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CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Key points

  • Covid-19 emerges in China's Wuhan in Dec '19, declared a pandemic on March 11
  • Over 98.1 million infected globally; more than 2.1 million dead, over 62.3 million recovered
  • 530,818 cases reported in Pakistan; 11,247 dead, 484,508 recovered
  • Click here for Dawn's coronavirus coverage
Latest
7:25 PM

Strict virus measures for Club World Cup in Qatar

6:21 PM

Sindh reports 635 Covid-19 cases, 13 deaths

5:20 PM

Top Lebanese hospitals fight exhausting battle against virus

4:25 PM

3 cases linked to Australia Open carry highly virulent Covid variant

3:25 PM

Iran to begin Covid-19 vaccinations in coming weeks: Rouhani

2:39 PM

Wuhan returns to normal as world still battling pandemic

2:31 PM

UK doctors call for shorter gap between Pfizer vaccine doses

2:00 PM

Norway's capital tightens lockdown to combat more contagious virus variant

1:05 PM

UAE seeks to allay Danish concerns over pre-flight virus tests

12:21 PM

Chinese govt to work with companies to 'speed up' vaccine export to Pakistan

12:15 PM

Australia's Victoria logs 17 days with no community Covid cases

11:45 AM

Dubai issues new rules for social gatherings, restaurants and gyms

11:17 AM

A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in Covid-19 cases

10:47 AM

Islamabad, AJK report 98 cases, 6 deaths; GB reports none

10:44 AM

KP, Balochistan report 313 cases, 3 deaths

10:44 AM

Punjab reports 767 new cases, 24 deaths

10:33 AM

1,737 recoveries recorded over past 24 hours

10:00 AM

Fresh SOPs issued for crew of direct flights from UK, South Africa

9:00 AM

Severe reaction to Moderna vaccine 'rare': US study

8:00 AM

Hong Kong locks down thousands for compulsory Covid-19 testing

7:00 AM

WATCH: Austrian researchers take first actual 3D photo of the novel coronavirus

Jan 22, 2021
11:00 PM

UK estimates Covid-19 infections falling, but warns cases still high

10:24 PM

Canada PM Trudeau said he talked to Pfizer CEO about Covid-19 vaccine shortage

9:14 PM

UK body sets billion-pound budget for Covid financial firm collapses

8:25 PM

UK police break up Covid rule-breaching wedding with 400 guests

7:50 PM

Amazon to open pop-up Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Seattle headquarters

7:19 PM

Walmart expands vaccinations in boost to US Covid-19 inoculation campaign

6:38 PM

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane tests positive for Covid-19

6:07 PM

Sindh reports 748 new cases, 20 deaths

5:03 PM

Eurozone business activity shrinks in January as lockdowns hit services

3:42 PM

Long queues as China's capital launches mass virus tests

3:06 PM

China finds coronavirus cluster in major chicken processing plant

2:45 PM

Hungary PM says too early to talk about lifting Covid-19 restrictions

2:12 PM

Pfizer-BioNTech agree to supply WHO co-led Covid-19 vaccine scheme: sources

1:31 PM

Sri Lanka approves vaccine amid warnings of virus spread

12:20 PM

Germany virus death toll tops 50,000

11:39 AM

VIDEO: One year after lockdown, Wuhan clubbers party all night

10:52 AM

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively report 170 virus cases, 1 death

10:50 AM

Punjab reports 555 Covid-19 cases, 22 deaths

10:48 AM

KP reports 278 Covid cases, 12 deaths

10:46 AM

Pakistan reports 2,075 virus recoveries

10:19 AM

Japan government says no truth to report of possible Olympics cancellation

9:10 AM

Hong Kong to place tens of thousands in lockdown for first time: report

8:10 AM

Suicides end 10-year decline in Japan as pandemic stress hits women harder

7:15 AM

SEE: Long-term effects related to Covid-19

Jan 21, 2021
11:05 PM

Spain opens 200 criminal probes into care home pandemic failings

10:35 PM

On Britain's Covid-19 frontline, medics and patients fight for life

10:05 PM

Still separated: Covid-19 order keeps families apart after Biden lifts 'Muslim ban'

9:35 PM

Mutant variants pose very high Covid risk in Europe, ECDC agency says

8:55 PM

UAE again reports more than 3,500 new coronavirus cases

Jan 23, 2021 07:25pm

Strict virus measures for Club World Cup in Qatar

The Club World Cup will be staged with strict measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, the Qatari organisers said less than two weeks before the tournament which will be closed to overseas fans.

It is due to get underway on February 4 with spectator numbers capped at 30 per cent of capacity at each of the two 40,000-seat grounds which will host games.

“Fans will have to undergo rapid PCR or antigen tests up to 72 hours before each match. If it comes out negative they are allowed to receive their ticket,” said Abdulwahab al-Musleh, sports affairs adviser to Qatar's health ministry.

Social distancing, mask wearing and use of Qatar's contract tracing app and sanitiser will be mandatory, he added, during a media briefing in Doha. International fans will be unable to attend because of Qatar's virus mitigation measures, and there will be no public events including fan zones.

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Jan 23, 2021 06:21pm

Sindh reports 635 Covid-19 cases, 13 deaths

Sindh has reported 635 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths during the last 24 hours, according to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

In a statement, he said 6,041 samples were tested during this period. The provincial total has risen to 240,570 while the death toll is 3,888.

Jan 23, 2021 05:20pm

Top Lebanese hospitals fight exhausting battle against virus

Death stalks the corridors of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital, where losing multiple patients in one day to Covid-19 has become the new normal.

In recent weeks, Lebanon has seen a dramatic increase in virus cases, following the holiday season when restrictions were eased and thousand of expatriates flew home for a visit.

Now, hospitals across the country are almost completely out of beds. Oxygen tanks, ventilators and most critically, medical staff, are in extremely short supply. Doctors and nurses say they are exhausted. Facing burnout, many of their colleagues left.

Many others have caught the virus, forcing them to take sick leave and leaving fewer and fewer colleagues to work overtime to carry the burden.

Jan 23, 2021 04:25pm

3 cases linked to Australia Open carry highly virulent Covid variant

Three people in hotel quarantine associated with the Australian Open tennis tournament have tested positive for the highly transmissible coronavirus variant linked to the United Kingdom, officials said.

The three quarantined in Melbourne are not players, said the state agency responsible for quarantining overseas travellers. All have been in hard lockdown since their Jan 15 arrival, Reuters reported.

“Three quarantine residents associated with the Australian Open who tested positive for coronavirus have been found to have the UK variant of the virus,” Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria said in a statement.

As many as 72 players have been confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks upon arrival and unable to train for the Feb 8-21 event after passengers on three charter flights tested positive.

Jan 23, 2021 03:25pm

Iran to begin Covid-19 vaccinations in coming weeks: Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani said that Covid-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East's worst hit country.

Foreign vaccines are a necessity until local vaccines are available, Rouhani said in televised remarks, without giving details of what foreign vaccines would be used, according to Reuters.

Earlier this month Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority, banned the government from importing vaccines from the United States and Britain, which he said were possibly seeking to spread the infection to other countries.

Rouhani himself, in compliance with Khamenei's ban, said at the time that his government would purchase safe foreign vaccines.

Jan 23, 2021 02:39pm

Wuhan returns to normal as world still battling pandemic

A year ago, a notice sent to smartphones in Wuhan at 2am announced the world's first coronavirus lockdown that would last 76 days.

Early Saturday morning, residents in the central Chinese city where the virus was first detected were jogging and practicing tai chi in a fog-shrouded park beside the mighty Yangtze River.

Life has largely returned to normal in the city of 11 million, even as the rest of the world grapples with the spread of the virus' more contagious variants.

According to an AFP report, Wuhan accounted for the bulk of China's 4,635 deaths from Covid-19, a number that has largely stayed static for months. The city has been largely free of further outbreaks since the lockdown was lifted on April 8, but questions persist as to where the virus originated and whether Wuhan and Chinese authorities acted fast enough and with sufficient transparency to allow the world to prepare for a pandemic that has sickened more than 98 million.

Pedestrians wearing face masks as a preventive measure against Covid-19 walk on a street in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on January 22. — AFP
Pedestrians wearing face masks as a preventive measure against Covid-19 walk on a street in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on January 22. — AFP

Jan 23, 2021 02:31pm

UK doctors call for shorter gap between Pfizer vaccine doses

A group of British doctors have written to England’s chief medical officer to tell him to cut the gap between doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine to six weeks from up to 12, Reuters reported.

Britain is prioritising giving first doses of Covid-19 vaccine, allowing up to 12 weeks before a second dose, to give the maximum number of people some initial protection.

But Pfizer and BioNTech have warned they have no evidence their vaccine would continue to be protective if the second dose is given more than 21 days after the first.

Jan 23, 2021 02:00pm

Norway's capital tightens lockdown to combat more contagious virus variant

Norway’s capital Oslo and nine neighboring municipalities will impose some of their toughest lockdown measures yet after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain, the government has said.

Shopping centres and other non-essential stores will be closed from noon local time today, for the first time in the pandemic, and will not reopen until Feb 1 at the earliest, Reuters reported.

Shops selling food will remain open, along with pharmacies and petrol stations.

Organised sports activities will be halted, restaurants must close and schools must rely more on remote learning, while private households were asked not to have any visitors at home.

Jan 23, 2021 01:05pm

UAE seeks to allay Danish concerns over pre-flight virus tests

The United Arab Emirates said it was in contact with Danish authorities to “clarify the details” of the concerns over coronavirus testing that prompted them to suspend flights.

Danish Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht announced earlier Friday that all commercial air traffic from the UAE would be suspended for five days over concerns that its pre-flight Covid-19 tests were not rigorous enough.

“Communication is currently underway with the Danish authorities to clarify the details and cases behind the decision in order to guarantee the safety and security of all travellers,” the UAE foreign ministry said, according to Reuters.

The UAE foreign ministry insisted that all accredited testing centres were “regularly subject to strict quality checks”.

Jan 23, 2021 12:21pm

Chinese govt to work with companies to 'speed up' vaccine export to Pakistan

The Chinese government will provide a batch of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan "as aid" and will "actively coordinate with the relevant Chinese enterprise to speed up export of vaccines to Pakistan", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing.

"Since the outbreak of Covid-19, China and Pakistan have been working together to overcome difficulties," she said in response to a question. "In order to support our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, the Chinese government has decided to provide a batch of vaccines as aid and will actively coordinate with the relevant Chinese enterprise to speed up export of vaccines to Pakistan. State Councilor Wang Yi shared this decision of the Chinese government with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi yesterday during their phone call."

Jan 23, 2021 12:15pm

Australia's Victoria logs 17 days with no community Covid cases

Australia's Victoria state has recorded its 17th straight day without any new local coronavirus cases as officials focus on keeping the community separated from staff and players here for next month's Australia Open.

According to Reuters, as many as 72 players have been confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks upon arrival and unable to train for the Feb 8-21 Grand Slam after passengers on three charter flights tested positive.

That's led to complaints from some frustrated tennis players, although others have urged their fellow competitors to show more respect for the efforts by the state, which went through one of the world's strictest and longest lockdowns last year, to stamp out the virus.

There were three new cases recorded among international arrivals in hotel quarantine in Victoria, the state's health department said. It was not immediately known whether the new cases were linked to the Australian Open.

Jan 23, 2021 11:17am

A year after Wuhan lockdown, China reports small rise in Covid-19 cases

China has reported a slight increase in new cases of Covid-19 as it marks the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown, in the city of Wuhan where the disease emerged in late 2019.

The National Health Commission said 107 new Covid-19 cases were identified on Saturday, up from 103 cases the day before.

The commission said in a statement that 90 of the new cases were local infections.

Jan 23, 2021 10:47am

Islamabad, AJK report 98 cases, 6 deaths; GB reports none

Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have collectively reported 98 new cases and six deaths, according to official figures. Gilgit Baltistan did not report any new cases or casualties.

Following is a breakdown of cases:

  • Islamabad: 81; 2 deaths

  • AJK: 17; 4 deaths

Jan 23, 2021 10:44am

KP, Balochistan report 313 cases, 3 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have collectively reported 313 new cases and three deaths, according to official data.

Following is the breakdown of cases:

  • KP: 294 cases; 3 deaths

  • Balochistan: 19 cases

KP has reported 64,945 Covid-19 cases so far while the death toll is 1,826. Meanwhile, 18,715 cases and 192 deaths have been reported in Balochistan.

Jan 23, 2021 10:44am

Punjab reports 767 new cases, 24 deaths

Punjab has recorded 767 new coronavirus cases and 14 casualties, according to government data.

The province has so far recorded 152,925 cases and 4,537 deaths. About 136,987 people have recovered from the disease.

Jan 23, 2021 10:33am

1,737 recoveries recorded over past 24 hours

About 1,737 recoveries have been recorded across Pakistan over the past 24 hours, according to figures on official Covid-19 portal.

The total number of recoveries in the country is now 484,508, while the death toll is 11,247.

Jan 23, 2021 10:00am

Fresh SOPs issued for crew of direct flights from UK, South Africa

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a fresh standard operating procedure (SOP) for the crew of direct flights from the United Kingdom (UK), South Africa and category ‘C’ countries.

Under the new guideline, the flight crew will only be allowed to travel to Pakistan from the UK, South Africa and other countries categorised as ‘C’ if they hold a negative PCR test certification conducted 72 hours prior to their travel to the country.

The crew will be cleared expeditiously through relevant formalities related to arrival/departure by the authorities concerned via separate gates and counters at airport.

The crew will be exempted from testing on arrival. The exemption, however, will be applicable to those displaying no Covid-19 symptoms.

Read more here.

Jan 23, 2021 09:00am

Severe reaction to Moderna vaccine 'rare': US study

Severe allergic reaction to Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine is “rare,” US health authorities have said, with only 10 cases arising from more than four million first doses.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also emphasised that widespread vaccination was critical to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, according to an AFP report.

“Based on this early monitoring, anaphylaxis after receipt of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine appears to be a rare event,” the CDC said in a report, indicating that none of the reactions resulted in death.

“The clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of anaphylaxis case reports after receipt of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are similar to those reported after receipt of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine,” the CDC said.

Jan 23, 2021 08:00am

Hong Kong locks down thousands for compulsory Covid-19 testing

Hong Kong’s government has locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula, saying its 10,000 residents must stay home until all of them have been tested for the new coronavirus and results largely determined.

The government said there are 70 buildings in the “restricted area” of Jordan and that it aims to finish the process within about 48 hours, so that people can start getting to work on Monday.

“The infection risk in the community is quite high,” health secretary Sophia Chan told a news conference. “After assessment, we think it’s necessary to make a restriction-testing declaration in the restricted area to achieve the goal of zero cases.”

The restricted area has confirmed 162 confirmed cases of Covid-19 this month, and the ratio of virus detected in sewage samples from buildings there was higher than that of other areas.

Government investigators wearing protective suits, gather in the Yau Ma Tei area, in Hong Kong on Saturday. — AP
Government investigators wearing protective suits, gather in the Yau Ma Tei area, in Hong Kong on Saturday. — AP

Jan 22, 2021 11:00pm

UK estimates Covid-19 infections falling, but warns cases still high

The number of new Covid-19 infections in Britain is estimated to be shrinking by as much as 4 per cent a day, Reuters quoted the government as saying on Friday, a sharp reversal in the trajectory of the pandemic suggesting national lockdowns were beginning to take effect.

England and Scotland announced new restrictions on Jan 4 to stem a surge in the disease fuelled by a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus, which has led to record numbers of daily deaths and infections this month.

The latest estimates from the health ministry suggest that the number of new infections was shrinking by between 1pc and 4pc a day. Last week, it was thought cases were growing by much as 5p, and the turnaround gave hope that the spread of the virus was being curbed, although the ministry urged caution.

Jan 22, 2021 10:24pm

Canada PM Trudeau said he talked to Pfizer CEO about Covid-19 vaccine shortage

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday he had talked to Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla about shortages of the firm’s Covid-19 vaccine and said the next few weeks would be challenging, Reuters reports.

Trudeau told reporters that despite the current shortfall in deliveries, Bourla had assured him the firm would be able to stick to its commitment to ship 4 million doses to Canada by the end of March.

Jan 22, 2021 09:14pm

UK body sets billion-pound budget for Covid financial firm collapses

Britain’s scheme for compensating consumers hit by financial company failures has set itself a billion-pound budget for the coming year to cope with a likely surge in collapses due to Covid-19, Reuters reports.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme’s (FSCS) budget of 1.04bn pounds for the 2021/22 financial year that starts in April is its highest in six years. The FSCS also said it would add 78 million pounds to the current year’s budget — a lower than expected increase — due to more firms failing, pushing the total for 2020/21 to 700m pounds.

The body is responsible for compensation arrangements for the Financial Conduct Authority, which warned this month that around 4,000 financial firms in Britain were at “heightened risk” of collapsing due to fallout from the pandemic.

Jan 22, 2021 08:25pm

UK police break up Covid rule-breaching wedding with 400 guests

British police have said they broke up a wedding with almost 400 guests in violation of Covid lockdown rules, which only allow six people to attend. Weddings are currently supposed to take place only under “exceptional circumstances”.

However, officers found hundreds of people gathering in Stamford Hill, in north London, with the windows covered to stop people seeing inside. The organiser of the wedding could now be fined up to 10,000 pounds, and five others were issued 200-pound penalties.

“This was a completely unacceptable breach of the law,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett. “People across the country are making sacrifices by cancelling or postponing weddings and other celebrations and there is no excuse for this type of behaviour.”

Jan 22, 2021 07:50pm

Amazon to open pop-up Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Seattle headquarters

Amazon Inc says it will open a pop-up clinic in its Seattle headquarters on January 24 with an aim to vaccinate 2,000 eligible members of the public against Covid-19 on the first day.

Amazon Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney, who announced the plan in a news conference with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, said a company executive will be working with Washington State’s Vaccine Command Centre. The clinic will be hosted in partnership with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

The move came a day after Reuters reported that Amazon had offered to help with the United States’ efforts involving the Covid-19 vaccine, citing a letter addressed to President Joe Biden.

22nd Jan, 7:19 PM

Walmart expands vaccinations in boost to US Covid-19 inoculation campaign

Walmart Inc is preparing to offer Covid-19 vaccinations in seven more states, as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, this week and the next, a company spokeswoman said, expanding beyond the two states where its pharmacists are offering inoculations.

The move from the world’s largest retailer comes as US President Joe Biden races to accelerate a frustratingly slow vaccination campaign that has stranded about half of 38 million shots in freezers.

This week and the next, Walmart will start providing inoculations in Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, the spokeswoman said.

22nd Jan, 6:07 PM

Sindh reports 748 new cases, 20 deaths

Sindh has reported 748 new cases and 20 deaths from the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said in a statement.

The total number of cases recorded in the province so far is 239,934 while the death toll is 3,875.

22nd Jan, 5:03 PM

Eurozone business activity shrinks in January as lockdowns hit services

Economic activity in the eurozone shrank markedly in January as stringent lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard, Reuters reports.

With hospitality and entertainment venues forced to remain closed across much of the continent, surveys highlighted sharp contractions in the services industry but also showed manufacturing remained strong as factories largely kept working.

In Britain, outside the European Union (EU), a third national lockdown sparked the sharpest drop in business activity since May. A post Brexit shift to a more bureaucratic trading arrangement with the EU also contributed to the decline.

Read more here.

22nd Jan, 3:42 PM

Long queues as China's capital launches mass virus tests

Beijing launched mass Covid-19 testing in some areas on Friday and Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China battles its worst outbreak of the disease since March, with families fretting over Lunar New Year reunion plans amid new curbs, Reuters reports.

Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily Covid-19 cases on Friday — 103 from 144 infections a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 94 were local transmissions, Heilongjiang province in the northeast reported 47 new cases, while Shanghai reported six new cases and the capital, Beijing, reported three new cases.

Long queues formed in some districts in Beijing, where mass testing was launched following several consecutive days of new cases. City officials said there were some “leaks” in epidemic control in some rural areas, with inadequate adherence to rules on wearing masks, social distancing and temperature checks.

22nd Jan, 3:06 PM

China finds coronavirus cluster in major chicken processing plant

China reported its first cluster of Covid-19 cases among workers in a meat processing plant, raising fears among local consumers who have until now mainly worried about the safety of imported foods.

Ten confirmed cases were found in a factory which slaughters 50 million chickens a year in the northeastern city of Harbin and is owned by Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand, one of the world's top poultry producers, according to Reuters.

Another 28 workers at the plant and three family members were asymptomatic, officials told a news briefing.

While China repeatedly pointed to imported frozen meat and fish as the source of coronavirus cases last year, it has not reported significant clusters in its own food processing sector.

22nd Jan, 2:45 PM

Hungary PM says too early to talk about lifting Covid-19 restrictions

Hungary cannot lift restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus until it can carry out a mass inoculation of the people, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio.

Orban said the best approach was to authorise the use of several vaccines as competition would force manufacturers to speed up shipments.

“We don’t need explanations, we need vaccines,” Orban said, adding that he hoped Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who is in Moscow for talks, can secure a deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

22nd Jan, 2:12 PM

Pfizer-BioNTech agree to supply WHO co-led Covid-19 vaccine scheme: sources

Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to supply their Covid-19 vaccine to the World Health Organisation co-led Covax vaccine access scheme, two sources familiar with the deal said, the latest in a series of shots to be included in the project aimed at lower-income countries.

The deal is expected to be announced on Friday, according to the sources, who declined to be named due to the confidentiality of the agreement.

Details on the size of the deal or the price per dose Covax would pay were not immediately clear, but the sources said the allotment would likely be relatively small. One source said the reason for the limited volume was that the doses were primarily meant for healthcare workers in the countries that Covax serves.

BioNTech declined to comment while Pfizer did not respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for the WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, which co-leads the Covax scheme, also declined to comment.

22nd Jan, 1:31 PM

Sri Lanka approves vaccine amid warnings of virus spread

Sri Lanka approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to stop the system from collapsing.

Minister for Pharmaceutical Production and Regulation Channa Jayasumana said the British vaccine has been approved for emergency use, the first in Sri Lanka, while several other candidates are in the pipeline at the National Medicines Regulatory Authority.

It is unknown when Sri Lanka will be getting the vaccine. Hundreds of health care workers have tested positive in several hospitals.

"When you have one positive case, about 10 health workers will need to be sent to quarantine. System is collapsing day by day," said Dr Haritha Aluthge from the Government Medical Officers Association.

22nd Jan, 12:20 PM

Germany virus death toll tops 50,000

Germany has recorded more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre said.

It said 859 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 50,642, AFP reported.

Germany this week extended its partial lockdown until February 14, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has not ruled out border checks to slow the spread of new, more contagious variants of the virus.

22nd Jan, 10:52 AM

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively report 170 virus cases, 1 death

Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have collectively recorded 170 coronavirus cases and one death during the last 24 hours.

Breakdown of cases and deaths reported:

  • Islamabad: 118 cases, 1 death
  • AJK: 47 cases
  • GB: 5 cases
22nd Jan, 10:50 AM

Punjab reports 555 Covid-19 cases, 22 deaths

Punjab has reported 555 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths during the last 24 hours.

The provincial total has risen to 152,158 and the death toll is 4,523.

22nd Jan, 10:48 AM

KP reports 278 Covid cases, 12 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 278 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths during the last 24 hours. The provincial tally has risen to 64,651 while the death toll is 1,823.

Meanwhile, Balochistan recorded 26 new cases, taking the total to 18,696. The death toll remains 192.

22nd Jan, 10:46 AM

Pakistan reports 2,075 virus recoveries

Pakistan has reported 2,075 coronavirus recoveries during the last 24 hours, according to the government's portal for tracking the spread of the disease in the country.

The total number has risen to 482,771 while the recovery rate is 91.3 per cent.

22nd Jan, 10:19 AM

Japan government says no truth to report of possible Olympics cancellation

There is no truth to a report about the possible cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai, a government spokesman, told reporters, denying a newspaper report that the event would be called off.

The Times reported that Japan’s government had privately concluded the already-delayed Tokyo Olympics would be cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

22nd Jan, 9:10 AM

Hong Kong to place tens of thousands in lockdown for first time: report

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of its residents in a lockdown to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus, the first such measure the Chinese-ruled city has taken since the pandemic began, a local newspaper reported.

South China Morning Post, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, said the new measure will target the Jordan and Sham Shui Po districts which cover a small, but densely populated part of the Kowloon Peninsula.

The districts are home to many ageing, subdivided flats in which the virus could spread more easily.

“Persistently high and spreading infection [in the areas] and sewage surveillance suggest the outbreak is not yet under control, and many silent sources still exist within the area," a source was quoted as saying.

The government will only lift the lockdown declaration when it is satisfied everyone in the lockdown area has been tested, the paper said.

22nd Jan, 8:10 AM

Suicides end 10-year decline in Japan as pandemic stress hits women harder

Suicides increased in Japan during 2020 after a decade of declines, with the number of women committing suicide surging amid the emotional and financial stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic even as fewer men took their own lives, according to Reuters.

Suicide has a long history in Japan as a way of avoiding shame or dishonor, and its suicide rate has long topped the Group of Seven nations, but a concerted national effort brought numbers down by roughly 40 per cent over 15 years that included ten straight years of decline from 2009.

But, preliminary police data has showed suicides totaled 20,919 last year, 750 more than in 2019.

The suicide rate had been trending lower in the first half of 2020, but from July onward the numbers began to rise as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak hit home, activists and researchers say.

Read more here.

21st Jan, 11:05 PM

Spain opens 200 criminal probes into care home pandemic failings

Spain’s public prosecutor is investigating more than 200 cases of potential criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic at nursing homes, where the virus spread almost unchecked during the devastating first wave, according to Reuters.

Nearly 43,000 care home residents died of Covid-19 or suspected infection during the March-May first wave of contagion, according to official data.

At the time, staff reported shortages of basic protective equipment and army units deployed on disinfection missions discovered unattended bodies at several facilities.

The prosecutor’s office said nearly half of its investigations related to homicide through a neglect of duty of care, while it was looking into 21 cases of deficiencies in medical treatment.

21st Jan, 10:35 PM

On Britain's Covid-19 frontline, medics and patients fight for life

At Milton Keynes University Hospital in England, it’s a battle between life and death. For those most ill, death is gaining the upper hand.

The latest Covid-19 wave has hit the hospital northwest of London with even more force than the first: younger patients fill its wards and fewer of the sickest people respond to treatment, Reuters reports.

Doctors and nurses are grappling with the strain of exhaustion and loss.

The official death toll from Covid-19 in the United Kingdom is 93,290, the highest in Europe and the fifth worst in the world after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. 39,068 Covid-19 patients are being treated in hospitals. Deaths rose by a record 1,820 people on Wednesday.

21st Jan, 10:05 PM

Still separated: Covid-19 order keeps families apart after Biden lifts 'Muslim ban'

On the eve of United States President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Mania Darbani’s mother called her from Iran.

She was ecstatic that Biden would soon repeal the Trump administration’s so-called “Muslim ban” that barred people from a number of mostly Muslim-majority nations, including Iran, from coming to the United States.

Darbani said she could not bring herself to explain that other roadblocks remained in place before her mother could join her. On top of the original travel ban that kept them apart for years, Trump issued another ban in 2020 that blocked certain immigrant visas because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Darbani, a US citizen, petitioned for an immigrant visa for her mother, a 71-year old nurse, in 2019, but the Trump administration stopped issuing almost all new family-based green cards in April 2020, saying the move would protect American jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden has not yet said whether he will rescind the proclamation, but until he does, Taghdissi Jani will remain in Iran.

Read the full story here.

21st Jan, 9:35 PM

Mutant variants pose very high Covid risk in Europe, ECDC agency says

Three mutant variants of the coronavirus that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk in Europe as they have led to increased transmissibility, Europe's disease surveillance agency said.

“Based on the new information, the risk associated with the introduction and community spread of variants of concern has been increased to high/very high,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a risk assessment.