WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
Huge India outbreak persists; US undercounts deaths
UK to ease COVID-19 lockdown
Published: May 10, 2021 07:23 PM
Britain on Monday was set to announce a further easing of its coronavirus lockdown, joining several European nations in gradually reopening their economies, but India remained in the grip of a devastating outbreak.

Passengers stand in a queue at a ticket counter to board buses for their native place, after authorities announced 14 Days lockdown , amid surge in coronavirus cases across the country, at Sindhi camp bus stand in Jaipur , Rajasthan, India, on Sunday, May 9,2021. Photo: VCG

Passengers stand in a queue at a ticket counter to board buses for their native place, after authorities announced 14 Days lockdown , amid surge in coronavirus cases across the country, at Sindhi camp bus stand in Jaipur , Rajasthan, India, on Sunday. Photo: VCG

Rapid vaccination programs have allowed a number of wealthy nations to start taking steps towards normality, but the virus is still surging in many countries and concerns are growing about global vaccine inequality. 

The pandemic has claimed close to 3.3 million lives worldwide and Britain has the highest death toll in Europe, but its successful vaccination program has allowed the authorities to start relaxing curbs. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to announce the latest measures - effective on May 17 - in a press conference on Monday, including the reopening of indoor seating in pubs and restaurants.

Senior minister Michael Gove said: "Without prejudice to a broader review of social distancing... friendly contact, intimate contact between friends and family is something that we want to see restored."

Cinemas are also expected to reopen, as well as some large indoor venues after the government held several pilot events - including a rock concert - to test safety measures. This follows Spain's lifting of a state of emergency in place since October 2020, allowing people to travel between regions.

"It's like New Year's," said 28-year-old Oriol Corbella in Barcelona, where the end of the curfew was met with shouts, applause and music.

In Germany, people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were exempt from many restrictions from Sunday after the government passed new legislation.

Meanwhile Cyprus on Monday will exit a third partial lockdown with a new coronavirus "safety pass" system to allow people to move freely.

India, suffering from one of the worst outbreaks in the world, reported nearly 370,000 fresh infections and more than 3,700 new deaths on Monday.

The devastating wave has overwhelmed India's healthcare system, and experts have said the official figures for cases and fatalities are much lower than the actual numbers.

The Indian outbreak has spread to some of its neighbors, with Nepal reeling from a worrying spike in cases.

The US remains the worst-hit nation in the world, with the highest number of known fatalities and infections. But its actual death toll may be higher than the official figure of 581,000, with a University of Washington study released on Friday estimating deaths at more than 900,000.

"I think there's no doubt... that we are and have been undercounting," top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci told NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday. The US was battered by the pandemic but since January, new infections have come down with more than 114 million people fully vaccinated.
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