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Virus lockdowns around the world as vaccine efforts stumble

Published : Sunday, 11 April, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 170

MUMBAI, April 10: Fresh lockdowns and curfews were imposed on tens of millions of people from India to Argentina on Saturday, as Covid-19 infections surged again and vaccine roll-outs were hampered by shortages and scares over side effects.
In India, the worst-hit state of Maharashtra was running out of vaccines as the health system buckled under the weight of the contagion, which has killed 2.9 million people worldwide.
Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and spectators at cricket matches, the world's second-most populous nation has added more than a million new infections since late March.
Every weekend from Saturday until the end of April, Maharashtra's 125 million people will be confined to their homes unless travelling or shopping for food or medicine. "I'm not for the lockdown at all but I don't think the government has any other choice," media professional Neha Tyagi, 27, told AFP in Maharashtra's megacity Mumbai. "This lockdown could have been totally avoided if people would take the virus seriously."
The crisis is being exacerbated by a shortage of vaccines. India has so far inoculated 94 million of its 1.3 billion people, but The Times of India reported Friday that states on average had just over five days of stock left, citing health ministry data, with some regions already grappling with severe shortages.
Stay-at-home orders were also set to come into force for the eight million inhabitants of Bogota, as the Colombian capital battled a third wave of infections, adding to curfews already covering seven million across four other major cities.
Elsewhere in South America, Argentina entered a night-time curfew Friday running from midnight to 06:00 am every day until April 30. It will be in force in the country's highest-risk areas, mainly urban centres, where bars and restaurants will close at 11:00 pm.
Both Argentina and Colombia have recorded about 2.5 million coronavirus cases, numbers surpassed only by Brazil in the region. All of France is subject to restrictions of some form, while the German government's attempts to curb movement and commerce have been stymied by several states refusing to go along with the proposals.
Now Berlin is changing the rules to centralise power, adjustments likely to usher in night-time curfews and some school closures in especially hard-hit areas. But some countries were in the process of opening up.    -AFP



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