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Coronavirus news – live: Cyclone hampers India’s Covid response as cases top 25 million

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Relatives perform the last rites for Covid-19 victims at a mass cremation ground in Bangalore, India, on 18 May, 2021

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Relatives perform the last rites for Covid-19 victims at a mass cremation ground in Bangalore, India, on 18 May, 2021

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Relatives perform the last rites for Covid-19 victims at a mass cremation ground in Bangalore, India, on 18 May, 2021

(EPA)

A deadly cyclone that struck India’s west coast on Monday has hampered the authorities’ response to Covid-19 in some states, which were forced to halt their vaccination drive and move patients as hospitals lost power.

It comes as India recorded 267,334 new coronavirus cases over 24 hours ending Wednesday morning, while deaths rose by a record 4,529. The overall caseload stands at 25.5 million.

Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in Gujarat state late on Monday and weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “severe cyclonic storm” by Tuesday, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

The storm killed at least 29 people, according to Reuters, and left a trail of destruction as it pummelled India’s western coast. Tauktae hit amid a second wave of the pandemic that has overwhelmed India’s healthcare system.

In Gujarat, vaccinations were suspended in view of the cyclone and are likely to remain suspended at least until Wednesday, officials said. Hospitals are waiting for back-up generators to keep power running and additional oxygen supplies, according to Reuters.

81 hospitals designated for coronavirus patients had faced power supply disruption, along with 16 other hospitals, and 19 oxygen refilling plants, Sunaina Tomar, energy secretary in Gujarat state, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Texas governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered all government entities in the state to lift mask mandates by the end of the week. “We can continue to mitigate Covid-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” he said in a statement.

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Singapore says no new variant, cases linked to Indian variant

Singapore on Tuesday rejected claims that a new variant has been detected in the country. The health ministry said the “strain that is prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India.”

It was responding to reports of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that a Covid-19 variant found in Singapore could bring in a third wave in India.

Meanwhile, India’s external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar said the “Delhi chief minister does not speak for India.”

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 06:55

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Black fungus cases rise in India

Cases of black fungus in Covid-19 patients have been increasing in India as pharmacies report a shortage of an anti-fungal drug used to treat the infection.

The fungal infection called mucormycosis can lead to permanent loss of vision, destruction of facial structures and even death in some cases, doctors have said.

The highest number of black fungus cases have been reported from the state of Maharashtra (around 2,000), followed by Gujarat (1,163), according to NDTV.

India’s government has now said that it has chalked out a strategy to ramp up the domestic production as well as import of the drug — Amphotericin B.

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 06:33

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US vaccines effective against variant first detected in India, says Anthony Fauci

Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that Covid-19 vaccines available in the US are effective against the Covid-19 variant first detected in India.

The B.1.617 virus variant has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation.

Dr Fauci said initial studies indicated the vaccines “are likely” effective and protective against the variant. The US is using Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 06:03

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98% of India still vulnerable to Covid-19, says government

The Indian government on Tuesday said that 1.8 per cent of the total population in India has been affected by Covid-19 and 98 per cent is still vulnerable.

“Despite the high number of cases reported so far, we have been able to contain the spread to under 2 per cent of the population,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary at the health ministry.

He also said that the majority of the population is still vulnerable and “we cannot let our guard down.”

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 05:52

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Deaths due to Covid-19 rise by a record 4,529

India reported 267,334 new Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours, and a record 4,529 deaths.

While the case tally now stands at 25.5 million, the death toll has risen to 283,248, according to health ministry data.

Experts and health professionals have said that the actual figures are higher than the official data, but it’s not yet clear by how much.

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 05:33

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday 19 May, 2021.

Akshita Jain19 May 2021 05:11

Source: Coronavirus news – live: Cyclone hampers India’s Covid response as cases top 25 million

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