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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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U.S. will boost 'Do Not Travel' advisories to 80% of world
The U.S. State Department said on Monday it will boost its "Do Not Travel" guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing "unprecedented risk to travelers" from the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House has given no timeline for when it might ease those restrictions.

The State Department already listed 34 out of about 200 countries as "Level 4: Do Not Travel," including places like Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania. Getting to 80% would imply adding nearly 130 countries.

Fair resource distribution to bring pandemic under control

The world can bring the global Covid-19 pandemic under control in the coming months provided it distributes the necessary resources fairly, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a news briefing on Monday.

The head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also expressed concern over the "alarming rate" at which Covid-19 is spreading in those aged 25-59 worldwide, possibly due to much more contagious variants.

Non-stop cremations cast doubt on India's Covid death count
With hospitals full and oxygen and medicines in short supply in an already creaky health system, several major Indian cities are reporting far larger numbers of cremations and burials under coronavirus protocols than official Covid-19 death tolls, according to crematorium and cemetery workers, media and a review of government data.

Government officials say the mismatch in death tallies may be caused by several factors, including over-caution. But the testimony of workers and a growing body of academic literature suggest deaths in India are being underreported compared to other countries.

Australia-New Zealand travel bubble to continue despite case
New Zealand authorities reported on Tuesday that a worker in Auckland airport has tested positive for Covid-19, but doubted whether the new case would warrant ordering a pause in quarantine-free travel with Australia. The infected worker, who was fully vaccinated for the virus, had been cleaning airplanes coming from countries with known virus outbreaks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Auckland.

The initial results from Asia's first restriction-free travel bubble since the pandemic hit, which opened on Monday, showed an unusually high number of travellers departing from Australia to New Zealand.

Boost to India vaccine production; hope for raw materials
India's government has approved a 45.67-billion-rupee ($610 million) grant for Covid-19 vaccine makers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to boost production capacity as infections spread at record speed, its finance minister said. Given the surge in domestic demand, any funding from the government is unlikely to help alleviate a slump in vaccine exports.

India is hopeful the United States will soon lift a ban on vaccine raw materials that has threatened to slow output of shots in the country, two Indian government sources told Reuters on Monday, after the foreign ministers of the two nations spoke. Washington has invoked the wartime powers of the Defense Production Act to preserve vaccine raw materials for its own companies, but SII, the world's biggest vaccine maker, has said this went against the global goal of sharing vaccines equitably.
(Reuters)

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