What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People socially distance while walking across London Bridge as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions begin to ease, allowing groups of 6 to meet up outside starting from March 29, in London, Britain, March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Doctors issue warning over rise in French COVID-19 intensive care patients

The number of COVID-19 patients in France’s intensive care units has risen to a new high for this year, health ministry data showed on Sunday, as 41 hospital doctors in the Paris region signed an article in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche warning that they might soon have to start choosing between patients for emergency treatment.

Scientists have argued that the government’s partial lockdown measures targeting high-infection zones like Paris are inadequate faced with fast-spreading coronavirus variants.

India’s COVID-19 caseload tops 12 million; Maharashtra considers total lockdown

India has reported on Monday its worst single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since October, taking the tally to more than 12 million for the first time ever. India’s overall caseload of 12.04 million – the world’s biggest outside the United States and Brazil – had been falling steadily since a peak in late-September, but increased public gatherings and travel are causing a spurt at a time when a majority of Indians are yet to be vaccinated.

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, is considering imposing a strict lockdown this week after recording 40,414 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, almost two-thirds of the national total, the highest one-day jump in coronavirus infections of any Indian state since last March, officials said on Sunday.

UK’s Johnson urges caution as some lockdown measures ease

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to be cautious as a stay-at-home order and some other lockdown measures are lifted in England, citing rising cases in other parts of Europe and the threat posed by new variants of the virus. From Monday, up to six people, or two households, in England can meet outside whilst outdoor sporting facilities such as tennis and basketball courts can be used with social contact limits in place.

The government will also set up a new Office for Health Promotion to help tackle obesity, improve mental health and promote exercise. Johnson himself said he was “too fat” when he became gravely ill with COVID-19 last year.

Birx says U.S. COVID-19 death toll would have been mitigated with earlier action

Dr. Deborah Birx, who coordinated the White House coronavirus task force under former President Donald Trump, believes the COVID-19 death toll in the United States would have been substantially lower if the government had responded more effectively.

“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,” Birx said. “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.” More than 542,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally, and almost 30 million have been infected.

Inoculation pace to accelerate in May, Japan vaccine czar says

Japan’s vaccine minister, Taro Kono, said on Monday the pace of inoculation in the country would accelerate in May, with 10 million doses expected to be imported every week that month.

“Starting in May, there will be no bottleneck in supply,” Kono told Reuters in an interview. Officially the minister in charge of administrative reform, Kono was tapped in January to lead Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination push.

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