India recorded more than 314,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday – a world record for a daily count in a single country.
The world’s second-most populous country is battling a brutal second wave of the coronavirus, amid a faltering health care system that is running out of hospital beds and oxygen tanks.
More than three million people worldwide have died from the coronavirus pandemic, while at least 143 million other cases have been reported.
Here are the latest updates:
Sweden not ready to lift COVID restrictions, but PM says end in sight
Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, will postpone a tentative plan to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, due to the ongoing high levels of new infections, the government said.
Sweden is experiencing a third wave of the virus and the number of patients being treated in intensive care is at the highest level since the spring of last year.
“When the strain on healthcare eases and the spread of infection drops, only then will the government be ready to start lifting restrictions,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. “But we are not there yet.”
The restrictions will be prolonged until mid-May and mean restaurants will have to close at 8.30pm and that shops and malls can only let in limited numbers of customers. Sport venues and public pools will remain effectively closed to visitors.
Most New Delhi hospitals full, oxygen scarce
India reported 314,835 fresh coronavirus infections on Thursday as health officials warned that the country’s health infrastructure was overwhelmed.
“Right now there are no beds, no oxygen. Everything else is secondary,” said Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University.
Six hospitals in New Delhi had run out of oxygen, according to a tally shared by the city government, and the city’s deputy chief minister said neighbouring states were holding back supplies for their own needs.
Another 2,104 people died in the space of a day, taking India’s cumulative toll to 184,657, according to the health ministry data.
The previous record rise in cases was in the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its infection rate has since fallen sharply.
Tunisia runs out of intensive care beds as variant spreads
Tunisian hospitals have run out of intensive care beds amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, a member of the independent scientific committee that advises the government said.
Amenallah Messadi told Reuters the health system had been pushed to the point of collapse by a rise in cases driven by the more infectious coronavirus variant first detected in Britain.
“The situation is very critical, medical staff are exhausted, ICUs have reached their maximum capacity and deaths are on the rise,” he said.
Tunisia has recorded 291,000 coronavirus cases and about 10,000 deaths. The daily death rate which has hovered around 80 for the past two weeks reached 95 on Tuesday.
As COVID cases surge in India, what next for the economy?
According to India’s health ministry, deaths rose by a record 2,104 in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s overall death toll to 184,657.
But how has India’s economy held up?
After shrinking by a record 24.4 percent in the three months through June 2020 – which was “consistent with the stringency of the lockdown” the government imposed at the time, according to Barclays India Economist Rahul Bajoria – economic activity picked up and eked out a growth rate of 0.4 percent for the quarter ending December compared to the same period the year before, latest figures show.
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