Virus cases in India surge past 100,000

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The number of coronavirus cases in India has surged past 100,000, and infections are on the rise in home states of the migrant workers who left cities and towns during the nationwide lockdown.

India’s Health Ministry on Tuesday reported a total of 101,139 cases and 3,163 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Almost 39,000 people have recovered from the illness.

Since last week, India has averaged almost 4,000 new cases a day. The country’s worst-affected state, Maharashtra, has reported more than 35,000 cases and 1,249 fatalities.

The recent surge in recorded infections has largely been attributed to an increase in testing. Health experts, however, worry that India is still lagging behind in that area. The country has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, with only 1.5 samples tested per 1,000 people, compared to 32 in the United States.

India extended its lockdown on Sunday to May 31 but gave power to states to allow the reopening of businesses to spur economic activity.

Unemployment claims in Britain jumped by 69% last month as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and hit the labor market.

The Office of National Statistics says jobless claims surged by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April as compared to March.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, says the figures covered only the first weeks of the lockdown.

He says employment for the month held up because furloughed workers still count as being employed but “hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction.”

Human Rights Watch is urging the Arab Gulf state of Qatar to release older prisoners and those held for nonviolent offenses amid a coronavirus outbreak in the country’s central prison.

The rights group interviewed six non-Qatari detainees who said several prisoners were suspected of contracting COVID-19.

Qatar’s communication office responded to the Human Rights Watch report on Tuesday, confirming 12 prisoners had the virus in the Central Prison.

The prisoners told the rights group that authorities isolated the block where the outbreak occurred, but not before transferring some detainees to other overcrowded and unsanitary sections of the prison. They said their block has eight bathrooms for 150 prisoners, and people are sleeping on the floor with no ability to socially distance.

The government said the 12 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were treated at a medical facility on site, with two transferred out for additional care before being sent back to prison once fully recovered.

Qatar said inmates have received gloves and masks and undergo regular health checkups. In April, Qatar’s ruler pardoned more than 500 inmates to reduce the number of people imprisoned amid the pandemic.

Qatar has nearly 34,000 confirmed cases of the virus, including 15 deaths.

A registry of death certificates in Mexico City suggests there have been 4,577 cases in which doctors mentioned coronavirus or COVID-19 as a possible or probable cause of death, more than three times the official count.

The federal government acknowledges only 1,332 confirmed deaths in Mexico City due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Mexicans Against Corruption said in a report Monday it obtained access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12. It showed that in explanatory notes attached to 4,577 death certificates, doctors included the words “SARS,” “COV2,” “COV,” “Covid 19,” or “new coronavirus.”

The virus’ technical name is SARS-CoV-2. The notes the group counted included terms such as “suspected,” “probable,” or “possible” when describing the virus’ role in the deaths. In 3,209 certificates, it was listed as a suspected contributing factor along with other causes of death, like pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has acknowledged there are more virus-related deaths than officially reported, and has said a special commission will review the death figures. Her office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the new report.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the territory is ramping up coronavirus testing, especially for workers at the busy international airport and caregivers at homes for the elderly and disabled.

Lam said Tuesday tests would be increased from 4,500 to 7,000 daily with both the government health department and university laboratories taking part. Hong Kong has gone several days without new local infections, but a recent cluster among three members of the same family has increased concerns about those who show no symptoms passing the virus on to others, something authorities hope can be remedied with increased testing.

A densely populated city of more than 7 million people just across the border from mainland China, Hong Kong has reported 1,055 COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

The Oregon Supreme Court halted a rural judge’s order which had tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown in a case brought by churches arguing the Democrat exceeded her authority.

Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff had ruled that Brown erred by not seeking the Legislature’s approval to extend the stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. The Supreme Court’s late Monday decision stays Shirtcliff’s decree pending review by all the high court justices.

In a statement, Brown praised the Supreme Court action.

“There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic. Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis, when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled,” she said.

China reported six new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a day after President Xi Jinping announced his country would provide $2 billion to help respond to the outbreak and its economic fallout.

Three of the new cases were listed as imported. Two were registered as local infections in Jilin province, and another local case was identified in Hubei province, where China’s outbreak was centered.

Authorities in Hubei carried out nucleic acid tests on more than 1.5 million people between May 11 and May 17. More than 72.5% of tests were administered in Wuhan, where authorities plan to eventually test all 11 million residents as part of safeguards against a second wave of virus cases.

Wuhan and surrounding cities in Hubei accounted for the bulk of China’s reported 82,690 cases and 4,634 deaths from COVID-19.

Xi’s appearance via video link at the World Health Assembly on Monday came amid finger-pointing between the United States and China over the pandemic, and the World Health Organization bowing to calls from most of its member states to launch an independent inquiry into how it managed the response to the coronavirus.

South Korea has reported 13 new coronavirus cases, a possible sign that a recent outbreak in the capital area is stabilizing as officials prepare to reopen schools this week.

Figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought national totals to 11,078 cases and 263 deaths.

Nine of the new cases were from Seoul and nearby regions, where dozens of infections have been linked to club goers who went out in early May as the country began relaxing social distancing measures.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip urged vigilance to maintain hard-won gains against the virus and called for education officials to double check preventive measures with high school seniors returning to school on Wednesday.