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COVID-19

India’s death toll from coronavirus crosses 400,000

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2021)

India reached the grim milestone of 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, half of them during a second wave in the past few months that overwhelmed the healthcare system and crematoriums.

India has recorded 30.45 million cases since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, and is the second-most affected country behind the United States, which has 33 million cases.

The United States has over 604,000 deaths and about 518,000 people have died in Brazil.

India, the world’s second-most populous nation, recorded 853 deaths in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Friday. That took it past the 400,000 mark, with the last 100,000 being added in just 39 days, according to a Reuters tally.

But health experts believe India may have undercounted deaths significantly and the actual number could have reached one million or even higher.

Scores of bodies washed up along the Ganges river in northern India in May, as people struggled to keep pace with deaths and cremations at the peak of the second wave.

“Undercounting of deaths is something that has happened across states, mostly because of lags in the system, so that means we will never have a true idea of how many people we lost in this second wave,” said Rijo M John, a professor at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in the southern city of Kochi.

Last month, Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, revised its total COVID-19 death toll to 9,429 from 5,424, after an order from a local court.

India recorded a total of 200,000 deaths at the end of April, but took just 28 days to get to 300,000 deaths.

Hospitals ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen during the second wave in April and May and people died in parking lots outside hospitals and at their homes.

Cases have declined steadily since hitting a peak in May, but government officials and experts have warned that a third wave looms, as the country slowly re-opens and a new variant, locally called the Delta Plus, rears its head.

COVID-19

COVID-19 sends northern Chinese city into semi-shutdown

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

China’s northeastern city of Harbin, with a population of 10 million, went into semi-shutdown after reporting new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for the first time since early February.

Three of 16 new local cases reported in China for September 21 were in Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday. The last reported locally transmitted cases in the city were on February 4.

Harbin on Wednesday vowed to complete an initial round of city-wide testing by Thursday, and told its residents to refrain from stepping outside their homes, unless necessary, before their test results are out.

The city has already told its residents to avoid leaving town unless for essential reasons, and those who do leave must produce proof of negative test results within 48 hours from departure.

Indoors venues such as cinemas, gyms and mah-jong parlours were also shut, and tourist sites were ordered to limit visitor traffic at half of their capacity, state television reported on Tuesday.

The city would also suspend offline classes at all kindergartens, primary schools and high schools for a week from Wednesday, state television said late on Tuesday.

It was unclear if the three new Harbin cases were linked to the current outbreak in the eastern province of Fujian.

According to state television, one of the cases was found when the person went to a local hospital for testing.

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Brazil’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19 in NYC

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for COVID-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the government said.

Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government’s communications office said, Reuters reported.

“The minister is doing well,” the statement said. It added that the rest of the delegation tested negative for the virus.

According to the report Queiroga told CNN Brasil that he had worn a mask the entire time that he was in the U.N. building.

Bolsonaro, a vaccine skeptic, defied U.N. rules that asked all those attending the assembly to be vaccinated. He has bragged about not getting vaccinated, Reuters reported.

In his speech to world leaders at a meeting where the global coronavirus pandemic was top of the agenda, Bolsonaro said his government did not support the use of a vaccine passport and stood by treatment of the virus with unproven drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine.

He said Brazil’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 had been successful and that all adults who wanted a vaccine would be fully inoculated by November.

With unvaccinated diners barred from eating in New York restaurants, Bolsonaro and his entourage ate pizza on a sidewalk on their first night in the city on Sunday.

The health minister was the second member of the Brazilian delegation in New York to have tested positive. A young diplomat who was part of an advance team preparing Bolsonaro’s visit tested positive on the weekend and was isolated, Reuters said.

COVID-19 has killed 591,440 Brazilians in the world’s second-deadliest outbreak after the United States.

As vaccination advances in the country, the rolling 14-day average of COVID deaths has fallen to 519 a day, compared with almost 3,000 at the peak of the pandemic in April.

On a trip to the United States to meet former U.S. President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate last year, 22 members of Bolsonaro’s delegation caught coronavirus in the worst case of transmission in a government that ignored precautions.

Bolsonaro, who regarded Trump as a political role model, has opposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and seldom uses a mask, read the report.

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Brazil reports 150,000 COVID-19 cases in one day amid counting backlog

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2021)

Brazil reported 935 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday and 150,106 additional cases, according to data released by the nation’s Health Ministry, an unusually large number due to what officials said was an adjustment in how case numbers are tabulated.

Some 92,614 cases occurred in Rio de Janeiro in recent months, but only entered into the official count in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Rio’s state-level health ministry attributed the number of cases registered to new demands from the federal Health Ministry regarding case counting, the details of which were not revealed, Reuters reported.

The state health ministry “emphasizes that these are not cases that occurred in the last 24 hours, but rather cases that were not displayed before due to changes in the federal (case counting) system,” it said. “Of these cases, 62% occurred in 2021.”

At least two other states – Paraiba in the northeast and Sao Paulo in the southeast – have seen unusual case jumps in recent days due to changes in the federal case count, according to national media reports.

The South American country has registered a total of 590,508 coronavirus deaths and 21.2 million total confirmed cases.

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