South Africa Covid positivity rate at 5-month high and other global developments | World News

In worrying developments, South Africa’s daily coronavirus test positivity rose over 30 per cent on Saturday for the first time in almost five months, driven by two sub lineages of the Omicron variant known to be spreading rapidly. Meanwhile, China – which has imposed stringent, frequent Covid-19 lockdowns, causing frustration among the residents – is reported to have started a fresh round of mass testing for coronavirus in the capital city Beijing which has also shut down more bus routes and metro stations. Residents in Shanghai – an economic and financial hub – are also already dealing with draconian curbs including a lockdown for the past one month, triggering protests over issues such as access to food and medical care as well as loss of income – a rare sight in a country known for silencing dissent. Amidst all this, the World Health Organisation has released a report on excess deaths gone unreported – most of them from India. But the central government has strongly rebuffed the report.

Check other global Covid-19 updates:

– In South Africa, 8,524 new Covid cases were identified on Saturday, as posiitvity rate of 31.1 per cent was registered – an indicator of how fast the virus is spreading through the community – of those tested. This is known to be the highest rate since the 32.2 per cent recorded on December 15, when a record 26,976 cases were recorded. The surge could mean South Africa is close to its highest positivity rate yet. The record so far was 34.9 per cent on December 14, reports said.

– South Africa, which together with Botswana, identified the Omicron variant in November last year, was the first country to experience a wave driven by the strain, and the way it played out was seen as an indication of what could happen elsewhere.

– In a bid to tackle the Covid spread, China’s Shanghai has postponed the city’s key Gaokao University entrance exam to early July. It took place in June last year and the last time it was postponed was in 2020, during the initial virus outbreak, reported ANI, citing Taipei Times.

– Singapore on Saturday reported 3,162 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases to 1,215,499 in the country, as per the data released by the ministry of health. The country also witnessed four new deaths due to the infection, marking the total number of deaths at 1,350, Xinhua reported citing the ministry.

– The Pakistani government has also rejected the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report, which estimated 260,000 Covid-19 deaths in the Islamic nation (eight times the official figure) – questioning the United Nations body’s methodology to collect data and supposing an error in the software used to collate the numbers. Official records state Pakistan had 30,369 Covid-19 deaths with over 1.5 million infections.

– China’s stringent curbs amid Covid-19 resurgence are expected to impact freight costs and global inflation, ANI quoted a media report as saying. Federico Giuliani, covering Asian events for Il Giornale – Gli Occhi della Guerra, writing for Italy-based news website Inside Over said as the cost of shipping has gone high during past years, the freight charges are expected to increase due to the delays and the waiting times at the ports. It could create economic repercussions on global trade.

– In India, health ministers of different states who attended the 14th conference of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare (CCHFW) slammed the WHO for its estimate of 4.7 million Covid-related deaths in India, saying it is “baseless” and “intended to show the country in a poor light”. After the WHO report was released on Friday, the Union health ministry also strongly objected to the mathematical models used by the health body for projecting excess mortality estimates linked to the pandemic. India is also likely to raise the issue at the World Health Assembly and other multilateral forums, officials in the ministry said.

(With agency inputs)

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