the regional director at the World Health Organization for Europe, said in a briefing last week. “This is still a huge challenge.”

India: India’s official count of coronavirus cases has surpassed 20 million, nearly doubling in the past three months, after 357,229 new cases were recorded in the 24 hours to Tuesday. There were 3,449 new deaths taking the official death toll to 222,408. The true figures are believed to be far higher.

Cambodia: Cambodia has reported a daily record of 938 new coronavirus cases, the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, a day after prime minister Hun Sen ordered the end of a blanket lockdown in the capital Phnom Penh.

Germany: Germany needs to boost investment in public-health services so the nation is better prepared for future pandemics, according to Klaus Reinhardt, the president of the country’s medical association.

Mexico: The death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic is easing in Mexico, where daily fatalities dropped below 100 for the first time in a year this week, according to official data from the Health Ministry. The country reported 112 new Covid-19 deaths from the virus on Monday, bringing the total to 217,345.

Vaccine news

US: The US Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for adolescents between ages 12 and 15 years by early next week, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans.

The Biden administration will support Pfizer Inc.’s move to begin exporting US-made doses of its coronavirus vaccine, as the White House starts to unleash US production for shot-starved nations abroad. The governments of Mexico and Canada said last week that they expected to begin receiving doses of Pfizer’s vaccine from the US, the first time the company’s US-made shots are known to have been delivered to any buyer other than the American government itself.

India: Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, will deliver 220 million doses to federal and state governments over the next few months. The central government will get 110 million of those doses of Covishield, the manufacturer said. “Vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it’s therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight,” CEO Adar Poonawalla said. Covering all of India’s 1.4 billion people is “not an easy task.”

Denmark: Denmark won’t use J&J’s vaccine due to concern about the risk of blood clots, the Danish Health Authority said. The move comes less than a month after Denmark became the first European Union member to drop AstraZeneca Plc for similar reasons. Both shots are used in many other countries. Denmark had pre-ordered about 7 million vaccine shots from J&J, more than from any other producer, so the decision will delay the national vaccine rollout by four weeks.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is reviewing a decision to make vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after a wave of criticism, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said.

Egypt: Some 2.2 million individuals in Egypt have registered to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and 900,000 have been inoculated against the virus, television channel Sada Elbalad reported, citing the country’s health ministry spokesman.

Lockdown updates

EU: The EU will reopen to holidaymakers from countries with low Covid infection rates, such as the UK, and to anyone who has been fully vaccinated, by the start of June under a European Commission plan.

India: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called for a nationwide lockdown as the country’s tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million on Tuesday.

India’s Kaziranga National Park, home to the one-horned rhino, closed to visitors on Monday amid a surge in cases and reports of lions dying. In view of the spread of Covid-19 “and also transmission of the virus from human to animal and vice versa,” all national parks in the state will be shut indefinitely, it said. Eight lions tested positive for the coronavirus at a zoo in the southern city of Hyderabad, the Hindu newspaper reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.

US: Air travel in the US has hit its highest mark in more than 13 months ago. Nearly 1.67 million people were screened at US airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the highest number since mid-March of last year.

The New York Stock Exchange is opening further to vaccinated traders. Companies whose staff are based at the exchange will be permitted to raise their headcount if 100% of employees at the site can prove they’re fully vaccinated, according to a memo from NYSE Chief Operating Officer Michael Blaugrund. The changes go into effect on 10 May and are based on an “improvement to public health conditions in the New York City area and the continuing progress of the nationwide vaccination rollout,” Blaugrund wrote in the memo.

Greece: In Greece, restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of shutdown, with customers flocking to soak up the sunshine.

Italy: In Italy, medical experts and politicians expressed concern about a possible spike in infections after tens of thousands of jubilant soccer fans converged on Milan’s main square Sunday to celebrate Inter Milan’s league title.

Germany: Authorities in Bavaria canceled Oktoberfest again this year. Oktoberfest is “the most global party,” and waiting longer to cancel it would only have caused more economic damage, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said on Monday. The beer festival drew 6.3 million people to Munich in 2019.

UK: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is on course to gradually scrap lockdown rules over the next seven weeks, hailing the UK’s successful vaccine rollout ahead of key elections this week. Johnson said the pandemic data was likely to allow people in England to stay overnight with friends or relations, with indoor hospitality able to reopen from 17 May. Remaining social distancing rules are also likely to be canceled from 21 June, though he warned that international travel will need to be carefully monitored after 17 May.

Singapore: Singapore, which this week asked hospitals to defer non-urgent surgeries and limited emergency room visits to life-threatening or other emergency conditions, canceled an open house to welcome the public to the president’s official residence, just six days after announcing the 13 May event.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong quarantined residents of a roughly 40-unit apartment building in Tsim Sha Tsui for 21 days after one of them was infected with the more transmissible N501Y mutant strain.

Denmark: Denmark will ease more restrictions this week as the infection rate has remained stable in the Nordic country, the government said. All children through 8th grade will return to schools full-time, while cinemas, theaters and gyms will also reopen.

Australia: Critics of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to ban returning Australians from virus-ravaged India now include lawmakers from his own Liberal-National coalition government. Fiona Martin told the Guardian that her government’s weekend announcement that Australian citizens in India who try to return home would be liable for five years in prison and fines of about $50,000 was “heavy-handed”.

Economy updates

UK/India: The prime ministers of the UK and India are to meet virtually on Tuesday as the two countries agree a trade deal that is set to create more than 6,000 jobs in Britain.