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Coronavirus digest: India reports global record in new cases

April 22, 2021

India reported over 314,000 new infections in a single day. Ecuador and Turkey have introduced tougher rules to curb infections. Follow DW for the latest.

People wait at a distribution center for oxygen cylinders
Family members of COVID patients wait to take cylinders filled with oxygen in IndiaImage: Prabhat Kumar Verma/Zumapress/picture alliance

Authorities in India recorded the world's highest daily tally of 314,835 infections on Thursday, as a new wave of the pandemic spreads faster than ever across the country, threatening access to medical supplies and an ailing health system.

Health officials in the north and the west of the country said they were going through a crisis, with most hospitals full and running out of essential supplies. India has reported nearly 16 million infections since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll nearing 185,000.

Doctors in some areas were advising patients to stay at home. A crematorium in the eastern city of Muzaffarpur said it was being overwhelmed with bodies and grieving families had to wait their turn.

"Right now there are no beds, no oxygen. Everything else is secondary," Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, told Reuters. "The infrastructure is crumbling."

The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January. While the US still has more than double of India's case load, the US daily tally has since fallen sharply.

The brutal new outbreak has set grim records with more than 2,000 deaths in 24 hours as hospitals in New Delhi run perilously low on oxygen.

The second wave in India has added nearly 3.5 million new cases this month alone.


Greece will allow bars and restaurants to serve patrons outside in early May, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced.

But curbs on nonessential travel between regions, over the Orthodox Easter period, at the beginning of next month, will stay in place.

Meanwhile, Greek health officials have announced that younger people will soon be eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine as people ahead of them were reluctant to take it.

Visitors walk past the Parthenon temple in Greece
Archaeological sites recently opened across GreeceImage: Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Spain is set to administer its first doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, Health Minister Carolina Darias said. The news comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave it the green light on Tuesday, though the EU drug regulator acknowledges that extremely rare cases of blood clots are "possible." Authorities on Wednesday allocated 146,000 J&J shots that had been kept in storage.

Health Minister Carolina Darias said authorities will stick to their plan of using the single-dose J&J vaccine first on citizens between 70 and 79 years old, while not placing any official age limits on the vaccine.

Spain has already limited the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also linked to extremely rare blood clots, for those over 60 years old.

Turkey has extended an overnight curfew and other restrictions ahead of the upcoming holiday weekend.

Due to a national holiday, which begins on Friday, the extended restrictions will go into effect at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Thursday and remain in place until 5 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday, the Anadolu news agency reported, citing the interior ministry.

Turkey has been tightening restrictions in recent weeks to curb rising infections.

Climbing mountains to vaccinate

Some 4,000 people will attend the BRIT Awards next month, in what organizers of the UK's pop music ceremony said would be the first major indoor music event with a live audience as the country emerges from its lockdown.

The event, which will be held on May 11 at London's O2 arena, will form part of the UK government's Events Research Programme, looking at whether major events can take place in closed environments without social distancing.

The northern Spanish city of Bilbao has been dropped by UEFA as a host for the upcoming European Championship, local authorities said.

Bilbao was supposed to be one of 12 cities to host games, but had been unable to give UEFA guarantees that supporters would be allowed to attend.

The biggest city in the Basque region was scheduled to host Spain's group fixtures against against Poland, Sweden and Slovakia, as well as a round-of-16 match.

French-Austrian vaccine developer Valneva announced that it had launched a Phase 3 trial of its candidate virus vaccine, in the last testing stage before seeking regulatory approval. 

The study, called "Cov-Compare," will compare how participants' immune systems respond to Valneva's VLA2001 vaccine with how they respond to AstraZeneca's product.

"Approximately 4,000 participants will receive two doses of either vaccine," said Valneva, adding that the study would be carried out at around 25 sites in the United Kingdom.


Singapore's transport ministry said it hoped a long-delayed air travel bubble with Hong Kong would start soon, although no date had been fixed yet. A travel link between the two Asian financial hubs was delayed last year after a spike in cases in Hong Kong. 

Bloomberg News reported, citing sources, that Singapore and Hong Kong had called off an announcement on the bubble which had been planned on Thursday.

Japan's government is expected to issue a third state of emergency on Tokyo and three western prefectures that could last for about two weeks. Some analysts say the decision could push Japan back into recession if retailers are asked to close during the Golden Week holidays, which start next week and run through early May. 

Meanwhile, a police officer helping with Japan's Olympic Torch relay became the first participant in the event to be diagnosed with the virus. The man, who is in his 30s, tested positive after working on the relay in Kagawa prefecture on Japan's southern island of Shikoku, Tokyo 2020 said in a statement. 

The officer had been guiding traffic in the town of Naoshima on Saturday and came down with a fever on Sunday, the Asahi Shimbun reported, citing organizers and prefectural police. 

Two Australian states launched investigations into three suspected cases of travelers contracting the virus from other residents. 

New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia state officials said genetic sequencing found links to the same sequence of virus in infected guests resident in Sydney and Perth hotels during routine tests. The cases, which are on different sides of the country, are not believed to be connected.

"We don't have a definitive conclusion around the way the transmission occurred at this point in time," NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.


Argentina's COVID-19 deaths have hit the unwanted milestone of 60,000 as a sharp second wave shows no signs of easing up.

Health authorities in northern Chile have fined two veterinarians they say were giving or promoting canine vaccines as false protection against COVID-19.

Roxana Diaz, deputy health secretary for the Antofagasta province, said her agency's workers had gone to a veterinary practice in the city of Calama over a report that people there weren't using masks and were told it was because they were vaccinated.

In an interview with the government's 24 Horas television channel, vet Maria Fernanda Munoz admitted giving herself and several people in her office a vaccine aimed at canine coronavirus, and argued she hadn't become ill. That occurred last year, before any COVID vaccines had been approved in Chile.

Ecuador has imposed a nighttime curfew and other restrictions on movement due to a spike in infections that has pushed the country's medical system to the brink.

In 16 of the Latin American country's 24 provinces, only workers in the healthcare, food and other sectors deemed essential will be allowed to circulate over weekends and during evenings from Monday through Thursday, according to the decree signed by President Lenin Moreno.

The measures will begin on Friday and last for 28 days.

Brazil's fight against COVID

The United States will offer tax credits to businesses that grant their employees time off to get the vaccine or recover from its side effects. 

"Eligible employers may claim tax credits for sick and family leave paid to employees, including leave taken to receive or recover from Covid-19 vaccinations, for leave from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021," according to details of the credits published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The credits will be handed to companies and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees, along with some government offices. They will be paid from the $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) American Rescue Plan President Joe Biden signed last month. 

The White House announced on Wednesday that the US would meet its target of administering 200 million vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office, by the end of this week. 

How will the US emerge from the pandemic?

Meanwhile, a US plant making Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was found to have a long list of problems, including peeling paint, shoddy cleanups and poorly-trained staff, according to a report issued by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA said the problems must be resolved before the plant is legally allowed to resume operation. 

The 12-page report outlines dirty facilities and several instances of potential contamination. In some cases, employees carrying unsealed medical waste collided with containers used to make material for vaccines, it noted, adding that containers had been spotted elsewhere with cracks.

Problems were not investigated and cleanups were superficial, the report added. In one instance, an employee moved between rooms where different materials were being made on 19 different days while only documenting a single required shower, the report said. Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to resume at the temporarily shuttered Baltimore plant. 

Operation Vaccination - The Difficult Path out of the Pandemic

jsi/rc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)