(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
India’s coronavirus infections cross 18 million
India’s total coronavirus infections passed 18 million on Thursday as gravediggers worked around the clock burying victims and rows of funeral pyres were built in parks and parking lots.
India reported 379,257 new cases and 3,645 deaths on Thursday, according to health ministry data. It was the country’s highest number of deaths reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
The country’s best hope to curb its second COVID-19 wave was to vaccinate its vast population, said experts, and on Wednesday it opened registrations for everyone above the age of 18 to be given jabs from Saturday.
Pandemic accelerating, WHO Americas office warns
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating, which is why equitable access to vaccines and effective preventive measures are crucial to helping turn the tide, the head of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said.
“Our region is still under the grip of this pandemic … in several countries of South America the pandemic in the first four months of this year was worse than what we faced in 2020,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a briefing on Wednesday.
Over the past week more than 1.4 million people became infected with COVID-19 in the region and over 36,000 died from complications related to the disease.
Germany’s COVID-19 incidence falls to lowest in two weeks
Germany’s seven-day average of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people fell on Thursday for the third day in a row to 155 – its lowest level in two weeks, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.
The incidence figure – a key metric the German government is using to determine when to tighten or ease the lockdown – hit 169 on Monday, but has fallen each day since then. The last time it was under 160 was on April 14, when the incidence was 153.
Germany has been struggling to contain a third wave of infections, with efforts complicated by the more contagious B117 variant and a relatively slow start to its vaccination campaign.
Ireland to reopen all shops in May
Ireland will press ahead with plans to reopen all retail stores, personal services and non-residential construction in May with hotels, restaurants and bars to follow sooner than expected in early June, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday.
The government committed a month ago to reopening all shops for the first time this year in May and hotels in June if it could avoid a fourth wave and speed up its vaccine programme – criteria that it has met.
Coveney said the plan would permit hotels to open their doors again on June 2 with restaurants and pubs – not mentioned a month ago – allowed to serve guests outdoors from June 7.
Moderna boosting vaccine-making capacity
Moderna said on Thursday it is boosting manufacturing capacity for its COVID-19 vaccine and expects to make up to 3 billion doses in 2022, more than twice its previous forecast.
It also said it is increasing its expectations for 2021 vaccine production to between 800 million and 1 billion shots, raising the bottom of its range from 700 million.
The final number of inoculations will depend on how many are lower-dose formulations for boosters and immunisations for children.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Alison Williams)