Russia reported 9,021 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, including 2,011 in Moscow, pushing the total infection tally in the country to 4,572,077 since the pandemic began a year ago. The government coronavirus task force said that 384 people had died from coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking Russia’s death toll to 100,017. Russia’s Rosstat statistics service, which is keeping a separate tally, has reported a much higher toll. It said on Friday it had recorded over 225,000 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in April.
Millions of Christians around the world prepared Saturday to spend another Easter weekend under restrictions because of coronavirus surges, but there was good news from the hard-hit United States, which crossed the milestone of 100 million vaccinations.
There have been worrying spikes in infections in many parts of the world, even as vaccine rollouts gather pace, forcing the reimposition of deeply unpopular restrictions including in European nations.
Italy began a strict Easter lockdown on Saturday, with the entire country considered a high-risk coronavirus “red zone” during a time when families usually hold reunions.
At the Vatican on Good Friday, a handful of onlookers caught a glimpse of Pope Francis presiding over the “Way of the Cross” ceremony in an empty St. Peter’s Square, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing large gatherings there for a second year in a row.
New restrictions also came into force Saturday in France, where authorities are scrambling to deal with a dramatic rise in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in the capital Paris.
Care home residents will be allowed a second regular indoor visitor from 12 April, the government has announced, while babies and young children can also attend.
Infants and children are not counted as one of the two visitors, meaning residents will be allowed to see small bubbles of relatives or friends for the first time in months.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that the drop in community infection and rapid vaccine rollout means the increase in visitor numbers can go ahead as set out in the government’s road map out of lockdown.
The DHSC said visitors would be allowed to hold hands but that personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn. A negative rapid lateral flow test will also be required from adult visitors before entry is permitted, but some will be allowed to conduct their tests at home so more visits can take place.
Boris Johnson said: “Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different.
“I’m particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.
“Thanks to the tireless work of care home staff, and the success of the vaccine rollout, we’re able to increase the number of visits in a safe and controlled way.”
Ukraine reported a record increase in new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, with 20,341 new infections in the preceding 24 hours, health minister Maxim Stepanov said.
Writing on his social media page, Stepanov said 5,186 people were hospitalised in the same period, and 396 people died.
Britons who have had both coronavirus vaccine doses could avoid quarantine measures under government plans to restart international travel, it has been reported.
It is expected Boris Johnson will signal on Monday that foreign travel will return with restrictions based on a traffic light system that rates countries as red, amber or green based on Covid infection rates, vaccination levels and the prevalence of variants.
Hesitancy towards the vaccine across parts of mainland Europe may mean that traditionally favoured continental destinations among British holidaymakers are deemed more high-risk than the likes of the US and Israel, where vaccination rates are good.
Overseas holidays are currently banned due to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures, but Boris Johnson plans to make an announcement on Easter Monday about lifting restrictions in England.
India’s daily coronavirus infections hit another record on Saturday for the highest tally since September, while daily deaths reached a five-month high, a Reuters count based on data from the health ministry showed.
The south Asian nation recorded 89,129 new infections and 714 deaths, the ministry said. That was the biggest single-day rise since September 20 last year and the most deaths since October 21, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have surged in India since the beginning of March, with its richest state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, the worst hit. Late on Friday, the state’s chief minister warned of a full lockdown to curb infections if people did not limit their movements.