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Coronavirus digest: India records highest daily death toll

India has reported the world's worst single-day COVID-19-related death toll after a state revised its official figures. In Europe, the WHO is warning that the Delta variant could take hold. Follow DW for the latest.

Health workers make beds in Chennai

India has recorded the world's highest single-day death toll from the virus

India reported 6,148 new deaths from coronavirus on Thursday. It represents the highest single-day death toll from the virus in the world.

The sharp spike in numbers has been attributed to the eastern state of Bihar correcting its figures. 

Authorities revised the state’s earlier total from about 5,400 to more than 9,400 coronavirus-related deaths to account for patients who succumbed to the virus at home or in private hospitals.

The increase in numbers surpassed the 5,444 virus-linked deaths recorded in the United States on February 12.

With a caseload of more than 29.2 million infections and nearly 360,000 fatalities, India remains the world’s second-worst affected country after the United States. However, experts maintain that the figures are massively undercounted. 

Here's a roundup of other major COVID-related developments.

Europe

WHO European Regional Director Hans Kluge on Thursday warned that the Delta variant of the coronavirus — a mutation first seen in India — was "poised to take hold" in Europe as countries scramble to lift restrictions while infections ebb once again.

"With increasing social gatherings, greater population mobility, and large festivals and sports tournaments taking place in the coming days and weeks, WHO Europe calls for caution," said Kluge during a press briefing. 

"We have been here before,'' he warned.

"Over the course of last summer, cases gradually rose in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence. Let's not make that mistake again," he added. 

"We should all recognize the progress made across most countries in the region, we must also acknowledge that we are by no means out of danger," Kluge said, pointing out that only 30% of Europeans have received their first dose of vaccine, not nearly enough to protect the region from another wave of infections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the COVID-19 situation in her country was "extremely pleasant at the moment, when it comes to the case numbers." After meeting with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said the vaccination efforts and lockdown measures were worth it, but warned the “coronavirus has not gone away.”

Germany remains opposed to the idea of lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines, according to an anonymous government source speaking ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall. The issue was brought to the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year by India and South Africa and shortly gained traction after US President Joe Biden voiced support. Germany immediately voiced opposition to Biden's push, with other EU countries following suit a couple of days later. Germany contends intellectual property rights are not what is hindering vaccinations and that to lift patents would discourage companies from investing in similar endeavors in the future.

"We don't think a waiver is helpful or is actually the problem, and nothing has changed about that," said the official. The issue has put EU countries not wanting to look heartless, in a corner. Nevertheless, the Germans, for instance, argue that they have done a "great deal" of contributing to global vaccinations by sharing doses, financing COVAX purchases and boosting exports. It is on those fronts opponents of the patent waiver argue, that actual progress can be made in the battle against the virus. 

Watch video 26:06

Hans Kluge on Conflict Zone

Americas

US President Joe Biden plans to purchase and donate 500 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to more than 90 countries to help the world combat the pandemic.

The US also called on other democracies to take similar actions to put an end to the devastation caused by COVID-19.

"The goal of today's donation is to save lives and end the pandemic and will provide the foundation for additional actions to be announced in the coming days," the White House said.

Asia

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Thurdsay said that the Tokyo Olympics would continue as planned.

He told a press conference that the games, which are 43 days away, were “in the full delivery phase.” The IOC said recent test events showed the sporting event could be a success and athlete feedback on preventative measures implemented were positive.

South Korea is looking at plans to inoculate workers in the country’s key businesses, including chip and electronics companies, to help reduce disruptions in production. 

The Labor Ministry has reached out to companies like Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and LG Electronics to seek information about their COVID-19 vaccination requirements amid global efforts to boost the supply of computer chips. 

Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates' second-most populous emirate, is set to prohibit unvaccinated residents from visiting shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and other public places. Those who have recently tested negative will not be stopped.

Under the new rules, applicable from June 15, visitors will have to prove their vaccination status or provide test result via the country’s COVID-19 app. The restrictions will also extend to gyms, hotels and related facilities, beaches, swimming pools, entertainment centers, cinemas and museums. 

Africa

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (the NICD) said South Africa has formally entered its third wave of COVID-19 infections, logging 9,149 new cases on Thursday.

South Africa is the worst affected African country in the pandemic, with about 34% of the continent’s total reported cases and 43% of total reported deaths.

Watch video 03:38

Has Thailand's mass vaccination drive come too late?

js,see/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)