China’s foreign ministry has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the United States after it raised concerns over Beijing’s COVID-19 control measures.
“We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the groundless accusations against China’s pandemic prevention policy from the US in its statement, and have lodged solemn representations,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement late Saturday.
Meanwhile, cases in China’s most populous city of Shanghai are continuing to rise as residents struggle over food and basic supplies.
The city on Sunday reported 25,000 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.
Streets of the financial hub, which houses 26 million people, have remained under a strict lockdown as part of the city’s “zero tolerance” COVID measure.
Only healthcare workers, delivery personnel, volunteers and those with special permission are being allowed to go out. While the infections in Shanghai are less compared to some other cities across the globe, the outbreak is China’s worst since the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan in 2019.
Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:
The number of available doses of the coronavirus vaccines has outstripped demand in many areas, two years after the race to vaccinate the world against the virus.
Over 13 billion doses of the vaccines have been produced so far, 11 billion of which have been administered, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) has said.
“Since mid-2021, global vaccine production has exceeded global vaccine demand and this gap has continuously risen,” IFPMA’s director general Thomas Cueni told news agency AFP.
However, a considerable gap still remains in inoculation rates between the richest and poorest nations.
Gavi, which co-leads the Covax global distribution scheme, is conducting a summit calling for increased funds to tackle the inequality in vaccine access.
Watch video 03:09 Germany rejects COVID vaccine mandate: DW’s Nina Haase in Berlin
India on Sunday started rolling out booster doses of coronavirus vaccine to all adults.
Free shots at government centers, however, are limited to people above the age of 60 and front-line workers.
India is calling the dose a “precautionary” shot instead of a booster and it will be available to people nine months after receiving their second jab, the health ministry said on Friday.
People outside the priority groups will need to pay for the inoculation at private health facilities, the ministry said.
Watch video 02:09 How long can China maintain its zero-COVID strategy?
Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced that it will allow up to 1 million people join the hajj pilgrimage this year.
The Hajj Ministry “has authorized one million pilgrims, both foreign and domestic, to perform the hajj this year,” it said in a statement.
Saudi authorities had drastically restricted the number of people allowed to join the pilgrimage after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, only 1,000 pilgrims were permitted to participate. And last year, that number was raised to 60,000.
This year’s hajj will take place in July. The ministry’s announcement on Saturday said that the pilgrimage will be limited to fully vaccinated people under age 65.
Those coming from outside Saudi Arabia will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.
The government wants to promote pilgrims’ safety “while ensuring that the maximum number of Muslims worldwide can perform the hajj,” the statement said.
In Germany, the nationwide 7-day incidence rate has dropped to its lowest level since the end of January. The Robert Koch Institute public health agency said on Sunday that the figure — which represents the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a week — was down to 1097.9. A week ago, the nationwide incidence was 1457.9
The country recorded 55,471 new COVID infections over the past 24 hours.
Despite the falling number of new cases, hospitals and medical staff continue to remain under enormous pressure, said the Association of Senior Hospital Physicians.
Michael Weber, the head of the association, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Saturday that scheduled surgical procedures are having to be postponed in 60% of German hospitals. He added that in 3 out of every 10 hospitals patients are being transferred to other clinics due to shortage of capacity.
Watch video 04:08 Berlin clubs welcome easing of restrictions
In Peru, a state of emergency was declared on Saturday in the South American nation’s tourism industry, which had suffered a devastating blow from the coronavirus pandemic.
Peru went from receiving 4.4 million foreign tourists in 2019 to 900,000 in 2020.
While in 2021, only 400,000 visited, according to official figures.
The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism is slated to approve a contingency plan within 15 days, which will include financial rescue measures and promoting investment in tourism.
The country had battled a third wave of the pandemic in December but infection numbers have plummeted in recent weeks.
dvv,sri/jc (AFP, Reuters, AP)