April 28 (REUTERS)
India's coronavirus deaths exceed 200,000
India's toll from the coronavirus surged past 200,000 on Wednesday, the country's deadliest day yet, as shortages of oxygen, medical supplies and hospital staff compounded a record number of new infections.
Health workers wearing PPE attends to Covid-19 patients inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a covid care centre in New Delhi (AFP)
The second wave of infections has seen at least 300,000 people test positive each day for the past week, overwhelming healthcare facilities and crematoriums and driving an increasingly urgent international response.
The last 24 hours brought 360,960 new cases for the world's largest single-day total, taking India's tally of infections to nearly 18 million. It was also the deadliest day so far, with 3,293 fatalities carrying the toll to 201,187.
Pakistan sees record deaths
Pakistan recorded more than 200 COVID-19 deaths in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday, as the government said it was considering stricter lockdowns.
A resident wearing a protective mask walks past Pakistan Army soldiers on patrol to enforce coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety protocols in Karachi (REUTERS)
A total of 201 new deaths were recorded on Tuesday, bringing the country's overall death toll from the virus to 17,530, according to the National Command Operation Center, which oversees the government's pandemic response. The previous highest daily death count was 157 recorded on April 23. A total of 5,292 new cases were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total cases to 810,231 in the country of more than 220 million people.
South Korea to lift quarantine for vaccinated residents
South Korea said on Wednesday it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, in an effort to encourage more vaccinations.
South Korea has so far vaccinated 4% of its 52 million strong population, but has set an ambitious target of giving shots to 70% of its people by September and reaching herd immunity by November. From May 5, residents who have had both shots will not have to undergo the mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas travel.
EU legal case against AstraZeneca begins
The European Commission's lawsuit against drugmaker AstraZeneca over COVID-19 vaccine supplies began at a Brussels court on Wednesday, where the bloc's lawyers pressed for immediate deliveries from all factories, including from Britain. The case in the Brussels court is the latest twist in an often bad-humoured EU dispute with the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, and at times with Britain. The bloc accuses the company of failure to respect its contract.
Lawyers of the Swedish-British Astra Zeneca pharmaceutical company speak together prior to the start of the hearing concerning legal action by the European Commission at Brussels’ courthouse (AFP)
Cuts and delays in AstraZeneca deliveries have weighed on the choppy inoculation campaign in the EU, which trails behind Britain, the United States and Israel on vaccination.
Vaccines cut household transmission by up to a half
COVID-19 vaccines deployed in England can cut transmission of the coronavirus in households by up to a half, data from Public Health England showed on Wednesday, in addition to the protection the shots offer against symptomatic infection. “We already know vaccines save lives and this study is the most comprehensive real-world data showing they also cut transmission of this deadly virus,” health minister Matt Hancock said.