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COVID-19

India’s daily COVID-19 cases pass 400,000 as second wave worsens

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(Last Updated On: May 1, 2021)

India posted a record daily rise of 401,993 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as the country opened up its massive vaccination drive to all adults, although several states warned of acute shortages.

It was the first time India’s daily case count had topped 400,000 after 10 consecutive days over 300,000, Reuters reported.

Deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,523 over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll in India to 211,853, according to official data.

The world’s biggest producer of COVID-19 vaccines has a limited number of shots available, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues while families scramble for scarce medicines and oxygen.

Hundreds of people were seen queuing to be vaccinated across Ahmedabad, the main commercial city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, on Saturday, Reuters reported.

The chief minister of the hard-hit state of Delhi on Friday implored people not to queue at vaccination centres, promising more vaccines would arrive “tomorrow or the day after”.

India’s eastern Odisha state said on Friday it had received a consignment of 150,000 shots but would only allow a few people to get shots due to lockdown restrictions preventing movement.

A fire in a hospital about 190 km south of Ahmedabad killed 16 coronavirus patients and two staff, the latest in a series of deadly accidents at hospitals.

Modi offered his condolences to the families of the hospital fire victims on Twitter, hours after he posted pictures of himself praying at a Sikh temple in capital New Delhi.

Some experts blame mass religious gatherings and political rallies for the severity of India’s second wave, which caught the government unprepared, Reuters reported.

A forum of scientific advisers set up by Modi administration 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 contain the spread of the virus. Millions, largely unmasked, attended religious gatherings and election rallies that were held by Modi, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition politicians.

The total number of COVID cases in India has topped 19 million. As the second wave has picked up steam, India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.

The surge in cases led U.S. President Joe Biden to impose new travel restrictions on India on Friday, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States.

Australian officials said residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home will be banned from entering Australia as of Monday, and those who disobey will face fines and jail.

Other countries and territories have also imposed similar travel restrictions on India, including Britain, Germany, Italy and Singapore, while Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand have suspended all commercial travel with India.

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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COVID-19

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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COVID-19

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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