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Friday September 24th, 2021 5:58PM

The Latest: India's pandemic death toll may be in millions

By The Associated Press
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NEW DELHI — The most comprehensive research yet estimates India’s excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic were a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll.

Most experts believe India’s official toll of 414,000 dead was a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns. A report released Tuesday estimates excess deaths to be 3 million to 4.7 million between January 2020 and this June.

It calculated its figures by comparing deaths to those in pre-pandemic years, considering the virus prevalence in the population and using an existing economic survey. The report also estimated that India’s initial virus surge last year killed many more people than reported, breeding complacency that set up conditions for the horrific surge earlier this year.

The report was published by Arvind Subramanian, the Indian government’s former chief economic adviser, and two other researchers at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, and Harvard University.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Research: Millions may have died in India during pandemic

— Muslims mark Eid al-Adha holiday in pandemic’s shadow

— South Korean gov’t apologizes over virus-stricken destroyer

— World shares mixed on worries virus may upend recoveries

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

CAIRO — Muslims around the world are observing the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s holiday comes amid growing concerns about the highly infectious delta variant that’s prompted some countries to impose new restrictions.

Indonesia is facing a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases and has imposed various restrictions.

Already, the pandemic has taken a toll for the second year on a sacred mainstay of Islam, the hajj, whose last days coincide with Eid al-Adha. The Islamic pilgrimage has been dramatically scaled back due to the virus.

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has broken another record in the country’s daily new coronavirus cases, even as Tehran and its surroundings went into lockdown.

The week-long measure started on Tuesday amid another surge in the pandemic, with Iran’s health ministry announcing 27,444 new cases and 250 deaths in the past day.

The lockdown — the nation’s fifth so far — lasts until next Monday. All bazars, markets places and public offices closed, as well as movie theaters, gyms and restaurants in both Tehran province and the neighboring province of Alborz.

The overall confirmed death toll has reached 87,624, with more than 3.5 million cases in the pandemic.

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WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert is suggesting parents follow new COVID-19 guidance for mask-wearing issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy is recommending schools require face masks for children older than 2 and all adults — regardless of vaccination status. Dr. Anthony Fauci told “CBS This Morning” the academy wants to “go the extra mile” to make sure kids are protected at school because of the rise in cases blamed on the delta variant of the coronavirus.

That guidance is slightly different from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has advised mask-wearing in schools just for unvaccinated children and adults.

Fauci says the CDC is “carefully looking” at its COVID-19 school guidance.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s prime minister has offered a public apology over a large-scale coronavirus outbreak on a destroyer on an anti-piracy mission off East Africa.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Tuesday the government is “very sorry for failing to carefully take care of the health of our soldiers who are devoting themselves to the country.”

The Defense Ministry says 247 of the destroyer’s 301 crew members have been infected. It’s the largest cluster for South Korea’s military since the pandemic began.

South Korea sent two military planes to bring back all 301 sailors.

On Tuesday, South Korea reported 1,278 new virus cases, taking the total caseload to 180,481, with 2,059 deaths from COVID-19. It was the 14th day in a row that South Korea has confirmed more than 1,000 new cases.

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WASHINGTON — The United States has upgraded its travel warnings for Britain, Indonesia and three other destinations, advising Americans not to travel there due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

The CDC and the State Department issued revised advice to U.S. travelers Monday alerting them to the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in Britain, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Fiji and the British Virgin Islands. Previously, all had been covered by a less severe advisory to “reconsider travel.”

The advisories are recommendations that are constantly under review and are not binding, although they may affect group tours and insurance rates.

The warning for Britain, for example, has fluctuated between Level 3, or “reconsider travel,” and Level 4, or “do not travel,” several times this year already.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top public health official says the state is seeing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweets that the “4th wave is here.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health said Monday that 2,326 new cases were confirmed Friday through Sunday. That is largest three-day increase reported in the state since February.

Mississippi has one of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the nation.

State Rep. Jeramey Anderson of Moss Point posted the Health Department numbers Monday on Twitter and lashed out at people who haven’t been vaccinated.

In the legislator’s words: “Consequences of not getting vaccinated and poor mask wearing. Well Mississippi — you wanted it here it is. This is ridiculous and the deaths that will definitely follow were completely avoidable.”

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The health department in the most populous county in Kansas is urging the county’s public schools to require students and staff who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus to wear masks indoors when classes resume for the fall.

The guidance Monday from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment in the Kansas City area came with confirmed cases of the faster-spreading delta variant continuing to rise across Kansas and fueling larger numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

The state reported Monday that confirmed delta variant cases increased 20% since Friday, up 158 to 950.

State data also show that Kansas averaged 440 new COVID-19 cases for the seven days ending Monday.

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HONOLULU — Oahu restaurants and bars have the option to do away with social distancing if customers provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test.

But Hawaii News Now reports that many restaurant operators aren’t doing so because diners don’t want to show their vaccination cards or present test results.

Restaurants say they are short-staffed already and it would be difficult for workers to check documentation. They also don’t want employees to have to manage angry and confused customers who don’t agree with the program.

Don Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bar and Grill in Chinatown, says he noticed nearby restaurants asked patrons for vaccination cards but received backlash.

He said: “They got eaten alive on social media. I don’t want to put my staff through that.”

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama school officials say vaccines won’t be required in the fall and local systems can decide on their own whether to require masks or other precautions.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending schools require face masks for children older than 2 and all adults, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey disagrees, an aide said.

“Governor Ivey believes students need to be in the classroom without any type of mask requirement. She continues to encourage all eligible Alabamians to roll up their sleeves and get the vaccine to make COVID-19 a distant memory,” spokeswoman Gina Maiola said Monday.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ hospitalizations due to the coronavirus increased by 106 over the weekend as the state led the nation in new cases per capita.

The state Department of Health says virus hospitalizations increased to 787. Of those, 291 patients are in intensive care. There are 124 patients on ventilators. The state’s virus cases increased over the past three days by 2,552 to 365,132 total since the start of the pandemic. The state reported 15 new deaths.

The state’s surge in cases has been fueled by the delta variant and its low vaccination rate. Only 35% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge is allowing Indiana University to continue with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all students and employees.

A ruling from a judge in South Bend rejects a request from eight IU students who sought to block the requirement while they pursued a lawsuit claiming that the university’s policy violates their constitutional rights by forcing them to receive unwanted medical treatment.

The judge wrote in a ruling dated Sunday that evidence IU has pursued a reasonable policy in the “legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

An attorney for the students says he'll appeal the ruling.

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SALT LAKE CITY — In Utah, where COVID cases are steadily increasing, experts are raising the alarm as the state plans to reopen schools without masks in less than a month.

About 38% of Utah kids ages 12 to 17 have gotten at least one shot, a number that compares well with other states, but is still far below herd immunity.

University of Utah professor of pediatric infectious diseases Adam Hersh says: “I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see substantial levels of in-school transmission outbreaks in schools, resulting in school closures, quarantines of large numbers of individuals. And an even greater disruption that we saw last year and even greater disruption at younger levels.”

Utah is one of several states that ban individual school districts from implementing their own mask mandates, a law that passed after anti-mask activists took over a suburban Salt Lake City school board meeting in May.

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TORONTO — Canada says it will begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.

Canadian officials say the 14-day quarantine requirement will be waived as of Aug. 9 for eligible travelers who are currently residing in the United States and have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said a date for the U.S. to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to cross the land border isn’t yet known. Any Canadian can currently fly to the U.S.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government says it is donating 745,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to countries in need that have appealed to the Netherlands for help.

The government says Tanzania and Namibia will be among countries to receive shots. The Dutch government will arrange transport of the vaccines.

Most people getting vaccinated in the Netherlands get either the shot made by Pfizer or Moderna.

The government still has stocks of AstraZeneca in cold storage and is using very little of the vaccine. Earlier Tuesday, the health ministry announced people who have had one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine can choose to have a second shot of Pfizer instead.

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MADRID — Spanish officials are celebrating that half of Spain’s residents, or roughly 24 million people, have been fully vaccinated already, although they say that a steep increase in contagion is sending worrying numbers of patients into hospitals.

The occupation rate in Spanish hospitals climbed on Monday to 5.4% of all beds tending COVID-19 patients and 11.4% of the intensive care unit beds. Although there is still plenty of room, admissions have increased 65% in regular beds and 45% in ICUs only in one week, according to an officiall with the Health Ministry’s emergency coordination center.

María José Sierra said hospitalizations will likely continue increasing but officials expect they will remain proportionally much lower than in previous contagion waves due to the high vaccination levels.

The latest health ministry’s data show that 50.7% of Spain’s 47 million residents were fully vaccinated by Monday and an additional 5 million are waiting for their second dose of the coronavirus jab.

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NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he does not plan to reinstate a citywide mask mandate even as COVID-19 cases increase, opting instead to focus on vaccinating more residents.

There have been calls for New York City to follow the lead of Los Angeles County, which announced last week that it will require masks be worn indoors amid a sharp increase in virus cases.

But de Blasio insisted vaccinations are a better strategy for the nation’s most populous city.

“Masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is,” the mayor said during an livestreamed press briefing. “So we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”

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