• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Medical supplies reach India as deaths surpass 200,000 and countries consider more relaxed restrictions for fully vaccinated.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 148.7 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.13 million. More than 1.04 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

India's coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000 as the country reported 360,960 new cases on Wednesday, the world's largest single-day total.

Portugal's state of emergency, the highest level of coronavirus alert which has been in place since January, will end on Friday, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has announced. Infections are now dropping sharply.

According to CDC data, the United States has administered 232,407,669 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday morning and distributed 297,543,635 doses.

COVID-19 vaccines deployed in England can cut transmission of the coronavirus in households by up to a half, data from Public Health England (PHE) showed on Wednesday, in addition to the protection the shots offer against symptomatic infection.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries.
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries.
Image: Our World in Data
health and healthcare, COVID

How has the Forum navigated the global response to COVID-19?

One year on: we look back at how the Forum’s networks have navigated the global response to COVID-19.

Using a multistakeholder approach, the Forum and its partners through its COVID Action Platform have provided countless solutions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, protecting lives and livelihoods.

Throughout 2020, along with launching its COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its Partners launched more than 40 initiatives in response to the pandemic.

The work continues. As one example, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs is supporting 90,000 social entrepreneurs, with an impact on 1.4 billion people, working to serve the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups in more than 190 countries.

Read more about the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, our support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), and the COVAX initiative and innovative approaches to solve the pandemic, like our Common Trust Network – aiming to help roll out a “digital passport” in our Impact Story.

2. Vital medical supplies reach India

Supplies from around the world have begun to arrive in India, as a surge in infections pushed the death toll past 200,000.

A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in the capital New Delhi, though a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had no surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to spare, Reuters reported.

France is sending eight large oxygen-generating plants this week while Ireland, Germany and Australia are dispatching oxygen concentrators and ventilators, an Indian foreign ministry official said, underlining the crucial need for oxygen.

President Joe Biden reaffirmed US commitment to helping India, saying he was expecting to send vaccines there while senior officials from his administration warned that the country was still at the "front end" of the crisis.

India's first "Oxygen Express" train pulled into New Delhi, laden with about 70 tonnes of oxygen from an eastern state, but the crisis has not abated in the city of 20 million people at the epicentre of the world's deadliest wave of infections.

"The current wave is extremely dangerous and contagious and the hospitals are overloaded," said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, adding that a large public area in the capital will be converted into a critical care hospital.

3. Countries begin to relax restrictions for those fully vaccinated

The US has lifted its outdoor mask-wearing mandate for people who are fully vaccinated in a step President Biden called 'stunning progress'. This means fully vaccinated people can safely engage in outdoor activities like walking and hiking without wearing masks but should continue to use face-coverings in public spaces where they are required.

New COVID-19 cases dropped 16% in the last week as the United States surpassed 140 million people having received at least one shot of authorized vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine, according to Reuters.

South Korea said on Wednesday it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, in an effort to encourage more vaccinations.

From 5 May, residents who have had both coronavirus vaccine shots will not have to undergo the mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas travel, ​Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing.

The exemption will only apply for those with a negative COVID-19 test and who show no related symptoms.

It will not apply to residents arriving from nations such as South Africa and Brazil where coronavirus variants are prevalent and to people who are vaccinated in foreign countries.

South Korea has so far vaccinated 4% of its 52 million-strong population but has set an ambitious target of giving shots to 70% of its people by September and reaching herd immunity by November.

The German government is looking at relaxing restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated, AFP reported. Chancellor Angela Merkel said this could include going to a shop without showing a negative test result and be exempt from quarantining after close contact with an infected person. The government will set out its plans for discussion in parliament.