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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

China removes some COVID test rules on travellers from U.S.

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

Travellers flying to China from U.S. cities including Los Angeles, New York and San Francesco from May 20 will no longer need a RT-PCR test seven days before flights, notices issued late on Tuesday by the Chinese embassy and consulates showed.

Previous requirements on antibody tests before flights will be removed as well, the notices said.

Travellers still need to do two RT-PCR tests within 48 hours or 24 hours of their flights – depending on which airport they are flying out of – plus another antigen test, those notices showed.

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COVID-19

Beijing extends work-from-home guidance in several city districts

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2022)

Beijing on Sunday extended guidance to work from home in four districts of the Chinese capital, including the largest, Chaoyang, as the city tries to stop a COVID-19 outbreak.

Beijing found 55 new cases in the 24 hours to 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Sunday, 10 of which were outside areas that under quarantine, officials said. The city is scrambling to stamp out such community infections.

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COVID-19

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

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(Last Updated On: May 14, 2022)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tested positive for COVID-19 with moderate symptoms, her office said in a statement on Saturday.

She will not be in parliament for the government’s emissions reduction plan on Monday and the budget on Thursday, but “travel arrangements for her trade mission to the United States are unaffected at this stage,” the statement said.

Ardern had been symptomatic since Friday evening, returning a weak positive at night and a clear positive on Saturday morning on a rapid antigen test, it said.

She has been in isolation since Sunday, when her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive, it said.

Due to the positive test, Ardern will be required to isolate until the morning of May 21, undertaking what duties she can remotely.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will address media in her place on Monday.

“This is a milestone week for the Government and I’m gutted I can’t be there for it,” Ardern said in the statement.

“Our emissions reduction plan sets the path to achieve our carbon zero goal and the budget addresses the long-term future and security of New Zealand’s health system,” she said. “But as I said earlier in the week isolating with COVID-19 is a very kiwi experience this year and my family is no different.”

Ardern also said on Saturday that her daughter Neve had tested positive on Wednesday.

“Despite best efforts, unfortunately I’ve joined the rest of my family and have tested positive for COVID 19,” Ardern posted on her official Instagram page.

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