Health News Roundup: India reports 281,386 new coronavirus infections; CDC recommends U.S. schools continue to use masks and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
India reports 281,386 new coronavirus infections
India on Monday reported 281,386 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 4,106. The South Asian nation's total case load is 24.97 million with the death toll at 274,390, health ministry data showed.
Thailand reports daily record of COVID-19 cases, including jail clusters
Thailand reported on Monday a daily record of 9,635 new coronavirus cases, including 6,853 infections among prisoners from jail clusters, as the Southeast Asian country struggles with the third wave of infections. The combined cases bring the country's total infections to 111,082.
Top Indian virologist quits government panel after airing differences
A top Indian virologist has resigned from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus, he told Reuters on Sunday, weeks after questioning the authorities' handling of the pandemic. Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as INSACOG, declined to give a reason for his resignation.
G7 urged to donate 'emergency' supplies to vaccine-sharing scheme
The head of UNICEF on Monday asked G7 countries to donate supplies to the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme as an emergency measure to address a severe shortfall caused by disruption to Indian vaccine exports. India has curbed exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by its Serum Institute, which had been pledged to COVAX, to be used by the country as it battles a massive second wave of infections.
French COVID-19 daily deaths, number of critical patients drops
France reported 4,255 people in intensive care units with COVID-19 on Sunday, down by 16 from the day before and the 13th day in a row the number of patients needing ICU treatment has dropped. France also reported 81 deaths in hospitals among people who had tested positive for the coronavirus, down from 112 on Saturday.
Disney World and other U.S. theme parks update mask rules
Disney World and other U.S. amusement parks updated their mask policy following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week. Masks have been made optional in outdoor areas and pool decks at Walt Disney Inc's Disney World in Orlando, Florida, effective May 15, but are still needed for entering rides and at indoor locations, according to the guidelines posted on its website.
Singapore warns children susceptible to virus variants, shuts schools
Singapore warned on Sunday that the new coronavirus variants, such as the one first detected in India, were affecting more children, as the city-state prepares to shut most schools from this week and draws up plans to vaccinate youngsters. All primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on May 28.
CDC recommends U.S. schools continue to use masks
Schools in the United States should continue to use masks for the 2020-2021 academic year as all students will not be fully vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday. The CDC in its latest guidance https://bit.ly/3olfGyP said all kindergarten through grade 12 schools "should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing."
South Africa targets 5 million elderly people in phase 2 of COVID-19 vaccine rollout
South Africa will launch phase two of its vaccine rollout on Monday with the aim of inoculating five million citizens aged over 60 by the end of June, its health minister said. "This is provided that the supply of vaccines flows as anticipated. By the end of June we expect to have received 4.5 million doses of Pfizer and 2 million doses from Johnson & Johnson," the minister, Zweli Mkhize, said during a webinar on Sunday.
Indonesia pauses distribution of a batch of AstraZeneca vaccine
Indonesia has suspended the distribution of a batch of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to run tests for sterility and toxicity following the death of a 22-year-old man a day after immunization, the health ministry said on Sunday. The "CTMAV547" batch consists of 448,480 vaccine doses that arrived in the Southeast Asian nation last month - part of a delivery of more than 3.85 million doses from the COVAX Facility, backed by the World Health Organization.
(With inputs from agencies.)