In worrying developments, daily coronavirus test positivity in South Africa rose by more than 30% on Saturday for the first time in nearly five months, driven by two sub-lines of the Omicron variant known to spread quickly. Meanwhile, China – which has imposed strict and frequent Covid-19 lockdowns, causing frustration among locals – has reportedly started a new round of mass testing for the coronavirus in the capital Beijing, which has also closed further. bus lines and metro stations. Residents of Shanghai – an economic and financial hub – are also already facing draconian restrictions, including a month-long lockdown, sparking protests over issues including access to food and medical care as well as the loss of revenue – a rare sight in a country known for silencing dissent. Amid all of this, the World Health Organization released a report of excess unreported deaths – most of them from India. But the central government strongly pushed back against the report.
Check out other global Covid-19 updates:
– In South Africa, 8,524 new Covid cases were identified on Saturday, as a positivity rate of 31.1% was recorded – an indicator of how fast the virus is spreading in the community – people tested. This is the highest rate since the 32.2% recorded on December 15, when a record number of 26,976 cases were recorded. The surge could mean South Africa is close to its highest positivity rate yet. The record so far was 34.9% on December 14, according to reports.
– South Africa, which along with Botswana identified the Omicron variant in November last year, was the first country to experience a wave caused by the strain, and the way it unfolded has was taken as an indication of what might happen elsewhere.
– In a bid to combat the spread of Covid, China’s Shanghai has postponed the city’s key Gaokao University entrance exam to early July. It took place in June last year and the last time it was postponed was in 2020 during the initial virus outbreak, ANI reported, citing the Taipei Times.
– Singapore reported 3,162 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,215,499 in the country, according to data released by the Ministry of Health. The country also recorded four new deaths from the infection, bringing the total death toll to 1,350, Xinhua reported quoting the ministry.
– The Pakistani government has also dismissed the World Health Organization (WHO) report, which put the number of Covid-19 deaths in the Islamic nation at 260,000 (eight times the official figure) – questioning the methodology of the UN body to collect data and assuming an error in the software used to collate the numbers. Official records say Pakistan has recorded 30,369 Covid-19 deaths with more than 1.5 million infections.
– Strict restrictions imposed by China amid the resurgence of Covid-19 are expected to impact freight costs and global inflation, ANI said citing a media report. Federico Giuliani, covering Asian events for Il Giornale – Gli Occhi della Guerra, writing for Italian news site Inside Over, said that as the cost of shipping has increased in recent years, transport costs are expected to increase due to delays and waiting time at ports. This could create economic repercussions on world trade.
– In India, health ministers from different states who attended the 14th conference of the Central Council for Health and Family Welfare (CCHFW) criticized the WHO for its estimate of 4.7 million related deaths to Covid in India, claiming it is ‘baseless’ and ‘meant to show the country in a bad light’. After the WHO report was released on Friday, the Union Health Ministry also strongly opposed to the mathematical models used by the health body to project pandemic-related excess mortality estimates.India is also likely to raise the issue at the World Health Assembly and other multilateral forums, ministry officials said.
(With contributions from the agency)