India Covid cases hit new record as pilgrims flood Ganges – latest updates

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It has administered more than 3.1 million vaccines doses, including more than 600,000 in Bogota

US pauses use of J&J vaccine over rare blood clots

US federal health agencies have recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under age 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot, dealing a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic

Covid-19 has killed over 2.97M people and infected nearly 138M others globally. Here are the latest developments for April 14: People wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus stand in queues to board trains at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai, India on April 14, 2021. (AP) Wednesday, April 14

India's new coronavirus infections hit record high 

India's new coronavirus infections have hit a record  as crowds of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival despite oxygen shortages and strict curbs in other areas.

The country reported 184,372 cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, taking total infections to 13.9 million. Deaths rose by 1,027, to a toll of 172,085.

Still, hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges river, the third key day of the weeks-long Kumbh Mela – or pitcher festival.

Olympic torch relay cancelled in Japanese city over virus surge

A western Japanese city has cancelled the Tokyo Olympics torch relay over spiking coronavirus cases , the second area to scrap the event as the clock ticks down to the postponed Games.

The decision comes 100 days before the 2020 Olympics begin and accompanies fresh concerns about the viability of the event, with virus cases surging in Japan and abroad.

“We will cancel the torch relay in Matsuyama city. We will hold the celebration for the arrival of the flame in a way that will not involve ordinary spectators,” said Tokihiro Nakamura, governor of Ehime prefecture.

Thailand reports daily record of 1,335 new cases

Thailand has reported 1,335 new cases, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic and the third record rise this week, as the country struggles with a new wave of infections.

No new deaths were reported. The new cases took the total number of infections to 35,910, with deaths remaining at 97. 

Germany records 21,693 more cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 21,693 to 3,044,016. 

The data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed that the death toll rose by 342 to 79,088. 

South Korea reports 731 new cases

South Korea has reported 731 new coronavirus cases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said as the country battles to stem the number of infections with more testing and vaccination efforts.

Congo to start delayed vaccination with AstraZeneca shots

The Democratic Republic of Congo will start its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on April 19 with 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it received from the COVAX global vaccines sharing scheme after delaying the rollout for more than a month.

Congo received the vaccines on March 2 and was expected to begin the inoculation campaign almost immediately but delayed rollout after several European countries suspended use of the shots.

A government statement late on Tuesday said a task force had determined that the AstraZeneca vaccines already available in the country presented no risks to the population.

Lack of exercise linked to more severe symptoms and a higher risk of death – study

Among Covid-19 patients, a lack of exercise is linked to more severe symptoms and a higher risk of death, according to a study covering nearly 50,000 people who were infected with the virus.

People physically inactive for at least two years before the pandemic were more likely to be hospitalised, to require intensive care, and to die, researchers reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

As a risk factor for serious Covid disease, physical inactivity was surpassed only by advanced age and a history of organ transplant, the study found.

Indeed, compared to other modifiable risk factors such as smoking, obesity or hypertension, “physical inactivity was the strongest risk factor across all outcomes,” the authors concluded.

Brazil registers 3,808 Covid-19 deaths

Brazil has registered 3,808 Covid-19 deaths and 82,186 additional coronavirus cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 358,425 total Covid-19 deaths and 13,599,994 total confirmed cases. 

Australia returns to 'war footing' amid Covid-19 vaccine turmoil

Australia's national cabinet will begin meeting twice a week from Monday, marking a return to a “war footing” in the country's battle against the coronavirus pandemic amid turmoil in its national vaccination programme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the return to more frequent meetings of the group of federal and state government leaders was necessary to address “serious challenges” caused by patchy international vaccine supplies and changing medical advice.

“This is a complex task and there are problems with the programme that we need to solve to ensure more Australians can be vaccinated safely and more quickly,” Morrison said in a statement.

Australia has fared much better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, with just over 29,400 Covid-19 cases and 910 deaths.

Colombian capital to hold another weekend lockdown

Colombia's capital Bogota will repeat a three-day lockdown this weekend in a bid to slow coronavirus infections, Mayor Claudia Lopez has said.

A similar lockdown last weekend has helped slow the transmission of the disease, Lopez said in a press conference.

People should stay home on Friday through Sunday, she added, and limits on when people can shop based on their ID number will continue.

Intensive care units in Bogota have an occupancy rate of 76 percent, less than other cities like Medellin, which has also imposed quarantine measures.

Officials will evaluate again next week whether to extend the lockdown measures, Lopes said.

Colombia has reported more than 2.5 million coronavirus cases, as well as 66,000 deaths.

It has administered more than 3.1 million vaccines doses, including more than 600,000 in Bogota

US pauses use of J&J vaccine over rare blood clots

US federal health agencies have recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under age 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot, dealing a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson said it would delay rollout of the vaccine to Europe, a week after regulators there said they were reviewing rare blood clots in four recipients of the shot in the United States. South Africa also suspended use of J&J's vaccine.

Acting US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock said the agency expected the pause to be a matter of days, and was aimed at providing information to healthcare providers on how to diagnose and treat the clots.

The moves come after European regulators said earlier this month they had found a possible link between AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and a similar rare blood clotting problem that led to a small number of deaths.

FDA official Peter Marks said it was “plainly obvious” the J&J cases were “very similar” to the AstraZeneca ones. 

He said there had been no similar blood clot cases reported among recipients of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which use a different technology and accounted for the vast majority of US vaccinations so far.

But J&J's single-dose shot and AstraZeneca's low-cost vaccine are seen as vital weapons in the fight against a pandemic that has claimed more than three million lives.

UK trial on switching Covid-19 vaccines adds Moderna and Novavax shots

A UK study into using different Covid-19 vaccines in two-dose inoculations is being expanded to include shots made by Moderna and Novavax, researchers have said.

The trial, known as the Com-Cov study, was first launched in February to look at whether giving a first dose of one type of Covid-19 shot, and a second dose of another, elicits an immune response that is as good as using two doses of the same vaccine.

The idea, said Matthew Snape, the Oxford University professor leading the trial, “is to explore whether the multiple Covid-19 vaccines that are available can be used more flexibly”.

Britain and many other countries in Europe are currently using AstraZeneca's and Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccines in nationwide immunisation campaigns against the coronavirus pandemic.

But reports of very rare blood clots have prompted some governments – including France and Germany – to say the AstraZeneca shot should only be given to certain age groups, or that people who have had a first dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine should switch to a different one for their second dose.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies