Covid-19 has killed more than 3M people and infected over 146M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for April 24:

Shoppers walk along the street after the Swiss government relaxed some of its Covid-19 restrictions, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, at the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street in Zurich, Switzerland on March 1, 2021.
Shoppers walk along the street after the Swiss government relaxed some of its Covid-19 restrictions, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, at the Bahnhofstrasse shopping street in Zurich, Switzerland on March 1, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Saturday, April 24:

Indian Covid variant found in Switzerland

A first case of the Covid-19 variant contributing to the exploding outbreak in India has been detected in Switzerland, the public health authority said.

"The first case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Switzerland," Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) said in a tweet.

The virus variant was found in "a passenger who was transiting through an airport," it said.

Spokesman Daniel Dauwalder told AFP in an email that the positive sample was collected in March in the northern canton of Solothurn, and that the transit passenger "had arrived from a European country".

The news comes after Belgian authorities on Thursday said a group of 20 Indian nursing students who arrived from Paris had tested positive for the variant in the country.

Turkey reports over 40,000 new cases 

Turkey has reported over 40,000 new coronavirus cases, a drop of over 20,000 from the day before, according to Health Ministry data. 

A total of 40,596 cases, including 2,905 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, the data showed. Turkey on Friday reported 63,082 new coronavirus cases 

Turkey's overall case tally is over 4.5 million, while the nationwide death toll reached 38,011, with 339 more fatalities over the past day. 

Kuwait follows UAE in suspending India flights

Kuwait has suspended all flights from India until further notice after the south Asian giant recorded its highest daily Covid death toll and some hospitals ran out of oxygen.

The region's busiest international air hub, the United Arab Emirates, had already announced on Thursday that it would suspend flights to and from India from Sunday.

"In view of the health situation, it has been decided to suspend direct commercial air links with India until further notice," the Kuwaiti government tweeted late Friday.

It said Kuwait residents would only be allowed to return to the emirate via third countries if they stopped over for at least 14 days.

Cambodia closes markets to curb virus

Cambodia has closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh to contain a surge in coronavirus infections and thousands of families pleaded to the government for food as a two-week lockdown continued.

Cambodia also reported a daily record of 10 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, its health ministry said, as infections spike following an outbreak first detected in late February.

The latest figures take the country's overall number of cases to 9,359. Cambodia until recently had one of the world's lowest numbers of infections.

It has reported 71 deaths, all in the past two months.

China sends a gift of 150,000  vaccines to Syria

Syria has received the first batch of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines, a gift of 150,000 jabs to Damascus, Syrian and Chinese officials said.

The Chinese batch comes a few days after more than 200,000 jabs were delivered to Syria through the United Nations-led platform which provides vaccines to the needy.

The new jabs are likely to speed up the inoculation campaign in the war-torn country where a battered health sector has been overwhelmed by the pandemic, and where infections have been on the rise.

Syrian has registered nearly 22,000 infection cases, including over 1,500 deaths in areas under its control.

Over 33.5 million Britons have received first vaccine dose

A total of 33.51 million people in Britain have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with more than 12 million people having been given both doses, according to official figures.

Officials also reported a further 2,061 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. 

Italy reports 322 new deaths, 13,817 cases

Italy has reported 322 coronavirus-related deaths against 342 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 13,817 from 14,761.

Italy has registered 119,021 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh highest in the world.

The country has reported 3.95 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 20,971 on Saturday, down from 21,44 0 a day earlier.

There were 143 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 153 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 2,894 from 2,979.

Some 320,780 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 315,700, the ministry said. 

One billion Covid jabs: a pin-prick of hope for humanity

Six months on, nearly one billion Covid jabs – both first and second shots – have been administered globally, according to AFP's database.

The unprecedented inoculation drive is seen as the world's ticket out of the coronavirus disaster, despite concerns about rare side effects, worries over supply, and a glaring inequality between rich and poor.

With new Covid variants sparking a worrying fresh spike of cases and uncertainty over the vaccines' effectiveness against them, the planet is now racing to inoculate as many people as possible before being overwhelmed by yet another wave of a pandemic that has already killed three million people.

Malaysia receives first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines – Bernama

Malaysia has received 268,800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, its first batch from the pharmaceutical company, state news agency reported.

Health Minister Adham Baba said the batch was purchased through the COVAX facility.

"The COVAX facility sent the vaccine from South Korea, and we will keep it at the designated storage centre," he told reporters, according to Bernama.

Bulgaria eases restrictions ahead of Orthodox Easter

Bulgaria is easing restrictions ahead of Orthodox Easter and the start of the summer vacation season even as the virus morbidity rate remains relatively high.

The government is allowing indoor church services on Palm Sunday and Easter but requiring them to be reduced in length. The willow branches traditionally handed out on Palm Sunday also must be distributed outside church buildings.

Worshippers also are advised not to touch or kiss religious icons, and to avoid crowds and wear protective masks.

Russia reports 8,828 new cases

Russia has reported 8,828 new virus cases, including 2,541 in Moscow, which took the national tally to 4,753,789 since the start of the pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis centre said 399 more deaths of patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 107,900.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February.

Cambodia closes markets to curb the virus

Cambodia has closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh to contain a spike in coronavirus infections as thousands of families plead for food during a two-week lockdown.

The Southeast Asian country has one of the world's smallest coronavirus caseloads, but an outbreak that started in late February has seen overall cases spike to 8,848 and 61 deaths.

Phnom Penh went into lockdown on April 15 and has declared some districts "red zones," banning people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.

New Zealand pauses travel bubble with Western Australia 

New Zealand has paused arrivals from Western Australia, temporarily excluding the state's travellers from a quarantine-free bubble between the countries due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

"As set out in our Trans-Tasman bubble protocols, travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has been paused, pending further advice from the state government," a statement on the New Zealand government website said.

Earlier on Friday the Perth and Peel regions were sent into a three-day lockdown after Western Australia recorded its first community transmission of the virus in 12 months .

South Korea signs with Pfizer for extra 40M vaccine doses

South Korea has said it signed a contract with Pfizer Inc to purchase an additional 40 million doses of its vaccine amid fears of spiking infections at home.

That brings the current amount of Pfizer vaccines to 66 million doses, it said in a statement.

It added that it had secured a total 192 million doses of vaccines, including those from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson's and Novavax.

India's daily coronavirus cases climb to new world record as hospitals buckle

India's coronavirus infections have risen by 346,786 overnight, the health ministry has said, setting a new world record for the third consecutive day, as overwhelmed hospitals in the densely-populated country begged for oxygen supplies.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one virus death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital's underfunded health system buckles.

The government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen from the far corners of the country to Delhi. Television showed an oxygen truck arriving at Delhi's Batra hospital after it issued an SOS saying it had 90 minutes of oxygen left for its 260 patients.

Germany reports 23,392 cases – RKI

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany has increased by 23,392 to 3,268,645, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 286 to 81,444, the tally showed.

Thailand reports 2,839 cases

Thailand has reported 2,839 new virus cases, a record number of new cases in the country's third wave of infection, bringing total infections to 53,022 cases.

The Southeast Asian nation also reported eight new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 129 since the pandemic started last year. 

Pakistan reports highest daily death toll

Pakistan has reported its highest virus death toll in a single day.

Authorities reported 157 deaths, bringing the overall fatalities to 16,999. A total of 5,908 additional cases pushed the toll to 790,016, as authorities complain of routine violations of social distancing and mask-wearing rules.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that military troops will be called to help police enforce the restrictions in public places.

Papua New Guinea's death toll passes 100

The South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has reported three new virus related deaths, health officials said on Saturday, bringing the country's total deaths to 102.

The official number of coronavirus infections in the nation of 8.8 million people rose to 10,602, with 52 new cases, the National Control Centre for Covid-19 said in a statement.

Health officials have said previously, however, that the official number of cases likely vastly underestimates the scale of the outbreak as the country's fragile health system is unable to conduct mass testing.

Parts of Western Australia in three-day lockdown after small outbreak

More than 2 million people in the state of Western Australia began their first full day of a snap three day lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak in a hotel quarantine facility led to community transmission.

People in the state capital Perth and the neighbouring Peel region have been asked to stay home except for essential work, and medical and shopping purposes.

Ceremonies to honour Australia's military personnel on the Anzac Day holiday on Sunday have been cancelled. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced most traditional memorials to be cancelled across Australia for the first time in decades.

US FDA, CDC lift pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine use

The US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined the recommended pause regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the US should be lifted and use of the vaccine should resume, the FDA said. 

Mexico reports 3,911 new cases, 409 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry reported 3,911 new confirmed cases in the country and 409 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,323,430 infections and 214,504 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

Kuwait suspends commercial flights from India

Kuwait's directorate general of civil aviation said early on Saturday in a tweet that it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24 and until further notice.

The move was on the instructions of health authorities after an evaluation of the global coronavirus status.

All passengers arriving from India either directly or via another country will be banned from entering unless they have spent at least 14 days out of India, the statement said.

Kuwaiti citizens, their first degree relatives and their domestic workers will be allowed to enter. Cargo is unaffected.

Brazil records 2,914 new deaths

Brazil recorded 2,914 new deaths, and 69,105 new cases, the Health Ministry said.

More than 386,000 people have died from the virus in Brazil, with 14.24 million confirmed cases of infection, Health Ministry data show.

Pandemic fuels rise in poverty, squatting in Peru

Thousands of people left without homes amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic are now occupying a temporary settlement on the outskirts of the Peruvian capital Lima.

On a bare hillside in Villa El Salvador, metres from the Pacific Ocean, those living in the camp say their numbers have now reached 9,000.

Plastic tents and shelters cover the sandy slope, with families steadily arriving over the course of recent weeks.

Authorities have urged them to leave peacefully, but many have no alternative.

The women of the settlement are the ones who guard the entrance to the camp night and day in the hope they will be left alone.

"We are not invaders; we are not traffickers, neither criminals nor gang members, we are mothers in real need, there are single mothers, there are widows among us, who have lost their husbands during the pandemic," said Claudia Pauccar, who finds work as a waste picker.

According to a report by non-profit research centre the Group for the Analysis of Development, Peru has a housing deficit of almost two million dwellings, putting it second in Latin America, after Cuba, in terms of levels of informal land occupation.

AstraZeneca vaccine doses in US should go to hard-hit countries - business group

The US Chamber of Commerce called on the Biden administration to release millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from storage for shipment to India, Brazil and other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it's estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able to produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American," Myron Brilliant, the chamber's vice president and head of international affairs, said in a statement.

Shipping stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries struggling with the coronavirus "would affirm US leadership, including in COVAX" he said, referring to an international partnership to ensure broad access to vaccines. "No one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it."

"The US Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage - as well as other life-support equipment – for shipment to India, Brazil and other nations hard hit by the pandemic," he said. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies