India reports record 115,736 new coronavirus cases in single day

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Biden says all adults in US eligible for coronavirus vaccine by April 19


Bengaluru

As the third wave of coronavirus grips the country, India reported a record 115,736 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking the total to 12.80 million, data from the health ministry showed.

Deaths rose by 630 to 166,177. The next four weeks in India’s fight against COVID-19 will be “very, very critical,” said senior government health official Vinod Kumar Paul, warning that the respiratory disease was now spreading much faster than in 2020.

“The pandemic has worsened in the country…There is a serious rise in cases,” Paul told reporters.

India, the world’s second-most populous country with 1.35 billion people, has administered 80.9 million vaccine doses, the most after the United States and China, but it lags far behind in immunisations per capita.

Healthcare and similar frontline workers, as well as people over 60, have been the main recipients of vaccinations so far. Inoculations of people above 45 began only on April 1.

US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that all adults across America will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines within two weeks, as economic powerhouse California set a June 15 target to fully reopen businesses.

The positive news from the United States — which has reported the most coronavirus deaths of any country but is now a leader in vaccine distribution — contrasted with a record daily toll in Brazil and Europe´s troubled rollout of the AstraZeneca shot.

Biden announced in a White House speech that he is moving up the deadline for all over 18s to be eligible for vaccines to April 19.

The previous target had been May 1.
“Our vaccine program is in overdrive. We´re making it easier to get a vaccination shot,” Biden told the nation.

“We´re the first country to administer 150 million shots and the first country to fully vaccinate over 62 million people.”

Biden´s April 19 deadline means ending restrictions by age, health issues or other categories for people wanting to get vaccinated.

It would not necessarily mean that anyone could get a shot immediately, as distribution remains a work in progress.

Visiting a vaccination site in Virginia earlier, Biden said that while the worst of the pandemic is “not over yet,” vaccines mean it soon could be.

The news comes as California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state will fully reopen by June 15 if the current rate of vaccinations continues, lifting all Covid-related restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

“We´ll be getting rid of the blueprint, as you know it today. That´s on June 15 if we continue the good work,” said Newsom, adding that mask-wearing requirements would remain.

Some 556,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, by far the highest toll reported in any country.

On Tuesday the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported 68,643 new confirmed cases and 1,105 deaths, as concern grows that people may be letting down their guard.

The International Monetary Fund meanwhile said accelerated vaccines and a flood of government stimulus spending, especially in the United States, meant it now predicts global economic growth this year of 6 percent, up from a forecast of 5.5 percent in January.

This would be a swift reversal of the 3.3 percent contraction in 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic — the worst peacetime downturn since the Great Depression nearly a century ago.—AFP

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