India records world’s highest daily coronavirus deaths and other stories

A coronavirus variant first detected in India is believed to be behind the current crisis

India has recorded more deaths from Covid-19 in a single day than any other country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Ministry has released data pointing to 4,529 deaths and 267,334 new infections in the past 24 hours – figures widely thought to be underestimates.

India’s 25 million infections since the pandemic started are second only to the US.

But there’s some good news – experts say the rate of new infections, which had been climbing, may be starting to slow.

Data from John Hopkins University shows the US set the record for most daily deaths from coronavirus when 4,475 people died in January.

Official data shows virus infections falling in many districts in the past two weeks

Israel defies US calls for calm

Joe Biden meets Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016 . Image credit: The White House

Signs of a rift between Israel and her closest ally have emerged after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to mounting US pressure for a ceasefire with a vow to continue military operations in Gaza.

The US President had told Mr Netanyahu he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”, according to The White House.

The US has largely kept to its traditional stance of “quiet diplomacy” since the conflict started, but in recent days pressure has grown on Mr Biden from sections of the Democratic Party to be more vocal.

But speaking after a visit to military headquarters, Mr Netanyahu told Israelis he appreciated the US President’s support, but would continue “to return the calm and security to you, the citizens”.

Israeli troops operating in Gaza. Image credit Israeli Defence Force

The fighting has resulted in at least 227 people killed in Palestine and twelve in Israel, according to Associated Press (AP).

The casualties include 64 children and 38 women in Palestine, and a 5-year old boy and a girl aged sixteen in Israel.

Egyptian negotiators continue to work towards a ceasefire agreement and the German foreign minister Heiko Maas said he hopes to hold talks with Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday.

First African country to publicly destroy AstraZeneca vaccines

The first batch of vaccines donated by the African Union arrive in Malawi in March. Image: WHO

Malawi has publicly destroyed almost 20,000 thousand doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

Health Minister Khumbiz Chiponda authorised the burning of 19,610 doses of the vaccine at a hospital in the capital Lilongwe, at a time when Africa and other poorer countries lag far behind countries like the UK and the US in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

The destroyed doses were the remainder of 102,000 doses the African Union donated to the country.

Several African countries have received doses of the vaccine with very short shelf lives, and until this week the World Health Organisation (WHO) had urged them not to destroy expired batches.

On Monday WHO said: “While discarding vaccines is deeply regrettable in the context of any immunization program, WHO recommends that these expired doses should be removed from the distribution chain and safely disposed.”

The Malawian Health Ministry said the doses arrived in the country with just 18 days until their expiry.

Malawi is the first African country to publicly destroy expired doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca

US researchers use Twitter to target anti-Asian hate crimes

America boasts a population of 23 million people who trace their roots to countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Image credit: Creative Commons Images

Researchers at the University of Rochester are using information from Twitter users to measure reactions to attacks on  Chinese and other Asians in the US following the coronavirus pandemic.

By studying public opinion toward hashtags and websites that provide information and resources on hate crime, the researchers found that public attitudes reflect America’s political divide, with supporters of President Biden more likely to support the hashtags, and Trump supporters more likely to be negative.

Chinese Americans make up 23% of the Asian population, followed by Indian Americans who account for 20%.

An anti-Asian hate crimes bill has been cleared for Joe Biden’s signature.

The study comes a day after Congress overwhelmingly passed America’s first legislative response to discrimination and violence against Asian-American communities during the pandemic.

“The Asian-American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks,” said Democratic Representative Grace Meng, adding: “Asian-Americans are tired of living in fear.”

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