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COVID-19

More than 4,000 Indians die of COVID-19 for second straight day

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2021)

India recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday, while infections stayed below 400,000 for a fourth day, though the virus has become rampant in rural areas where cases can go unreported due to a lack of testing, Reuters reported.

Experts remain unsure when numbers will peak and concern is growing about the transmissibility of the variant that is driving infections in India and spreading worldwide.

Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, said most models had predicted a peak this week and that the country could be seeing signs of that trend, Reuters reported.

Still, the number of new cases each day is large enough to overwhelm hospitals, she said on Twitter. “The key word is cautious optimism.”

The situation is particularly bad in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with a population of over 230 million. Television pictures have shown families weeping over the dead in rural hospitals or camping in wards to tend the sick.

Bodies have washed up in the Ganges, the river that flows through the state, as crematoriums are overwhelmed and wood for funeral pyres is in short supply.

“Official statistics give you no idea of the devastating pandemic that is raging through rural UP,” wrote well-known activist and opposition politician Yogendra Yadav in The Print.

“Widespread ignorance, lack of nearby or adequate testing facilities, official and unofficial cap on testing and inordinate delays in test reports have meant that in village after village, virtually no one has been tested, while scores of people complain of a ‘strange fever’”.

According to health ministry data, India had 362,727 new COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours while deaths climbed by 4,120.

The surge in infections has been accompanied by a slowdown in vaccinations, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccinations would be open to all adults from May 1, Reuters reported.

Two states – Karnataka, which includes tech hub Bengaluru, and Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai – have announced they will temporarily suspend vaccination for people aged 18-44 years as they prioritize those over 45 who need their second dose.

India is the world’s largest vaccine producer, but has run low on stocks in the face of the huge demand. As of Thursday, it had fully vaccinated just over 38.2 million people, or about 2.8% of a population of about 1.35 billion, government data shows.

COVID-19

State Department spokesperson Ned Price tests positive for COVID

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2021)

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday (September 27) after experiencing symptoms and is isolating for 10 days, Reuters reported.

Price had been in close contact last week with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Price announced the positive test result in a Twitter post.

The State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had tested negative for COVID-19 after Price had tested positive.

According to the report Price joined more than half a dozen meetings with Blinken last week in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

In a call with reporters, Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Blinken had tested negative as recently as Monday morning and none of the other members of the traveling party were currently exhibiting symptoms, Reuters said.

Price also spent a good part of last week within the close circle of Blinken, including Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who have held their own separate meetings with a number of foreign delegations.

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COVID-19

UK records 31,348 new COVID-19 cases, 122 deaths

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2021)

Britain reported 31,348 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 122 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

The figures compared to 35,623 new cases and 180 deaths reported on Friday.

The cumulative total of global COVID-19 cases increased to more than 226.8 million, with the death toll exceeding 4.66 million as of Friday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There had been 226,844,344 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,666,334 deaths as of Friday, the WHO’s COVID-19 dashboard revealed.

A total of 5,634,533,040 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide as of Tuesday, the WHO reported.

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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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