26 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.5 million with a figure of 2,507,803 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 113 million world wide.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 508,307 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

hospitalizations for the coronavirus have plunged 56% from a mid-January peak as the number of patients exiting California hospitals accelerated, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

France: The French prime minister, Jean Castex, has warned the government will impose new Covid measures, including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions, from the start of March if signs of the coronavirus accelerating persist. France has also agreed with Germany to require coronavirus tests for workers commuting across their shared border.

Japan: Will decide on whether to relax its state of emergency in five prefectures on Friday, a week ahead of schedule, after a dramatic fall in new cases across the country.

UK: The former British prime minister, Tony Blair, says the length of the Covid outbreak could have been cut by three months if they had collaborated on vaccines, testing and drugs. Blair, who was Labour PM from 1997 to 2007, urged the UK to take the lead in developing a new “health security infrastructure” that would ensure countries coordinate better in identifying emerging new threats as well as developing, testing and manufacturing vaccines and treatments.

New Zealand: has reported one new community case of Covid-19, though the infected person has been in quarantine since February 23. The latest Auckland outbreak, now a dozen people strong, has seen Australia declare the city a “hotspot” and close its borders to New Zealand citizens. Air New Zealand has halted all flights to Australia until Sunday, pending review.

South Korea: Reported 406 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, versus 396 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. The number of newly confirmed cases remained below 500 for a seventh day, while the total number of confirmed cases reached 88,922, the data showed.

Malaysia: Malaysia recorded 1,924 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to data from the Health Ministry. There were 12 deaths while recoveries totaled 3,752.

Brazil: Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll rose by 1,541 to 251,498. The nation has the world’s most deaths after the US Another 10,390,461 cases were reported, with 65,998 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

Italy: Italy reported 19,886 new cases on Thursday, compared with 16,424 the day before, marking the highest number of infections since Jan. 9. A total of 353,704 tests were carried out, revised down from 443,704 earlier.

Germany: Germany recorded 10,774 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Europe’s biggest economy is in the midst of a third wave of infections and should proceed carefully with reopening schools and businesses, putting a damper on discussions to loosen lockdown curbs. The pace of vaccinations remains sluggish.

Vaccine news

Global: Pfizer and partner BioNTech have begun a clinical study to see if a third shot of their existing vaccine can stimulate stronger immune responses against new variants.

EU: The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned against virus fatigue in member states. At a virtual summit, she reassured EU leaders over vaccine distribution, saying she would ban vaccines from leaving the EU if suppliers filed to deliver again.

South Korea: Has launched its vaccination campaign. The first injections of the AstraZeneca’s vaccine were given to nursing home workers and patients across the country.

US: President Joe Biden has hailed the 50m coronavirus vaccine doses given since he took office, but warned that the country must not relax. “We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said, referring to his ambition of 100m doses in his first 100 days as president. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule.”

Biden said the federal government will distribute Johnson & Johnson’s one shot vaccine as fast as the company can produce it, if the shot is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That approval is expected as early as Friday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he expects the vaccine to be available to people younger than 65 starting in March because of increased supply. He cited a rise in Pfizer doses and the expected approval of the Johnson & Johnson shot this weekend.

Hong Kong: The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines is set to arrive in Hong Kong Saturday morning, Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip said at a briefing. The city will reopen online bookings for Sinovac vaccines on March 1, he said, adding that three more community vaccination centers will open.

Taiwan: The government plans to begin inoculating against Covid-19 as early as the first quarter with vaccines provided through COVAX, according to Premier Su Tseng-chang’s report to lawmakers. The island expects to begin vaccination with 10 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and 5.05 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine as early as the second quarter.

Vietnam: Expects to receive 9.5 million doses of covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter after 1.3 million in the first three months of this year, according to a posting on the government website, citing Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long. The country will receive 77 million vaccine doses in the second half of the year.

Mexico: Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said more than 80 million people in Mexico should be vaccinated by July. The minister said the figure represents all of the targeted adult population, adding that 34 million people would have received their vaccine by April.

Lockdown updates

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic needs to “significantly limit” people’s movements for three weeks to curb the current surge in infections and avoid overrunning hospitals, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in a televised press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Finland Finland’s government is preparing to invoke emergency powers, including a lockdown from March 8 to 28, as infection rates rise, it said on Thursday. Among the planned measures are closing restaurants and bars except for takeout, and moving students in junior high and above to remote learning. The government is also considering whether municipal elections can be held in April as planned.