This article titled “Coronavirus live news: India’s cases surging as deadly second wave spreads, Iran imposes 10-day lockdown ” was written by Nadeem Badshah (now); Edna Mohamed and Clea Skopeliti (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 10th April 2021 18.12 UTC
New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo provides an update on the Covid numbers in the city.
France has recorded 43,284 new coronavirus cases.
The country has registered more than 4.98 million cases in total.
Tunisia’s prime minister announced a curfew tightened to combat a rise in coronavirus infections and deaths following a presidential request.
The government this week had called on governors to begin the nightly curfew at 7 pm instead of 10 pm, from Friday until the end of the month.
After meeting with governors, prime minister Hichem Mechichi said the curfew would remain from 10 pm to 5 am, adding “there is a social reality to consider”.
He cited “the president of the republic’s request and concerns expressed by certain segments of the population” over the additional restrictions but also emphasised the epidemiological situation was “very serious”.
Private and public gatherings remain banned and Mechichi urged Tunisians to be more vigilant about physical distancing and wearing masks.
France reported 72,450 coronavirus deaths in hospital, an increase of 227.
It also reported 5,769 people in intensive care units for Covid-19, Reuters reports.
Dozens of shopkeepers in Naples, took to the streets on Saturday holding up women’s lingerie to protest against the protracted shutdown of their businesses due to coronavirus restrictions, AFP reports.
Campania is one of the few regions in Italy where top-level “red zone” restrictions, meaning the closure of most shops, were on Friday extended for at least another week.
In the central Chiaia shopping district, shopkeepers formed a human chain, clutching women’s undergarments, and carrying placards such as “We can no longer pay rent and bills” and “The state has forgotten about us”.
Lingerie has become a symbol of retailers’ protests in Naples because, since underwear is considered an essential item, shops that offer them can stay open through the lockdown.
Many started to sell women’s underwear “because they have families to feed, rents to pay and staff to support”, Carla della Corte, head of the local chapter of the Confcommercio retailers’ lobby, told the Corriere della Sera daily.
“[Selling] underwear is a way to survive,” she added.
According to local newspaper Il Mattino, about 150 shopkeepers took part in the rally.
Italy reported 344 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday compared to 718 the day before, Reuters reports.
The daily tally of new infections fell to 17,567 compared to 18,938 the day before, the health ministry said.
Italy has registered 113,923 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has 3.75 million cases to date.
Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 27,654 on Saturday, down from 28,146 a day earlier.
In the UK, government data up to Friday shows of the 39,001,554 jabs given thus far, 32,010,244 were first doses – a rise of 106,878 on the previous day.
Some 6,991,310 were second doses, an increase of 450,136.
In the UK, 2,589 people have tested positive for the virus as of 4pm on Saturday, bringing the total to 4,368,045.
There have been 40 further deaths, bringing the total to 127,080.
Key developments summary
- India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections.
- Russia has reported 8,704 new Covid-19 cases and 402 deaths on Saturday.
- A scientist advising the British government has said that any blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “extraordinarily rare events.”
- The German biotech firm Curevac believes the EU might give its Covid-19 vaccine approval in May or June.
- Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen has threatened quarantine-breakers with jail time on Saturday and told civil servants that they could lose their jobs if they go unvaccinated.
- Thailand plans to install 10,000 field hospital beds in Bangkok, as it deals with the third wave of Covid-19.
- Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country today to curb the spread of its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Colombian capital, Bogotá, is under a strict lockdown to slow a third wave of the pandemic; as mayor Claudia Lopez has said, “only strictly essential activities will be allowed”.
- Nearly 2 million coronavirus home testing kits are being distributed across Greece’s pharmacies as pupils and teachers are asked to present biweekly negative tests.
My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be taking over the blog now.
Libya has officially launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign, starting with prime minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, health authorities said. After the vaccination of Dbeibah, health minister Ali al-Zenati was next to receive a jab,
On Tripoli’s outskirts, Badreddine al-Najjar, head of Libya’s Centre for Disease Control, said, “The national vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has been launched at the CDC headquarters.”
Dbeibah urged fellow citizens to register online for their vaccinations.
He has earmarked the country’s jab campaign as a policy priority, alleging vaccine delivery was hindered by outgoing authorities.
“The arrival of vaccines has been delayed by political, not financial, considerations,” he said.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that two new variants of the coronavirus are present in Libya.
Officially, Libya has registered a total of around 167,000 coronavirus cases, including over 2,800 deaths, out of a population of seven million.
No lockdown measures are currently in place, and while masks are obligatory in public places, the measure is widely flouted.
Libya has so far received 200,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, alongside over 57,600 AstraZeneca shots, the latter delivered through the Covax programme for lower and middle-income countries.
Vaccine-makers around the world face shortages of vital components including large plastic grow bags, according to the head of the firm that is manufacturing a quarter of the UK’s jab supply.
Stan Erck, the chief executive of Novavax – which makes the second vaccine to be grown and bottled entirely in Britain – told the Observer that the shortage of 2,000-litre bags in which the vaccine cells were grown was a significant hurdle for global supply.
His warning came as bag manufacturers revealed that some pharmaceutical firms were waiting up to 12 months for the sterile single-use disposable plastic containers, which are used to make medicines of all kinds, including the Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax Covid-19 vaccines.
But Erck and his British partners said they were confident they had enough suppliers to avoid disruption to the supply of Novavax. The vaccine is waiting for approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) but the first of 60 million doses ordered by the government are already in production in Teesside.
Dozens of Bahraini detainees, including long-term political prisoners, have been released after protests by their families after positive Covid-19 cases in their prison, activists said today.
They said authorities had vowed to release 126 prisoners and 73 other detainees but only 166 had walked out so far from the jail in Faw, in the east of the kingdom, AFP reports.
Mohamed Jawad, 75, uncle of the prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who spent 10 years behind bars, is one of the released detainees.
Those released are to serve out the rest of their terms under electronic tagging.
Bahraini officials say three Jaw inmates have contracted coronavirus but been isolated and that their condition is stable.
The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says dozens of prisoners have been infected by the virus in the reportedly heavily overcrowded jail. But according to the health ministry, a prison vaccination campaign has been completed.
A further 466,480 vaccinations have taken place in England, including first and second doses, taking the total number since the rollout began to 32,737,372.
Of the daily figure, 62,274 were first doses while 404,206 people received a second shot as the rollout prioritises administering final doses within the three-month window.
A total of 26,996,936 have now had their first dose and 5,740,436 have had both, NHS England data shows.
Nearly 2 million coronavirus home testing kits are being distributed across Greece’s pharmacies as pupils and teachers are asked to present biweekly negative tests.
About 1,950,000 kits are being sent to the country’s pharmacies, which will ask people for their social security number and ID in order to dispense the tests, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports.
Students and teachers must present a negative test result to their school every Monday and Thursday.
The British Retail Consortium estimated that lockdowns in 2020 cost non-essential retail £22bn in lost sales. So with non-essential shops allowed to open again on Monday after nearly four months, retailers have concocted plans to make real-life shopping trips a pastime once again.
Lauren Cochrane looks at how different shops are adapting:
According to a tally compiled by AFP, at least 2,917,316 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide since the virus first emerged in December 2019.
The US is the worst-affected country with 561,074 deaths, followed by Brazil at 348,718, Mexico with 207,020, India with 168,436 and Britain with 127,040.
The 8 million people living in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, are under a strict lockdown to slow a third wave of the pandemic mayor Claudia Lopez has said, “only strictly essential activities will be allowed”.
The strict lockdown comes in addition to night curfews that 7 million people in Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Santa Marta, where the health system is overwhelmed by the virus.
Colombia has the second-most cases in Latin America, recording more than 2.4m cases.
A travel trade body has called for an investigation into the costs of the Covid-19 tests for people in the UK wanting to travel abroad this year, PA reports.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, announced a ‘framework’ for the resumption of travel, which includes requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.
But post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, Shapps said.
The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, has called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate testing prices.
In a statement, it said: “Engage the UK Competition and Markets Authority to act in the interests of consumers and launch an immediate investigation into coronavirus testing charges.”
Gwyn Topham has more on the new UK travel framework here:
The China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG) has obtained regulatory approval to move a third Covid-19 vaccine candidate into the human testing stage, CNBG said on Saturday.
The subsidiary of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) said that manufacturing the candidate based on protein cultivated in factories does not require facilities with high biosafety levels.
This means it could be easier to produce than the two CNBG vaccines already being used in China’s mass vaccination drive, which involve active coronavirus during production.
More than 10 vaccine candidates led by Chinese scientists have entered different stages of clinical trials.
Four vaccines, two from Sinopharm CNBG, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from CanSino Biologics, have been cleared for use among the general public.
A fifth vaccine from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is also based on protein, has gained the green light for limited emergency use.
Police in Paris fined more than 100 diners on Friday at an underground restaurant for breaking coronavirus restrictions and arrested its organiser.
Police officers were called “for an excessive noise complaint about a restaurant,” the French capital’s police wrote on Twitter.
Underground restaurants offering wealthy people pre-coronavirus dining experiences have made headlines in France this week after a private television channel, M6, broadcasted a report into a restaurant in an affluent area of Paris where neither the staff nor the diners were wearing a mask.
Iran orders 10-day lockdown as cases rise
Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country today to curb the spread of its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported.
The new lockdown will affect 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, with businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities forced to shut and gathering banned during the Muslim holy month Ramadan, whichbegins on Wednesday.
According to the health ministry, Iran’s cases have surpassed 2m with a new daily average of more than 20,000 infections over the past week and 64,000 total fatalities.
President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks: “Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave.” Blaming the new surge in cases on the variant first discovered in the UK, which spread to Iran from neighbouring Iraq earlier this year.
Thailand plans to install 10,000 field hospital beds in its capital, Bangkok, as the country deals with a third wave of Covid-19, a health official said today.
Hospitals are reluctant to test for Covid-19 because they must admit people if they test positive.
At least a dozen hospitals in the capital have said they had stopped testing because of a lack of kits or capacity, authorities said.
Suksan Kittisupakorn, director general of Thailand’s medical service department, said: “We aim to increase [field] hospital beds to 10,000 in no time, which should give the public confidence that we can still contain this round of outbreak.”
Reuters reported that Thailand aims to begin mass immunisation from June and has so far vaccinated more than 530,000 health workers and those deemed vulnerable.
On Saturday, the country received 1m doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine and is due to get another 500,000 doses this month, according to deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Traisoranakul.
A former Brazilian president has told the Guardian that the country faces perhaps the gravest moment in its history and is “adrift on an ocean of hunger and disease”.
Brazil’s coronavirus death toll hit devastating new heights, with more than 12,000 deaths in the last three days.
Brazil first female president, Dilma Rousseff, believes that much of the devastating response to Covid-19 is because of the current far right leader, Jair Bolsonaro.
Rousseff claimed Bolsonaro’s sabotaging of containment and vaccination efforts, refusal to order a lockdown and failure to offer adequate economic support to poor people had contributed to a tragedy of “catastrophic proportions”.
My colleague Tom Philips has more in this interview:
Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen has threatened quarantine-breakers with jail time on Saturday and told civil servants that they could lose their jobs if they go unvaccinated.
Cambodia has registered more than 1,000 infections in the past two days, bringing the country’s tally to 4,081 cases and 26 deaths.
This week authorities banned travel between provinces, imposed a night-time curfew in the capital Phnom Penh and shut down popular tourism sites.
Prime minister Hun Sen on Saturday threatened harsher measures, saying anyone who flouts a two-week quarantine period would face a quick trial and jail time.
“People who break Covid measures must be sentenced,” he said on state-run TV. “I accept being called a dictator, but I will also be admired for protecting my people’s lives.”
Cambodia has already passed a strict Covid-19 prevention bill that could mean people flouting virus rules are jailed for up to 20 years.
Hun Sen also announced that being vaccinated was mandatory for all state officials and the armed forces, warning them they could be fired if they refuse.
The kingdom’s vaccination programme began in February, and a million people have since received at least their first of two shots. Infection numbers started surging in late February when an outbreak was detected in the local Chinese community.
Thailand has reported 789 new Coronavirus cases and one new death today, as it deals with a new wave of infections. The new case numbers bring the total number of infections to 31,658, with 97 deaths, according to the Covid-19 information centre.
The third-largest economy in the eurozone, Italy, will only recover from its coronavirus-related slump at the end of next year, the national business lobby Confindustria said on Saturday.
After a record fall of 8.9% last year, the association said the country’sGDP should expand by 4.1% this year and by 4.2% in 2022.
Confindustria’s forecasts were more optimistic than the International Monetary Fund’s, which last week predicted growth of 4.2% and 3.6% in 2021 and 2022.
A crucial part of the recovery rests on the success of its so-far struggling vaccination programme and on a vast injection of loans and grants from the EU.
Italy is eligible for about €200bn (£174bn) from the bloc’s flagship virus recovery fund, but in return it has to commit to a comprehensive reform plan, subject to Brussels’ approval.
Prime minister Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank president who has been tasked with reviving Italy’s economic prospects, is expected to present the plan by the end of the month.
The country badly needs relief from an economic and health emergency, after more than 113,500 people died with coronavirus and almost one million people lost their jobs since February 2020.
The German biotech firm Curevac believes the EU might give its Covid-19 vaccine approval in May or June, a spokesman was quoted as saying in Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper on Saturday.
Thorsten Schueller told the paper: “We are already very advanced in phase 3 clinical trials and are expecting the data for the final approval package.”
He said Curevac still planned to produce up to 300m vaccine doses this year.
Previously, approval for the German vaccine was expected in June.
A scientist advising the British government has said that any blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “extraordinarily rare events,” PA reports.
Prof Peter Openshaw, a member of the Covid-19 clinical information network, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
We still don’t know whether they are directly related and caused by the vaccine, but it seems possible that they could be.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find the J&J, the Janssen vaccine, also causes rare blood clots because it’s based on an adenovirus technology, which is not that far away from the technology being used in the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
When asked if he was concerned it could undermine public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines, he said:
These are extraordinarily rare events, and there is no medicine that is going to be completely free of side effects, but this is on the scale of the risk of adverse outcome you would expect if you get into a car and drive 250 miles, and many of us wouldn’t blink before taking that risk.”
While the vaccine is yet to be approved for use in the UK, the government has already ordered 30m doses.
Russia has reported 8,704 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, taking the national infection tally to 4,632,688 since the start of the pandemic. A further 402 deaths were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bring the death rate to 102,649, the coronavirus crisis centre said.
However, Rosstat, the government statistic service, has reported a much higher toll of 225,00 from April 2020 to February.
As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might have their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine stalled as nearly all deliveries through the global initiative are blocked until as late as June.
Covax, the programme set up to provide the vaccine to low-income countries, has shipped more than 25,000 doses only twice a week on any given day, but deliveries have all but halted since Monday, AP reports.
According to daily data compiled by Unicef, during the past two weeks, fewer than 2 million Covax doses were clear to be shipped to 92 countries – the same amount that administered in Britain alone.
While the vaccine shortage is due mainly to India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute Factory, which produces the majority of the worlds Oxford/AstraZeneca doses, the head of the World Health Organization criticised the “shocking imbalance” in global Covid-19 vaccination output.
However, as Covax only ships vaccines cleared by the WHO, which currently are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioTech and Jonhson & Johnson, it is prompting the WHO to consider speeding up its endorsement of vaccines from China and Russia, which have not been authorised in Europe or North America.
China’s Covid-19 vaccines output could reach more than 3bn doses by the end of 2021, a National Health Commission official said on Saturday.
Reuters reports that Zheng Zhongwei, who also heads a team coordinating the country’s vaccine development projects, made the comment at an industry event in the city of Chengdu.
- Victoria in Australia has recorded its first overseas Covid-19 case in hotel quarantine since resuming international flights. The state began accepting international arrivals on Thursday.
- Retailers prepare to open in many parts of the UK after at least 15 weeks of lockdown. The country’s next step on its road to recovery begins on Monday.
- After New Zealand paused applications for family reunifications in the wake of Covid-19, the government has been urged to end months of misery for migrant workers.
- People in England who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are seeking help at A&E despite having only mild side effects.
India records more than 100,000 daily cases again this week
India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections, Reuters reports.
The country’s overall caseload has increased to 13.21 million, the third-highest globally, behind the US and Brazil, recording 100,000 new cases on Monday and four more times after that.
Maharashtra, the Indian state with the highest number of cases, is imposing a weekend lockdown until Monday, after having already shut down restaurants, malls and places of worship.
As the government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks, many states have complained about the shortage of vaccines.
Good morning from London! I’m Edna Mohamed and I’ll be covering the latest coronavirus news for the next few hours. As always for any tips, you can message me on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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