NEW DELHI — India reported another 132,364 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding new cases this week, and prompting several state governments to ease some of the restrictions.
The latest update from the Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s total to more than 28.6 million, the second-highest in the world after the United States. The ministry said 2,713 more people died in the past 24 hours, driving the overall toll to 340,702. These numbers are certain undercounts.
The ministry also said India’s recovery rate has neared 93.80% after 207,071 people recovered Thursday, exceeding the number of newly infected.
Cases have also sharply dropped in New Delhi. On Friday, it recorded 487 new infections, the lowest in more than two months. There are less than 9.000 active cases in the capital now.
The decline in daily confirmed infections has prompted state governments, like New Delhi and Maharashtra, to announce measures to exit lockdowns.
The western state of Maharashtra, home to financial hub Mumbai, is planning to lift most restrictions across half of its districts this month, officials said. New Delhi has already reopened manufacturing and construction activity.
Much of the country is still under some form of a shutdown, with many industries and businesses unable to resume work. Schools and most businesses remain closed.
Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to speed up vaccinations. India has administered just over 220 million jabs so far and less than 5% of the country has been fully vaccinated.
MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— US to swiftly boost global vaccine sharing, Biden announces
— Jobs data to show whether worker shortages still slow hiring
— Heart reaction probed as possible rare vaccine link in teens
— California workplace regulators approved controversial rules that allow workers to go maskless only if every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
— Britain is removing Portugal from its list of COVID-safe travel destinations, meaning thousands of U.K. residents currently on vacation there will have to quarantine on return.
— Colombia is moving to reactivate its economy by easing several lockdown measures even though it is still fighting a third peak in the coronavirus pandemic, which has been aggravated by a month of crowded antigovernment street protests.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PHOENIX — Arizona’s state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites, which were touted as a national model, will be shutting down later this month.
The state Department of Health Services announced Thursday all its mass vaccination sites are gradually winding down operations and will be closed by June 28.
Health officials pointed to the growing number of options for people to get vaccinated including pharmacies, doctors’ offices and pop-up clinics.
Approximately 1.6 million vaccine doses have been administered across state mass vaccination sites. The very first one, which opened in State Farm Stadium in Glendale, drew praise from President Joe Biden.
More than 5.9 million doses so far have been administered in the state. Around 3.3 million people have received at least one dose. More than 2.8 million have gotten both doses — that’s less than half of the state’s population eligible to receive vaccines.
DENVER — About 500 people remain hospitalized in Colorado with COVID-19 even though the pandemic seems to be receding.
Health officials say nearly all of them share a common trait: They’re unvaccinated.
Colorado Public Radio reports COVID-19 vaccines now in use and available to just about anyone 12 and older provide near universal protection against the illness and even greater protection against severe cases leading to hospitalizations.
Doctors in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in the state can’t recall a single death of a vaccinated person. Still, health officials are struggling to convince some groups to get the vaccine, particularly younger people and minorities.
Hispanic and Black residents continue to be hospitalized at disproportionately high rates, according to state health officials.
Hispanics make up about 20% of the state’s population, but in recent weeks have made up roughly 28% of those hospitalized. Black residents account for nearly 4% of the state’s population but have been hospitalized in recent weeks at double that figure.
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is the latest state to offer prizes to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announcing a series of giveaways during the month of June that include lottery drawings totaling $2 million, college tuition assistance, airline tickets and game systems.
The incentive program, called “Shot of a Lifetime,” ends June 30 and applies to those who start the vaccination process this month as well as residents who are already vaccinated.
Washington joins several other states — including California, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon — that have already created lotteries in hopes of increasing the pace of vaccination, which has slowed in recent weeks.
Starting next Tuesday, the state Lottery will hold one drawing a week for four weeks, with a prize of $250,000. At the end of the fourth week, a final $1 million drawing will held.
In addition, the state’s public four-year universities and two-year community and technical colleges will receive nearly $1 million to run their own drawing for free tuition and expenses for vaccinated students.
SAN FRANCISCO — There’s one pandemic change that Californians are sure to toast: The to-go cocktail.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will allow restaurants to continue selling take-out alcohol and keep expanded outdoor dining through the end of the year.
Restaurants turned to takeout and outdoor seating during the last year as coronavirus restrictions limited indoor service.
The state’s department of Alcoholic Beverage Control relaxed regulations to allow them to keep selling alcohol, which can be a big money maker.
Lawmakers could permanently extend the allowance of to-go cocktails through a bill by state Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat. He said his proposal would boost income for struggling restaurants and give customers greater choice.
The state is set to drop all capacity limits on businesses, indoor and outdoor, on June 15.
WASHINGTON — White House officials say U.S. producers of vaccine materials and ingredients will no longer have to prioritize orders from three companies working on COVID-19 shots.
The change is expected to ease global shortages of key vaccine materials for overseas companies and governments.
Officials say the government is dropping its use of the Defense Production Act to prioritize supply orders from AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi. Those three companies have not yet won U.S. authorization for their COVID-19 shots, despite receiving funding from the federal government for development and manufacturing.
Administration officials say the U.S. now has enough vaccines to protect all Americans. President Joe Biden has faced increasing pressure to make more U.S. vaccines and supplies available to struggling countries.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The World Health Organization says COVID-19 vaccine shipments have ground to “a near halt” in Africa while coronavirus cases have spiked 20% over the last two weeks.
South Africa alone had a more than 60% rise in new cases last week as the country with the highest coronavirus caseload in Africa continued to face delays in its effort to roll out the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
More than 1 million J&J doses remain on hold at a pharmaceuticals plant in South Africa because of contamination concerns at a U.S. factory. The head of the Africa CDC said he expects an announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on those contamination issues soon.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s top vaccines expert says that immunizing children against the coronavirus “is not a high priority” given the extremely limited global supply of vaccines.
Dr. Kate O’Brien says vaccinating children “is not a priority from a WHO perspective,” even as increasing numbers of rich countries authorize their COVID-19 shots for teenagers and children. O’Brien says since children are not typically at risk of getting severely ill or dying from COVID-19, vaccinating them during the pandemic is mostly aimed at stopping transmission, rather than protecting them from disease.
Canada, the U.S. and the European Union have all recently approved some COVID-19 vaccines for children age 12 to 15 as they approach their vaccination targets for adults. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously urged rich countries to donate their COVID-19 shots to poor countries rather than immunize their adolescents and children. Fewer than 1% of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally have been used in poor countries.
O’Brien says it’s not necessary to vaccinate children before sending them back to school if the adults in contact with them were immunized.