Covid-19 has killed more than 3 million people and infected over 142 million others globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for April 19:

Passengers from international flights arrive at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the Covid-19, London, Britain, on July 29, 2020.
Passengers from international flights arrive at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the Covid-19, London, Britain, on July 29, 2020. (Reuters Archive)

Monday, April 19

UK adds India to travel 'red list' after virus surge

Britain has imposed its strictest travel curbs on India after an explosion of coronavirus cases there, hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off a trip to New Delhi. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said India was being added to Britain's "red list" of countries, banning all arrivals from India except for UK or Irish nationals, who must pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days on their return.

Ireland registers three cases of Indian Covid-19 variant

Ireland has registered its first three cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, a senior health official said on Monday.

Cillian De Gascun, the head of Ireland's national virus laboratory, told journalists at least two of the cases were related to travel.

He said the variant was still classified as a "variant of interest" rather than a "variant of concern."

Italy reports 316 coronavirus deaths, 8,864 new cases

Italy has reported 316 coronavirus-related deaths against 251 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 8,864 from 12,694.

Italy has registered 117,243 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has reported 3.88 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 23,742 on Monday, slightly up from 23,648 a day earlier.

There were 141 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 163 on Sunday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 3,244 from a previous 3,311.

WHO says world seeing increased cases across all age groups

A leading epidemiologist at the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the latest rise in Covid-19 infections worldwide reflected increases among all age groups.

"We are seeing increased rates of transmission across all age groups," Maria van Kerkhove told a WHO briefing, adding that last week saw 5.2 million cases reported, the highest weekly increase since the start of the pandemic.

"We are seeing a slight age shift in some countries, driven by social mixing," she added.

Britain reports four Covid-19 daily deaths

Britain has reported just four deaths in latest daily Covid-19 figures, government statistics showed, the lowest number of deaths since September.

Death totals are often lower on Mondays due to delays in reporting deaths over the weekend.

There were 2,963 new Covid-19 cases reported, with 32.93million people receiving a first Covid-19 vaccine dose. More than 10 million people have now received two doses of a Covid-19vaccine.

Turkey reports 55,149 new cases, 341 more deaths

Turkey has recorded 55,149 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed, down from a record of more than 63,000 cases reported on Friday.

The data also showed 341 people died due to Covid-19 in the same period, bringing the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 36,267.

World can bring pandemic under control within months - WHO chief

The world has the means to bring the global COVID-19 pandemic under control in the coming months, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a daily news briefing on Monday.

"We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in amatter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably,"Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

All adult Indians to be eligible for virus vaccine from May

India has said that it will open its Covid-19 vaccination drive to all adults from May 1, as the vast nation battles a massive spike in infections that has overwhelmed its healthcare system.

"In a meeting chaired by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, an important decision of allowing vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 from 1st May has been taken," the health ministry said in a statement.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine 97.6% effective - scientist

Russian scientist Denis Logunov, a lead developer of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has said that the shot had proven itself 97.6% effective against Covid-19 in a real-world assessment, based on data from 3.8 million people.

The new effectiveness rate is higher than the 91.6 percent rate outlined in results from a large-scale trial of Sputnik V and published in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year.

Using a database of people who received both doses of the vaccine, scientists at Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, which developed it, calculated a real-world effectiveness rate of 97.6 percent, Logunov said during a presentation for the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Argentina reopens schools in capital despite virus peak

Schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina have reopened following a court order that annulled a federal decision of maintaining online classes for two more weeks.

The announcement has been made by Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta late Sunday. 

Rodriguez said the city will not adhere to the decree of President Alberto Fernandez and they will perform in-person classes as usual on Monday.

His decision was based on a judge ruling a day earlier that sided with parents and some teacher groups in the city about face-to-face classes.

The South American nation has recorded about 2.7 million cases and more than 59,200 deaths, while over 2.3 million have recovered from the disease so far.

Covid alert in Vanuatu after infected body washes ashore

Vanuatu has slapped travel restrictions on its most populous island after tests confirmed a body that washed ashore on the largely coronavirus-free Pacific nation was infected with Covid-19.

Government sources said the deceased was a Filipino sailor whose vessel had left Port Vila a day before his body was found washed up near a village about five kilometres (3.1 miles) outside the city on Sunday 11 April.

It was not clear how or where the man died, or how his body ended up in the sea.

The Pacific island nation has recorded only three coronavirus cases, all in arriving travellers, and the National Disaster Management Office said it was taking steps to ensure there was no transmission among the population of 200,000.

Turkey's Covid-19 deaths rise four-fold over past month

Turkey's Covid-19 deaths have risen four-fold over the past month, with the number of patients in critical condition doubling over the period, according to a tally of Health Ministry data.

Anadolu Agency evaluated figures recorded nationwide from March 18 - April 18.

In February, when coronavirus restrictions including lockdowns were still in place, 129 fatalities were recorded on the first day of the month, with deaths dropping to 66 on the last day of the month.

As restrictions were relaxed in March, a spike in fatalities was reported. On March 1, 69 people died and this figure rose to 81 on March 18.

On March 21, the fatalities reached three digits with 102 people losing the battle against the virus. The figures kept rising throughout the month with the virus claiming 152 lives on March 31.

The upward trend continued in April as well. The Health Ministry reported 176 fatalities on April 1, with deaths reaching 211 on April 6.

Some 318 people died on April 18 due to the coronavirus, thus raising the month-on-month death toll four times.

Philippines lifts suspension on AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60s

The Philippines has lifted a suspension on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 60, an official said Monday, arguing "the benefits outweigh the risk" as the country battles record infections.

Philippine Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said the drug regulator had recommended "extra precautions" for administering the shot to people with certain existing health conditions.

The Philippines has received around three million doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far - the vast majority from China's Sinovac.

It also got 525,600 AstraZeneca doses through the Covax programme, according to official data.

The country expects another three million AstraZeneca doses in the coming months.

Doctors say clot treatment advice key to US resuming J&J vaccines 

Resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine in the United States will require clear guidelines for the medical community on how to best treat patients that develop a rare type of blood clot, as well as alerting vaccine recipients to be aware of the telltale symptoms, according to heart doctors and other medical experts.

US health regulators recommended last week that use of the J&J vaccine be paused after six cases of rare brain blood clots, accompanied by low platelet levels, were reported in women following vaccination, out of some 7 million people who have received the shot in the United States.

A panel of expert advisors to US health agencies will meet later this week to determine whether the pause should continue, with a decision expected as early as Friday. 

Spain to trial mixing Covid vaccines 

Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines, government researchers have said, responding to shifting guidelines on the safety of the AstraZeneca's shot.

Along with several other European countries, Spain restricted vaccines produced by the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker to people over 60 after regulators linked it to a rare form of brain blood clots, mostly in younger women.

The trial will draw on a sample of 600 people of all ages from across Spain, said Jesus Frias Iniesta, clinical research coordinator at Carlos III.

A UK study on mixing vaccines was expanded last week to include shots made by Moderna and Novavax, while France and Germany are considering giving an alternative to under 60s who received a first dose of AstraZeneca.

India reports 273,810 cases, faces acute shortage of oxygen

India reported a record rise in infections of 273,810, taking its overall caseload past 15 million, second only to the United States globally.

The country's deaths from the virus rose by a record 1,619 to reach a total of 178,769, according to health ministry data. 

With cases rising, there have been reports of shortages of beds, medical oxygen supplies and treatment drugs like Remdesivir in various parts of the country.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that New Delhi is facing an acute shortage of oxygen.

Canada to send support to virus-hit Ontario

Canada will funnel additional health staff and equipment into virus-hit Ontario as the province battles a worrying spike in infections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

The government will mobilise health professionals from different federal departments and deploy them to Ontario, particularly the Toronto region, where "the situation is most critical," Trudeau said in a video posted on Twitter.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province with 14 million people, has for several days struggled with record coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and intensive care patients, all of which are threatening to overwhelm its health system.

Argentine court orders schools in Buenos Aires to open despite surge

Schools in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires will open after a court overruled a federal order requiring classes go online for two weeks amid a surge in cases that has brought hospitals to near collapse.

The Buenos Aires judge ruled in favour of a lawsuit filed by non-governmental parent and some teachers' groups in the city, demanding a decree that suspended face-to-face classes in the capital region for 15 days be immediately nullified.

Thailand reports 1,390 infections

Thailand reported 1,390 new virus cases, slowing from six days of record highs, amid a third wave of infections in the Southeast Asian country.

Three deaths were reported. The new cases took the total number of infections to 43,742, with 104 deaths.

Germany reports 11,437 cases – RKI

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 11,437 to 3,153,699, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 92 to 80,006, the tally showed.

Japan's hard-hit regions may slide back to Covid-19 state of emergency

A recent surge in Covid-19 cases could see major parts of Japan slide back into states of emergency with authorities in Tokyo and Osaka looking at renewed curbs to stop the spread.

The new wave of infections complicates preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are due to start in July having already been postponed due to the global coronavirus outbreak last year.

Italy seeks domestic production of mRNA vaccines – FT

Italy has held talks with several manufacturers about starting production of mRNA-based vaccines in the country, the Financial Times reported.

Rome has discussed the domestic production of mRNA-based vaccines with Moderna Inc, Switzerland's Novartis AG and Italy's ReiThera, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.

Airports get busy as Australia-New Zealand quarantine-free travel begins

Hundreds of passengers have thronged Australian airports as an open border system began with New Zealand, a pandemic milestone that allows Australian residents to fly there for the first time in over a year without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents since late last year, New Zealand had enforced isolation for arrivals from its neighbour, citing concern about sporadic virus outbreaks there.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers crowding the international departure terminals at Australian airports.

"It is the first time in 400 days that people can travel quarantine-free and we are adding 16 return flights a day to New Zealand, and they are full," Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday.

The open border will help drive the economic recovery for both countries and reunite thousands with families and friends, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement.

"It's been 16 months since I've seen any member of my family, so (I'm) pretty excited," said Sherie Marshall, who was heading to New Zealand from Melbourne.

Jacky Bramley, travelling from Sydney to join her children and parents, said she was expecting "a lot of hugs, a lot of tears, but happy tears."

Japan firms brace for new wave of infections

Japanese companies think the country will suffer a fourth round of coronavirus infections, with many bracing for a further blow to business, a Reuters monthly poll has shown.

Japan has so far seen far fewer Covid-19 cases than many Western countries, but concerns about a new wave of infections are rising fast.

A delay in vaccinations versus other Group of Seven advanced countries and a lacking sense of crisis among the public will trigger a new wave of infections, some firms wrote in the poll.

The Corporate Survey found almost all Japanese companies anticipated a new wave of infections in Japan. Many expected it to peak in May, around the time of the Golden Week holidays, which would diminish hope for a domestic demand-led recovery.

If the new wave of infections led Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government to issue a fresh state of emergency, which entails business restrictions and penalty, that would hurt sales at 59% of firms, the April 2-13 survey found.

New UK challenge trial studies if people can catch coronavirus again

British scientists have launched a trial which will deliberately expose participants who have already had Covid-19 to the coronavirus again to examine immune responses and see if people get reinfected.

In February, Britain became the first country in the world to give the go-ahead for so-called "challenge trials" in humans, in which volunteers are deliberately exposed to Covid-19 to advance research into the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The study launched on Monday differs from the one announced in February as it seeks to reinfect people who have previously had Covid-19 in an effort to deepen understanding about immunity, rather than infecting people for the first time.

"The information from this work will allow us to design better vaccines and treatments, and also to understand if people are protected after having Covid, and for how long," said Helen McShane, a University of Oxford vaccinologist and chief investigator on the study.

She added that the work would help understanding of what immune responses protect against reinfection.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies