18:50 GMT11 May 2021
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (328)
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus has topped 3.131 million and over 148.3 million cases of the infection have been detected, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University.

    The United States has the highest death toll and overall coronavirus tally, with 32.1 million infected and 573,000 fatalities. It is followed by India (17.6 million cases and a death toll of over 197,000) and Brazil (14.4 million cases, 395,000 deaths), while Mexico has the third-highest death toll, with over 215,000 fatalities and over 2.3 million infected.

    Identified mutations of a new coronavirus strain from India indicate that this variant is highly infectious and may be resistant to COVID-19 antibodies, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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    • 23:43

      US to Deliver $100Mln in Supplies to India in Coming Days to Battle COVID-19, White House Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States will send $100 million in supplies to India in the coming days to help the country deal with an overwhelming wave of novel coronavirus cases, the White House said in a press release.

      "Reflecting the United States’ solidarity with India as it battles a new wave of COVID-19 cases, the United States is delivering supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days to provide urgent relief to our partners in India," the release said on Wednesday.

      Moreover, the United States will re-direct 20 million Astrazeneca vaccine doses to India, the release said.

    • 22:49

      Mexican Lab to Produce 90 Mln Doses of Russia's Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine Annually

      MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - The Mexican laboratory for biological agents and reagents, Birmex, which plans to bottle and package Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, has estimated its potential production volume at 90 million doses of the vaccine per year.

      "The country will begin mass packaging of the Sputnik V vaccine, which, according to our estimates, will be produced in the amount of about 90 million doses per year," the laboratory said on its website.

    • 21:11

      US Housing Fully Recovered From COVID-19, Seeing Biggest Boom Since 2009, Fed Reserve Chair Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US housing market has fully recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and is experiencing a boom not seen since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said Wednesday.

      “This is clearly the strongest housing market we've seen since the global financial crisis,” Powell told reporters after chairing the central bank’s monthly policy meeting.  “My hope would be that, over time, housing builders can react to this demand and come up with more supply, and workers will come back to work in that industry."

      Sales of new homes in the United States jumped 21 percent in March to more than 1.02 million units, the highest in 15 years, the Commerce Department said last week.

      Existing homes were, meanwhile, offered at record high prices of $330,000 and above, the National Association of Realtors said.

      Powell said he was not unduly concerned about a bubble forming in the housing market due to runaway demand or record high prices.

      Economists said the situation was partly due to the Fed keeping interest rates near zero over the past year, enabling people to borrow cheaply and easily to buy homes.

      “We're watching it very carefully,” Powell said, acknowledging the problem. “I don't see the kind of financial stability concerns, though, that really do reside around the housing sector.  So many of the financial crackups in all western countries that have happened around the last 30 years [were] around housing. We don't see bad loans and unsustainable prices and that kind of thing.”

      He said the one thing that differentiated the current housing market from the one before the financial crisis was the presence of more financially sound buyers.

      “We don't have people who are over-leveraged and owning a lot of houses,” Powell said. “There's no question housing prices are going up but it's partly because there's clearly strong demand and not a lot of supply right now.”

      While a rash of US economic data, from consumer spending to inflation, have exceeded forecasts lately, the housing sector itself “has more than fully recovered from the downturn”, he added.

    • 20:47

      Mexico, Russia Agree to Jointly Track Coronavirus Variants, Foreign Secretary Says

      MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Medical officials of Russia and Mexico will begin exchanging information on the existing strains of the coronavirus, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard said on Wednesday in the wake of his five-day visit to Russia.

      Ebrard's working visit lasted from Saturday to Wednesday and included a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier in the day.

      "Among the agreements that we are making is a deal on joint monitoring of the virus variants together with the Mexican health sector. The virus mutates very quickly and information exchange about sequencing of these variants will be decisive for both countries. For that, we will formalize an agreement or memorandum on mutual understanding," Ebrard said during a press conference, broadcast by the foreign ministry on social media.

      According to the official, Mexico and Russia also launched a scientific dialogue to exchange information on the development of vaccines, where the Mexican side is going to present four of the products it has developed.

    • 20:35

      Brazilian Regulator's Refusal to Allow Sputnik V Vaccine Imports Is Politically Motivated, Developers Say

      A health worker prepares a dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Tecnopolis Park, in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 15, 2021.

      Developers of Sputnik V Slam Brazilian Regulator's Refusal to Allow Vaccine Imports

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The decision of Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa to deny the request by the country's regional governments on the import of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is politically motivated, the developers said on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 20:21

      EU Should Expand Variety of COVID-19 Vaccines in Use, Include Russia's Sputnik V, Italian Official Says

      Italian Official Urges EU to Expand Portfolio of COVID-19 Vaccines, Include Sputnik V

      ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) - The European Union should avoid politicization of health-related issues and register for use a variety of vaccines, including Russia's Sputnik V, Giovanni Toti, the president of Italy's Liguria region, told Sputnik on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 20:19

      COVID-19 Surge Overwhelms Hospitals in Americas, Pan American Health Organization Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising sharply throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as supplies of vaccines languish, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

      "In total 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Americas in the past week, while 36,000 people died of the disease, Etienne said in a press release. "In fact, one in four COVID-19 deaths reported worldwide last week took place right here in the Americas."

      Etienne said hospitalizations hit an all-time high in Costa Rica, and hospitals reached maximum capacity in Guatemala and in the Colombian cities of Bogota and Medellin.

      Cases are also increasing in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay and nearly every Central American country, Etienne said.

      Etienne urged nations to send surplus vaccines to the region, where she said "supplies continue to languish."

      Etienne also urged nations throughout the region to tighten public health measures by extending curfews, limiting re-openings, and imposing new stay-at-home orders to combat the latest surge.

    • 19:32

      UAE Airline Air Arabia Resumes Flights Between Moscow, Sharjah Staring May 1

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Air Arabia low-cost airline on Wednesday announced resuming flights between Russia's Moscow and the Sharjah city of the United Arab Emirates starting May 1.

      "Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC), has announced the resumption of direct flights between Sharjah and Moscow starting May 1, 2021," the airline said in a statement.

      The flights will take place four times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, according to the statement.

    • 18:58

      Second Russian Aircraft Carrying Humanitarian Aid to India Departs

      Il-96-400T cargo aircraft

      Second Russian Aircraft Carrying Humanitarian Aid to India Departs

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The second aircraft of the Russian Emergencies Ministry carrying humanitarian aid to India took off from Zhukovsky International Airport near Moscow, the airport's spokesperson told Sputnik on Wednesday.
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    • 18:20

      Tokyo Olympics Participants Required to Pass At Least 2 COVID-19 Tests

      Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee President Yoshiro Mori delivers a speech at a beginning of a meeting on the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.

      Tokyo Olympics Participants Required to Pass At Least 2 COVID-19 Tests

      TOKYO (Sputnik) - All participants in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer will be required to pass two COVID-19 tests before departure and undergo daily testing for first three days after arrival, the organisers stated on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 18:07

      Italy's Upper Chamber Rejects No-Confidence Motion Against Health Minister

      The upper house of the Italian parliament has rejected a no-confidence motion against Health Minister Roberto Speranza, which was proposed by the right-wing Brothers of Italy party over the alleged poor coronavirus response.

    • 18:07

      Germany Puts COVID-19 Dissident Movement Under Surveillance, Reports Suggest

      Demonstrators react in front of police members during a protest against the government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the day of discussion in the lower house of parliament Bundestag regarding additions for the Infection Protection Act, in Berlin, Germany April 21, 2021

      Germany Puts COVID-19 Dissident Movement Under Surveillance, Reports Suggest

      BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has put COVID-19 dissident movements, including the well-known Querdenken group, under surveillance, Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 17:16

      France Records 31,539 New Coronavirus Cases Over Past 24 Hours

    • 16:40

      UK Health Secretary on Support for India: 'We Don’t Have Excess Vaccines Doses at the Moment'

    • 14:55

      Russia to Deliver Over 22 Tonnes of Anti-COVID Equipment, Drugs to India, Kremlin Says

    • 14:48

      Indian PM Modi Thanks Putin For Support, Calls Move ‘Symbol of Our Enduring Partnership’

    • 14:01

      New York Governor Cuomo to Lift Midnight Curfew For Bars, Restaurants in May

      New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning on lifting the 12 a.m. curfews for both indoor and outdoor bars and restaurants next month, he announced with a tweet on Wednesday.

      “Beginning May 17, the 12am outdoor dining area curfew for bars & restaurants will be lifted. The 12am indoor area curfew will be lifted on May 31,” Cuomo’s tweet read.

      New York has been among the hardest-hit states throughout the pandemic. Earlier this month, Cuomo announced that anyone 16 and over would be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

      Governor Cuomo has also been at the center of several scandals involving his handling of the pandemic over the last several months, including reports that he misrepresented death tolls from COVID-19 in nursing homes, as well as reports that he and his family enjoyed special access to testing early on in the pandemic.

    • 13:46

      Seven in 10 Adults in England Test Positive for COVID-19 Antibodies, Survey Shows

      An estimated seven in 10 adults (68.3%) in England would have tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus from a blood sample in the week to April 11, as a result of having had an infection or a COVID-19 vaccine in the past, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported on Wednesday.

      According to the survey conducted by the ONS in partnership with University of Oxford, the University of Manchester, Public Health England and the Wellcome Trust, the current level of protection is up, compared to the 53.1% estimated two weeks earlier.

      As for the rest of the territories making up the United Kingdom, the proportion of COVID-19 antibodies among the adult population was 61.1%, 62.2% and 57.8% in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, respectively.

      "Across all four countries of the UK, there is a clear pattern between vaccination and testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies but the detection of antibodies alone is not a precise measure of the immunity protection given by vaccination," the ONS said, adding that all figures are for people in private households and do not include settings such as hospitals and care homes.

      On Tuesday, the UK health authorities reported 2,685 new COVID-19 cases, plus a further 17 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, for a total of 4,409,631 cases and 127,451 fatalities since the pandemic began last year.

      According to government data, at least 33,843,580 people have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 13.2 million, accounting for 25% of the country’s adult population, have had the corresponding second dose.

    • 13:25

      Indonesia Detects 5,241 New Coronavirus Cases

    • 13:17

      Saudi Arabia Reports 1,062 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 12:03

      Sweden Registers 7,266 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 11:56

      COVID-19 Certificates Will Not Help EU Fully Return to Normal by Summer, European Commissioner for Justice Says

      Graffiti artist Bram De Ceurt takes a step back as he works on a street graffiti piece of a nurse with a mouth mask to protect against coronavirus in Antwerp, Belgium, Thursday, March 26, 2020

      COVID-19 Certificates Will Not Help EU Fully Return to Normal by Summer, Commissioner Says

      BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - EU citizens will not be able to return to normal life fully by summer despite the introduction of coronavirus certificates as some restrictions will still remain, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said on Wednesday.
      Read more
    • 11:40

      All Participants in Tokyo 2020 to Take Two COVID-19 Tests Before Flight

    • 11:15

      CoWIN Server Crashes as Millions of Indians Rush to Register for COVID-19 Vaccination

    • 10:59

      Russian Prime Minister Hopes Mass Vaccination Against COVID-19 Will Be Soon Completed

      Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin expressed hope on Wednesday that the mass vaccination against COVID-19 would be soon completed in the country.

      "I very much hope that we will soon finish the mass vaccination," Mishustin said at a meeting with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

    • 10:07

      Latvia Detects 967 New Coronavirus Cases

    • 10:04

      Kyrgyzstan Reports 322 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 10:04

      South Korea's Defence Minister Apologizes for Extreme COVID-19 Measures in Army

      South Korea's Defence Minister Suh Wook apologized on Wednesday after receiving complaints about a number of army units enforcing extreme COVID-19 measures in alleged violation of basic rights.

      "As the defence minister, I feel grave responsibility for causing concerns to the public, and offer words of apology," he said as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

      The minister's statement comes after the Korea Army Training Center in the central city of Nonsan introduced no-shower rules and other restrictions for newly enlisted soldiers.

      According to the news agency, newly enlisted soldiers were only allowed to brush their teeth and wash their faces after they were confirmed to have had their first COVID-19 test negative. Soldiers were only allowed to shower upon receiving their second negative test results released in the second week after they arrived at the army's center.

      Army Chief of Staff General Nam Yeong-shin has also made a public apology. An emergency meeting took place between senior commanders.

      "At the start of the meeting, Gen. Nam expressed responsibility over a series of incidents where troops' basic rights were violated due to excessive antivirus measures, and offered words of sincere consolation to the soldiers and apologies to the people who sent their children to the military," army officials said, as quoted by the news agency.

      The quality of meals provided to serving soldiers during the pandemic was also criticized. Army officials said an investigation will look into the current COVID-19 response measures and a new system will be enforced.

      A total of 777 COVID-19 cases have been reported among the South Korean military so far.

    • 09:31

      BioNTech Co-Founder 'Confident' Vaccine Works Against Indian COVID-19 Strain

    • 09:29

      Iran to Launch Sputnik V Vaccine Production in Near Future

      Iran will launch production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in the near future, ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali told Sputnik on Wednesday.

      "I think joint production will start in the near future, the next month," Jalali said.

      In January, Iran signed an agreement with Russia on Sputnik V production. The Middle Eastern country received the first batch of the vaccine early in February.

    • 08:42

      Poland Lifts Coronavirus Restrictions, Shopping Malls Open on 4 May

      Poland is lifting a significant share of coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Wednesday.

      "Starting 1 May, we will allow doing sports out of doors and indoors. Starting 4 May, shopping malls, hardware stores and other retail facilities will open," Morawiecki said at a press conference.

      On 8 May, hotels will open doors for guests, and a week later restaurants will resume operation, but only those with outdoor seating, the prime minister added.

      The Polish government declared a nationwide quarantine in March. On Monday, beauty parlors resumed operation in most of Polish regions, and schoolchildren switched from remote to a hybrid mode of studies. Shopping facilities remain closed across Poland, except for grocery stores and pharmacies. Bars and restaurants only provide takeaway services. Hotels and hostels are closed, gatherings of more than five people are prohibited, and wearing protective masks is mandatory.

    • 08:24

      Russia's Single-Day COVID-19 Increase Falls Below 8,000

      Russia's single-day coronavirus increase fell below 8,000 for the first time since September, as 7,848 COVID-19 cases were recorded, down from 8,053 the day before, the coronavirus response centre said on Wednesday.

      Russia registered 7,523 COVID-19 cases on 26 September.

      "Over the past day, 7,848 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 1,077 cases (13.7 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the total case count reached 4,787,273.

      The rate of increase fell to 0.16 percent.

      Moscow confirmed 1,840 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, down from 2,098 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 723 new cases, up from 712 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 612 new cases, up from 592 on Tuesday.

      The response centre reported 387 COVID-19 fatalities, down from 392 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 109,367.

      Total recoveries increased by 8,420 over the given period, up from 8,039 the previous day, and reached 4,411,098 in total.

    • 06:42

      Russia to Send Medical Aid to India Amid COVID-19 Case Surge, Foreign Ministry Says

      Russia will send lung ventilation machines, COVID-19 medication and other types of medical aid to India in the next few days to help handle the increase in the coronavirus infections, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

      "In the spirit of friendship and privileged strategic Indian-Russian partnership, the Russian leadership has decided to send an urgent flight of the Russian emergency services to India to help fight the sharp increase in the coronavirus infections by delivering substantial aid," the ministry said in a statement.

      According to the statement, the aid will include "oxygen concentrators, artificial lung ventilation machines, COVID-19 medication and other necessary medical supplies and medicines."

    • 06:30

      NGO Calls on Indian Gov't to Focus on Curbing COVID-19 Surge Rather Than Criticism

      A prominent human rights group on Wednesday urged the Indian authorities to shift focus from widespread criticism over its recent coronavirus crisis management to boosting its pandemic response.

      “The Indian government should be focusing only in its efforts on responding to people desperately in need of help and dying for lack of medical care. Instead, what we find is a prickly reaction to legitimate criticism of its handling of the crisis, including by trying to censor social media,” Meenakshi Ganguly,  Human Rights Watch's South Asia director, said.

      The NGO mentioned, in particular, that the government ordered to take down some 100 social media posts on oxygen shortages on fake information claims. The group also noted that the authorities had to ensure up-to-date information about COVID-19 statistics as hospitals are struggling to cope with record numbers of patients and cuts in medical equipment, and crematoriums and burial services are overloaded.  The country's virus death toll is believed to be underrated, the watchdog noted.

      In this regard, the government is bound to cease "censoring of free speech" to provide effective COVID-19-related communication, the group said.

      It also stressed that the Indian authorities have been criticized for the contradictory data about the virus, permitting large-scale gatherings, including of religious nature, thus giving the population "a false sense of security only to be hit by this tsunami of infection now,” the NGO quoted as saying, Sanjib Banerjee, Chief Justice of India's Madras High Court.

      The organization has also urged the government to release all those detained on a political basis, such as human rights activists, protesters, and journalists, to prevent the infection increase in prisons and detention centers.

      India comes second in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 17.6 million, following the United States with more than 32.1 million cases. The Indian COVID-19 toll has been increasing rapidly since mid-February, continually setting daily records in new cases, and to date amounts to 201,187.

      Multiple countries, including, Russia, have pledged their support to the beleaguered Indian people, who are struggling to contain the spread of the disease.

    • 06:28

      People Queue Up for Oxygen Tanks Outside Delhi as COVID-Ravaged India Breaks Record for New Cases

      Healthcare workers and relatives carry the body of a person, who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), for his burial at a graveyard in New Delhi, India, April 28, 2021.

      People Queue Up for Oxygen Tanks Outside Delhi as COVID-Ravaged India Breaks Record for New Cases

      India's COVID-19 death toll has been increasing rapidly since mid-February, as the number of new reported cases continues to break records.
      Read more
    • 06:27

      UK Plans to Use Health Service App As Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination For Travel

      UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed on Wednesday that people traveling abroad once the current restrictions are lifted will be able to use a National Health Service application as a certificate to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or had a negative test result.

      "I can confirm we’re working on an NHS application. It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show that you've had a vaccine or that you've had testing," Shapps told Sky News broadcaster.

      The minister said that next week he would be chairing a meeting with his counterparts from the G7 group to make sure that the seven largest Western economies have a common approach to the so-called COVID-19 passports.

      He said that he was working with the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Authorities on this issue.

      "I'm working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that the system can be internationally recognized," Shapps added.

      The UK transport secretary stressed, however, that the government must be very cautious on this regard because in most other places of the world the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has not been as fast as in the UK, where 33,8 million people have already received at least one dose.

      Under the current restrictions, all non-essential international travels from UK are banned, but holidays abroad might resume from 17 May, when the government is expected to announce a further easing of the lockdown.

    • 04:39

      India's COVID Death Toll Tops 200,000, Daily Cases Rise by Record 360,960

    • 04:23

      Indian COVID-19 Strain Found in at Least 17 Countries, WHO Says

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    Live Updates: India's COVID Death Toll Tops Grim 200,000 Mark as Daily Cases Rise by Record 360,960
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (328)
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