Latest: India adds 4,205 deaths amidst stress on hospitals

New Delhi – India has confirmed 4,205 more deaths, setting another daily record and taking its official COVID-19 toll across 250,000 as it grapples with a brutal rise in infections.

According to the Ministry of Health, approximately 370,000 new cases were added in the last 24 hours, increasing India’s total to the previous 23 million. The data is considered a large basis due to insufficient testing and records among other factors.

On Tuesday, officials warned that about 90% of the districts in the country were witnessing high positivity rates, leading to fears that coronovirus is spreading faster in rural areas of India than in the previous year.

The infection has spread since February in India, a devastating twist on the government’s decisions, along with more infectious adaptations to allow the gathering of huge crowds for religious ceremonies and political rallies.

Even though the initial signs of flatness have appeared in daily affairs, experts have warned the authorities not to let their guard down. With nearly 4 million cases still active, the health care system remains strained with limited hospital beds, oxygen and medication.

Several states have imposed their own restrictions to prevent infection, and the southern state of Telangana on Tuesday became the latest to announce a 10-day lockout. There are increasing calls and pressure for a nationwide lockout.


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Salem, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill to give tenants who are struggling with financial difficulties due to the epidemic to pay past outstanding rents.

Tenants currently have until July, but the law will extend the deadline to 28 February next. The bill has already passed the Senate and now goes to the Governor.

By preventing such information from being reported to consumer credit agencies or used in consideration of future rental applications, the measure protects tenants from the long-term effects of not paying on time. This measure also prevents landlords from screening applicants on the basis of epidemic-era expulsion.

In March, more than 17% of Oregon renters in the US Census Survey reported being behind the payment of rent.


Columbia, South Carolina – The South Carolina government, Henry McMaster, has issued an executive order prohibiting parents from wearing masks to their children in public schools.

In his announcement on Tuesday, the governor cited the widespread access to the coronovirus vaccine for adults across the state.

McMaster’s statement stated that “it goes against all logic to force our children – especially our youngest children – to wear masks against their parents’ will.”

The order also prohibits state and local government agencies from requiring people to show evidence of vaccination to obtain government services or access public buildings and facilities.

The Governor’s order also prohibits local governments from issuing masked ordinances based on their emergency declarations related to the epidemic. Those governments would have to find justification for such masked regulations within their own ordinances.


TORONTO – Canada’s largest province says it will stop giving the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over blood clots.

The Chief Medical Officer of Ontario, Dr. David Williams says the decision has been made cautiously due to increasing cases of a rare blood clotting disorder associated with the shot.

AstraZeneca is banned in some European countries due to its possible link to extremely rare blood clots. In Canada, at least 12 cases out of more than 2 million doses given have been confirmed and three women have died.

Ontario says that of the more than 706,000 it has received, 79,240 doses remain in the province. Health officials are awaiting the results of a clinical trial in the United Kingdom giving a different vaccine for the second dose. This would allow those who had previously received AstraZeneca to be given Pfizer or Moderna for a second dose.


PARIS – French Health Minister Olivier Vernon, a neurologist, has himself administered vaccine shots to several people in Paris, the southern suburb of Montrose, as France seeks to speed up its COVID-19 vaccination program.

On Tuesday, officials allowed all people over the age of 18 to have access to vaccines if some appointments remain available the next day. People over 50 and with specific health issues can book in advance.

As the country is slowly reopening, the French government expects 20 million people, or 38% of the adult population, to receive at least one dose in mid-May. At the current pace, 2.5 million to 3 million people are vaccinated every week.

Cafes and restaurants, museums and non-essential shops are scheduled to reopen on 19 May.

In recent weeks the number of daily infections has started to decrease. More than 4,700 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units on Tuesday.

There have been approximately 107,000 virus-related deaths in France.


BANGKOK – Buddhist monks in Thailand held a national prayer program on Tuesday evening to boost morale as the country struggles to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases.

The National Office of Buddhism ordered all temples across the country to conduct prayer programs and issued a booklet with formal mantras to remove danger and disease during the Buddha’s era. The office said it was taking action because a third wave of coronovirus was affecting the minds and bodies of monks and other Buddhists.

Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch, Somdat Phra Maha Munivong – head of the country’s Buddhist clergy – led a prayer session lasting about an hour from his temple in Bangkok, which was broadcast live by the government’s television station. The words of the mantras were shown onscreen to the audience who wish to pray from home.

Thai health officials first announced 1,919 new cases of the disease on Tuesday, bringing the total to 86,924. He declared 31 more deaths, killing 452 people. Most of its infections and deaths have occurred since 1 April.


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