Coronavirus update: India joins US and Brazil in recording one million COVID-19 cases, Britain pauses daily death toll update over data concerns
India has became the third country in the world to record more than one million coronavirus cases, behind only the United States and Brazil, as infections spread further into the countryside and smaller towns.
Meanwhile, Britain has paused its daily death toll update over concerns the toll might have been exaggerated.
This story was last updated at 12:45am on Sunday.
Sunday’s key moments:
India marks one million cases
India has become the third country in the world to record more than one million cases of coronavirus, as infections move their way into the nation’s countryside.
Given India’s population of around 1.3 billion, experts say one million is relatively low — but the number will rise significantly in the coming months as testing increases — further straining a healthcare system already pushed to the brink.
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The pandemic has surged in the country in recent weeks as it spread beyond the biggest cities, pushing India past Russia as the third-most-infected country last week.
Authorities imposed fresh lockdowns and designated new containment zones in several states this week, including the largely rural Bihar state in the east and the southern tech hub Bengaluru, where cases have spiked.
But officials have struggled to enforce the lockdowns and keep people indoors.
India recorded 34,956 new infections on Friday, taking the total to 1,003,832, with 25,602 deaths from COVID-19, federal health ministry data showed. That compares to 3.6 million cases in the United States and two million in Brazil — countries with less than a third of India’s population.
Epidemiologists say India is still likely months from hitting its peak.
Britain pauses daily coronavirus death toll update over data concerns
Britain has paused its daily update of its coronavirus death toll after the Government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concerns the toll might have been exaggerated.
Academics said the way that Public Health England (PHE), the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures in England means they may be distorted compared to other parts of the United Kingdom.
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“Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death,” a message on the Government’s website said.
“There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number. We are therefore pausing the publication of the daily figure while this is resolved.”
Britain has been the European country worst hit by the virus, with an official death toll of more 45,000.
But the Government has said international comparisons are misleading because countries record coronavirus deaths differently.
Health Minister Matt Hancock on Friday (local time) ordered a review into the PHE’s reporting after academics said patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but were successfully treated, would still be counted as dying from the virus “even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later”.
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Xinjiang city enters ‘wartime mode’ after climb in cases
Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, has gone into “wartime mode” and launched an emergency response plan after the city reported 16 new coronavirus cases.
State broadcaster CCTV cited unnamed officials as telling a press conference on Saturday (local time) that the city had suspended gatherings and ordered communities to restrict visits to other households.
It urged people not to make unnecessary trips outside the city and ordered infection tests for anyone who needed to leave Urumqi, aiming to prevent the spread of the virus.
It has also carried out city-wide free infection tests, officials told the press conference as part of what the officials termed a “wartime” response.
Rui Baoling, director of the disease control and prevention centre in Urumqi, told the news conference that recent cases in the city were associated with a cluster of activities, with all confirmed cases and asymptomatic infections reported in Tianshan District, CCTV said.
She did not say what activities were involved.
“The epidemic has developed rapidly,” Ms Rui was quoted saying.
Xinjiang, home to most of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority, has so far mostly avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
COVID-19 moves South Korea’s mud festival online
The Boryeong Mud Festival has been halted this year because of COVID-19 and instead moved online, with people across South Korea enjoying mud pools and mud packs in their homes.
The annual mud extravaganza, in Boryeong on the coast 130 kilometres south-west of the capital Seoul, is South Korea’s most popular festival for international visitors.
Visitors typically flock to the beach in their hundreds for mud slides, mud wrestling and other revelry.
This year the city set up a large screen in a studio streaming images of hundreds of people, some with mud kits consisting of a mini-pool, mud packs, mud soaps and colourful mud powders.
Daubed with blue, red and yellow mud powders, many watched singers perform online.
Some 3,000 people, including K-pop fans from overseas, watched the live event on YouTube.
Boryeong launched the festival on Daecheon Beach in 1998 to rejuvenate a local economy hit by the Asian financial crisis.
The event promoted mud-based cosmetics said to be good for the skin — turning a beach into one of South Korea’s biggest tourist attractions.