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India’s COVID-19 case total nears 20 million

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(Last Updated On: May 3, 2021)

India on Monday reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 12th straight day, taking its overall caseload to just shy of 20 million, while deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,417.

With 368,147 new cases over the past 24 hours, India’s total infections stand at 19.93 million, while total fatalities are 218,959, according to health ministry data.

Medical experts say real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally.

Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been swamped as the country deals with the surge in cases.

At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions to try and stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.

“In my opinion, only a national stay at home order and declaring medical emergency will help to address the current healthcare needs,” Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan said on Twitter.

“The # of active cases is accumulating, not just the daily new cases. Even the reported numbers state there are around 3.5M active cases.”

The spike in infections is India’s biggest crisis since Modi took office in 2014. Modi has been criticised for not taking steps earlier to curb the spread and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states during March and April.

A forum of scientific advisers set up by the government warned Indian officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country, five scientists who are part of the forum told Reuters.

Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government did not seek to impose major restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

It remains to be seen how his handling of the crisis might affect Modi or his party politically. The next general election is due in 2024. Modi’s party was defeated in India’s West Bengal state in results declared on Sunday, although it wonin the neighbouring state of Assam.

Leaders of 13 opposition parties on Sunday signed a letter urging Modi to immediately launch free national vaccination and to prioritise oxygen supply to hospitals and health centres.

Several states have postponed widening a vaccination drive for adults that was to start on Saturday due to a lack of vaccines. The national health ministry says states have 10 million vaccines stockpiled and 2 million more coming in the next three days.

Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough for itself – undermining a plan to ramp up and widen inoculation from Saturday. Only about 9% of its 1.4 billion people have had a dose.

India has struggled to increase capacity beyond 80 million doses a month due to lack of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine.

International aid has been pouring into India.

Britain will send another 1,000 ventilators to India, the government said on Sunday. Prime ministers Boris Johnson and Modi are scheduled to talk on Tuesday.

The Indian COVID-19 variant has now reached at least 17 countries including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, leading several governments to close their borders to people travelling from India.

COVID-19

US braces as Omicron ‘almost definitely here’

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Americans have been advised to prepare to eventually encounter the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, but US health officials on Sunday said the travel ban starting Monday on most travelers from southern Africa should help buy time to assess any new risk.

“Well, it’s almost definitely here already, just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend. It’s almost a certainty that there have been cases that have gotten into the United States.”

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that while much is not known about the variant, vaccination remains key, Reuters reported.

“If you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a booster vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant.”

Thirty percent of the US population remains unvaccinated – possibly undermining the nation’s recovery nearly two years after COVID-19’s emergence.

Rising cases as colder weather forces more people indoors have already overwhelmed some hospital systems and led some US states, including New York, to declare emergencies.

Omicron was first detected in southern Africa, igniting a flurry of travel bans restricting passengers from several southern African countries – something South African President Cyril Ramaphosa strongly pushed back against in a speech on Sunday.

“These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”

The variant has now also been confirmed in Australia, Hong Kong, the U.K., Europe and the middle east.

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COVID-19

New coronavirus variant Omicron keeps spreading, Australia detects cases

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

The new Omicron coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with two cases detected in Australia, even as more countries tried to seal themselves off by imposing travel restrictions.

Health officials in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine, NSW Health said. Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

The Australian cases were the latest indication that the variant may prove hard to contain. First discovered in South Africa, it has since been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong. Austria was investigating a suspected case on Sunday.

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” last week by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Many countries have imposed a wave of travel bans.

In the most far-reaching effort to keep the variant at bay, Israel announced late on Saturday it would ban the entry of all foreigners and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days. Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective vaccines are against Omicron.

Many countries have imposed or are planning restrictions on travel from southern Africa. The South African government denounced this on Saturday as unfair and potentially harmful to its economy – saying it is being punished for its scientific ability to identify coronavirus variants early.

In Britain, where two linked cases of Omicron identified on Saturday were connected to travel to southern Africa, the government announced measures to try to contain the spread, including stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country and requiring mask wearing in some settings.

The German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant on Saturday. In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

Although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating, many countries – including the United States, Brazil, Canada, European Union nation

Hanafi says that during 20 years of occupation there are 5 million addicts, among them 1 million are women and children.

Hanafi says that if TAPI project is implemented, Afghanistan will earn annually around $1 billion dollars through its transit rights.

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COVID-19

Czech Republic reports 20,315 daily coronavirus cases

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

The Czech Republic reported 20,315 new coronavirus cases for Friday, the first week-on-week drop in the daily tally in two months, although its hospitals were still filling and the government toughened restrictions.

On the same day last week, the country of 10.7 million people reported 22,957 new cases of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Although hospitalisations dropped to 6,169 on Friday compared to the previous day, the number of people treated in hospitals has doubled over the past three weeks and some stopped non-urgent procedures.

The Czech government ordered bars and clubs to close at 10 p.m. as of Friday and banned Christmas markets in an attempt to stem one of the world’s highest infection rates.

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