People wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at an inoculation site in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on July 13, 2021. (TAFARA MUGWARA / XINHUA)
COPENHAGEN / WINDHOEK / TUNIS / RABAT / LONDON / RIGA / GENEVA / HAVANA / SANTIAGO / RIO DE JANEIRO / BUENOS AIRES / WARSAW / BARCELONA / AMSTERDAM / ATHENS / PARIS / BERLIN / PORT-AU-PRINCE / ADDIS ABABA / MOSCOW / HARARE / JOHANNESBURG / TBILISI / WASHINGTON – Africa recorded a 43 percent rise in COVID-19 deaths week-on-week, as cases rise, hospital admissions increase rapidly and countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive care beds, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
The continent's case fatality rate – the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases – stands at 2.6 percent against the global average of 2.2 percent, WHO Africa said in its weekly briefing.
"Africa's third wave continues its destructive pathway, pushing past yet another grim milestone as the continent's case count tops six million," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said at the briefing.
The surge in infections, which is partly driven by the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus in 21 African countries, is leaving a "brutal cost in lives lost" in its trail, she said.
Deaths have climbed steeply for the past five weeks to 6,273 last week, just a percentage point shy of its weekly peak recorded in January. Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia accounted for the bulk of the fatalities, WHO said.
Public fatigue with restrictions to daily life aimed at curbing the spread of the virus was also to blame for the surge, WHO Africa said, which has seen the continent record an increase of 1 million cases in the shortest time so far in the pandemic.
It took just a month for infections to increase by the latest 1 million, compared with the three months it took to rise to 5 million from 4 million, Moeti said.
Standard Chartered Bank said on Thursday it was providing US$200 million in not-for-profit funding to the African Export-Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) COVID-19 vaccine procurement framework for Africa.
The facility is part of Afreximbank’s Advance Procurement Commitment framework, under which it has provided a US$2 billion guarantee to manufacturers to secure access to vaccine doses for African nations, Standard Chartered said in statement.
Tech transfer deals
Companies in Brazil and Senegal will produce antigen rapid tests for diagnosing COVID-19 from early 2022 under tech transfer agreements aimed at boosting availability in Latin America and Africa, international agencies said on Thursday.
High-quality antigen tests are the primary diagnostic tool for detecting active infection in poorer settings where molecular testing is not available, the global alliance for diagnostics FIND and health agency UNITAID said in a statement.
Agreements have been signed to transfer know-how from US-based diagnostics company DCN Dx to WAMA Diagnóstica in Brazil, and from Bionote and Britain's Mologic – known for the development of the clear blue pregnancy test – to DIATROPIX of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, according to the statement.
It announced a separate partnership for commercialization and distribution between Xixia Pharmaceuticals, a South African subsidiary of the generic drugmaker Viatris, and Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co Ltd .
WAMA Diagnostica is expected to generate test volumes of 2 million per month, with a ceiling price of US$2.00 per test, UNITAID spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.
The partnership between Wondfo, based in Guangzhou, China, and Xixia Pharmaceuticals, has the potential to produce 144 million tests per year at a ceiling price of US$2.50 each, he added.
In Senegal, DIATROPIX will seek regulatory approval for the tests transferred from Mologic and Bionote and commercialise them under its own brand, aiming to make 2.5 million tests per month in 2022, according to the statement.
Some 144 countries will be eligible for procurement through the ACT-A (Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator) scheme, according to the statement.
Argentina's COVID-19 death toll reached 100,250 on Wednesday after 614 people died of the disease in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said.
In the same period, tests detected 19,697 new cases of COVID-19, meaning there have been a total of 4,702,657 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic here in March 2020.
Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga gives a second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Chief of Staff Minister Luiz Eduardo Ramos at a vaccination center Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (ERALDO PERES / AP)
Hospital admissions and deaths due to COVID-19 have declined in Brazil thanks to progress in vaccination against the virus, Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) said on Wednesday.
In its weekly bulletin on the pandemic, the federally-funded medical research facility said that for the first time since December, no Brazilian state has reported intensive care units (ICUs) with over 90 percent occupancy.
For the third week in a row, deaths caused by COVID-19 fell, although they remained at high levels, with more than 46,000 cases of infection and 1,300 deaths a day on average last week
Brazil registered 1,556 more COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising its national death toll to 537,394, the health ministry said Wednesday
Over 15 million people, 75.57 percent of the target population in Chile, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Health Minister Enrique Paris said Wednesday.
The target population of 15,200,840 represents 80 percent of the country's inhabitants, enough to achieve herd immunity, according to health officials.
This week, Chile's vaccination drive will target adolescents aged 17, 16 and 15, said Paris.
Chile reported on Wednesday 1,227 COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily figure recorded in the last seven months, for a total of 1,592,130 cases.
In its daily report, the Ministry of Health also reported 33 more deaths from COVID-19 in one day, bringing the national death toll to 34,049.
New COVID-19 cases declined by 23 percent in seven days and 44 percent in 14 days in the South American country, said the report.
Cuba on Wednesday reported 51 deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, the highest one-day death toll since the start of the outbreak.
The latest deaths raised the total pandemic death toll to 1,659, the Ministry of Public Health said, adding that 6,080 new COVID-19 infections detected in the same 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 256,607.
Director of hygiene and epidemiology at the ministry Francisco Duran said that out of the new daily cases, 78 were infected abroad.
He also noted children and adolescents under 18 years of age are coming down with COVID-19.
Approximately 240,000 Danes aged between 12 and 15 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination "in the next few days," said a press release from the Danish Health Authority (SST) on Wednesday.
The decision came following the approval for the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech to be used on children from 12 years by the Danish Health and Medicines Authority in May.
The decision of whether to accept the offer of a vaccine against COVID-19 can be made by the 15 year-olds themselves, according to the SST. However, for a child under the age of 15, it is the parent's decision.
The Statens Serum Institut (SSI) on Wednesday registered 1,202 new COVID-19 infections across the country in the past 24 hours, which is the highest daily number of infections since May 21.
Ethiopia has registered 106 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 277,318 as of Wednesday evening, the country's health ministry said.
The ministry said two new deaths and 65 more recoveries were reported during the same period, bringing the national death toll to 4,349 and total recoveries to 262,167.
This picture taken on June 11, 2021, in Amsterdam, shows the sign at the entrance of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) headquarters. (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP)
European Medicines Agency (EMA)
Europe's drug regulator on Wednesday refrained from making any recommendations on mixing schedules of COVID-19 vaccines with doses from different manufacturers, saying it was too early to confirm if and when an additional booster shot would be needed.
However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) did say both doses of two-shot coronavirus vaccines,such as those from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, are needed to protect against the fast-spreading Delta variant.
In a bid to tackle increasing infections and vaccine shortages, countries are testing whether giving a different second dose to the first could boost immunity in people and bridge the gap between vaccine availability.
The EMA made no definitive recommendations on switching up doses, but advised countries to take several conditions into account.
"In order to respond to these needs and increase vaccination coverage, countries may adapt their strategies…based on the epidemiological situation and circulation of variants, and the evolving evidence on vaccine effectiveness against variants," the EMA said in a statement.
An Oxford study last month found that a mixed schedule of vaccines where a shot of Pfizer's vaccine is given four weeks after an AstraZeneca shot will produce better immune responses than giving another dose of AstraZeneca.
"We always follow the science, and the expertise and evaluation from the ECDC and EMA. But we also need to be prepared and ready if (or) when booster shots may be required," a spokesperson for the European Commission said.
ALSO READ: UK to track virus variants with genomic sequencing across world
Police in Paris clashed with protesters railing against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to require a COVID-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas from next month.
Macron this week announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in new coronavirus infections, including the mandatory vaccination of health workers and new health pass rules for the wider public.
In doing so, he went further than most other European nations have done as the highly contagious Delta variant fans a new wave of cases, and other governments are watching carefully to see how the French public responds.
The police fired tear gas on several occasions as pockets of protesters overturned garbage cans and set a mechanical digger alight. Some protesters away from the skirmishes wore badges saying "No to the health pass".
Some critics of Macron's plan – which will require shopping malls, cafes, bars and restaurants to check the health passes of all patrons from August – accuse the president of trampling on freedoms and discriminating against those who do not want the COVID-19 shot.
There were protests in other cities including Nantes, Marseille and Montpellier.
Georgia on Thursday reported 1,398 new COVID-19 cases, taking its tally to 382,734, the country's National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) reported.
Data from the NCDC showed that 1,164 more patients have recovered, taking the total count to 362,491.
Meanwhile, another 11 people have died, raising the toll to 5,503.
As of Thursday, the country had administered a total of 324,802 doses of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, according to the NCDC.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,642 to 3,740,325, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 32 to 91,319, the tally showed.
Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 188.45 million while the global death toll topped 4.05 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Anti-vaccine protesters hold Greek flags during demonstration at Syntagma square, central Athens, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (PETROS GIANNAKOURIS / AP)
More than 5,000 anti-vaccine protesters, some them waving Greek flags and wooden crosses, rallied in Athens on Wednesday to oppose Greece's coronavirus vaccinations program.
Shouting "take your vaccines and get out of here!" and calling on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to resign, the protesters gathered outside parliament under heavy police presence.
Wednesday's protest was the biggest show of opposition to the inoculation drive. A recent poll by Pulse for Skai TV found most Greeks said they would get the vaccine, and the majority were in favour of the mandatory vaccination for some segments of the population.
About 41 percent of Greeks are fully vaccinated. On Monday, the government ordered the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers and nursing home staff following a steep rise in new COVID-19 infections in the middle of the vital tourism season.
"Every person has the right to choose. We're choosing that the government does not choose for us," said Faidon Vovolis, a cardiologist, who has questioned the scientific research around face masks and the vaccine and heads the "Free Again" movement, which called the protest.
Haiti received on Wednesday its first 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US government through the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme, regional health officials said.
The batch was part of a US pledge to donate some 12 million vaccine doses to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, according to a statement from PAHO, the regional office of the World Health Organization. The donations were made through the global vaccine facility COVAX, which distributes vaccines to poorer countries.
A national vaccine campaign has yet to begin in Haiti, which has plunged deeper into turmoil following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Some private companies, however, have distributed doses to their employees.
Preliminary results of a study conducted by the University of Haiti showed only 22 percent of Haitians, however, would accept the vaccine, according to Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean in a separate statement.
"Reaching communities with doses of vaccines doesn’t guarantee they want to get vaccinated," Gough said.
Haiti’s health ministry reported earlier this month that the country to date has registered around 19,400 total cases, and about 500 deaths. Both figures, however, likely undercount the real impact of COVID-19 due to little testing.
Starting Oct 1, employees in Latvia who do not have valid certificates proving vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19 may lose their jobs, as their employers will have the right to sack them according to new regulation approved by the government on Wednesday.
The government also supported the proposal to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for employees of healthcare and long-term social care institutions as well as education institutions.
The new regulations have been drafted in order to ensure that the services provided to people in Latvia are epidemiologically safe, to protect the population from a steep upsurge in COVID-19 infections and prevent the virus from spreading in workplaces.
Representatives of Latvia's trade unions at Wednesday's government sitting voiced strong objections to the mandatory vaccination for particular professions, insisting that it should remain strictly optional.
The new rules have yet to be approved by the parliament.
This file photo shows an empty Sugar Beach in Flic En Flac, Mauritius, on July 13, 2021. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
Mauritius, a tourism-dependent economy, will reopen its borders on Thursday to vaccinated tourists after being closed for 16 months.
The reopening is part of a two-phase strategy to attract tourists to the Indian Ocean island economy whose recovery hinges on a revival in the industry. A move familiar to other travel-reliant countries facing the unenviable task of rescuing crucial tourism industries decimated by the pandemic while guarding against the risk that an influx of international travelers could inflame the spread of the virus.
In the first phase inoculated visitors that have a negative PCR test result on arrival will remain in their resort for 14 days. Thereafter, following another test, they will be able to move around the country. From Oct 1, once the country has achieved herd immunity, no movement restrictions will be imposed on vaccinated visitors.
As of Monday, 31.3 percent of the population of about 1.3 million people were fully inoculated and the country is set to reach 60 percent before September, according to Health Minister Kailesh Jagutpal.
After a 99 percent slump in visitor numbers for the six months through June, the country expects to attract 325,000 tourists in the second half of this year, according to Statistics Mauritius.
Before the pandemic struck, as many as 1.4 million tourists per year descended on the country’s pristine beaches, accounting for 10 percent of gross domestic product. The industry is set to rebound by 4 percent in 2021, compared with a year earlier. And the economy is forecast to grow by 5.4 percent after a 14.9 percent contraction in 2020, its worst performance in four decades.
Morocco will send emergency medical aid to Tunisia to help contain the rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, the Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The medical aid, ordered by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, consists of two complete and autonomous intensive care units with a total capacity of 100 beds, and will be airlifted by Moroccan Royal Air Force, said the ministry statement.
It also includes 100 respirators and two oxygen generators, the statement added.
Namibia on Wednesday recorded 150 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily increase since the virus was reported in the country in March last year.
In a statement, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said the deaths were recorded in 21 districts.
Shangula said the country had recorded a high number of home deaths, especially from Gobabis district.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday expressed his government's support for vaccinating children under the age of 12 against COVID-19.
Speaking during an event in Kalisz in western Poland, Morawiecki called the pandemic a great tragedy and told the mostly conservative crowd that vaccines have saved many lives in the past.
"If all major medicine agencies, especially in Europe, confirm that children under the age of 12 can be vaccinated, we will allow for it. Vaccination will be voluntary and aimed at breaking this chain of infections that could lead to a fourth wave," the prime minister said.
Russia on Thursday reported 791 coronavirus-related deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began and the third day in a row it has set that record.
Russia is in the grip of a surge in cases that authorities have blamed on the contagious Delta variant and the slow rate of vaccinations. The coronavirus task force confirmed 25,293 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours.
Serbia is looking to allocate budget money for a lottery that would reward people who take vaccines, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday as he outlined efforts to speed up the Balkan country’s inoculation campaign.
About half of Serbia’s population is vaccinated, reducing the number of new daily cases to double-digits in past weeks. But the campaign has now slowed to just a few thousand a day, with infections on the rise in the Balkan country of 7 million.
South Africa should prepare itself for a surge in coronavirus cases after days of widespread rioting and looting in the two most populous provinces, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said.
The deadliest and most widespread unrest since the end of apartheid followed the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7. The looting sprees have occurred amid the country’s third and most severe wave of COVID-19 infections.
“We are concerned about the last three or so days of rioting in some parts of South Africa, it may exacerbate the situation of a very severe wave,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director, said on a conference call on Thursday. “The government has to brace itself, and we in the WHO will be preparing, to see an increase in the cases again.”
Excess deaths, seen as a more precise way of measuring total fatalities from the coronavirus, rose for a fourth week in South Africa and hit pandemic-era records in two provinces as a third wave of infections continues to take hold in the country.
In the week ended July 4, the country recorded 7,374 deaths compared with 2,631 official deaths from the virus, the South African Medical Research Council said in a report Wednesday. The number of deaths, which is measured against a historical average, exceeded the peak of a first wave of infections in July last year but was about half of that of the peak of the second in January.
A health worker takes a swab sample collection for a COVID-19 Antigen test ahead of the Cruilla music festival in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, July 9, 2021. (JOAN MATEU / AP)
The Spanish northeastern region of Catalonia, which has the highest coronavirus incidence rate in the country, said on Wednesday it would impose a night curfew in 158 cities and towns as infections have soared especially among young people.
The curfew, which needs to be authorized by a court, would take place between 1 am and 6 am for a seven-day period in areas with over 5,000 inhabitants with a high incidence rate, including tourism hotspots Barcelona, Sitges, Salou and Lloret de Mar.
Regional authorities responsible for the COVID-19 response need court authorization or a government decree for strict measures including lockdowns, travel bans and curfews.
Catalonia's top court on Wednesday backed new restrictions announced by the regional government earlier this week, including capping social gatherings at 10 people.
In Catalonia, 77 percent of people in intensive care had not been vaccinated, but health officials had no information on how many of those had declined to get the shot.
Around 84 percent of current infections were caused by the more contagious Delta variant, Catalan officials said.
Spain, which lifted a nationwide curfew in early May, reported on Wednesday an increase of 26,390 cases compared to Tuesday, while the nationwide 14-day infection rate reached nearly 470 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday, up from 437 cases a day earlier.
ALSO READ: Dutch PM apologizes for easing virus curbs too soon as cases soar
The Netherlands will reimpose work-from-home guidelines due to soaring COVID-19 infections, just weeks after lifting them, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told parliament on Wednesday.
Last Friday, the Netherlands reintroduced restrictions on bars, restaurants and nightclubs to stop a spate of infections among young adults, just two weeks after most lockdown measures were lifted as cases were falling.
The recommendation to work from home is not compulsory and applies only to people who can do so.
Most lockdown measures were lifted on June 26, as an accelerated rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations drove infections sharply down.
Parliament was recalled from summer vacation for a special debate on a six-fold jump in infections, which on Wednesday rose above 10,000 in 24 hours for the first time in half a year.
"We are returning to the old advice," Rutte was quoted by news portal NU.nl as telling lawmakers on Wednesday.
The Dutch government has cancelled all multi-day festivals and events with large crowds as part of the curbs being imposed until Aug 14.
Tunisian parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi, wearing a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic, arrives at a government handover ceremony in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on Sept 3, 2020. (FETHI BELAID / AFP)
The health condition of Tunisian parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi who tested positive for COVID-19 is stable, according to a statement posted Wednesday on his official Facebook page.
Ghannouchi wished a speedy recovery to all those infected with the virus, and called on citizens to receive the vaccine and adhere to the health protocol, according to the statement.
On Tuesday, Tunis Afrique Presse agency reported that Ghannouchi was found infected with COVID-19 after a rapid test.
Morocco on Wednesday reported 2,257 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total tally in the North African country to 547,273.
The death toll rose to 9,404 with nine new fatalities added during the last 24 hours, while 385 people were treated in the intensive care units.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday the worst of the coronavirus pandemic would be behind us if the country is careful, meaning that the economy could recover "like a coiled spring".
"With every day that goes by we build higher the wall of vaccine-acquired immunity … And with every day that goes by our economy is slowly and cautiously picking itself up off the floor, businesses are opening their doors," he said in a speech in central England.
Latest official data showed that more than 46 million people have now received the first dose of a vaccine and more than 35 million have received a second dose.
On Wednesday, Britain reported 42,302 new coronavirus cases, the highest since mid-January, as well as 49 more deaths.
Two thirds of people in Britain think at least some coronavirus restrictions should stay in place after July 19 when Johnson plans to do away with them in England, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.
A mix of COVID-19, influenza and a respiratory virus common among children could push the UK’s National Health Service to the breaking point this winter, according to a new report.
The Academy of Medical Sciences warned that hospital admissions and deaths from flu and respiratory syncytial virus could double from normal levels alongside a third COVID-19 wave. New modeling showed that flu deaths in Britain could hit 60,000 in the worst-case scenario.
People can harbor three viruses at one time, and a test that detects all three illnesses is needed to protect the public, according to the study’s authors.
A surge in respiratory diseases other than COVID-19 is possible this winter because the UK population had less exposure to them last year due to lockdowns. Thursday’s report suggests 15,000 to 60,000 people could die from flu during the season, compared with a worst-case scenario of as many as 30,000 in a normal year.
The NHS winter bed occupancy already exceeded 95 percent before the pandemic and it will have a reduced capacity this year due to virus measures. A shortage of nearly 84,000 staff and 2,500 general practitioners will add to the pressure, according to the report.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy raised the alarm on Thursday over a growing wave of misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines that threatens efforts to quell the pandemic and save lives, urging technology companies and others to act.
In his first advisory as the nation's top doctor under President Joe Biden, Murthy called on tech companies to tweak their algorithms to further demote false information and share more data with researchers and the government to help teachers, healthcare workers and the media fight misinformation.
US COVID-19 infections last week rose about 11 percent over the previous week, with the highest increases in areas with vaccination rates of less than 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and continued to tick up on Wednesday.
The World Health Organization (WHO)'s Emergency Committee on Thursday maintained its stance that proof of COVID-19 vaccination should not be required for international travel, amid a growing debate into blocking the entry of travelers if they are unvaccinated.
The independent experts said that vaccinations should not be the only condition to permit international travel, given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
To date, the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus has been identified in 111 countries, territories or areas, and is on the way to becoming the dominant strain of the virus worldwide, causing an increase in new infections and deaths, the WHO said on Wednesday.
Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Ecuador are among the 15 countries that reported their first cases of the highly infectious variant in the past week, the WHO said in a press release.
It warned that the Delta strain is likely to spread to more countries and that it is likely to become the dominant form of COVID-19 in the coming months.
Separately, according to an open letter by Michael Fernandes of North Carolina-based Medbase and Jan Brabek, a professor at the Charles University in Prague, the WHO needs to issue an emergency clinical alert against overuse of steroids in the treatment of COVID-19 after the medication was linked to an outbreak of a deadly fungal infection called mucormycosis in India.
Mucormycosis is now emerging in Southeast Asia and Latin America and “represents the first iatrogenic and preventable epidemic within a pandemic,” the duo said in the letter. It can kill and maim patients with some COVID-19 sufferers losing their upper jaws and eyes.
The infection, also called “black fungus,” can damage the sinuses or lungs when the spores are inhaled, according to a May health advisory by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The advisory also warned that an overuse of steroids could worsen the condition. India, which has notified it as an epidemic, had 40,845 cases of mucormycosis as of June 28, according to a local media report.
Zimbabwe has registered 3,110 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, its highest daily figure since the onset of the pandemic last year.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the record number of new cases accelerated the country's cumulative COVID-19 cases to 76,381 as of Wednesday, as the nation battles a third wave of the pandemic.
The ministry said 58 new deaths were recorded, raising the nation's death toll to 2,332.