(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. surpassed 20 million Covid-19 cases, a year after a mysterious pathogen first revealed itself in Wuhan, China. That number is almost twice as many as in India, the second-worst-hit country. New York state’s infections remained high, just below the record set Wednesday, as the rate of positive tests in New York City rose toward 10%.
The pandemic entered 2021 with no signs of slowing down. Global daily deaths reached record highs this week. Countries from Germany to Japan to South Africa ended 2020 with record daily cases. Turkey, China and Brazil became the latest to report infections of the new, highly transmissible virus strain.
Vaccines remained the best hope for 2021. The World Health Organization issued an emergency-use designation for Pfizer Inc.’s shot, a move that could allow more countries to import and distribute the vaccine.
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Turkey Finds 15 Cases of New Variant Among Visitors from U.K. (1:03 p.m. NY)
Turkey suspended all arrivals from the U.K. after it detected the new variant of the Covid-19 virus among 15 people who traveled from the country, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
All 15 patients had been in quarantine since they were screened and no other cases of the more-infectious mutant virus have so far been detected in the country, Koca said in a statement online.
Turkey announced 12,203 new infections on Friday, the lowest level since at least Nov. 25, when the ministry of health started announcing the number of everyone who tests positive for the virus, abandoning a controversial policy of excluding asymptomatic cases.
N.Y. Cases Remain Near Record High (12:54 p.m. NY)
New York state reported 16,497 new cases, just below the record set on Wednesday for the entire pandemic. Total hospitalizations dropped slightly, to 7,886, as did the overall rate for positive tests, at 7.52%, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in statement. Another 166 people died, the most in two weeks of fataltieis above 100.
Danish Prime Minister Sets April as Turning Point in Virus Fight (12:13 p.m. NY)
Denmark will probably reach a turning point in the fight against the pandemic in early April, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
“I think the worst year is behind us but we must expect that the most difficult months are still ahead of us,” the Social Democrat premier said in her New Year speech broadcast on Friday. She said Easter Sunday, on April 4, will “not be the end but a turning point,” helped by vaccinations and better weather conditions.
NYC Rate of Positive Tests Rises Toward 10% (11:54 a.m. NY)
New York City’s rate of positive tests continues to rise rapidly, hitting 9.41% based on a seven-day average, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet on Friday. That number was below 2% in November. Hospitalizations also continued to rise, with another 219 admissions, he said.
“2021 is here and it will be a better year for our city — but we have to keep up the fight against #COVID19,” he said.
Italy Cases Slow (11:17 a.m. NY)
Italy registered 22,211 virus cases on Friday, from 23,477 the day before. Daily deaths declined too, with 462 fatalities reported, compared with 555 on Thursday.
The Italian government has imposed a “stop-and-go” lockdown all over the country from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, with strict restrictions on and around Christmas, New Year’s and the Epiphany holiday on Jan. 6.
U.K. New Cases Remain High (11:09 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported 53,285 new cases and 613 deaths on Friday. The latest R number was estimated at 1.1 to 1.3., which means the virus continues to spread exponentially.
Portugal Reports Fewer Daily Cases (11:06 a.m. NY)
Portugal reported 6,951 new confirmed cases, below the record of 7,627 announced the previous day, taking the total to 420,629. The number of hospitalized cases fell by 34 to 2,806.
Portugal started its Covid-19 vaccination program on Dec. 27.
Philippines to Ban Foreigners Traveling From U.S. (10:57 a.m. NY)
The Philippines will ban foreign travelers from the U.S. through the middle of January after a third state, Florida, reported a strain of the coronavirus believed to be more infectious, Reuters reported.
The ban, which begins on Sunday, doesn’t apply to Filipinos traveling from the U.S., though they will have to quarantine for 14 days in a government facility, the news agency reported.
Norway Will Lift U.K. Flight Ban (6:33 a.m. NY)
Norway will remove a halt on flights from the U.K. from 5 p.m. CET on Jan. 2, according to the country’s Health and Care Services Ministry. Special rules on quarantine and testing for people coming from the U.K. will continue.
Iran Reports 6,000 More Infections (5:30 a.m. NY)
Iran reported 6,286 new coronavirus cases and 114 deaths overnight, around 10% lower than the week’s average number of fatalities. The country’s health ministry has recorded a total of 1,231,429 infections and 55,337 deaths so far.
Russia Cases Top 27,000 (5:30 p.m. HK)
Russia recorded 27,039 new cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 3.186 million, according to the country’s task force for combating the pandemic. Five hundred and thirty-six people died from the coronavirus in the past day, bringing the death toll to 57,555.
Germany’s Merz Calls for Schools to Reopen (4:42 p.m. HK)
Friedrich Merz, one of the contenders to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, said schools in the country should reopen as soon as possible. “What I find most troubling isn’t the economic damage of the lockdown, but rather the massive damage to the education of our children,” Funke Mediengruppe cited him as saying in an interview. Merz said he wants the heads of Germany’s state governments take a uniform approach when they meet in coming days to discuss extending the country’s lockdown, according to Funke.
BioNTech Boosts Vaccine Capacity (4:29 p.m. HK)
BioNTech will increase production capacity of the vaccine it developed with Pfizer, CEO Ugur Sahin tells Der Spiegel. Germany has a gap in supply because some other shots haven’t been approved yet, he said. BioNTech’s plant in Marburg, Germany may be operational in February and produce as many as 250 million doses in the first half, the magazine cited Sahin as saying.
South Africa Breaks Record for Daily Cases (3:40 p.m. HK)
South Africa reported a record 18,000 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the cumulative total to 1.06 million. “Previously we warned that this second wave will dwarf the first wave and indeed this is the case,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement late Thursday.
“Despite performing of 55,000 tests in the past 24 hours, the positivity rate is 32.5% -- we keep highlighting this point because this indicates that the virus is spreading so fast that it is outpacing our ability to detect it -- even with good turnaround times.”
The number of people who’ve died after being diagnosed with the disease rose by 436 to 28,469, the health ministry said.
India’s Total Confirmed Cases Reach 10.29 Million (12:25 p.m. HK)
India added over 20,000 cases in a day, according to government data, bringing the total caseload to 10.29 million as of Jan. 1. Coronavirus related deaths have reached 148,994.
China reported 19 new cases while South Korea reported 1,029 new infections.
Japan’s Stance Against Emergency Appears to Shift (11:20 a.m. HK)
Tokyo’s metropolitan government is considering a request to the central government to declare a state of emergency, national broadaster NHK reported. On Wednesday, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s coronavirus response, said the country could consider an emergency if infections continue at the current rate.
Australia Cases Show Signs of Easing (9:00 a.m. HK)
Australians received positive news on New Year’s Day with few new coronavirus cases recorded from the previous day, bringing hope that clusters in Sydney and Melbourne have been brought under control. Three new cases were reported overnight in Sydney in the city’s west, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Friday. Meanwhile, authorities in neighboring Victoria state recorded no new cases overnight after eight new infections were detected Thursday.
Wisconsin Hospital Worker Arrested for Spoiled Vaccines: AP (8:54 a.m. HK)
Authorities arrested a suburban Milwaukee pharmacist Thursday suspected of deliberately ruining hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine by removing them from refrigeration for two nights, the Associated Press reported. Police in Grafton, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Milwaukee, said the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.
Bolsonaro Says Brazil Might Buy Moderna Vaccine Soon (8:22 a.m. HK)
Brazil may obtain the Moderna Inc. vaccine, President Jair Bolsonaro said during a live broadcast on social media Thursday. “In addition to Pfizer, we have another one that is now available, Moderna, which may be acquired by Brazil,” he said.
145 Workers at Costco Store Test Positive: AP (8:03 a.m. HK)
Some 145 workers tested positive for Covid-19 at a Costco store near Yakima, Washington, the Associated Press reported, citing health officials. The store remains open while health officials investigate, the report said. The health district said it will monitor the outbreak, which began before Christmas.
WHO Approves Pfizer/BioNtech Vaccine (4:38 p.m. NY)
The World Health Organization issued its first emergency-use designation for a Covid-19 vaccine, making the Pfizer/BioNtech the first immunization to receive a green light from the Geneva-based body. The move could allow more countries to import and distribute the vaccine, which has already been cleared for use in the U.S., U.K. and Europe.
Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Program as New Virus Deaths Surpass 1,000
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
Photographer: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg
Texas Hospitalizations Breach Record for 4th Straight Day (4:15 p.m. NY)
Virus hospitalizations in Texas hospitals set a record for a fourth consecutive day as outbreaks proliferated in the second-most populous U.S. state.
Hospitalizations rose 2.3% in the past 24 hours to 12,268, state health department figures showed. Covid-19 patients account for at least 15% of hospital capacity in almost three-fourths of Texas’s trauma service areas, prompting Governor Greg Abbott to shutter taverns and order restaurants and some other businesses to operate at reduced capacity in those areas.
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