India accounting for one in three global daily deaths
Good morning, it is Martin Belam here joining you from London. Reuters report that India’s coronavirus crisis is showing scant sign of easing. A Reuters tally shows that the country is accounting for one in every three Covid deaths reported worldwide each day.
The seven-day average of new cases is at a record high of 390,995.
Eleven people died late on Monday in a government hospital in Tirupati, a city in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, due to a delay in the arrival of a tanker carrying oxygen, a government official said.
“There were issues with oxygen pressure due to low availability. It all happened within a span of five minutes,” said M Harinarayan, the district’s top bureaucrat said late last night, adding the SVR Ruia hospital now had sufficient oxygen.
Nepal is so short of oxygen canisters that it has asked climbers on Mount Everest to bring back their empties instead of abandoning them on mountain slopes, an official told Reuters on Monday.
Kul Bahadur Gurung, a senior official with the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said climbers and their Sherpa guides were estimated to have carried at least 3,500 oxygen bottles this season. These bottles often get buried in avalanches or are abandoned at the end of the expedition.
“We appeal to climbers and sherpas to bring back their empty bottles wherever possible as they can be refilled and used for the treatment of the coronavirus patients who are in dire needs,” Gurung told Reuters.
The country issued climbing permits to more than 700 climbers for 16 Himalayan peaks – 408 to Mount Everest – for the April-May climbing season in a bid to get the mountaineering industry and tourism back up and running.
Our international correspondent Peter Beaumont has reported that the Covid situation in Nepal may be as bad, if not worse, than in neighbouring India, with which it shares a long and porous border.
Many private and community hospitals in Kathmandu have said they are unable to take any more patients due to lack of oxygen. There was a shortage of both the gas and canisters. “We need about 25,000 oxygen cylinders immediately to save people from dying. This is our urgent need,” Samir Kumar Adhikari, a health ministry official, said.
Cases of mucormycosis, a rare black fungus that invades the brain, have been on the rise in India during the pandemic. Melissa Davey has explained for us what it is, why it is surfacing now and how it is treated.
Hong Kong authorities have scrapped their plans to force hundreds of thousands of foreign domestic workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face losing their job.
The Guardian reported last week on the mass mandatory testing of the city’s 370,000 domestic workers after a more infectious strain was detected in the community. Those wanting to apply for work visas – or renew their current ones – would need to show they had received two doses.
But on Tuesday, the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said: “The government has decided not to request mandatory vaccination when helpers renew their contracts.”
She said the decision had been made after meetings with officials from the Philippines and Indonesia, the countries whose people make up the majority of foreign domestic workers.
The Philippines foreign affairs secretary, Teodoro Locsin, had previously warned the initial proposal “smacked of discrimination”.
So far just 16% of the city’s 7.5 million people have received one or more doses, a long way from the 60-70% considered necessary for herd immunity, AFP reported. Regular polling shows Hongkongers have some of the lowest support ratings for inoculation in the world.
Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has condemned an alleged racist attack on a local woman of Indian descent after she was reportedly kicked and abused for not wearing a mask, in a case that is being investigated by police, Reuters has reported.
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Lee said anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic “does not justify racist attitudes and actions, much less physically abusing and assaulting someone because she belongs to a particular race, in this case Indian.”
Local media reported the 55-year-old Singaporean woman was walking briskly on Friday when a man shouted racial slurs at her for not wearing her mask above her nose and kicked her in the chest.
Face masks are mandatory in public in Singapore, but can be removed when exercising, including brisk walking.
The World Health Organization has said the B.1.617 variant spreading in India shows signs of being more transmissible, and is now being treated as a variant of concern globally.
The WHO’s Covid-19 chief, Maria Van Kerkhove, said they were studying the data out of India “very, very carefully” and would provide more details in the weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.
Here she speaks more about the issue:
The move – an upgrade from classification as a “variant of interest” – means the variant will be added to the list that contains others such as those first detected in UK (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1) and South Africa (B.1.351).
India, suffering from one of the worst outbreaks in the world, reported nearly 370,000 fresh infections and more than 3,700 new deaths on Monday. The devastating wave has overwhelmed India’s healthcare system, and experts have said official figures for cases and fatalities are much lower than the actual numbers.
BioNTech on Monday sought to ally concerns about the mutation in India, saying that “to date, there is no evidence” that the jab needs to be adapted to fight the emerging variants.
Hello and welcome to today’s coronavirus liveblog, where you can find the latest developments and data from around the world on the pandemic. Below are a few points to catch up on:
- The World Health Organization has said the B.1.617 variant spreading in India shows signs of being more transmissible, and is now being treated as a variant of concern globally.
- US health authorities have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in adolescents. US regulators authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12.
- Malaysia’s government has announced that it will impose a national lockdown in response to rising cases. All social gatherings will be banned and schools closed.
- WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that public health capacities must be strengthened to prepare for the possibility of vaccine-evading Covid-19 variants.
- France records its’ lowest case figures of 2021. The country records 3,292 new Covid-19 cases and 292 deaths.
- University students at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) must get vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend classes during the fall semester.
- The French prime minister Jean Castex has said that France was “emerging on a long-term basis” from the Covid-19 crisis.
- Argentina’s health ministry confirmed its first cases of the Covid-19 variants first discovered in India and South Africa in three travellers returning from Europe.
- Novavax Inc has said the development of its Covid-19 vaccine is slower than previously anticipated and does expect to file for regulatory approval until the third quarter of 2021.