U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tougher lockdown measures in England, including school closures, will probably be needed as cases of the new virus variant continue to surge.
In Africa, South Africa’s presidency said the continent has few options to procure Covid-19 vaccines as outbreaks of the disease worsen across many countries.
In the U.S., the death toll from coronavirus rose to more than 350,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. New York became the fourth state with more than 1 million cases.
India granted emergency approval for the AstraZeneca Plc and University of Oxford virus vaccine and allowed for limited use of Covaxin, developed locally by Bharat Biotech.
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Israel to Offer Jabs to All Residents by April (8:20 a.m. NY)
Israel will be able to make Covid-19 vaccinations available by the end of March or early April to all residents who wish to be inoculated, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday. Some 1.1 million Israelis have already received a first dose of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine.
At the same time, Edelstein called on the government to impose a full, two-week lockdown to slow surging virus infections.
Eswatini to Acquire Vaccines for Whole Population (8 a.m. NY)
Southern African country Eswatini is setting aside 200 million emalangeni ($13.6 million) to secure vaccines for its entire population, acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said, according to a Twitter post from the government. The first batch of vaccines is expected to be made available this quarter.
Guangdong Reports Virus Variant: Global Times (7:30 a.m. NY)
South China’s Guangdong province reported a case of the new virus variant that emerged in the U.K. It’s the second such case recorded in China, after one in Shanghai, according to Global Times. Chinese public-health experts said current curbs will be effective in preventing the spread of the imported variant, but measures might be tightened if more cases occur, according to the newspaper.
Ghana Schools to Reopen, Joy FM Reports (6:18 a.m. NY)
Ghana will allow schools to reopen from the middle of this month after closing them in March, Joy FM reported. President Nana Akufo-Addo and parliament’s committee on education took the decision late last month, the Accra-based broadcaster said on its website, citing people in government it didn’t identify.
Malaysia’s Daily Cases Fall Back Below 2,000 (6 a.m. NY)
Malaysia said Sunday its daily new infections dropped to 1,704, after three days of cases above 2,000. The latest data bring the total to 119,077 since the start of the pandemic, according to Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah. Malaysia recorded 11 deaths on Sunday, pushing the total toll to 494.
Iran Deaths Remain Near Four-Month Low (6:34 p.m. HK)
Iran reported 5,960 new cases on Sunday, below the seven-day average of 6,073. The Health Ministry recorded 102 new deaths, little changed from Saturday’s four-month low of 101.
U.K.’s Johnson Likely to Tighten Curbs (5:54 p.m. HK)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tighter lockdown measures in England, including school closures, will probably be needed as cases of the new virus variant continue to surge.
“It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that are tougher in many parts of the country,” Johnson said in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday. While insisting that schools are safe, he said, “we’ve got to keep things under constant review.”
In London, which has one of the country’s highest levels of infections per capita, the government has already ordered all primary schools to remain closed for the start of the new term this week.
S. Africa Sees Few Vaccine Options for Africa (5:46 p.m. HK)
Africa has few options to procure Covid-19 vaccines as outbreaks worsen across many parts of the continent, South Africa’s presidency said.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have offered to supply Africa with 50 million vaccines for health workers between March and year-end, the presidency said Sunday. But the cost of Pfizer’s vaccines are “prohibitive,” it said.
Moderna Inc. has no supplies for Africa, while AstraZeneca Plc has no shots for the continent in 2021 and has directed the African Union to negotiate with the Serum Institute of India, which is making the vaccine on behalf of AstraZeneca.
France Speeds Vaccinations, Le Parisien Says (5:41 p.m. HK)
France is accelerating Covid-19 vaccinations after a slow start, according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
Medical staff aged 50 and older started being vaccinated this weekend, Attal told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
Germany Seen Extending Curbs Beyond Jan. 10 (4:45 p.m. HK)
There’s growing evidence Europe’s biggest economy will extend its coronavirus restrictions beyond Jan. 10.
The lockdown that has shut shops and restaurants should continue until the end of the month, Bavaria Governor Markus Soeder told Bild am Sonntag. Schools and daycare centers should also remain closed, Soeder said, echoing comments by Health Minister Jens Spahn. Angela Merkel’s government and state governors are due to discuss a possible extension of curbs on Tuesday.
Germany added 10,807 new infections in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A further 342 people died.
Japan’s Suga to Lay Out Virus Plan Monday: Nikkei (4 p.m. HK)
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will detail planned measures to stem the spread of coronavirus at a press conference on Monday, the Nikkei newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.
The central government held off declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo and three adjacent prefectures -- Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama -- on Saturday, despite being urged to do so by local authorities.
Suga’s government is seeking parliamentary approval for an amended law that would penalize bars and restaurants that don’t comply with instructions to close early, Jiji news service reported on Sunday.
Indonesia Plans to Start Shots This Month (3:40 p.m. HK)
Indonesia is starting nationwide distribution of 3 million doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. The Health Ministry plans to begin vaccinations no later than the third week of January, after approval from the food and drug regulator is issued, agency spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi said at a briefing Sunday.
Health workers and government employees will have priority for the shots in the first quarter of 2021. The country hopes to inoculate its population of 181.5 million by March 2022.
India Approves Local Vaccine, With Limits (2:03 p.m. HK)
Shortly after India granted emergency approval for the virus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford, the country allowed limited use of Covaxin, developed by Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd.
The AstraZeneca shot is also being produced locally by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume. “It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet.
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla later said he expects a vaccine roll-out next week, according to CNBC.
U.S. Deaths Surpass 350,000 (12:51 p.m. HK)
The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 rose to more than 350,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and the country reported a record 299,087 new infections.
Australia Outbreak Shows Signs of Slowing (10:13 a.m. HK)
Coronavirus clusters in Australia’s two most-populous states may be coming under control. Victoria reported three new cases in the past 24 hours, health authorities said Sunday, down from 10 new infections the day before. New South Wales said it detected eight locally transmitted cases in the same period, compared with seven the day before.
The outbreak in Sydney has resulted in tighter social-distancing measures, including fines for people not wearing masks in stores, churches and on public transport, as well as in other indoor spaces.
California Nears Record Infections (9:20 a.m. HK)
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Senior Citizens Line Up For Vaccinations Administered By Florida Department Of Health
People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Fort Myers, Florida on Dec. 30.
Photographer: Octavio Jones/Getty Images
California’s 53,341 new cases, the most since a record more than two weeks ago, prompted an urgent appeal by the health department for blood donations. The increase brings the total for the state to almost 2.35 million -- with only six countries globally having more infections.
Greater Los Angeles, the epicenter of the latest wave, added 15,701 cases, with the total exceeding 800,000. The surge in Southern California has pushed up hospitalizations and maxed out ICU capacity in the region, putting a strain on medical facilities, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a tweet.
Urgent Surgery in London to Be Canceled, Guardian Reports (4:03 a.m. HK)
The National Health Service is set to cancel urgent surgery across London in a move that could result in cancer patients waiting months for potentially lifesaving operations, the Guardian reported.
Hospitals across the capital, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country, are working at or near full capacity because of patients with Covid-19.
South African Health Officials Call for Firings Over Vaccine Delay (3:33 a.m. HK)
Some of South Africa’s leading health leaders and academics called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire officials responsible for the delay in procuring Covid-19 vaccines, which they said will cause thousands of deaths and economic damage. The country, the worst hit by the virus in Africa, is due to receive its first vaccines in the second quarter from the Covax initiative. Even then, the agreement will only cover 10% of the population.
New York State Surpasses 1 Million Covid-19 Cases (2:47 a.m. HK)
New York state passed 1 million Covid-19 cases, after a somber year in which more than 30,000 of its residents died from the virus.
Cases increased by 15,074, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet Saturday. That is below a record set two days ago for the entire pandemic of 16,802 daily cases. Total hospitalizations fell slightly to 7,814, as did the rate of positive tests, now 7.45% statewide. Another 128 people died.
Zimbabwe Orders Lockdown (1:51 a.m. HK)
The Zimbabwean government plans to start 30 days of lockdown regulations following an increase of coronavirus infections during the festive season, vice president Constatino Chiwenga said late Saturday.
“Gatherings are reduced to not more than 30 people at all funerals,” Chiwenga told reporters in the capital, Harare. “All other gatherings at weddings, churches, bars, bottle stores, gymnasium, restaurants are banned for 30 days.” Essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets, with only essential staff are allowed to open.
U.K. Draws Plans for People to Receive Two Different Vaccines, FT Reports (12:57 a.m. HK)
The U.K. government has drawn up plans to allow people to receive two different Covid-19 vaccines as part of the two-dose treatment to protect against the coronavirus, the Financial Times reported, citing official recommendations on vaccines.
The document says that “every effort” should be made to administer the same vaccine in both shots, but that it is “reasonable” to offer a different vaccine if the original one is not available. The guidelines say exceptions should only be made for high-risk individuals or those unlikely to attend another appointment, the paper reported.
Italy Keeps Ski Resorts Closed (12:51 a.m. NY)
Italy postponed the reopening of its ski resorts to Jan. 18, as measures to curb infections have been slow to show results. The government had shut the nation’s ski lifts through Jan. 6 as part of winter holiday restrictions implemented in December to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, health authorities reported 364 Covid-19 deaths, down from 462 a day earlier, and 11,831 new cases versus 22,211 the previous day when there were more than twice as many tests.
More than 800,000 Russians Get Vaccinated (10:20 p.m. HK)
More than 800,000 Russians have received the Covid-19 vaccination, Tass newswire reported, citing Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. Earlier Saturday, Russia reported 26,301 daily cases, bringing the total to 3.21 million. A further 447 people died, pushing the toll above 58,000, government data showed
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