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News18 Afternoon Digest: Maha Sees Highest Covid Cases in 4 Months, Biden Lifts Trump-era Ban on Green Card Applicants & Other Top Stories

A man cycles past a graffiti in Mumbai. (Reuters)

A man cycles past a graffiti in Mumbai. (Reuters)

Here are the top stories we are covering this afternoon: Maharashtra records highest Covid-19 cases in four months; mass 'real world' study confirms Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is 94% effective; Rahul Gandhi's North-South remark yet again exposes deep divide within Congress; Biden lifts Trump-era ban on green card applicants which blocked legal immigration to US; US murder suspect 'cooked' victim's heart, served it with potatoes; and doctor on WHO's Covid-19 origin mission explains why virus didn't leak from Wuhan lab.

No End for Maharashtra’s Woes as State Records Highest Covid-19 Cases in 4 Months, Mumbai Sees Further Rise

The highest in 129 days, a total of 8,807 fresh Covid-19 cases were added to Maharashtra’s daily tally on Wednesday. The state reported 80 deaths, highest in two months since December 24, when 89 deaths were reported. With this, the total cases in the state jumped to 21,21,119 and the toll touched 51,937. Mumbai also saw a three-month high in daily Covid-19 cases. It reported 1,167 new infections, the highest in 119 days. The last time the city had more than 1,167 cases was on October 28, when 1,354 were detected and Mumbai was merely coming out of the peak. It is also after 88 days since November 28 (1,063) that the city has added over 1,000 cases in a day. READ MORE

Mass ‘Real World’ Study Confirms Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine is 94% Effective

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine proved 94 percent effective in a huge real world study published Wednesday that involved 1.2 million people in Israel, confirming the power of mass immunization campaigns to end the coronavirus pandemic. The good news came as Ghana became the first country to receive shots under the global Covax scheme, paving the way for poorer nations to catch up with wealthier parts of the world. READ MORE

RELATED NEWS

Rahul Gandhi’s North-South Remark Yet Again Exposes Deep Divide Within the Congress

Rahul Gandhi’s north-south politics remark has not just given the BJP a handle to accuse him of dividing the country, but has also exposed the deep divide within the Congress party. The group of 23 leaders, who had in August written to Sonia Gandhi, were waiting for a chance to hit out. They found an opportunity. Kapil Sibal said, “Voters must be respected no matter where they belong to.” While he did not name Rahul Gandhi, and also clarified that he wasn’t referring to any individual, the inference isn’t lost. Anand Sharma too said that it was best that Rahul Gandhi himself clarified what he meant. READ MORE

Joe Biden Lifts Trump-era Ban on Green Card Applicants Which Blocked Legal Immigration to US

President Joe Biden on Wednesday lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States. Former President Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic. Trump on December 31 extended those orders until the end of March. READ MORE

US Murder Suspect ‘Cooked’ Victim’s Heart, Served it With Potatoes to ‘Release Demons’: Report

A man accused of a triple murder in the US state of Oklahoma sliced one victim’s heart from her body and cooked it with potatoes to serve to other victims before attacking them, US media reported Wednesday. The suspect, Lawrence Paul Anderson, allegedly removed the organ from the body of a neighbor he had stabbed to death, according to Oklahoma City News 4 TV and the Oklahoman newspaper. READ MORE

Doctor on WHO’s Covid-19 Origin Mission Explains Why Virus Didn’t Leak From Wuhan Lab

How did Covid-19 really originate? The origins of the SARS-Cov-2 virus which was first detected a little over a year ago, and has since rocked the world in a pandemic unlike any other in recent times has always been speculative. The virus was first detected from a wet-food market in Wuhan, China, which soon turned into the epicentre of the disease. It slowly spread to other Asian countries, and then to the West. A year on, 112 million confirmed cases and almost 2.49 million deaths, with the numbers only slated to increase. As the world battles the pandemic and slowly administers a vaccine in hopes of slowly beating the disease which has been leading to multiple second, third and even fourth waves in places which had flattened the curve, the World Health Organization looked into trying to find the origin. READ MORE