September 8, 2020 - 1:58 PM

Taj Mahal to reopen even as virus rages in India

India’s top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal is set to reopen more than six months after it was shut, officials said Tuesday, even as the nation battles soaring coronavirus infections.

“The Taj Mahal will reopen on September 21. All Covid-19 protocols, like physical distancing, masks will be followed,” northern Uttar Pradesh state’s Tourism Department deputy director Amit Srivastava told AFP.

Visitors will be limited to 5,000 a day, down from the usual daily average of 20,000, he added.

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the shining marble mausoleum south of the capital New Delhi has been closed since mid-March as part of India’s strict virus lockdown.

Uttar Pradesh, home to Agra city where the Taj is located, is one of the worst-hit states in India with more than 270,000 virus cases recorded so far.

September 7, 2020 - 3:43 PM

Man City’s Mahrez, Laporte test positive for Covid-19

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez and defender Aymeric Laporte have tested positive for Covid-19, the Premier League club announced on Monday.

City said in a statement that both players did not display any symptoms and are currently self-isolating in line with protocols established by the Premier League and the British government.

Manchester City have confirmed Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte have tested positive for Covid-19.

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 7, 2020

September 7, 2020 - 3:33 PM

Doctors in Nigeria’s state-run hospitals go on strike

Doctors in Nigeria’s state-run hospitals have embarked on a strike to demand a pay rise, better welfare and adequate facilities.

The strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (Nard) is the latest in a string of strikes by medics in Africa’s most populous nation. More than a third of Nigeria’s 42,000 practising doctors will take part in the indefinite strike as the country struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 14 doctors died from Covid-19 since the country reported its first coronavirus cases in March.

So far Nigeria has recorded more than 55,000 cases of the virus.

September 7, 2020 - 3:30 PM

India becomes second-worst-hit country by coronavirus

India’s health ministry reported another daily record of 90,802 coronavirus cases on Monday, raising the total nationwide to over 4.2 million and overtaking Brazil to become the second-hardest-hit country.

Brazil is now behind India in the total number of cases by almost 70,000; the US remains at the top with more than 6.2 million cases.

India’s health ministry also reported 1,016 new fatalities, raising the total to 71,642. For the fifth day in a row, India has reported more than 1,000 deaths.

September 5, 2020 - 5:53 PM

Latest worldwide coronavirus numbers

Coronavirus update:
🇮🇳 India crosses 4 million cases with record surge
🇦🇺 Lockdown protesters defy police as cases in Australia ease
🌎Widespread vaccinations not expected until mid-2021, WHO says

— Reuters (@Reuters) September 5, 2020


September 4, 2020 - 2:11 PM

Pakistan puzzles health experts as virus cases drop

Six months after the coronavirus arrived in Pakistan, the country appears to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, baffling health experts and dampening fears its crowded urban areas and ramshackle hospitals will be overrun.

Following an initial surge, the number of infections has plummeted in recent weeks, with COVID-19 deaths hovering in the single digits each day while neighbouring India tallies hundreds of fatalities.

Pakistan has a long history of failing to contain myriad infectious diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and hepatitis, while successive governments have underfunded its healthcare sector for decades. Added to that, many Pakistanis live in crowded, multi-generational homes or packed apartment buildings that favour rampant virus transmission.

“No one has been able to explain this decline […] We don’t have any concrete explanation,” said Salman Haseeb, a doctor at Lahore’s Services Hospital.

Pakistanis have proposed numerous hypotheses for their country’s seeming ability to weather the pandemic, crediting everything from the young population and the hot and humid climate to unproven claims of natural immunity.

Its median age is only 22 and the coronavirus is known to disproportionately impact older people with prior health complications. In comparison, Italy, with a median age of 46.5, has recorded more than 35,000 deaths, while Pakistan’s official toll is about 6,300.

To date, the country has confirmed more than 296,000 infections and currently is recording a few hundred new cases per day.

While healthcare facilities were initially swamped, doctors across Pakistan told AFP they are now no longer seeing a coronavirus-related rush on emergency services.

‘Smart’ lockdowns

A flattening curve is all the more curious considering how the coronavirus has hit India, which with a median age of 26 and crowded cities has a somewhat similar demographic.

Over the weekend, India set a new global record for the highest number of daily cases, with 78,761 new infections recorded in 24 hours, though Delhi is testing at a far higher rate than Islamabad.

Since recording its first case in late February, Pakistan has responded in fits and bursts to the pandemic, rolling out loose lockdowns that were later reversed, while crowds shunned social distancing guidelines and continued to flock to markets and mosques.

Still, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has been quick to bask in the progress, crediting itself with “smart” lockdown policies and other measures, even though these were often not enforced.

Last month, authorities lifted most of the country’s remaining coronavirus restrictions after new cases dropped for several weeks. Restaurants and parks have reopened while people have flocked to theatres, malls, and crowded back onto public transport. Schools and universities are set to reopen from September 15.

Masks have become an increasingly rare sight, spurring warnings from experts for the public to remain vigilant over fears of a second wave.

However, other doctors suspect the country has experienced the peak of the pandemic.

“I would reluctantly say that there won’t be a second wave in Pakistan. Most urban centres in Pakistan like Lahore and Karachi have already seen the worst when it comes to coronavirus,” said Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq, head of the department of virology and infectious diseases at Chughtai Lab.

“People must also understand that (the virus) is not completely gone,” he added. “Precautions must be taken still.“

September 4, 2020 - 1:36 PM

Shafqat Mahmood says decision to open educational institutes will be taken on Sept. 7

Some fake accounts in my name are spreading false news that schools will remain closed till Oct. Not true. Education ministers meet on 7th to finally decide with likelihood of opening on Sept 15 in a phased manner

— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) September 4, 2020


September 4, 2020 - 1:16 PM

Robert Pattinson tests positive for coronavirus

British actor Robert Pattinson has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, halting production of The Batman.

Movie studio Warner Bros said in a statement that “a member of ‘The Batman’ production” in Britain had tested positive for the coronavirus, but did not give a name.

“Filming is temporarily paused,” the studio’s statement added but did not say for how long.

Several publications including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Vanity Fair citing sources reported that the person who tested positive was Pattinson, the film’s star.

Warner Bros and Pattinson’s representatives did not return calls seeking comment and it is not clear to what extent Pattinson, 34, was suffering coronavirus symptoms.

Filming for The Batman had resumed north of London only three days ago after being shut down in mid-March, along with dozens of other movies and TV shows around the world due to the coronavirus.

The movie, in which Pattinson stars as the comic book hero, has about three months of material left to shoot, according to Hollywood trade outlets. Its release was pushed back earlier this year from June 2021 to October 2021.

September 3, 2020 - 2:13 PM

Dwayne Johnson reveals he and his family contracted COVID-19

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed that he and his family tested positive for the coronavirus.

Johnson announced their diagnosis in a video on Instagram on Wednesday. He said he was shocked after hearing their positive tests, calling the ordeal “one of the most challenging and difficult things we’ve ever had to endure.”

The actor said he along with his wife, Lauren Hashian, and two young daughters contracted the virus, but have now recovered. He said his daughters “bounced back” after having sore throats for a couple of days.

But for Johnson and his wife, he said they both had a “rough go.”

Johnson said he and his family caught the virus from close family friends, who told him they did not know where they contracted the virus.

Johnson said the ordeal has made him more conscious. He made several suggestions to combat the virus such as wearing a mask, boost your immune system and commit to wellness.

View this post on Instagram

Stay disciplined. Boost your immune system. Commit to wellness. Wear your mask. Protect your family. Be strict about having people over your house or gatherings. Stay positive. And care for your fellow human beings. Stay healthy, my friends. DJ 🖤 #controlthecontrollables

A post shared by therock (@therock) on


August 31, 2020 - 1:57 PM

Lowest daily count of COVID-19 in four months

Pakistan on Sunday reported 213 new coronavirus cases, its lowest daily count in more than four months.

The country reported its first case of the deadly virus on February 26 and went into a three-week lockdown in late March. In the subsequent months, the caseload kept climbing, peaking at 6,825 new cases in a single day on June 13. While it recorded 153 deaths, its highest to date, on June 19.

However, in the last month, Pakistan’s daily infections and fatalities have dropped significantly. On August 30, it recorded only 213 new cases in a day, and six deaths across the country, while it sampled 18,017 tests.

The August 30 figure is the lowest tally since April 10, when 186 new infections were reported in a day.

Recently, Dr Faisal Sultan, the senior-most health official in Pakistan, who was recently appointed the prime minister’s advisor on COVID-19, told the Telegraph that while the decline is a promising sign for Pakistan, he remains cautious.

“At the end of the day, I keep reminding people that this is like smouldering embers and the embers are there. You provide them with fuel and with a little bit of oxygen, they will flare up,” he said.

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