• 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: India hits record daily death count, US aims to vaccinate 70% of adults by July 4th and the WHO highlights hand hygiene inequality.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 154.3 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 3.22 million. More than 1.18 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a goal to vaccinate 70% of U.S. adults with at least one COVID-19 shot by the July 4 Independence Day holiday and said the government would inoculate 12 to 15-year-olds as soon as allowed.

Everyone aged over 50 in Britain will be offered a third COVID-19 vaccination jab in the autumn in an attempt to eradicate the threat from the infection entirely by Christmas, The Times newspaper reported.

India’s coronavirus deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours, a day after it became the second country to pass 20 million infections after the United states. Daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

Singapore announced on Tuesday tighter curbs on social gatherings and stricter border measures after recording locally acquired cases of coronavirus variants, including a more contagious strain first detected in India.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in selected countries
COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in selected countries
Image: Our World in Data

2. U.S. Northeast region plans to lift majority of restrictions in May

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will lift most of their coronavirus capacity restrictions on businesses, including retail stores, food services and gyms, beginning on May 19, Reuters reports.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced the plan, coordinated with the governors of other states in the U.S. Northeast region, and said the decision was based on a steady decline in the positive rate of COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations.

The percentage of New Yorkers testing positive for the coronavirus dropped 50% over the last month, and hospitalizations decreased by nearly 40% during the same period, he said.

"New Yorkers have made tremendous progress," Cuomo said. "It's time to readjust the decision made on the science and on the data."

Amusement parks, salons and offices are among the other types of businesses which will soon no longer be subject to state-imposed capacity restrictions, although all businesses can still set their own restrictions.

Cuomo also announced that the New York City subway system, which has been closing from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for disinfecting stations and cars, will resume its 24-hour service beginning on May 17.

"We were able to announce the elimination of business restrictions due to a nation-leading vaccine distribution program which benefits all Connecticut residents, and our neighbors in New York and New Jersey," Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said in a joint statement with Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

3. WHO highlights need for better hand hygiene in low-income countries

A new survey from the World Health Organization identifies inequalities in the availability of good hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control measures in low-and middle-income countries.

The research found that patients in low-and middle-income countries are twice as likely to experience infection acquired during healthcare delivery than those in high-income countries, (15% and 7% of patients respectively). The risk in intensive care units (ICU), especially among newborns, is between 2 and 20 times higher.

This is due to a lack of financial resources and crumbling infrastructures with poorer countries not having the capacity to monitor IPC (Infection Prevention and Control Programmes). But the World Health Organization has created its first-ever IPC monitoring portal to help countries collect data and download their situation analysis, as well as receiving advice on areas and approaches for improvement.

Today is Hand Hygiene Day and WHO urges everyone around the world to wash their hands with this slogan: Seconds save livesclean your hands!