Flowers on blankets arranged to resemble gurneys during a protest against the government's pandemic response outside of the Raul Gazzola hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 24 March 2021 | Photographer: Dado Galdieri | Bloomberg
Flowers on blankets arranged to resemble gurneys during a protest against the government's pandemic response outside of the Raul Gazzola hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 24 March 2021 | Photographer: Dado Galdieri | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic is far from over. The deadly virus has claimed over 31 lakh lives globally so far and more than 15 crore cases have been reported.

France is opening up its non-essential venues including restaurants and bars, while Hong Kong is fearing a fifth wave of the virus. ThePrint brings you some stories from around the world on the pandemic to keep you updated.

Hong Kong warns of fifth wave after discovery of new mutant 

Top Hong Kong public health experts have warned that a potential fifth wave of Covid-19 cases could emerge in the next two weeks, hours after authorities identified the city’s first untraceable case with a mutant strain, South China Morning Post reports.

Chinese University respiratory medicine expert Professor David Hui Shu-cheong said the government might need to look into tightening social-distancing measures once more if local coronavirus infections rose rapidly. The city has so far identified four local mutant cases, with the source of the first three said to be traceable. However, Hong Kong Thursday eased social-distancing restrictions for food and drink businesses and entertainment venues.

Hong Kong has reported 11,771 coronavirus cases and 209 deaths so far.

French bars, restaurants to open from 19 May 

Non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and cultural sites will be allowed to reopen to customers from 19 May in France, Euro News reports.

The phasing out of restrictions will began from 3 May, when the 10-km travel ban will be lifted and people will be able to travel cross-country. On 19 May, the nighttime curfew will be pushed back by two hours to 9 pm; non-essential shops can reopen; outdoor drinking and dining will be permitted with a maximum of six people at the same table; cultural venues including museums, cinemas, and theatres can reopen with a maximum capacity of 800 indoors and 1,000 outdoors.

Some of the steps, including the reopening of borders to foreign tourists from 9 June , will only be possible with a health pass attesting that the holder has been vaccinated, has recently tested negative for the virus or has recently recovered from it.

France has reported 55,92,390 cases and 1,04,224 deaths so far.

Also read: UP villagers fear ‘Corona sui’ & losing kidney, so they won’t get tested or treated for Covid

Brazil hits 4 lakh Covid deaths, records maximum deaths in April 

Brazil surpassed 4,00,000 coronavirus-related deaths, the second-highest total in the world after the US, Al Jazeera reports. More than half of these deaths were recorded in 2021, while April has been the deadliest month since the start of the pandemic last year.

Experts blame several factors for the recent surge, including the more contagious P1 variant, fatigue with restrictive measures such as lockdowns, and a slow vaccine rollout in the country. The far-right populist President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has also been condemned by health experts. This week, a senate commission also opened an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Brazil has reported 1,45,92,886 cases and 4,01,417 deaths so far.

Covid-19 surge in Syria amid test and oxygen shortages

The United Nations has warned that a “rapid and accelerating” wave of coronavirus and shortages of equipment such as tests and oxygen is putting millions of people across conflict-ravaged Syria at risk from the Covid-19 virus, The Guardian reports.

More than a year into the global pandemic, testing facilities in the country are still almost non-existent, making it impossible for healthcare workers to assess the true impact of the disease. About 90 per cent of Syrians across regime, rebel and Kurdish-held areas now live in poverty.

“Currently, 83% of patients who receive invasive ventilation in the region are not surviving and we fear that things will only get worse,” said Misty Buswell, IRC’s policy and advocacy director for the region. “The health system is struggling to cope, and the situation is deteriorating extremely rapidly.”

Syria has reported 22,631 cases and 1,583 deaths so far.

South Africa to continue with J&J vaccine as cabinet lifts suspension

After a data review confirmed that healthcare workers who had already received the Johnson & Johnson shot had not experienced blood clots, the country is going to resume the vaccinations, Mail and Guardian reports.

The country suspended its Sisonke vaccination programme on 13 April as a precautionary measure after six American women who had taken the J&J vaccine developed blood clots. The acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Thursday announced that after recommendations presented to the cabinet, a decision was made to lift the suspension.

South Africa has reported 15,79,536 cases and 54,331 deaths.

Also read: 

After a Year of Loss, South America Suffers Worst Death Tolls Yet, The New York Times

No move on Aussie ‘vaccine passport’ as Europe prepares ticket to fly, Sydney Morning Herald

Also read: Govt to import 4.5 lakh vials of remdesivir to ease shortage, first shipment to arrive today


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