International update: Global Covid cases pass 97.6 million – EU countries face 50% vaccine supply cut

22 January 2021 (Last Updated January 22nd, 2021 12:35)

22 January

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,091,848 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 97.6 million world wide.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 24.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 410,349 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US President Joe Biden warns Covid will ‘get worse before it gets better’ as he unveils strategy. Joe Biden began his first full day as president confronting a host of major crises facing his fledgling administration, starting with a flurry of actions to address his most pressing challenge: the raging Covid-19 pandemic. At a White House event on Thursday afternoon, Biden unveiled a new “wartime” strategy to combat the coronavirus, vowing “help is on the way.”

UK: Prime minister Boris Johnson raised fears that tough Covid restrictions could continue well into the spring and beyond as ministers refused to be drawn on plans for any potential easing of lockdown.

France: The French government will recommend that people wear surgical masks in public because fabric masks do not provide enough protection from Covid-19 transmission, health minister Olivier Véran said.

Mexico: saw 1,803 deaths from Covid the country’s Health Ministry said Thursday evening, the second time this week that deaths have set a single-day record. It brings the country’s death toll since the pandemic began to 146,174, out of a total caseload of 1,711,283.

South Korea: reported 346 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the lowest level in almost nine weeks, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Deaths rose by 12 to 1,328.

Indonesia: recorded its highest Covid death toll since the outbreak began as movement restrictions were extended for two more weeks in Java and Bali. The authorities confirmed 346 deaths in the 24 hours through midday Thursday, taking the total to more than 27,000.

Vaccine updates

EU: Pfizer has slashed in half the volume of Covid vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week, government officials said, as frustration over the US drugmaker’s unexpected cut in supplies grows.

Austria: Local government officials in Austria have been accused of jumping the queue for Covid-19 vaccinations at care homes for elderly people, prompting a clarification of guidelines for handling leftover doses.

India: will begin commercial shipments of Covid-19 vaccines to Brazil and Morocco on Friday, followed by Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Japan: will start its Vaccination program using the vaccine from Pfizer Inc., with the launch expected from late February, Taro Kono, the government’s point man for the campaign, told reporters. The inoculations will start with about 10,000 medical personnel, Kono said.

Myanmar: will begin vaccinations against Covid-19 next week, with 1.5 million doses from India expected to arrive Friday, according to de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The first vaccine rollout of 750,000 people will prioritize front-line health workers, key government officials and members of parliament, followed by vulnerable and high risk groups.

Hungary: Hungary has licensed Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, breaking ranks with other EU countries and ignoring calls to stick to a common European vaccine policy.

Thailand: approved AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine for emergency use, paving the way for the country to begin inoculating its 67 million people amid a resurgence in cases. AstraZeneca is the first vaccine developer to win approval in Thailand, which also has ordered shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

US: Johnson & Johnson could significantly expand the amount of vaccines for the US in coming weeks, aiming to have 100 million vaccines available by April, board member Dr. Mark McLellan told CNBC.Earlier, Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease doctor, said the company has enough data from its late-stage vaccine trial to begin analysis, possibly in a week or two.

Lockdown updates

Malaysia: extended movement restrictions in six states and federal territories by more than a week amid surging coronavirus cases. The Movement Control Order – the nation’s strictest form of lockdown – was due to end on 26 January but will now continue until 4 February.

Singapore: is considering implementing further restrictions ahead of the mid-February Lunar New Year festival after new Covid cases inched up after year-end holidays, the Straits Times reported Thursday. The government is still studying details of the measures, the report said.

Hong Kong: All air crews arriving in Hong Kong will be required to quarantine for 14 days at designated hotels, Radio Television Hong Kong reported, citing the territory’s food and health secretary.

France: President Emmanuel Macron told European Union counterparts France would make PCR tests compulsory for all travelers into France from Sunday, including from fellow EU countries, his office said Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

Philippines: the Philippines is relaxing movement restrictions on minors in areas under the lowest quarantine level, a move supported by economic managers despite warnings from the Health Department. The lowest age allowed to leave homes was changed to 10 from 15 in places under modified general community quarantine, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Hong Kong: for the first time will lock down tens of thousands of residents in a bid to contain a worsening Covid outbreak, the South China Morning Post reported. The lockdown is expected to begin this weekend in Yau Tsim Mong, the core urban district of Kowloon. The Hang Seng Index dropped as much as 1.7% after the report. The city’s infection curve appears to be ticking back up after mass testing was conducted in some housing estates.

China: Beijing is expanding testing in two central districts that are home to almost 2 million residents. Schools in Beijing will be suspended from Saturday, and one Beijing district and multiple cities in neighboring Hebei province have been put under lockdown.

Residents of an area of Shanghai have been banned from leaving the city after six Covid cases were found in the finance hub, the first cases there in almost two months. The National Health Commission also reported 47 cases in Heilongjiang province on Friday, as well as three in Beijing, bringing the total number of local infections in China since the year began to 1,434.

Mongolia: The ruling Mongolian People’s Party nominated Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai as the next prime minister following Khurelsukh Ukhnaa’s resignation Thursday, after protests against his government’s Covid-19 control measures erupted in Ulaanbaatar. Oyun-Erdene has served as chief cabinet secretary since 2019.

Portugal: Prime minister António Costa said all flights to and from Britain will be suspended from Saturday onwards as Portugal scrambles to tackle the rapid spread of the new variant of the coronavirus.