India begins selecting people for priority COVID-19 vaccines as over 60,000 more cases recorded

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Volunteers offer hand sanitizers to devotee arriving at a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP)
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A worker arranges peacock feathers on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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An employee sanitises a coach as the metro network prepares to resume services after more than a 6-month shutdown due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, at the Andheri metro station in Mumbai on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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A woman (C) carries a basket filled with flowers to sell on a street in Mumbai on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 October 2020

India begins selecting people for priority COVID-19 vaccines as over 60,000 more cases recorded

  • India has recorded the world's second-largest number of cases after the US
  • Worries have been high that there may be further spikes during the ongoing festival season

MUMBAI: India’s coronavirus infections rose by another 62,212 cases over the previous day and a local media report said on Saturday that the government had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the vaccine first when it is ready.
The Times of India said that frontline health and sanitation workers, police officials and elderly people with co-morbidities will get the vaccine on priority.
The plan, which is still in the draft stage, aims to cover 23 percent of the population in the first phase. The final plan is likely to be ready by end October-November, the report said.
The selected individuals will be given an estimated 600 million doses.
Earlier this month, health minister Harsh Vardhan had said that India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July next year to inoculate about 250 million people.
Officials have said that giving the vaccine to India’s 1.3 billion people will be a mammoth exercise, likely to stretch well into 2022.
India's cumulative tally of coronavirus infections stood at 7.43 million on Saturday, having risen by 62,212 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.
But the number of active infections slipped below 800,000 for the first time in 1.5 months, which the ministry called a significant achievement.
India has recorded the world's second-largest number of cases after the United States and worries have been high that there may be further spikes during the ongoing festival season.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 42 min 56 sec ago

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.