Covid-19 wrap | Taj Mahal reopens in India, US to surpass grim milestone of 200 000 virus deaths

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  • India's famed Taj Mahal and some schools reopened.
  • The death toll from the spread of coronavirus in the United States was approaching over 200 000 lives .
  • Britain could return to pre-lockdown normal by next summer if a vaccine succeeds and was rolled out in the early part of 2021.

Taj Mahal reopens even as India coronavirus cases soar

India's famed Taj Mahal and some schools reopened on Monday as authorities pressed ahead with kickstarting the nation's coronavirus-battered economy despite soaring infection numbers.

India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world's most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million Covid-19 cases, second only to the United States which it could overtake soon.

"So many people lost their job during the lockdown. People have suffered a lot and it is time the country opens up fully," said bank official Ayub Sheikh, 35, visiting the Taj with his wife and baby daughter.

"We are not afraid of the virus. If it has to infect us, it will," Sheikh told AFP. "Not many people are dying now. I don't think it is going to go away soon. We have to get used to it now."


US to surpass grim milestone of 200 000 Covid-19 deaths            

The death toll from the spread of coronavirus in the United States was approaching over 200 000 lives on Monday, more than double the number of fatalities in India, the country reporting the second-highest number of cases in the world.

The United States, on a weekly average, is now losing about 800 lives each day to the virus, according to a Reuters tally.

During the early months of the pandemic, 200 000 deaths was regarded by many as the maximum number of lives likely to be lost in the United States to the virus.

Six out of every 10 000 residents in the United States has died of the virus, according to Reuters data, one of the highest rates among developed nations.


Normality could return in summer 2021 if vaccine succeeds - UK health minister             

Britain could return to pre-lockdown normal by next summer if a vaccine succeeds and was rolled out in the early part of 2021, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday, adding that the most vulnerable might be vaccinated at the end of this year.

"For the mass rollout we're talking about the first bit of next year, if all goes well... There's still a chance of it coming on stream before Christmas, but we've then got to roll it out, and the first people who get it, are the people who are most vulnerable people," Hancock told ITV's This Morning.

Asked when there would be a return to the old normal, Hancock said: "If... one of the vaccines comes off, in the early bit of next year, we are looking, I hope, by next summer."


New Zealand eases virus controls, eyes elimination

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved most of New Zealand to the lowest virus alert setting Monday, saying the country was edging towards eliminating Covid-19.

Ardern announced New Zealand would from late Monday move down to virus level one in its four-tier alert system, except for Auckland, where the country's most recent outbreak emerged.

"Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control," said Ardern, whose government has been widely praised internationally for its coronavirus response.

The decision means that mass gatherings, such as the first Bledisloe Cup rugby Test between the All Blacks and Australia in Wellington on October 11, can proceed without restrictions.


UK could hit 50 000 Covid cases per day by mid Oct if rise continues unabated          

The Covid epidemic in Britain is doubling roughly every seven days and if it continues to do so there would be about 50 000 new cases per day by the middle of October, the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said on Monday.

"At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days," he said during a televised briefing.

"If that continues unabated ... by mid-October you would end up with something like 50 000 cases per day," he said, adding that this would lead to more than 200 deaths per day.


Seoul schools resume in-person classes as South Korea coronavirus cases dip        

Schools in the South Korean capital Seoul and nearby areas resumed in-person classes for the first time in almost a month on Monday after daily coronavirus cases dropped to the lowest levels since mid-August.

Students returned to schools under a hybrid schedule of in-person and online classes to limit the number of people at schools at any given time. Students will attend in-person classes once or twice a week.

Authorities on Sunday, meanwhile, extended phase 2 social distancing for a week until 27 September, which limits indoor gatherings to below 50 and outdoor to less than 100.

They said they would impose stricter restrictions on 28 September ahead of the three-day Chuseok holiday when people traditionally reunite with families.


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