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A boy in India received his COVID vaccination
India is second only to the United States in its total number of recorded COVID-19 cases, at around 41 millionImage: Adnan Abidi/REUTERS

COVID: India hits 75% vaccination rate milestone

January 30, 2022

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said COVID cases were falling in some states as more and more people get jabs. Meanwhile, China sealed off more neighborhoods in Beijing. DW has the latest.

https://p.dw.com/p/46HIn

India has given at least two vaccines against COVID-19 to 75% of its adult population, the government said on Sunday.

The announcement came as the third wave of the virus, driven by the highly-infectious omicron variant, appeared to be plateauing in some states. However, cases seemed to still be on the rise in some parts of the country, particularly in the south.

"The faith of our people in our nation's vaccine is a great source of strength," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his monthly radio address, adding: "Now, the number of COVID infections is declining. This is a very positive sign."

Emphasizing the need to keep observing health protocols, Modi said: "It is important to defeat COVID and ensure economic progress."

India reported 234,281 new cases in the past 24 hours on Sunday morning and 893 deaths, according to the latest Health Ministry data.

Several regions have now started relaxing restrictions introduced during the latest wave.

Delhi has ended its weekend curfew, while the neighboring Haryana state has allowed cinemas and theaters to re-open at 50% capacity, according to news channel NDTV.

Indian businesses hurting as omicron wave nears peak

Here's the latest on coronavirus from across the globe:

Europe

In Germany, a protest against pandemic curbs in the southern city of Nuremberg on Sunday was sharply criticized for being held in close proximity to the former Nazi party rally grounds.

The timing of the protest was also criticized as Sunday marks the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's appointment as German chancellor in 1933.

Similar rallies took place on Saturday across the country, in opposition to the latest government measures and vaccine mandates.

The city of Freiburg saw a turnout of some 4,500 people, while 4,000 marched in Frankfurt.

Police stopped a protest in Leipzig that was attended by hundreds of people after some protesters reportedly broke through a police cordon and ran into the grounds of a hospital, where they were detained.

On Sunday, Germany reported 118,970 new cases of COVID-19 infection and 59 deaths.

The daily count of new infections in Russia surged to an all-time high on Sunday, with more than 121,000 cases.

The figure marked an eightfold increase compared with the beginning of the month as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads through the country.

Despite this, authorities have avoided imposing any major restrictions to stem the surge, saying the health system has been coping with the influx of patients.

Earlier this month, parliament indefinitely postponed introducing restrictions on the unvaccinated that would have proven unpopular among vaccine-hesitant Russians.

Poland's hospitals brace for COVID surge

The head of Cyprus' Orthodox Christian Church said he will suspend a dozen priests from his diocese because they refused to heed his call to get vaccinated against the virus. 

Archbishop Chrystostomos II told state broadcaster CyBC that most of the priests are also theologians who have swayed some of the faithful not to get vaccinated. The archbishop called the insubordination "unheard of'' and warned that the suspensions could be extended to six months or lead to the priests being defrocked.

He suggested that some of the unvaccinated priests may be emboldened to defy him because of his frail health. COVID-19 infections in Cyprus have in recent weeks tapered off, but remain high. 

Oceania

Schools in Australia are set to resume after a summer break even as the country sees an explosion in infections due to the omicron variant.

Thousands of students will return to school starting Monday, with many institutions mandating students to be tested twice a week.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in self-isolation on Sunday after being exposed to an infected person. 

Her office said that she had taken a COVID-19 test and the results were expected later in the day or on Monday. 

The country, which reported 103 new cases of the virus, is witnessing a debate on its tough border controls after a pregnant journalist said she was trapped in Afghanistan.

Journalist Charlotte Bellis wrote in the New Zealand Herald that she could not return home from Afghanistan after Ardern's government rejected her application for an exemption to enter the country. .

"When the Taliban offers you - a pregnant, unmarried woman - safe haven, you know your situation is messed up," Bellis wrote in the article. 

Asia

In Beijing, China, authorities sealed off more residential communities as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Olympic host city climbed to 12. China has taken a controversial and strict "zero COVID" approach to contain the pandemic.

There are also 34 new COVID-19 cases reported among Olympic-related personnel.

Beijing residents queue up to get tested for COVID-19
The Chinese capital is on high-alert as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics opening on FridayImage: Andy Wong/AP Photo/picture alliance

Pet stores in Hong Kong that sold hamsters can resume business from Sunday after being shut down last week with thousands of hamsters being culled over COVID-19 fears.

Authorities ordered them to cull over  2,200 hamsters after tracking an outbreak to a worker in a shop where 11 hamsters tested positive. 

Imported hamsters from Holland into Hong Kong had been cited as the source.

All hamster imports are now banned.

Americas

Thousands of protesters gathered in Canada's capital Ottawa on Saturday to protest vaccine mandates, masks and lockdowns.

A convoy of truckers and others converged on the city, prompting police to prepare for the possibility of violence and warn residents to avoid downtown.

Some protesters parked on the grounds of the National War Memorial and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Others carried signs and flags with swastikas and some used the statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox to display an anti-vaccine statement, which was widely condemned by politicians.

Slow coronavirus testing at the Chilean border has left thousands of truckers from Argentina stranded.

Over 3,000 trucks have been stuck at the customs checkpoint of Cristo Redentor in Mendoza since January 21, the Argentinean Federation of Business Entities for Cargo Transport said.

Truckers protest new vaccine rules

dvv/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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