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International News

Covid-19 live updates: India cracks 20 million coronavirus cases as infections spread

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Covid-19 live updates: India cracks 20 million coronavirus cases as infections spread

2021-05-04 05:42:08

By Dwaipayan

India has become the second country in the world after the United States to pass the 20 million coronavirus cases mark as the government announced Tuesday 357,000 new infections and another 3,449 deaths over the past 24 hours.

While the total cases and deaths in the United States still far outstrips India, the daily tolls in America have plummeted under pressure from an aggressive vaccination campaign to a fraction of what they were at their height in January.

In India, meanwhile, the health-care system has buckled under the weight of millions of active cases and crematoriums are operating night and day to cope with the skyrocketing deaths.

With numbers of new cases and fatalities dropping slightly in the last few days (but still far higher than elsewhere in the world), senior health official Lav Agarwal has suggested that the catastrophic spike in cases might be leveling off, especially in areas like Delhi and Mumbai.

Experts have noted, however, that testing has fallen in recent days and positivity rates in most cities are still very high, with signs that lesser affected regions are turning into new hot spots.

Here are some significant developments:

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to expand emergency authorization to allow children as young as 12 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine by next week, according to federal officials familiar with the development.

The backlash intensified over Australia’s threat to jail or fine citizens fleeing India, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison playing down the risk of penalties after a former cricket star accused him of having “blood” on his hands for abandoning thousands of its citizens.

The European Union on announced a road map to allowing vaccinated people from outside the bloc to travel to Europe.

New York and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut will lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses by May 19. Florida also suspended any local ordnances curbing the spread of coronavirus, saying they weren’t needed anymore.

India’s vaccine shortage will probably last for months after the government failed to properly plan for a second wave of coronavirus infections, the head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said.

Much of the rest of the world isn’t so fortunate. The relentless surge of the coronavirus in India — where only about 2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated — is just the most intense reflection of an accelerating global tragedy. Some analysts predict that many countries in the developing world may only be fully immunized against the coronavirus by 2024. That gap, many experts fear, will lead to new deadly waves of the virus as it circulates and evolves.

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