Live

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Key points

  • Covid-19 emerges in China's Wuhan in Dec '19, declared a pandemic on March 11
  • Over 95.5 million infected globally; more than 2 million dead, over 52.6 million recovered
  • 524,783 cases reported in Pakistan; 11,103 dead, 478,517 recovered
  • Click here for Dawn's coronavirus coverage
Latest
12:00 AM

Italy reports 524 coronavirus deaths, 13,571 new cases

Jan 20, 2021
11:35 PM

Dubai orders hospitals to cancel surgeries amid virus surge

11:05 PM

Argentine regulator approves Sputnik V coronavirus vaccination for people over 60

10:35 PM

Biden to hit reset on America's fight against Covid-19 on his first day as president

9:30 PM

Lidl offers $200 extra to US workers to get Covid-19 vaccination

8:45 PM

Longer German lockdown to weigh on economy but growth seen in second-quarter: economists

8:41 PM

PM's aide details Pakistan's vaccination campaign strategy

8:04 PM

Govt hopeful of procuring 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by March 31: Dr Faisal

7:15 PM

At 3,506, UAE reports highest number of daily coronavirus cases yet

6:45 PM

199 officials of Sindh police test positive for virus in last 4 days

6:18 PM

Ireland cancels St Patrick's parade again over virus

5:45 PM

UnitedHealth profit slumps as Covid-19 costs mount

5:25 PM

Sindh records 1,162 new cases, up from 778 a day earlier

4:51 PM

Pfizer vaccine appears effective against Covid-19 variant found in Britain: study

4:20 PM

Vatican starts vaccinating Rome's homeless against Covid-19

3:50 PM

China worries about lagging consumption as broader economy shakes off Covid

3:20 PM

India starts supplying Covid-19 shots to neighbouring nations

2:37 PM

Partial lockdown in Beijing over Covid-19 outbreak

1:20 PM

Tokyo 'unwavering' on Olympics but fans not guaranteed: CEO

12:50 PM

Foreign visitors to Japan at 22-year low in 2020 on coronavirus curbs

12:16 PM

Experts blame Trump administration's 'incompetence' for rising US deaths

11:30 AM

UK coronavirus strain detected in at least 60 countries: WHO

11:00 AM

Islamabad, federal territories report 150 virus cases, 6 deaths

10:57 AM

KP, Balochistan collectively report 271 Covid cases, 9 deaths

10:55 AM

Punjab records 573 virus cases, 16 deaths

10:53 AM

Pakistan reports more than 2,000 Covid recoveries

10:08 AM

Australian Open cluster grows as two more players test positive

9:18 AM

Biden leads Covid memorial on eve of inauguration as US passes 400,000 virus deaths

8:17 AM

Chinese capital steps up Covid-19 curbs amid new outbreak

7:15 AM

Disney cuts bonuses for top executives in pandemic fallout

Jan 19, 2021
11:00 PM

UAE reports more than 3,400 coronavirus cases in new high

10:30 PM

Italy reports 603 coronavirus deaths, 10,497 new cases

10:00 PM

Britain reports record 1,610 daily Covid-19 deaths

9:30 PM

PM directs process for procurement of approved Covid-19 vaccines be expedited

8:44 PM

Sweden registers 9,779 new Covid-19 cases, 268 deaths since Friday

8:11 PM

Around 1 in 8 people in England had Covid-19 antibodies last month: ONS

7:40 PM

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland and Liechtenstein pass 500,000 mark

6:20 PM

Supermarket chain Aldi to pay US workers who get Covid-19 vaccination

5:50 PM

3 more Covid-19 cases linked to Australian Open arrivals

5:20 PM

Sindh reports 778 new cases, 17 deaths

5:07 PM

Love thy neighbour and get a Covid jab, says Archbishop of Canterbury

4:17 PM

Japan's Okinawa declares coronavirus emergency as cases spike

3:35 PM

UK health secretary Hancock says self-isolating until Sunday

3:05 PM

Doctors cast doubt on S. Korea's coronavirus herd immunity goal

2:35 PM

Lebanon doctors urge lockdown extension

2:07 PM

Researchers look into long Covid cases, lingering symptoms

1:10 PM

Germany's Merkel, state leaders ponder tougher virus rules

12:37 PM

VIDEO: Brazil starts vaccination campaign at Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue

11:34 AM

China's latest Covid outbreak worst since March 2020

10:41 AM

Pakistan's Covid death toll crosses 11,000 mark

Jan 21, 2021 12:00am

Italy reports 524 coronavirus deaths, 13,571 new cases

Italy has reported 524 coronavirus-related deaths, against 603 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 13,571 from 10,497.

Some 279,762 tests were carried out in the past day, against a previous 254,070, according to Reuters.

Italy has registered 83,681 Covid-19 deaths since its outbreak came to light last February, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has also reported 2.41 million cases to date.

Email

Jan 20, 2021 11:35pm

Dubai orders hospitals to cancel surgeries amid virus surge

The government of Dubai has ordered all hospitals to cancel non-essential surgeries for the next month as coronavirus infections surge to unprecedented heights in the United Arab Emirates.

In a circular sent to government-run and private health centers across the emirate, Dubai's Health Authority announced that starting on Thursday medical operations may be allowed to continue only per medical urgency as the city tries to keep its hospitals from becoming overrun.

According to AP, daily infections in the country have nearly tripled since November. Tens of thousands of tourists flooded Dubai to celebrate New Year's Eve and the holidays in recent weeks. The emirate mandates social distancing inside and masks outside, but otherwise, a sense of normalcy prevails.

Overall, the outbreak in the UAE has infected over 260,000 people and killed 762 amid an aggressive testing campaign.

Jan 20, 2021 11:05pm

Argentine regulator approves Sputnik V coronavirus vaccination for people over 60

Argentina has approved use of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccination for people over the age of 60, the government of the South American country announced in a statement.

The National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology, or ANMAT, Argentina's regulatory body, said in the statement that the vaccine “is within an acceptable margin of safety and efficacy for the age group over 60 years”.

President Alberto Fernandez, 61, plans to get vaccinated with Sputnik V, now that it has been approved for his age group, government officials said. Some 45,832 people have died in Argentina of Covid-19 so far.

The second batch of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrived in Argentina on Saturday, allowing the country to apply the second part of the two-dose program currently aimed at inoculating frontline health workers.

Jan 20, 2021 09:30pm

Lidl offers $200 extra to US workers to get Covid-19 vaccination

German discount supermarket chain Lidl said on Wednesday it is providing an extra $200 to all its US employees who get vaccinated for Covid-19, as states make shots more widely available, according to Reuters.

The announcement follows similar moves from peers Aldi and Dollar General Corp, as well as grocery delivery firm Instacart, with Lidl’s incentive among the biggest a company has offered its US workers so far.

Lidl said its employees were “eager” to get vaccinated, citing an internal survey in which nearly eight in 10 workers said they planned to get inoculated as soon as a vaccine became available.

Jan 20, 2021 08:45pm

Longer German lockdown to weigh on economy but growth seen in second-quarter: economists

Germany’s extended shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus will weigh on Europe’s largest economy but not choke it off, with economic institute Ifo forecasting quarterly growth of 3 per cent in the second quarter, according to Reuters.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 states agreed on Tuesday to extend a shutdown until mid-February as Germany, once seen as a role model for fighting the pandemic, struggles with a second wave of infections.

Ifo said gross domestic product will likely stagnate in the first quarter before growing by 3pc quarter-on-quarter in spring.

“Every week with an extended lockdown directly leads to losses in sales, production and added value,” Ifo economist Timo Wollmershaeuser said.

Commerzbank economist Joerg Kraemer said the lockdown’s impact on retailers and services will likely lead to a GDP contraction of 2pc in the current quarter, adding the economy would normally grow by 2pc without restrictions on activity.

Jan 20, 2021 08:41pm

PM's aide details Pakistan's vaccination campaign strategy

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan says it is important to prepare the supply chain system in addition to the procurement of vaccines for Pakistan to achieve the target of vaccinating 70 per cent of its population.

"Our Expanded Programme of Immunisation [staff] has the training and methods to do it. Our national campaign will be run through EPI and they will store the vaccines. They have reviewed and strengthened their cold chain and they can further expand it as well. We are capable of vaccinating our entire population."

Dr Sultan said it was also important to upgrade the information system because the vaccine would only be provided to the adult population of the country.

Know more here.

Jan 20, 2021 08:04pm

Govt hopeful of procuring 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by March 31: Dr Faisal

SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has expressed confidence in the government's ability to procure at least one million doses of coronavirus vaccines by March, saying it ultimately aims to inoculate 70 per cent of the country's population against the virus.

"The overall status is that we hope to be able to provide one million doses of the vaccine in the first quarter of the year that ends on March 31. We believe that we will obtain more vaccines," he told a press conference.

"The vaccine has been approved only for those above 18 years old. We think we can achieve immunity if we provide the vaccine to 70pc of our [vaccinable] population."

Jan 20, 2021 06:45pm

199 officials of Sindh police test positive for virus in last 4 days

A spokesperson for the Sindh police has said that 199 officials tested positive for the coronavirus in the last four days.

After the detection of the new cases, the total number of policemen who have been affected by the virus so far has risen to 5,246.

The spokesperson said that 23 officials have succumbed so far while 4,609 have recovered.

Jan 20, 2021 06:18pm

Ireland cancels St Patrick's parade again over virus

Ireland's St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin has been cancelled for the second year running as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said.

In a Facebook message, the promoters said revellers “cannot gather on the streets for the St Patrick's Festival Parade this March 17th” and outlined how celebrations will move online instead.

The 2020 parades were called off just one week before the national holiday, when the Irish traditionally flock to pubs to celebrate the nation's patron saint.

Jan 20, 2021 05:45pm

UnitedHealth profit slumps as Covid-19 costs mount

Health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc has said that its quarterly profit fell nearly 38 per cent, weighed by costs related to its programmes to make Covid-19 testing and treatment more accessible for its customers, Reuters reported.

For the quarter, UnitedHealth reported a medical loss ratio — the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services — of 79.1pc, improving from 82.5pc last year.

Jan 20, 2021 05:25pm

Sindh records 1,162 new cases, up from 778 a day earlier

Sindh has recorded 1,162 new cases of the coronavirus, up from 778 a day earlier, bringing the provincial total to 238,470, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said in a statement.

The province also reported 13 additional fatalities from the virus, taking the death toll to 3,843.

Meanwhile, 1,044 more people recovered from Covid-19 in Sindh, the statement said.

Jan 20, 2021 04:51pm

Pfizer vaccine appears effective against Covid-19 variant found in Britain: study

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is likely to protect against a more infectious variant of the virus, which was discovered in Britain and has spread around the world, according to results of further lab tests released today.

The encouraging results, based on an analysis of blood of participants in trials, are based on more extensive analysis than those released by the US drugmaker last week. Last week, Pfizer said a similar laboratory study showed the vaccine was effective against one key mutation, called N501Y, found in both of the highly transmissible new variants spreading in Britain and South Africa.

The latest study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was conducted on 10 mutations, which are characteristic of the variant known as B117 identified in Britain.

Jan 20, 2021 04:20pm

Vatican starts vaccinating Rome's homeless against Covid-19

The Vatican has begun offering free vaccinations against Covid-19 to Rome's homeless.

Reuters reported that the vaccinations took place in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, the huge auditorium where weekly papal general audiences take place but which has been largely disused because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They were overseen by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, 57, the Polish head of the papal charities office, who has taken on a leading personal role in looking after Rome's homeless.

About 25 homeless people who are looked after in facilities run by the office received their first dose, and more groups would be vaccinated in the coming days, a statement said.

Jan 20, 2021 03:20pm

India starts supplying Covid-19 shots to neighbouring nations

India has begun supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots.

According to AP, India’s Foreign Ministry said the country would send 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the Maldives today.

Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. It added in a statement that regulatory clearances were still awaited from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the government would ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet India’s domestic needs as it supplies partner countries in the coming months.

Jan 20, 2021 02:37pm

Partial lockdown in Beijing over Covid-19 outbreak

A partial lockdown was imposed on the Chinese capital with 1.6 million residents banned from leaving Beijing, after a handful of cases were detected.

Seven cases were reported in the city in the past 24 hours, including six in southern Daxing district.

All 1.6 million residents of Daxing must not leave Beijing unless they have received special permission from the authorities and tested negative for Covid-19 in the past three days, the district said.

Meetings of 50 or more people in the district have been banned, while “weddings should be postponed and funerals simplified”, the district government said.

It also ordered all kindergarten, primary and secondary students in the district to study at home.

Residents of five Daxing neighbourhoods where the cases were detected were ordered to remain indoors.

Daxing includes one of the city’s two international airports.

Jan 20, 2021 01:20pm

Tokyo 'unwavering' on Olympics but fans not guaranteed: CEO

Olympics organisers are “unwavering” on holding the coronavirus-delayed Games this year but can't rule out staging it without spectators, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told AFP.

In an interview ahead of the Games' six-month countdown, Muto conceded people are “anxious” as virus cases soar worldwide, including in Japan where Tokyo is under a state of emergency.

But he insisted the Olympics were still possible, even without requiring athletes and fans to be vaccinated, and that public opinion will swing behind the Games once the virus situation improves.

“We are not discussing cancellation,” he said. “Holding the Games is our unwavering policy, and at this point in time we're not discussing anything other than that.”

Polling in Japan this month showed around 80 per cent of respondents oppose holding the Games this year, even after organisers unveiled a raft of anti-virus measures.

Jan 20, 2021 12:50pm

Foreign visitors to Japan at 22-year low in 2020 on coronavirus curbs

The number of foreign visitors to Japan plunged 87 per cent in 2020 to a 22-year low as the country mostly closed its borders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, data from the Japan National Tourism Organisation showed.

The number of foreign arrivals, which include tourism and business arrivals, fell to about 4.1 million last year from 31.9m in 2019. It was the lowest annual figure since 1998.

The entrance gate to the normally crowded Kiyomizu temple, a favourite location among tourists, is pictured amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Kyoto, Japan, July 21, 2020. — Reuters
The entrance gate to the normally crowded Kiyomizu temple, a favourite location among tourists, is pictured amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Kyoto, Japan, July 21, 2020. — Reuters

Jan 20, 2021 12:16pm

Experts blame Trump administration's 'incompetence' for rising US deaths

In Donald Trump's final hours in office, after a year of presidential denials of reality and responsibility, the pandemic’s US death toll has eclipsed 400,000. And the loss of lives is accelerating, reports AP.

“This is just one step on an ominous path of fatalities,” said Dr Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and one of many public health experts who contend the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis led to thousands of avoidable deaths.

“Everything about how it’s been managed has been infused with incompetence and dishonesty, and we’re paying a heavy price,” he said.

Jan 20, 2021 11:30am

UK coronavirus strain detected in at least 60 countries: WHO

The UK coronavirus strain has been detected in at least 60 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, 10 more than a week ago.

With the global death toll now well past two million, and new variants of the virus causing deep concern, countries across the world are grappling with how to slow infections until vaccines become widely available, AFP reported.

The South African strain, which like the UK one is believed to be more infectious, has now been reported in 23 countries and territories, the WHO also announced in its weekly update.

It added that the number of new deaths climbed to a record high of 93,000 over the previous seven days, with 4.7 million new cases reported over the same period.

Jan 20, 2021 11:00am

Islamabad, federal territories report 150 virus cases, 6 deaths

Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have collectively reported 150 coronavirus cases and six deaths during the last 24 hours.

Breakdown of cases and deaths reported:

  • Islamabad: 127 cases, 3 deaths
  • AJK: 18 cases, 2 deaths
  • GB: 5 cases, 1 death
Jan 20, 2021 10:57am

KP, Balochistan collectively report 271 Covid cases, 9 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have collectively reported 271 Covid-19 cases and nine deaths during the past 24 hours.

Of these, KP recorded 253 cases and eight deaths. The provincial tally has risen to 64,078 while the death toll is 1,799.

Meanwhile, Balochistan reported 18 new cases, taking the total to 18,640. One more death was also recorded making the death toll 191.

Jan 20, 2021 10:55am

Punjab records 573 virus cases, 16 deaths

Punjab has recorded 573 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths during the last 24 hours.

The provincial total has risen to 150,889 while the death toll is 4,476.

Jan 20, 2021 10:53am

Pakistan reports more than 2,000 Covid recoveries

Pakistan has reported 2,046 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 478,517 while the recovery rate is 91.2 per cent.

Jan 20, 2021 10:08am

Australian Open cluster grows as two more players test positive

Two more Australian Open players have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities revealed, taking to the number of cases linked to the tennis tournament to 10.

It is the latest blow to preparations for the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne — which has already be delayed by three weeks due to the pandemic.

A string of infections detected by Australian authorities have forced 72 players to be confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks, AFP reports.

Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville said two players and two non-players associated with the tournament had tested positive over the last 24 hours. One of the players, she told reporters, “has absolutely been in hard lockdown because he came in on one of the flights where we had positives”.

Jan 20, 2021 09:18am

Biden leads Covid memorial on eve of inauguration as US passes 400,000 virus deaths

US President-elect Joe Biden signalled a new tone for the US government by leading a powerful tribute to the 400,000 Americans lost to Covid-19 as he arrived in Washington on the eve of his inauguration.

“It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation,” Biden said in somber remarks at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, according to AFP.

The US on Tuesday recorded another 2,482 deaths due to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

Inauguration eve is normally a time of massive crowds gathering in the capital, but Biden, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, were almost alone on the empty National Mall due to Covid restrictions and heightened security after the deadly riot at the US Capitol.

On the Mall's grassy expanse, some 200,000 flags have been planted to represent the absent crowds at the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

Jan 20, 2021 07:15am

Disney cuts bonuses for top executives in pandemic fallout

Walt Disney Co said it had eliminated performance-based bonuses last year for top executives, including Executive Chairman Bob Iger, as the media company looks to soften the impact of the Covid-19 fallout.

The pandemic dealt a major blow to the company’s theme parks and movie studio business, while people sheltered at home during the lockdown pumped up sign-ups on its Disney+ streaming service.

Iger received a total compensation of $21 million for fiscal year 2020, significantly lower than the $47.5 million he had received in the prior year, Disney disclosed in a regulatory filing.

The compensation package of Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek, who took on the role last February, totaled to $14.2 million, according to Reuters.

19th Jan, 10:30 PM

Italy reports 603 coronavirus deaths, 10,497 new cases

Italy has reported 603 coronavirus-related deaths, against 377 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 10,497 from 8,824.

Some 254,070 tests were carried out in the past day, against a previous 158,674, according to Reuters.

Italy has registered 83,157 Covid-19 deaths since its outbreak came to light last February, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has also reported 2.4 million cases to date.

19th Jan, 10:00 PM

Britain reports record 1,610 daily Covid-19 deaths

Britain has reported a record number of deaths from Covid-19 with 1,610 people dying within 28 days of positive coronavirus test, exceeding the previous peak set last week.

The number was steeply up from the 599 deaths reported in Monday's official figures. There is often a lag in reporting new deaths after the weekend.

There were 33,355 new cases recorded, down from the 37,535 reported a day earlier.

19th Jan, 9:30 PM

PM directs process for procurement of approved Covid-19 vaccines be expedited

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed that the process for procuring the two Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan be expedited.

He made these remarks during a cabinet committee meeting which was attended by Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health and SAPM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar.

During the meeting, the premier was informed that two vaccines have been approved for emergency use in the country and steps for the approval of more Covid-19 vaccines have been "fast-tracked".

He was also informed that efforts are being made to procure the approved vaccines and their availability would be ensured in the first quarter of the year.

Jan 20, 2021 03:15am

Sweden registers 9,779 new Covid-19 cases, 268 deaths since Friday

Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy has placed it in the global spotlight, has registered 9,779 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed.

The figure compares to 17,395 cases the corresponding period last week.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 268 new deaths, taking the total to 10,591. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and weeks, with many from the Christmas period being registered with a significant delay.

19th Jan, 7:40 PM

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland and Liechtenstein pass 500,000 mark

Coronavirus infections in Switzerland and Liechtenstein have passed the 500,000 mark, data from Swiss health authorities showed, as new infections rose by 2,260.

The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 502,191. The death toll rose by 75 to 8,166, while 129 new hospitalisations kept pressure on the health care system.

19th Jan, 6:20 PM

Supermarket chain Aldi to pay US workers who get Covid-19 vaccination

German supermarket chain Aldi has become the latest firm in the grocery sector to offer incentives for United States employees getting a Covid-19 vaccine, saying it would give up to four hours of pay to those who choose to receive inoculations.

The retailer, which has more than 2,000 stores in 37 US states, said it would cover costs associated with vaccine administration and implement on-site vaccination clinics at its warehouse and office locations, Reuters reported.

Aldi said it was working with officials across the United States to get workers priority access to the vaccine, joining other companies including Amazon.com Inc and Uber Technologies Inc lobbying to move workers closer to the front of the line for vaccinations.

19th Jan, 5:50 PM

3 more Covid-19 cases linked to Australian Open arrivals

Two players are among the three latest Covid-19 cases that have emerged from testing conducted on passengers who arrived on charter flights bringing people to Melbourne for the Australian Open, AP reported.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said the players weren’t considered to be contagious, though, and hadn’t been taken out of the regular quarantine hotels.

The first six positive tests were reported over the weekend and connected to flights from Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi and Doha, Qatar.

19th Jan, 5:20 PM

Sindh reports 778 new cases, 17 deaths

Sindh has reported 778 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 17 deaths over the past 24 hours, a statement from Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said.

So far, the province has reported 237,308 cases of Covid-19, out of which 215,101 have recovered. Meanwhile, the death toll is 3,830.

19th Jan, 5:07 PM

Love thy neighbour and get a Covid jab, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, received a Covid-19 vaccine and urged people across the world to accept the jab, saying that getting vaccinated was part of the Christian commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves, Reuters reported.

The leader of the Anglican Communion, which includes 85 million people in about 165 countries, tweeted a picture of himself receiving the shot and described the rapid development of vaccines against the new coronavirus as an answer to prayer.

19th Jan, 4:17 PM

Japan's Okinawa declares coronavirus emergency as cases spike

Japan's southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, has declared a state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country grapples with a surge in infections six months before it is set to host the Summer Olympics, Reuters reported.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said emergency measures include asking restaurants and bars to close by 8pm and residents to refrain from non-urgent outings after 8pm.

The emergency is scheduled to last until February 7.

19th Jan, 3:35 PM

UK health secretary Hancock says self-isolating until Sunday

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is self-isolating until Sunday after receiving a warning from the health service's Covid mobile phone app that he may have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

“Last night I was alerted by the @NHSCOVID19app to self isolate so I'll be staying at home & not leaving at all until Sunday,” Hancock said on Twitter.

19th Jan, 3:05 PM

Doctors cast doubt on S. Korea's coronavirus herd immunity goal

Medical experts say the South Korea government is not taking the steps necessary to achieve its goal of reaching herd immunity to the coronavirus through mass vaccinations by November.

They say the government has failed to secure enough vaccines and has also been slow to train staff for storage, distribution and inoculation. It has also lagged in making decisions over vaccination sites, they said, according to a Reuters report.

The government's timeline — which calls for vaccinations of key individuals to begin in February, with 32 million-36m people vaccinated by September — is unlikely to succeed at its current pace, the experts said.

To reach the September target, the government would need 4,000 doctors to see at least 400,000 people a day, said Jun Byung-yool, a former director of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

19th Jan, 2:35 PM

Lebanon doctors urge lockdown extension

The head of Lebanon's main coronavirus hospital has backed the extension of a total lockdown to curb soaring infection figures and save a fragile healthcare system from collapse.

“Easing the lockdown cannot occur if the virus is spreading unchecked in the community,” Firas Abiad said, according to AFP.

“The infection is not under control.”

The country of more than six million has recorded 255,956 coronavirus cases and 1,959 deaths since its outbreak started in February.

19th Jan, 1:10 PM

Germany's Merkel, state leaders ponder tougher virus rules

Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding a virtual meeting with the governors of Germany's 16 states to discuss the country's pandemic measures amid concerns that new mutations of the coronavirus could trigger a fresh surge in cases, AP reported.

The country's infection rate has stabilised in recent days, indicating that existing restrictions may have been effective in bringing down the numbers. On Tuesday, the country's disease control centre reported 11,369 new virus infections and 891 new deaths, for an overall death toll of 47,622.

However, surging infections in Britain and Ireland, said to be caused by a more contagious virus variant, have experts worried that the mutation could also spread quickly in Germany if measures are not extended or even toughened.

19th Jan, 11:34 AM

China's latest Covid outbreak worst since March 2020

China is battling the worst outbreak of Covid-19 since March 2020, with one province posting a record daily rise in cases, as an independent panel reviewing the global pandemic said China could have acted more forcefully to curb the initial outbreak.

State-backed tabloid the Global Times has defended China's early handling of the pandemic, saying no country had any experience in dealing with the completely new virus. “Looking back, no country could perform perfectly in facing a novel virus [...] no country can guarantee they won't make mistakes if a similar epidemic occurs again,” it said.

China reported more than 100 new cases for a seventh day on Tuesday. Mainland China posted 118 new cases on Jan 18, up from 109 a day earlier, the national health authority said in a statement.

Of those, 106 were local infections, with 43 reported in Jilin, a new daily record for the northeastern province, and 35 in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, the National Health Commission said.

19th Jan, 10:41 AM

Pakistan's Covid death toll crosses 11,000 mark

The number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in Pakistan has crossed the 11,000 mark as the country reported 58 fatalities over the past 24 hours, according to the official Covid-19 portal.

The current death toll in Pakistan is 11,055, while the total number of cases is 523,011. Breakdown of deaths reported in Pakistan:

  • Punjab: 4,460
  • Sindh: 3,813
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1,791
  • Islamabad: 457
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 243
  • Balochistan: 190
  • Gilgit-Baltistan: 101