Asia Today: Modi gets 2nd vaccine dose as India hits record

India’s leader received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country hit another peak with 126,789 new cases

NEW DELHI — India’s prime minister received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country hit another peak Thursday with 126,789 new cases reported in the past 24 hours.

“Vaccination is among the few ways we have, to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. He received his first vaccine shot on March 1.

The new cases reported by the Health Ministry overtook Wednesday’s 115,736 infections with dozens of cities and towns imposing night curfews to try to contain infections.

Fatalities rose by 685 in the past 24 hours, the highest since November, raising the nation’s toll to 166,862 dead since the pandemic began.

The western state of Maharashtra, the worst hit in the country, accounted for nearly 47% of new infections.

The federal government has refused to impose a second nationwide lockdown, after the first last year had a steep economic impact, but it has asked states to decide on imposing local restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 80,000 cases per day and has reported 12.9 million virus cases since the pandemic began, the third-highest total after the United States and Brazil.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Another 11 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in China’s only active outbreak. Cases in the Yunnan province city of Ruili have topped 100, including those not showing symptoms, but a vaccination campaign and stay-home orders appear to have curbed large-scale transmission. Ruili also reported one new case of a person testing positive for COVID-19 without displaying symptoms, the National Health Commission reported Thursday. The city’s Communist Party secretary, its top official, has been dismissed from his post and handed administrative punishment for his “serious dereliction of duty in epidemic prevention and control,” according to the party’s provincial disciplinary watchdog. China has reported 90,365 cases of COVID-19 since the coronavirus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 4,636 deaths. Thursday also marks the anniversary of the end of a 76-day lockdown in Wuhan that saw more than 11 million people confined to their homes in a Herculean effort to contain the virus’ spread after initial missteps that China has yet to acknowledge.

— New Zealand is temporarily halting travel from India as more arrivals from that country test positive for the coronavirus. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspension takes effect on Sunday and will remain in place until April 28. She said it’s the first time New Zealand has suspended travel for its own citizens attempting to return home, and she emphasized the measure was temporary. The announcement comes after a security guard at a New Zealand quarantine hotel tested positive for the virus. There is no evidence the outbreak has spread any further. New Zealand has managed to stamp out the spread of the virus, so whenever somebody who is not in quarantine tests positive it represents a significant concern. The nation of 5 million people has reported 2,500 cases and 26 deaths since the pandemic began.

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