Taipei and New Taipei City in Taiwan are on a Level 3 alert, one level short of a full lockdown, following a surge of 180 COVID-19 cases. The new infections bring Taiwan’s total cases to just under 1,500. The Level 3 alert requires mandatory mask wearing outdoors and restricts the size of social gatherings. Taiwan has been hailed as a pandemic success story because it has not had any new cases in months.
India’s health ministry said Saturday it recorded 326,098 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period and 3,890 COVID deaths.
Only the U.S. has recorded more total COVID cases than India. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. has 32.9 million infections, while India has 24.3 million. Public health officials, however, believe that India has undercounted its cases. Johns Hopkins reports the global count of COVID cases is 161,927,626.
The World Health Organization appealed to wealthy countries Friday to scrap plans to inoculate young people with COVID-19 vaccine in favor of donating it to poorer countries.
“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to #COVAX,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual coronavirus meeting in Geneva.
France and Sweden started donating doses to COVAX after vaccinating their priority populations, unlike the U.S. and Canada, both of which started inoculating adolescents in recent weeks.
A WHO official said, however, that negotiations are under way to get the U.S. to share doses with low-income countries to help ensure all countries are adequately protected.
“We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” Tedros said, adding, “a combination of public health measures and vaccination” is the only solution.
A growing number of U.S. state officials said Friday that they will follow new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowing people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to stop wearing masks in most public places. The governors of New York, Colorado and Washington were the latest to announce an end to mask requirements in most indoor settings.
In addition, U.S. mega retailer Walmart said Friday that fully vaccinated employees will not need to wear a mask at work starting Tuesday, following the CDC guidelines. It also said that vaccinated customers could shop without a mask starting Tuesday.
The CDC issued the new guidelines Thursday, noting that masks will still be required on all forms of public transportation, as well as in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
In Germany, officials classified Britain as a coronavirus risk area because of the emergence there of a variant of the coronavirus first detected in India.
China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including the first local transmissions in more than three weeks.