COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis, and a top public health expert is warning of hard weeks ahead.
India’s official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million on Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health-care system.
On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 357,229 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19.
Infections have been increasing in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants of the virus as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.
WATCH | Frantic patients seek care as hospitals in India struggle to keep up with COVID-19 cases:
Dr. Dhiren Shah, a cardiac surgeon at a private hospital in Ahmedabad, India, told CBC’s Heather Hiscox that the situation in hospitals is grim.
“We are in a situation where there are a lot of patients begging for a bed in the hospital,” he said, but there is no way to care for them all.
The overall scenario is “gruesome” right now, he told CBC News Network.
Patients seeking a bed are forced to move from hospital to hospital as they spend hours searching for an open bed, Shah said, with some people dying in ambulances as they try to secure care.
Watch the full interview to hear more about what’s happening on the ground in India.
The challenges are steep in states where elections were held and unmasked crowds likely worsened the spread of the virus. The average number of daily infections in West Bengal state has increased by a multiple of 32 to over 17,000 since the balloting began.
“It’s a terrifying crisis,” said Dr. Punyabrata Goon, convener of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum.
Goon also said that the state needs to hasten immunizations. But the world’s largest maker of vaccines is short of shots — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health in the United States, said he is concerned that Indian policymakers he has been in contact with believe things will improve in the next few days.
“I’ve been … trying to say to them, ‘If everything goes very well, things will be horrible for the next several weeks. And it may be much longer,’ ” he said.
Jha said the focus needs to be on “classic” public health measures: targeted shutdowns, more testing, universal mask-wearing and avoiding large gatherings.
“That is what’s going to break the back of this surge,” he said.
India’s top health official, Rajesh Bhushan, refused to speculate last month as to why authorities weren’t better prepared.
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | Expert discusses latest NACI recommendations and what they might mean for Canada:
As of 2:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 1,247,304 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 82,935 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,385.
At a briefing on Tuesday, federal officials said three million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna would arrive in Canada by the end of the week. That figure includes one million Moderna doses that were meant to be picked up next week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said, noting the company is working with the government on a more regular delivery schedule.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 2,791 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 2,167, with 886 patients in intensive care, the province reported.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce also announced that students can opt to take all their classes online when the new school year begins in September. Lecce did not, however, provide details on whether or not students will be heading back to class for the remainder of the current school year.
Quebec reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 16 additional deaths. Premier François Legault also announced that emergency lockdown measures will end in some parts of the province next week, including the Quebec City area.
Legault said the situation has improved enough in the capital and in two parts of the Outaouais region in western Quebec to allow high school students to return to class, non-essential businesses to open and the nightly curfew to be pushed to 9:30 p.m. from 8 p.m. beginning May 10.
Nova Scotia reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths on Tuesday. The provincial government also announced more than $12 million in additional support for businesses hit by the latest COVID-19 restrictions in the province.
Labi Kousoulis, minister of inclusive economic growth, said the new grant targets businesses directly affected by the provincewide lockdown that went into effect last Wednesday.
Prince Edward Island on Tuesday reported one new case of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to seven, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Across the North, Nunavut on Tuesday reported seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 85. Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updates for the day.
Manitoba reported 291 new COVID-19 cases and one death connected to a more contagious coronavirus variant on Tuesday. The province also declared two outbreaks at Winnipeg schools.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province can expect an announcement on stricter public health measures Tuesday as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb.
Kenney told a news conference on Monday — when the province reported 2,012 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths — that he was angered to see that a large group of people gathered over the weekend at a rodeo event in Bowden, Alta., in flagrant violation of the restrictions in place.
WATCH | Questions around NACI advice for Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
What’s happening around the world
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 153.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been recorded around the world, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.2 million.
In the Middle East, Kuwait’s government is barring unvaccinated residents from travelling abroad starting later this month, the latest attempt to tame the spiraling coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan became the latest place to ban arrivals from India, as it moves to prevent new infections, with more nations reporting cases of a variant first identified in the subcontinent.
In Africa, Tanzania announced new anti-coronavirus measures, saying it wanted to prevent the importation of new variants.
In Europe, the German government says people who are fully immunized or have recovered from a coronavirus infection will be exempt from contact restrictions and curfews.
Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said the two groups will be treated the same as people who have tested negative. This means they can visit certain places, such as the hairdresser, without taking a test. More than eight per cent of the population in Germany have received two shots, while 28.7 per cent have received at least one dose of vaccine.
In the Americas, Trinidad and Tobago said on Monday it was tightening lockdown restrictions for three weeks starting at midnight as the number of new COVID-19 cases hit new highs and the Caribbean twin-island nation faces a potential shortage of hospital beds.
Basketball trailblazer denied Canadian permanent residency, must return to U.S. – CBC.ca
Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir, the trailblazing basketball player who set up an academy for girls and coached multiple sports at an Islamic school in London, Ont., has been denied permanent residency in Canada and will have to go back to the United States.
“We’ve been here for two years, my son is Canadian, and we would love to be part of this country, but we finally got the message from immigration that we were denied permanent residency. It’s very unexpected,” said Abdul Qaadir from her London home. “I’m at a loss for words. I’ve single-handedly brought sports to an underserviced community. It’s heartbreaking.”
Abdul-Qaadir and her husband, A.W. Massey, moved to London from Tennessee three years ago.
She said she hasn’t been able to work in Canada since August, when her work permit expired and wasn’t renewed by a Canadian border official.
“We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We aren’t sure. We’re angry and we’re tired. We put our heart and soul into this application. We felt like we checked all the boxes.”
Abdul-Qaadir led a four-year battle against the International Basketball Federation, which banned religious head coverings on the court. She won, but sacrificed her basketball career to do so.
She had been the leading high school point scorer for both boys and girls in Massachusetts, and went on to play for the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she was the first woman to play in a hijab in NCAA Division 1.
Alongside her motivational speaking gigs, she teaches at the London Islamic School and has opened a basketball academy in London, but all that is now up in the air.
After waiting an entire year, my Canadian permanent residency application was refused because the <a href=”https://twitter.com/CitImmCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CitImmCanada</a>’s officer felt that my job duties as Athletic Director at the Mosque/Private School in London ON, wasn’t adequate work.
On Thursday, Abdul-Qaadir got a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that said she doesn’t “meet the requirements for immigration to Canada.”
She applied for permanent residency as an athletic director at the London Muslim Mosque, but her duties — including developing, managing and supervising the school’s physical education and athletic programs, as well as being the head coach for the basketball, volleyball and cross-country teams — are “inconsistent with the actions” of an athletic director.
“I am not satisfied that your stated duties is sufficient to indicate that your role involves plan, organize, direct, control and evaluate the operations of comprehensive fitness programs at this organization. I am also not satisfied that you performed a substantial number of the main duties for this [job classification],” IRCC wrote in her letter.
Abdul-Qaadir said she doesn’t know if she and her husband will fight the refusal.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards
Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.
The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.
Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.
Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.
The company had said in February https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crypto-currency-mastercard-idUSKBN2AA2WF it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.
Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered https://www.reuters.com/article/us-blockfi-crypto-currency-visa-idUSKBN28B603 with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.
Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.
(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times
Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.
“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.
The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.
Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.
She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement https://www.reuters.com/technology/huawei-cfo-meng-appear-court-expected-reach-agreement-with-us-source-2021-09-24 with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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