A man reacts as a health worker in protective suit takes his nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in New Delhi, India,…
A man reacts as a health worker in protective suit takes his nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2021.

The Indian government said Saturday that COVID-19 infections remained high as they spread to overburdened rural areas, but it added that infections were stabilizing in some parts of the country.

India’s health ministry reported more than 250,000 new COVID-19 cases and nearly 4,200 deaths in the previous 24-hour period.

Health ministry official Lav Agarwal told reporters during a virtual briefing that infections were rising in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

But Agarwal also said infections had dropped in the last two weeks in the southwestern Indian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka and the coastal state of Kerala.

“To break the chain of transmission, it is very important to follow COVID-appropriate behavior,” Agarwal said.

As India struggles with a faltering health care system and vaccine shortages, experts have warned of a third wave of infections in the coming months.

As of Saturday afternoon, India was second only to the U.S. in infections, with nearly 26.3 million, and in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 295,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Reports of Taiwan infections

In other developments, Taiwan’s health minister urged the island’s residents to stay calm following a report of a crop of new coronavirus cases. Chen Shih-chung said Saturday that there were 321 new infections. The minister also said there were another 400 new cases over a six-day period whose positive results had not been included in previous reports.

FILE - Medical personnel wearing protective gear guide people at a rapid coronavirus testing center after the infection alert rose to level 3 in Taipei, Taiwan, May 18, 2021.

"There's no explosion in the pandemic development," he said. The new infections were reported to be concentrated in the northern part of the island in and around Taipei. The government urged people to stay home.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s deputy interior minister warned Saturday that China, which claims the island, was spreading misinformation about Taiwan’s COVID-19 outbreak. Chen Tsung-yen said, “The reason we are continuing to explain the contents of the fake information to everyone is to call attention to it. We must immediately intercept this and not let cognitive warfare affect Taiwan’s society.”

Health summit

U.S. and German vaccine partners Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday pledged to deliver 2 billion doses of their vaccine to low- and middle-income nations as part of a global effort to close the vaccine gap between rich and poor nations.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, speaking in Rome at the Global Health Summit, said the first billion doses of their vaccine would be delivered this year and the second billion in 2022.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson also pledged donations of 200,000 and 100,000 doses, respectively.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Saturday that there were more than 166.2 million global COVID-19 infections. The U.S. had nearly 33.1 million, while Brazil ranked third with nearly 16 million.

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