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India suspends IPL as COVID cases cross 20 million

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(Last Updated On: May 4, 2021)

India suspended its most popular sports tournament on Tuesday and the country’s opposition chief called for a nationwide lockdown as the number of coronavirus infections climbed past 20 million, a dismal milestone crossed only by the United States.

Cricket officials suspended the money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL), after the country added 10 million cases in just over four months, versus the more than 10 months taken for the first 10 million, Reuters reported.

“These are difficult times, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL said in a statement.

With 3.45 million active cases, India recorded 357,229 new infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222,408, health ministry data showed.

Experts say actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher, however.

“The only way to stop the spread of corona now is a full lockdown…GOI’s inaction is killing many innocent people,” Gandhi, a Congress member of parliament, said on Twitter, referring to the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown for fear of the economic fallout, but several states have imposed social curbs, Reuters reported.

The impoverished eastern state of Bihar ordered a lockdown until May 15 to curb the virus, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Twitter. With more than 100,000 infections, its death toll is nearing 3,000, government figures show.

The cricket-obsessed nation’s halt to the IPL tournament was a result of the virus crisis, its chairman, Brijesh Patel, told Reuters. The tournament, with an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion, was being played without spectators to a huge television audience this year but has been severely criticized for continuing at a time when the country’s healthcare system is on the brink of a collapse.

The surge of the highly infectious Indian variant has swamped the health system and depleted supplies of life-saving oxygen, while sufferers have died in ambulances and car parks outside hospitals.

Rows of funeral pyres set up in parks and other open spaces are being used to cremate the overflow of corpses.

Modi has been criticized for not moving sooner to limit the latest wave of infections and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies during March and April.

But a glimmer of hope surfaced in comments on Monday by a health ministry official who said infections in some regions were plateauing, Reuters reported.

Government modelling points to a peak by Wednesday, a few days earlier than a previous estimate, since the virus has spread faster than expected.

India’s surge has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations, hit by problems with supplies and delivery.

At least three states, including Maharashtra, the richest and home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, reported scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some vaccination centres.

On Monday the state had injected 79,491 doses, down from a record 534,372 a week ago.

In Modi’s adjoining home state of Gujarat, the three largest cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara limited vaccines to those aged between 18 and 44, officials said.

COVID-19

Universities to reopen once students and staff have been vaccinated

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday that the ministries of public health, higher education and education have agreed that class-based lectures for university and college students will gradually resume over the next two weeks.

The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) said that the first step will see all students and teaching staff get COVID-19 vaccines before classes resume.

“Class-based lessons will restart gradually at all institutions registered with the MoHE,” said Hamid Obaidi, spokesman for the MoHE adding that classes will first resume in provinces that have a low coronavirus infection rate.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said that school examinations will start during this solar month.

According to the ministry, a decision has yet to be made on resuming classroom lessons for school students.

“The examination process will take time because we want to hold exams in many shifts to avoid large gatherings,” said Najiba Arian, a spokeswoman for the MoE.

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that the impact of people having travelled around the country over Eid al-Adha will also determine the COVID-19 situation within the next week.

This comes after the MoPH reported 32 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours across Afghanistan.

The MoPH said 203 new infections were registered in the mentioned time.

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Olympics-Athlete COVID-19 infections rise in Tokyo

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(Last Updated On: July 18, 2021)

Tokyo Olympics organisers on Sunday reported three new cases of COVID-19 infection among athletes, up from one new case a day earlier, as the population of the athlete’s village swells ahead of the start of the pandemic-hit Games next week.

Organisers reported 10 new cases connected to the Olympics including media, contractors and other personnel, down from 15 on Saturday.

An International Olympic Committee member from South Korea tested positive for the coronavirus on landing in Tokyo. Ryu Seung-min, a former Olympic athlete, is vaccinated, reflecting the infection risk even from vaccinated attendees.

Infection rates are climbing among the general population of the capital, topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese oppose holding the Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.

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First COVID case found at athletes’ village, stoking fears ahead of Olympics

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(Last Updated On: July 17, 2021)

Tokyo Olympics organisers said on Saturday a person has tested positive for COVID-19 at the athletes’ village, the first case at a site where most competitors will be staying, raising new doubts over promises of a “safe and secure” Games.

The organisers confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games had tested positive during a routine test on Friday, Reuters reported.

The person’s nationality was not revealed due to privacy concerns.

The Summer Olympics are taking place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.

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