Indians arrested for Covid rule-breaking puppy party
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Every dog must have its day, but one young pup in India landed her human companions in hot water after police raided a Covid rule-breaking party staged for the coddled canine.
The lavish second birthday celebration cost 700,000 rupees (nearly $10,000), according to police, with an elaborate birthday cake and giant photo cutouts of Abby, an Indian Spitz and the soiree's guest of honour.
Social media footage showed a crowd of people dancing in front of an ornate stage at Friday's party, held in the western city of Ahmedabad, with their defiance of local social distancing rules eventually attracting the law's attention.
"We got information about a big party going on, so we raided the venue," police inspector V.D. Zala told AFP.
"As per Covid protocol, it is necessary to take permission before organising a party. The organisers are responsible for ensuring social distancing among guests."
Gujarat | 3 accused arrested for allegedly flouting COVID19 norms after a video went viral of Chirag alias Dago Patel celebrating his pet dog's birthday, spending approx Rs 7 lakh, at Madhuvan Green Party Plot in Ahmedabad: Gujarat Police— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2022
(Pic 1,2,3: Screengrab from viral video) pic.twitter.com/xclnkeb5PJ
Three men were arrested for their role in staging the event. The trio were later released on bail.
India recorded nearly 160,000 Covid cases overnight, up nearly six-fold from a week earlier, in an infection surge driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the virus.
Local officials have watched the sharply rising case numbers with alarm and some of India's biggest urban centres have moved to reimpose movement restrictions.
Covid tests ordered for 14 million in China's Tianjin
The northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Sunday advised its nearly 14 million people to stay home while it conducted mass Covid testing after a spate of recent cases, including two caused by the Omicron variant, state-controlled media reported.
Tianjin emerged as a new area of concern after more than 20 Covid cases were reported there in the last few days, most of them imported from abroad, according to the National Health Commission.
They include at least two cases of the Omicron variant, as well as 15 infections among elementary and middle school students, according to various state media reports.
The city near the capital Beijing launched its mass testing early Sunday, advising residents to stay at or near home to be available for the community-level nucleic-acid screening.
So far, however, no larger lockdown order was seen.
Chinese authorities have already been struggling with a larger outbreak centred on the northwestern city of Xi'an that has sparked questioning of the country's zero-tolerance policy of strict lockdowns and immediate mass testing to curb outbreaks.
China, where the coronavirus was first detected in 2019, has thus far reported only a handful of Omicron cases.
Tianjin residents have been told that until they obtain a negative test result, they will not receive a "green" code on smartphone Covid-tracing apps that nearly all people in China are now required to present when using public transport and in other situations.
Tianjin is a major port city about 150 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of Beijing.
Xi'an, historic home to China's famed Terracotta Warriors, was locked down last month, forcing its 13 million residents indoors. New case numbers there have slowed in recent days.
Officials have faced complaints from Xi'an residents over chaotic handling of the lockdown, including poor access to food and daily essentials, and viral cases such as a miscarriage suffered by an eight-month pregnant woman who was refused entry to a hospital without a Covid test.
China's government has touted its initial strict response to Covid, which has largely brought the pandemic under control within its borders, as preferrable to sometimes lax and chaotic measures overseas.
International flights are a fraction of pre-pandemic levels with arrivals undergoing strict weeks-long quarantine, and the mandatory track-and-trace apps mean close contacts are usually detected and quarantined quickly.
China is hewing strictly to the zero-tolerance approach as outbreaks continue to emerge in the run-up to next month's Beijing Winter Olympics.
China's official tally since the start of the pandemic -- just over 100,000 Covid cases -- is a fraction of the record one million cases logged by the US in a single day earlier this month.
Cases from China's chaotic initial outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020, however, are widely believed to have been under-reported.
China's official death toll has stayed under 5,000.