Covid latest: Lockdowns around the world; India reports record 145,384 cases
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A summary of today's developments:
Live map: Global spread of coronavirus
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Saudi Arabia records 904 new cases, 9 deaths
Saudi Arabia reported 904 new coronavirus infections on Friday and nine new deaths, according to the country's health ministry bulletin.
The new cases took the total number of infections to 396,758 with 6,737 deaths.
Vaccine shortages hit poor countries
As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might be stalled at the first shots of their coronavirus vaccinations because nearly all deliveries through the global program intended to help them are blocked until as late as June.
COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries lacking the clout to negotiate for scarce supplies on their own, has in the past week shipped more than 25,000 doses to low-income countries only twice on any given day. Deliveries have all but halted since Monday.
During the past two weeks, according to data compiled daily by UNICEF, fewer than 2 million COVAX doses in total were cleared for shipment to 92 countries in the developing world — the same amount injected in Britain alone.
On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization slammed the “shocking imbalance” in global COVID-19 vaccination. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said that while one in four people in rich countries had received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries had gotten a dose.
The vaccine shortage stems mostly from India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute factory, which produces the overwhelming majority of the AstraZeneca doses that COVAX counted on to supply around a third of the global population at a time coronavirus is spiking worldwide.
COVAX will only ship vaccines cleared by WHO, and countries are increasingly impatient. Supplies are dwindling in some of the first countries to receive COVAX shipments, and the expected delivery of second doses in the 12-week window currently recommended is now in doubt. In a statement, the vaccine alliance known as GAVI told The Associated Press that 60 countries are affected by the delays.
Virus lockdowns around the world
Fresh lockdowns and curfews were imposed on tens of millions of people from India to Argentina on Saturday, as Covid-19 infections surged again and vaccine roll-outs were hampered by shortages and scares over side effects.
In India, the worst-hit state of Maharashtra was running out of vaccines as the health system buckled under the weight of the contagion, which has killed 2.9 million people worldwide.
Stay-at-home orders were also set to come into force for the eight million inhabitants of Bogota, as the Colombian capital battled a third wave of infections, adding to curfews already covering seven million across four other major cities.
Elsewhere in South America, Argentina entered a night-time curfew Friday running from midnight to 06:00 am every day until April 30. Both Argentina and Colombia have recorded about 2.5 million coronavirus cases, numbers surpassed only by Brazil in the region.
All of France is subject to restrictions of some form, while the German government’s attempts to curb movement and commerce have been stymied by several states refusing to go along with the proposals.
Now Berlin is changing the rules to centralise power, adjustments likely to usher in night-time curfews and some school closures in especially hard-hit areas.
Pakistan approves Sinovac vaccine
Amid the ongoing third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved China's Sinovac vaccine against the virus for emergency use, the National Institute of Health in Islamabad announced.
According to a statement released by DRAP, the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac has been given emergency use authorisation for people aged 18 and above, Xinhua news agency reported.
The statement said the authorisation will be reviewed every quarter keeping in view data regarding safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine.
It is the third Chinese Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by the country after Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines.
India reports a record 145,384 cases
India reported a record 145,384 new Covid-19 cases, health ministry data showed on Saturday, as the country grappled with a overwhelming second-wave of infections.
A five-month high 794 deaths brought the toll to 168,436.
India’s overall caseload was 13.21 million, the third-highest globally, behind the United States and Brazil.
Only vaccinated worshippers allowed to enter Prophet's Mosque
Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that only Covid-vaccinated or immune worshippers were allowed to enter the Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Madinah.
According to Arab News, an official from the Ministry of Interior confirmed that the rule came in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to prevent the spread of Covid among worshippers during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Mumbai in lockdown
India’s most coronavirus-hit state Maharashtra went into a weekend lockdown on Saturday as the country battles exploding infection numbers and vaccine shortages.
Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and spectators at cricket matches, the world’s second most populous nation has added more than a million new infections since late March.
After a lockdown a year ago caused widespread misery and hit the economy for six, the central government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second shutdown.
Cases, deaths rise across the world
Hospitals in Turkey and Poland are filling up fast. Pakistan is restricting domestic travel to bring a surge in coronavirus infections under control. Even Thailand, which has weathered the pandemic far better than many nations, is now struggling to contain a new Covid-19 surge.
Even countries where vaccine rollouts are finally getting some momentum, infections, hospitalisations and deaths are surging. And that leaves even bleaker prospects for much of the world, where large-scale vaccination programmes remain a more distant prospect.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that it’s very concerned as infection rates are rising in all of the world’s regions, driven by new virus variants and too many nations and people coming out of lockdown too soon.
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