India reported 368,147 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the 12th consecutive day the South Asian nation has recorded at least 300,000 cases of the disease.  While India is home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, only 2% of the country’s 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated, according to local reports. “I don’t think even God could have forecast it was going to get this bad,” Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, told Britain’s newspaper The Sunday Times.  After scathing criticism about his comments during the interview with the newspaper, the 40-year-old billionaire said he was cutting the vaccine’s price and said that move would enable countries to obtain “more vaccinations and save countless lives.” A request from Tokyo’s Olympics Committee to the Japanese Nursing Association for 500 volunteers for the upcoming summer games was not well received by the nursing organization. The nurses took to social media to express their displeasure with the request.  FILE – Medical workers receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center Komagome Hospital in Tokyo, March 5, 2021.Susumu Morita, the secretary-general of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, said in a statement, “We must stop the proposal to send nurses who are engaged in the fight against a serious coronavirus pandemic to volunteer at the Olympics.” Japan has over 600,000 COVID-19 cases and is currently experiencing a surge.  In the United States, President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” TV show, “we are rushing aid to India.” However, the U.S. is also taking new measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The White House said Friday that starting Tuesday, the U.S. will stop incoming flights from India. Relief supplies from the United States in the wake of India’s COVID-19 situation arrive at the Indira Gandhi International Airport cargo terminal in New Delhi, India, April 30, 2021. (Prakash Singh/Pool via AP)The U.S. has dispatched two Air Force transport planes carrying oxygen cylinders, N95 masks and rapid diagnostic tests, the first of several planned shipments. Taiwan says it has sent much-needed oxygen supplies.  Australia is also banning flights from India. Australians who do enter the country after traveling to India could face a fine and incarceration. Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said two COVID variants have entered the country — one from India and the other from South Africa. Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is advising travelers to “avoid all travel to Indonesia,” saying “even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”  Elsewhere, in Brazil, thousands of people marched the streets of Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro Saturday despite the surge in COVID cases to show support for President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, who opposes pandemic restrictions put in place by governors and mayors, recently said the army “could take to the street one day, to ensure … freedom to come and go.” Some of Saturday’s banners called for a “military intervention” and bolstering Bolsonaro’s powers. Meanwhile in Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak, thousands attended a two-day Strawberry Music Festival that opened Saturday. The festival was forced to go online due to the pandemic a year ago. Although barriers were set separating the crowd, and security personnel enforcing restrictions, about 11,000 people danced and sang along with their favorite bands on three stages, as some attendees wore masks while many did not, according to the Reuters news agency.  Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Monday that there are 152.8 million global COVID cases. The U.S. tops the list with the most infections with 32.4 million, followed by India with nearly 20 million and Brazil with 14.7 million.  

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