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April 26, 2021

International update: Foreign governments send aid to India as Covid crisis deepens

By Paul Dennis

26 April

Global: The global Covid death toll is rising past the grim tally of 3.1 million with a figure of 3,110,124 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 147 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 32 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 572,200 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US cases increased by 53,224 on Saturday, the eighth consecutive day with fewer than 70,000 reported new infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. That compares with peaks of more than 300,000 per day during late December and January.

India: Foreign governments are deploying resources to India, as the nation of 1.3 billion people struggles to cope with a growing Covid-19 crisis during which infections and deaths have hit record highs. The UK said it would send more than 600 pieces of equipment – including ventilators and oxygen concentrators from surplus stocks – to India while the EU and US also said they would rapidly deploy resources there. India recorded 349,691 fresh cases and 2,767 deaths in the last 24 hours – the highest since the start of the pandemic.

India added 349,691 cases, bringing its total to 16.96 million, the government said Sunday. The country recorded 2,767 Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours, making a total of 192,311 fatalities.

Iraq: A fire on Saturday at a hospital in south-eastern Baghdad that had been equipped to house Covid-19 patients killed 82 people and wounded 110 more, the Iraqi interior ministry said The fire at the Ibn Khatib hospital in the Diyala Bridge area of the Iraqi capital is believed to have occurred after an accident caused an oxygen tank to explode.

Greece: Greece today became the latest European nation to say it has detected a case of the Covid-19 variant that has helped drive the explosion in infections in India. The virus strain was detected in a foreign woman aged 33 who lives in the Athens area and had travelled to Dubai on 4 April.

Spain: A Spanish man with Covid symptoms who coughed on work colleagues and told them “I’m going to give you all the coronavirus” has been charged with intentionally causing injury after allegedly infecting 22 people. Police said none of those infected at his workplace on the island of Mallorca required hospitalisation.

Thailand: Thailand has announced its highest number of coronavirus deaths, for the second consecutive day. It reported 2,438 new coronavirus cases and 11 new deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 55,460 and fatalities to 140 since the pandemic started last year.

France: France is “engaged in a battle against these variants which are a threat from which we must protect ourselves,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Sunday, mentioning Brazilian and South African forms of the virus. Castex was speaking during a visit on Sunday to Paris’s Roissy international airport, to highlight protective measures taken by the government including increased filtering and scrutiny, PCR tests and a mandatory quarantine for travelers from high-risk countries.

Germany: The number of new Covid-19 cases in Germany slowed to 14,422, the lowest in five days, and the number of new deaths was at a six-day low. At the same time, a key pandemic measure watched by the government rose to the highest in months. The so-called seven-day incidence rate, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days, increased to 165.6 on Sunday, the highest since January.

Switzerland: The Swiss government estimates that about one-third of the population has been infected with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. At the end of 2020, government scientists found antibodies in about 20% of those tested and now believe that another 10% have been infected, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.

Vaccine news

US: President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said the US will consider sending India unused, unapproved doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine to help stem a record-breaking surge in Covid-19 cases there. “I think that’s going to be something that is up for active consideration,” Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while cautioning that he didn’t “want to be speaking for policy right now.” The US stockpile of AstraZeneca shots reached more than 20 million doses earlier this month and has grown since then, prompting persistent calls by doctors to donate the shots to other countries that are way behind the US in their vaccination efforts.

Governor Mike DeWine said demand for the vaccine has dropped sharply in Ohio, and he’s reaching out to businesses and schools to increase the number of people inoculated. “Well, I’m worried,” the Republican governor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We’ve seen our vaccination rate go down about half of what it was three weeks ago, so that’s a concern.” He said 40% of the population has at least one dose. “We just need to continue to move forward,” he said.

A partisan divide remains over vaccines in the US, according to an NBC News poll. The survey of 1,000 adults showed that 82% of Democrats had been vaccinated or plan to as soon as possible, against 45% of Republicans. Overall, 57% said they’d had a vaccine and another 8% plan to as soon as they can. Some 24% of Republicans said they won’t get vaccinated, against just 4% of Democrats. Another 19% of GOP respondents said they’re waiting to see if there are problems with the shots. Vaccine hesitancy among Republicans has been cited as an impediment to reaching herd immunity in the US. A majority of those polled, 61%, said the worse of the pandemic is behind the US, against 55% in October who assessed that the worst was yet to come.

India: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country could continue to provide free vaccines to all state governments and asked them to ensure availability of the doses in remote parts of the nation.

India’s home-grown vaccine developer Bharat Biotech International Ltd. priced its coronavirus shots as much as double that of its local competitor, citing high manufacturing costs even as the nation grapples with record infections. The company will sell Covaxin for 600 rupees ($8) a dose to state governments and 1,200 rupees a dose to private hospitals, it said in a statement on Twitter late Saturday.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh suspended administering first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from April 26 on uncertainty about resupply of the drug. The country’s Directorate General of Health Services announced the nationwide suspension on Sunday, and the order will remain in force until further notice. However, those who have received the first dose of the vaccine will still get the second shot on schedule.

Lockdown updates

India: The Delhi government extended a lockdown in India’s capital until next Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said at a press conference Sunday. Delhi is the one of the worst affected regions in the country with hospitals turning away patients due to shortages of oxygen. Delhi needs 700 tons of oxygen while the central government has allotted only 490 tons, Kejriwal said, adding that he was in touch with other states for supplies and expects the shortage to ease in the next two to three days.

Germany: Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz said he did not expect moves to ease curbs before the end of May as its seven-day average of cases per 100,000 people rose to 166.

Bangladesh: Human movement through land ports between Bangladesh and India will remain suspended for two weeks, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said in a statement. Bangladeshi citizens currently traveling in India will be allowed to return home through three designated land ports.

Italy: Italy banned people who have been in India in the last 14 days from entering the country to counter the spread of the virus variant helping fuel the outbreak in India, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday.

Mauritius: Mauritius, an Indian Ocean tourism-reliant economy, is set to further ease restrictions starting 1 May, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said. No new cases were detected on Sunday. “The situation has vastly and rapidly improved,” Jugnauth said in a statement. Under the new rules, inhabitants will no longer require a permit to move around. The obligation to shop based on alphabetical order is waived. Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

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