Fri, 30 Oct 2020

India May Have 10 Times More COVID-19 Cases Than Official Figures

Voice of America
30 Sep 2020, 23:05 GMT+10

India now has more than 6.2 million total COVID-19 cases out of its 1.3 billion citizens - but a new study by national health authorities says the actual number could be about 10 times higher.

The Indian Council of Medical Research said Tuesday that one in 15 individuals over 10 years old contained the antibodies left behind from an earlier infection, based on blood tests taken of more than 29,000 people across the nation between mid-August and mid-September.

Dr. Balram Bhargava, the head of the ICMR, said the survey found that 15.6% of all slum residents were found to have antibodies, compared to 8.2% for all non-slum urban residents and 4.4% for rural residents.

India is second only to the United States in the number of novel coronavirus cases and deaths. The virus has surged since public transport, businesses, markets, hotels, restaurants and bars reopened in most cities after India began easing its stringent lockdown.

COVID-19 has killed more than 1 million people worldwide, including about 97,000 in India, 142,000 in Brazil and 205,000 in the United States.

In New York City, the initial epicenter of the pandemic in the United States in March and April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that the city's daily positivity rate has risen above 3%, the highest number since June. Officials earlier this week had expressed concerns with eight neighborhoods in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs, some of them home to large Orthodox Jewish communities that have largely ignored advice such as wearing masks and social distancing.

The increase comes as the city begins reopening its public schools to in-person instruction this week.

The National Football League announced Tuesday that the Tennessee Titans franchise had closed its practice facilities in Nashville and suspended all in-person activities after three players and five non-player personnel tested positive for COVID-19.

The outbreak prompted the Minnesota Vikings, who the Titans played in Minneapolis on Sunday, to also shut down its practice facilities, although none of their players or staffers have tested positive.

The NFL says no decision has been made on whether Tennessee will host its scheduled game with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. entertainment giant Disney announced it will lay off 28,000 workers, the majority of them at the company's theme parks in Florida and California. The layoffs are emblematic of the devastation the pandemic has wrought on the travel and tourism industry as potential visitors avoid the risk of infection from being in large crowds.

Josh D'Amaro, the head of Disney's theme park unit, called the layoffs "heartbreaking" in a letter to employees, but said it was "the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic."

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