Covid latest: UK eyes twice weekly tests for all; India's daily cases reach record high
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
UAE reports 2,012 cases, 2,147 recoveries, 2 deaths
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday reported 2,012 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 2,147 recoveries and 2 deaths.
The new cases were detected through 195,573 additional tests. Over 38.7 million tests have been conducted across the country to date.
The total number of cases in UAE as on April 5 are 472,148, while total recoveries stand at 456,747. The death toll rises to 1,512.
Thailand confirms virus outbreak in nightspots, prison
Thai health officials were considering the closure of entertainment venues in Bangkok on Monday after an outbreak of coronavirus cases in nightspots in and around the capital, and another at a prison in the south.
Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokesperson for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said 194 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, most from Bangkok entertainment venues and from Narathiwat prison. Thailand has had 29,321 confirmed cases, including 95 deaths.
The center ordered affected nightspots closed until they undergo deep cleaning.
Health officials said they are considering ordering the closure of Bangkok entertainment venues for two weeks to try to stop the spread of the virus.
Two free Covid tests per week in England
Citizens in England will get tested for coronavirus twice a week for free, the UK government announced on Monday.
The rapid tests will be offered widely to everyone at local testing stations in addition to schools and workplaces in future, DPA news agency reported citing the government as saying.
Until now, freely available rapid tests were limited to particularly vulnerable groups.
Testing was absolutely necessary in order not to jeopardise the success of the British vaccination campaign as the country started to relax the regulations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
Companies with more than 10 employees can request rapid tests for their workers, and regular testing will also continue in schools.
Private individuals will also be able to get tested at local testing stations or order tests to their homes.
J&J applies for emergency vaccine use in Philippines
Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has filed its application for emergency use authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in the Philippines, the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief said on Monday.
J&J’s documents, which were submitted on Wednesday, are now under evaluation, FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo told reporters. J&J, which has a single-shot coronavirus vaccine, is the seventh vaccine maker to seek approval in the Philippines.
The Philippine government extended a lockdown by another week on Monday after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, under lockdown last week as daily infections breached 10,000. Roman Catholic leaders shifted Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned.
The government-run Lung Center of the Philippines became the latest hospital in the capital region to announce over the weekend that it can no longer accept walk-in patients after its COVID-19 ward reached full capacity and its emergency room was handling twice its capacity. The Philippines has reported more than 795,000 COVID-19 cases with 13,425 deaths, the highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
UK to set out travel plans
Britain will on Monday set out plans to restart international travel, using a "traffic-light" system as the country cautiously emerges from lockdown.
The announcement comes as the UK has set a tentative date of May 17 to relaunch international travel.
Travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to virus risk, Downing Street said in a statement late Saturday, with the government to provide more details on Monday.
International travel is currently banned except for a handful of permitted reasons. This has created massive pent-up demand for summer holidays abroad.
"We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country... as safely as possible," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
People heading to low-risk "green" countries will simply take a virus test before and after they travel, the government said.
Nepal to begin administering Sinopharm vaccine
The Nepal government has decided to administer the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine don Wednesday amid resurging cases of the novel coronavirus in the Himalayan country, an official of the Ministry of Health and Population said.
On March 29, a batch of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm was delivered to Nepal, reports Xinhua news agency.
Nepal reported 176 new Covid cases on Monday. In early March, the cases went down below 50 per day. Nepal has so far inoculated over 1.7 million people in two phases, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 131.1 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.85 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Monday morning, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 131,196,109 and 2,851,973, respectively.
The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 30,671,074 and 554,999, respectively, according to the CSSE. Brazil follows in the second place with 12,953,597 cases and 331,433 fatalities.
In terms of deaths, Mexico comes in the third place with 204,011 fatalities.
India reported a record rise in coronavirus infections on Monday, becoming only the second country after the United States to register more than 100,000 new cases in a day, as hospitals in its worst affected state are overrun by patients.
The country’s daily infections have leapt about 12 fold since hitting a multi-month low in early February, when authorities eased most restrictions and people largely stopped wearing masks and following social distancing. More infectious variants of the virus may have also played a role in the second surge, some epidemiologists say.
Thousands of Pakistanis rushed to get inoculated in the first round of commercial sales of Covid-19 vaccines that began over the weekend, with vaccination sites in the southern city of Karachi saying on Sunday they had already sold out.
Pakistan is currently offering free vaccines to frontline healthcare workers and people over the age of 50, but the drive has thus far been slow, and last month the country allowed commercial imports by the private sector for the general public.
The first round saw the commercial sale of the two-shot Russian Sputnik V to the general public for about 12,000 Pakistani rupees ($80) for a pack of two doses.
Despite the cost, a number of centres offering the shot reported long queues, with some in Karachi waiting in line for close to three hours. Most in the queue were young Pakistanis still not eligible for government’s free vaccination.
UK's Johnson to set out travel plans
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out plans to reopen the economy and eventually relaunch international travel on Monday when he updates the coronavirus roadmap, aided by one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world.
As much of Europe enters new lockdowns to tackle surging cases, Johnson will give an update on his staggered plan to ease restrictions in the coming months, a huge boost for one of the worst-hit countries during the pandemic.
Johnson is expected to confirm that non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality and hairdressers can reopen on April 12 in England, while he will also give more details on vaccine passports and international travel.
The United Kingdom has been badly hit by the pandemic. With almost 127,000 deaths, it has the fifth highest toll in the world behind the United States, Brazil, Russia and India.
India’s richest state, Maharashtra, announced stringent Covid-19 restrictions from Monday, after a rapid rise in infections now accounting for more than half the country’s daily new cases.
The state will shut shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants and places of worship from Monday evening.
India is behind the United States and Brazil in the highest number of infections in the world, with more than 12 million cases and nearly 165,000 deaths recorded since the start of the outbreak.
China reports biggest daily case jump in over two months
China reported its biggest daily jump in new Covid-19 cases in more than two months, as a city on the border with Myanmar in southwestern Yunnan province accounted for all new local cases.
Ruili’s local government put residents in its urban area under home quarantine, launched a massive testing drive and began restricting people from leaving and entering the city from last week after reporting Covid-19 patients.
The city accounted for all of the 15 new local cases reported on April 4. The total number of new Covid-19 infections, including imported infections originating from overseas, stood at 32, marking the highest total since Jan. 31.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 18, matching the total from a day earlier. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,305, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,636.
Tourism first! Island of Phuket in mass vaccination drive
In Thailand, it’s the all-important tourism sector that has jumped to the head of the Covid-19 vaccination line, with the country’s most popular resort island embarking on a mass inoculation programme two months ahead of the rest of the country.
While medical workers, members of the cabinet and the elderly were the first to be vaccinated, Thailand’s decision to prioritise Phuket over other parts of the country underscores the central role of tourism to the economy.
The government wants to see at least 100,000 tourists come to Phuket in the third quarter. It also hopes that as vaccinations worldwide progress it will see a spike in demand in the fourth quarter and that nationwide some 6.5 million visitors will have spent 350 billion baht ($11 billion) by the end of the year.
Visitors from Europe, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are expected to return first.
Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar revealed in a tweet on Monday that he has been hospitalised a day after testing positive for Covid.
The 53-year-old actor thanked his fans and said that he had been hospitalised “as a precautionary measure.” Kumar announced that he had tested positive for Covid on Sunday, requesting those who had come in contact with him to get tested.
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