A man cries as he sits next to his wife, who receives oxygen support, outside a Gurudwara in Ghaziabad, India, on Monday. Reuters
India's total COVID-19 caseload neared 20 million on Monday, in stark contrast to gradual reopening in Europe and other wealthier parts of the world where rapid vaccination programmes have helped keep new cases down.
In India cases have soared by around eight million since the end of March, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi under growing pressure to take decisive action to reverse the surge.
Meanwhile Europe is looking at easing travel restrictions on foreign tourists as early as next month, if they are fully vaccinated or come from a country with COVID-19 under control.
Relatives of COVID-19 patients who died cry at the government hospital in Karnataka state. AP
Doctors in the resort state of Goa on India's western coast told of how hospitals were overwhelmed by the spike in cases. "There are critical patients who have to be managed on trolleys and floors and kept on ventilators in critical Covid wards," the Goa Association of Resident Doctors said in a letter. Clinics in the capital New Delhi have also sent urgent appeals for help.
"Oxygen is a basic requirement of a hospital and a consistent supply has not been assured. We are constantly firefighting," the head of the Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital Dr Dinesh told the Indian Express daily.
France eases Covid controls
Stung by defeat in a key state-level election and a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to rectify the oxygen situation in Delhi by midnight, embattled Prime Minister Modi held talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen Monday.
The Indian leader thanked the bloc for "mobilising quick support for India's fight against the second wave" as international aid has also poured into the country.
Germany and France over the weekend sent medical equipment including oxygen-generating plants.
The contrasting situation in Europe was highlighted on Monday when the EU Commission proposed that travellers who are fully vaccinated with EU-approved jabs be able once again to enter the bloc, if they come from countries keeping Covid-19 at bay.
Among those preparing for a post-pandemic future is France, which on Monday relaxed controls on movement and allowed the partial return of students to classrooms as part of a four-stage process of opening up.
Greece reopened outdoor dining after six months of closures as it eyes the beginning of the tourism season. "Today I feel like I'm alive again, like I've been revived," joked Andreas Riminiotis, a retiree savouring the ambience at the Da Capo cafe in Athens the day after the country celebrated Orthodox Easter.
And in a jubilant call to action, Britain's Prince Harry joined pop royalty including Jennifer Lopez at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles Sunday to urge faster and more even global vaccinations.
"Vax Live: The Concert To Reunite The World" featured video messages from the pope and US President Joe Biden and in-person appearances from Hollywood stars such as Ben Affleck and Sean Penn.
In northern England, a crowd of 5,000 people danced without face coverings at a music festival in the nation's first post-lockdown gig.
However in a sign that the pandemic isn't over in Europe, Germany on Monday cancelled its iconic Oktoberfest beer festival for a second year running due to the pandemic.
The Covax global vaccine programme, which ensures access to jabs in poorer countries, struck a deal to buy 500 million doses of Moderna's Covid-19 jab, with the doses due to come on stream from October.
Also on the vaccine front, Denmark said Monday it would not include the Covid-19 vaccine from US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in its national vaccination campaign, citing worries over serious side effects involving blood clots.
"The Danish Health Authority has concluded that the benefits of using the Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect... in those who receive the vaccine," the authority said in a statement.
"I am equally concerned that several member states are introducing blunt, blanket measures that are not evidence-based or effective on their own, and which will only worsen inequities," said the WHO chief Tedros.
"As we know this pandemic, I would say it's over," Minister of Health Lena Hallengren told Dagens Nyheter. "It's not over, but as we know it in terms of quick changes and restrictions it is," she said, adding that COVID would no longer be classified as a danger to society.
England's months-old rules have been relaxed thanks in large part to a successful vaccination drive, enabling outdoor gatherings of up to six people, or two households, in what newspapers have dubbed "Happy Monday."
"Our results are important in this context because they show that being able to spend time outdoors under conditions of lockdown has a beneficial impact on psychological well being," said co-lead author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University.
Sheikh Sultan has ordered the release of 399 prisoners of different nationalities from Sharjah's correctional and punitive establishments, ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Qatar's Interior Ministry described the building as a four-story structure in Doha's Bin Durham neighborhood. It said rescuers found seven survivors, while the one person killed had been inside the building at the time of the collapse.
A large number of diplomatic corps, officials of the UAE, prominent business individuals and Pakistani community residing in the UAE participated in the event.