Covid live: Millions face Easter under curbs; India braces for lockdowns
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
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Saturday reported 2,084 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 2,210 recoveries and 2 deaths.
The new cases were detected through 252,243 additional tests.
Over 38.3 million tests have been conducted across the country to date.
The total number of cases in UAE as on April 3 are 468,023, while total recoveries stand at 452,321. The death toll rises to 1,504
Bangladesh to impose 1-week lockdown
The Bangladesh government has decided to enforce a one-week lockdown from April 5 to control the new Covid-19 wave in the country, a Minister announced here on Saturday.
Bangladeshi Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader made the announcement in an online press conference in Dhaka on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the country's Minister of State for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said they would soon issue fresh guidelines covering people and services to be exempted from the lockdown.
Factories will remain open and workers can work shifts by following hygiene rules. The public were told to stay at home with all sorts of public transportation suspended.
Philippines reports 12,576 new cases
The Philippines reported 12,576 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, the country’s second-highest daily increase, as the Southeast Asian nation battles a renewed spike in cases.
The health ministry confirmed cases had increased to 784,043 while Covid-19 deaths rose by 103 to 13,423.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s office is to announce on Saturday quarantine restrictions for the capital region, the country’s coronavirus hotspot, for April.
India’s biggest cities braced for stricter lockdowns and other Covid-19 curbs on Saturday as infections hit a six-month high, as a month-long surge continued in the country third-worst hit by the pandemic.
India’s richest state, Maharashtra, accounted for more than half of the 89,129 new cases reported by the national health ministry in the last 24 hours, with a record 47,827 infections.
The state’s chief minister warned citizens of a lockdown if cases continued to rise at their current rate, saying medical infrastructure would be inadequate in a couple of weeks.
In the southern state of Karnataka, home to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, authorities ordered gyms to be closed, barred functions at religious places and told cinema halls, bars, pubs and restaurants to limit the number of people allowed in.
India’s capital, New Delhi recorded more than 3,500 cases, its highest this year, but its chief minister ruled out another lockdown for now.
Daily coronavirus cases have surged from around 15,000 in early March to 88,000 or so at the start of April.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism for exporting vaccines produced in India when most Indians are yet to get them.
Millions face Easter under curbs
Millions of Christians around the world prepared on Saturday to spend another Easter weekend under restrictions because of coronavirus surges..
There have been worrying spikes in infections in many parts of the world, even as vaccine rollouts gather pace, forcing the reimposition of deeply unpopular restrictions including in European nations.
Italy began a strict Easter lockdown on Saturday, with the entire country considered a high-risk coronavirus “red zone” during a time when families usually hold reunions.
At the Vatican on Good Friday, a handful of onlookers caught a glimpse of Pope Francis presiding over the “Way of the Cross” ceremony in an empty St. Peter’s Square, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing large gatherings there for a second year in a row.
France announces expanded restrictions
New restrictions also came into force Saturday in France, where authorities are scrambling to deal with a dramatic rise in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in the capital Paris.
Curbs had been already intensified in other European nations such as Belgium, and Germany — where the government scrapped plans for a strict Easter lockdown — saw Chancellor Angela Merkel urge people to limit their social contacts ahead of the break.
US logs 100 million shots
The United States, the nation hardest-hit by Covid-19, became the first nation to administer at least one shot to more than 100 million people — around half of its adult population.
President Joe Biden has vowed to cover the vast majority within weeks.
But infections remain on the rise in parts of the country. Despite the success of the vaccine rollout, Biden urged Americans to keep wearing masks and taking other precautions.
“I plead with you. Don’t give back the progress we’ve all fought so hard to achieve,” he said in a brief address. “We need to finish this job.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated people can travel without observing quarantines, although they should still wear masks.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has tested positive for the new coronavirus, is waiting for the result to be confirmed and is in good spirits despite having a light fever, the first-term Peronist leader tweeted on Saturday.
“I am in good physical condition,” the president, who turned 62 on Friday, said in a tweet. He had received Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus early this year.
India’s daily cases hit 6-month high
India’s daily coronavirus infections hit another record on Saturday for the highest tally since September, while daily deaths reached a five-month high, a Reuters count based on data from the health ministry showed.
The south Asian nation recorded 89,129 new infections and 714 deaths, the ministry said. That was the biggest single-day rise since September 20 last year and the most deaths since October 21, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have surged in India since the beginning of March, with its richest state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, the worst hit.
Late on Friday, the state’s chief minister warned of a full lockdown to curb infections if people did not limit their movements.
Global caseload tops 130 million mark
The overall global Covid-19 caseload has surpassed the grim milestone of 130 million as the pandemic is still raging, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.86 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Saturday morning, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 130,114,348 and 2,836,446, respectively.
The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 30,606,649 and 554,069, respectively, according to the CSSE. Brazil follows in the second place with 12,910,082 cases and 328,206 fatalities.
Hong Kong bars incoming Singapore Airlines flights
Hong Kong has barred until mid-April incoming passenger flights from Singapore operated by Singapore Airlines, after an arriving passenger tested positive for Covid-19 infection.
Three passengers on the carrier’s March 31 flight also failed to comply with disease precautions, Hong Kong authorities said on Friday.
Singapore Airlines confirmed the order but said passenger services from Hong Kong to Singapore would not be affected by the suspension, which runs until April 16.
A transit passenger on the SQ882 flight had a negative pre-departure test result, but subsequently tested positive on arrival in Hong Kong, the airline said.
“SIA has taken immediate steps to strengthen checks at the point of embarkation to ensure our customers are in compliance with Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements,” it said in a statement.
Kuwait reports 1,233 new cases
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry reported on Friday 1,233 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total infections in the country to 234,754. The ministry also announced eight more fatalities, taking the death toll to 1,327, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,384 to 219,257. A total of 14,170 coronavirus patients are receiving treatment, including 241 in the intensive care units, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Tareq Al Mezrem, Kuwait's government spokesman, said on Thursday that the government has decided to further shorten the curfew by one hour from 7pm. to 5am local time, and allow walk inside residential areas from 7pm to 10pm, starting from April 8 until April 22. In addition, the government called on all citizens and residents to continue cooperation and commitment to health requirements and precautionary measures.
The chief minister of India’s Maharashtra state warned on Friday of a full lockdown to curb coronavirus infections if people did not limit their movement, as the country hit a six-month high for daily cases.
India’s richest state and home to the crowded financial capital Mumbai has been hit hard by the virus, while the country as a whole has now recorded 12.3 million cases including 81,466 new infections registered on Friday, health ministry data showed.
“Consider this a warning that I could impose a complete lockdown in the next couple of days if things remain the same,” Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in a televised address.
He said that people were not taking necessary precautions such as wearing masks or avoiding unnecessary travel.
“The situation in the state is worrying. If it continues, our health infrastructure will be inadequate in the next 15-20 days,” Thackeray added.
Maharashtra reported as many as 47,828 new infections on Friday - its highest since the pandemic reached India in March 2020.
UK to ease restrictions
Britain will allow care home residents in England two visitors later this month, giving some grandparents the chance to meet their grandchildren for the first time, the government said on Saturday.
To stop Covid-19 being spread in care homes which were badly hit during the initial outbreak of the disease last year, the government imposed tight restrictions on access during the latest strict lockdown which began in January.
Last month, measures were eased to allow each care home resident one indoor visitor, and from April 12, this will be doubled. Parents will be allowed to bring babies and very young children, allowing some people the chance to meet the newest members of their family for the first time.
“I’m particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 18,129
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 18,129 to 2,873,190, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 120 to 76,895, the tally showed.
US: California clears way for indoor concerts, games
California on Friday cleared the way for people to attend indoor concerts, theater performances and NBA games for the first time in more than a year as the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the state nears a record low.
State officials won’t require testing or proof of vaccination for some of those events, but they do limit the number of people allowed to attend. Events that do require testing and vaccinations will be allowed to have more paying customers than those that don’t. Only people who live in California can attend these live performances.
The rules are different for private indoor gatherings, including weddings, meetings or conferences. Those are only to be allowed if all guests test negative for the coronavirus at least 72 hours in advance or show proof of full vaccination.
Mainland China reports 26 new cases
Mainland China reported 26 new Covid-19 cases on April 2, up from nine cases a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Saturday.
In a statement, the National Health Commission said seven of the new cases were local infections in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where a Covid-19 cluster has emerged in the city of Ruili boredering Myanmar.
The other 19 cases were imported infections, it said.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 24 from 20.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stand at 90,252, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.
Rangers appeal bans for 5 players
Scottish Premiership club Rangers have appealed against six-match bans for five of their players who breached coronavirus rules by attending a party in February, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said on Friday.
Midfielder Bongani Zungu and defenders Nathan Patterson and Calvin Bassey apologised to Rangers’ fans on their return to training after being removed from the squad over the protocol breach.
The trio, as well as striker Dapo Mebude and goalkeeper Brian Kinnear, who are both out on loan, were ordered to self-isolate for 10 days after media said they had attended a party in Glasgow that was broken up by police.
On Tuesday, the SFA banned the five players for six games - four immediately and two suspended until the end of the 2020-21 season.
It is not the first time Rangers players have been punished for breaching Covid-19 protocols, with winger Jordan Jones and defender George Edmundson banned for seven games each in November after attending a private gathering. Last month, Rangers sealed their first league title since 2011.
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