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COVID-19

India’s COVID-19 tally surges past 5.4 million mark 

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

India’s COVID-19 infection tally has surged past the 5.4 million mark after adding 92,605 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry stated Sunday. 

Every day, since August, the country has recorded the highest single-day caseload in the world. 

According to the health ministry, 1,113 people died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 86,752. 

Infection is surging through the country on a “step-ladder spiral” a government scientist told BBC. 

It took India 170 days to reach the first million cases but only 11 days to reach the last million. 

More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily, BBC reported but stated the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

According to the report, epidemiologists have said that India’s real infection rates are far higher.

The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimated 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 at that time. 

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children, but is still rare

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(Last Updated On: January 31, 2023)

COVID-19 was the eighth leading cause of death among children in recent months, according to a study published Monday.

In a year-long period from August 2021 to July 2022, 821 children ages 0 to 19 died from COVID-19 at a rate of 1 per 100,000. Children’s deaths of any kind are rare, researchers noted.

COVID-19 ranked fifth in non-disease-related deaths and first in infectious or respiratory illness deaths, overtaking the flu and pneumonia, NPR reported.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the leading causes of death among children were perinatal conditions, unintentional injuries, birth defects, assault, suicide, cancerous tumors, heart disease and influenza and pneumonia.

The time period researchers analyzed coincided with the rise of Delta and Omicron COVID-19 cases. They found that studying other 12-month periods during the pandemic did not change the results.

Researchers noted their results were limited by the underreporting of COVID-19 cases, and the exclusion of deaths where COVID-19 could have been a contributing or amplifying factor in tandem with other conditions, such as influenza, NPR reported.

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WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflexion point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths, AP reported.

Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is no doubt that we’re in a far better situation now” than a year ago — when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the coronavirus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

Tedros’ comments came moments after WHO released findings of its emergency committee on the pandemic which reported that some 13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered — with nearly 90% of health workers and more than four in five people over 60 years of age having completed the first series of jabs.

“The committee acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching an inflexion point,” WHO said in a statement. Higher levels of immunity worldwide through vaccination or infection “may limit the impact” of the virus that causes COVID-19 on “morbidity and mortality,” the committee said.

“(B)ut there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” it said. While Omicron versions are easily spread, “there has been a decoupling between infection and severe disease” compared to that of earlier variants.

Committee members cited “pandemic fatigue” and the increasing public perception that COVID-19 isn’t as much of a risk as it once was, leading to people to increasingly ignore or disregard health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.

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China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2023)

China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China, AP reported.

The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website.

China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on Jan. 10 in apparent retaliation for Tokyo’s requirement of additional tests for Chinese tourists in late December, ahead of Lunar New Year holidays.

Japan cited soaring infections in China after it abruptly eased coronavirus restrictions as well as scarce COVID-19 data from Beijing.

Japan reopened its borders for individual tourists in October, allowing travelers with proof of vaccination instead of testing at airports unless they show symptoms.

But on Dec. 30, Japan required all travelers from China to show pre-departure negative tests and take an additional test upon arrival.

China also stopped issuing visas to South Koreans after South Korea in early January did the same for short-term travelers from China.

Last Friday, South Korea said it would keep the measure in place through the end of February over concerns that the spread of COVID-19 in China may worsen following Lunar New Year travel.

Health authorities in China have said infections have peaked but there are concerns abroad that Beijing was not sharing enough data.

The latest wave of infections in Japan appears to be subsiding in recent weeks, with confirmed daily cases falling to about one-fifth of the peak in early January.

Japan’s government last week announced plans to downgrade COVID-19 to an equivalent of seasonal influenza in May, a move that would further relax mask wearing and other preventive measures as the country seeks to return to normalcy.

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