(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
India gears up for ‘world’s biggest vaccination drive’
Indian carrier Spicejet carried a large consignment of COVID-19 vaccines from the city of Pune to the capital New Delhi on Tuesday in preparation for what it called the world’s biggest-ever inoculation drive. The private carrier will transport bulk vaccine consignments to several cities as state authorities prepare to launch the distribution process.
The government on Monday signed purchase agreements with Pune-based vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, to buy Covishield – the local branding for the AstraZeneca vaccine – over a week after approving the vaccine.
Senior officials are discussing the terms of the deal with the Serum Institute, hoping to bring prices below $3 per shot. The negotiations have delayed the roll-out of the immunization programme.
Another Chinese city goes into lockdown
Authorities in China introduced new COVID-19 curbs in areas surrounding Beijing on Tuesday, putting 4.9 million residents under lockdown as new infections raised worries about a second wave in a nation that has mostly contained the disease.
The city of Langfang in Hebei on Tuesday said residents will be put under home quarantine for seven days and be subject to mass COVID-10 testing in the latest attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Gaocheng district in Shijiazhuang, Hebei’s capital which has been hardest-hit in the latest surge in infections, is gathering more than 20,000 people living in 12 remote villages into centralised quarantine as part of the city’s COVID-19 control, state media China News Service reported late Monday.
Malaysia enters state of emergency that may last till August
Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of emergency across the country on Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19, after consenting to a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is facing a leadership challenge.
An emergency would give the prime minister and his cabinet extraordinary powers, including allowing the government to introduce laws without the approval of parliament. The emergency will last until Aug. 1 or earlier depending on whether coronavirus infections have been brought under control.
On Monday, Muhyiddin announced a nationwide travel ban and a 14-day lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states, saying the country’s healthcare system was at breaking point. The number of new daily infections hit a record high last week, breaching the 3,000 mark for the first time.
Gorillas at San Diego Safari Park diagnosed with COVID-19
As many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 from a human handler after one of the animals tested positive, marking the first known transmission of the virus to apes, zoo officials said on Monday.
Three among the band of critically endangered western lowland gorillas at the sprawling wildlife park have shown symptoms of the respiratory virus, such as coughing, though none appears severely ill, and all are expected to fully recover, the zoo said in online statements.
Zoo officials said they do not know how the coronavirus will ultimately affect gorillas or what additional symptoms may occur. The coronavirus has also been found in a number of other wild-animal species in captivity, including several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York and four lions at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; editing by Richard Pullin)