India Hunger Crisis; Surge in Greek, Dutch Cases: Virus Update

India is facing a hunger crisis after Covid lockdowns forced job losses, more than 15 million alone in May. People are lining up at food distribution centers in major cities in unprecedented numbers.

In Europe, cases surged in Greece and in the Netherlands. Scotland is loosening some curbs but diverging from England’s reopening next week by sticking with a face mask mandate and work-from-home policy.

The daily death toll set a record in Russia, with Moscow recording a mortality rate of 3.9%. The ratio of deaths per 100 confirmed cases would place it fourth-highest among countries tracked by Johns Hopkins University. Russia also signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to boost annual production of Sputnik V shots.

Elsewhere, fatalities in South Africa and infections in Mexico reached the highest levels in months.

Hunger Crisis in India (5:30 a.m. HK)

India is seeing an increase in hunger, particularly in urban areas, after legions of residents had their economic toehold ripped away in lockdowns over the last 12 months. While few statistics are available, migrants and workers at food distribution centers in major Indian cities say they can’t remember seeing lines this long of people yearning for something to eat.

“This desperation for food and the long lines for rations in families with two wage earners is unprecedented,” said Aditi Dwivedi, who works with migrant communities in the New Delhi at Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a group that works on transparency and accountability in government that has advocated for more food aid for the needy.

As India’s economy shrunk by 7.3% last year, the daily average wage for about 230 million Indians — enough to make the world’s fifth-largest nation — dropped below the 375-rupee ($5) threshold, according to a study by the Azim Premji University in Bangalore. “An alarming 90% of respondents” reported “that their households had suffered a reduction in food intake as a result of the lockdown,” the study said.

Mexico Cases Rise Most Since Feb. 10 (4:15 p.m. NY)

Mexico recorded 11,137 Covid-19 cases Tuesday, the most since Feb. 10, according to government data. Deaths rose by 219. Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said while cases have increased there have been fewer deaths due to the vaccinations.

CDC Panel to Review Vaccine Safety (12:59 p.m. NY)

Vaccine safety and Guillain-Barré Syndrome will be the focus of an immunization advisory committee scheduled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 22.

The announcement comes a day after the fact sheet for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 shot was revised by federal regulators to warn about a “small possible risk” for the rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Greece Sees Highest Case Rate in Two Months (11:45 a.m. NY)

Greece reported 3,109 new cases Tuesday, the highest daily rise in just over two months. To combat the recent increase amid concerns for its tourism industry, authorities said customers of indoor restaurants and indoor areas at entertainment venues will need to show they’ve been vaccinated or have tested negative within the last three days.

The requirement will remain in force until the end of August at the earliest, and doesn’t concern outdoor areas.

Spain Safe for Tourists, Minister Says (11:40 a.m. NY)

Spain, Europe’s second largest tourism market pre-pandemic, is still a safe destination, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Tuesday after Germany and France earlier warned citizens about the risks of heading there.

Catalonia and Valencia, two of the most popular vacation spots, have both seen a surge in infections in recent days as restrictions are relaxed.

Cases Surge in Netherlands (10:21 a.m. NY)

Weekly cases in the Netherlands surged more than sixfold with 51,957 infections reported by the Dutch health service in the week ending July 13. Last week’s tally was 8,541 cases.

On Friday, the Dutch government announced it would reintroduce some pandemic restrictions in a bid to reduce the rising number of infections. Nightclubs were closed until August 13 and the opening hours of bars were reduced.

Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte publicly apologized on Monday for making an “error in judgement” and easing restrictions too quickly.

Scotland to Keep Face Masks, Home Office (9:32 a.m. NY)

Scotland will stick with its plan to lift more coronavirus restrictions, though it will diverge from England’s reopening next week by keeping face coverings mandatory in stores and other public places and maintaining working from home as government policy.

Hospitality venues will need to close at midnight and there will still be social-distancing restrictions at bars and restaurants.

Moscow’s Covid Mortality Rate Hits 3.9% (9:03 a.m. NY)

The ratio of deaths per 100 confirmed cases would place it fourth-highest among countries tracked by Johns Hopkins University, trailing only Peru, Mexico and Afghanistan. The rate falls to 2.8% if only cases where Covid-19 was determined to be the main cause of death are included, according to the city’s health department.

Tanzania Begins Sinovac Inoculations (7:45 a.m. NY)

Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago began vaccinations after downplaying the extent of the pandemic for more than a year.

“The Sinovac vaccines were originally meant to be administered to people who wanted to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage,” Zanzibar’s Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Omar Shajak said. “After Saudi Arabia prohibited foreign visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak, we decided to give those vaccines to our front-line workers.”

Tanzania’s move leaves Eritrea and Burundi as the only African countries yet to start vaccinating.

Riots Force South Africa to Halt Some Vaccines (7:41 a.m. NY)

South Africa’s vaccination program has been partially halted as violent protests following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma rage in two key provinces. State-administered inoculations have been suspended in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, the economic hub, said Nicholas Crisp, a consultant to the National Health Department who helps oversee the program.

“We are clearly not going to be putting our staff in harm’s way,” Crisp said in an interview Tuesday, adding that those queuing for vaccines could also be in danger. “It will just have to wait until things calm down.” The health department had expected to exceed 200,000 vaccinations on Monday, but only 146,000 people got vaccinated.

Delta Causes 60% of New Cases in France (7:18 a.m. NY)

The incidence rate of Covid has increased by 60% in the past week, and has reached alarming levels in eight French regions including the Paris area, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday. The Delta variant now represents more than 60% of new infections, he said.

Merkel Makes Urgent Appeal for Shots (6:51 a.m. NY)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reinforced the government’s urgent appeal for people to get vaccinated, saying the inoculation campaign will be the deciding factor for the future course of the pandemic.

“The more are vaccinated, the more free we can be again,” Merkel said Tuesday during a visit to the RKI public-health institute. Still, Germany won’t follow France in requiring compulsory vaccination for health workers, she said.

Indonesia’s Curbs Fall Short for Government (6:51 a.m. NY)

The tightest curbs so far imposed on Java, Indonesia’s most-populated island, and Bali, the tourism spot, haven’t eased people’s movement as much as the government expected.

Mobility has only eased by 6%-16% since the restrictions whereas authorities had expected a 20% drop, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a hearing with lawmakers on Tuesday. The government had earlier said that a 50% drop in mobility is needed to cut back on infections.

Russia Reports Record Number of Deaths (6:10 a.m. NY)

Russia reported 780 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic as its health-care system strained against a third wave of infections.

A spike in hospitalizations driven by the delta variant has led several regions to announce mandatory vaccinations in the last month. The measures have boosted demand for home-grown inoculations, with about 20% of Russians receiving at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

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