International update: One year since first Covid death announced the global toll nears 2 million

11th January 2021 (Last Updated January 11th, 2021 10:05)

11 January

Global: Today marks a year since the first coronavirus death was announced in Wuhan. China announced the first death from a new virus in Wuhan on 11 January 2020. Twelve months later, Covid-19 has claimed more than 1.9 million lives worldwide. Coronavirus infections have passed 90 million.  Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,935,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A World Health Organization team of international experts tasked with investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic will arrive in China on 14 January, China’s national health authority said on Monday. The team was initially aiming to enter China in early January for the investigation but their arrival was delayed due to lack of authorisation from Beijing for their entry.

 US: Covid-19 infections have passed 22 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 374,329 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Lawmakers may have been exposed to the coronavirus while they were held in a secure room during Wednesday’s attack on Congress, the Capitol’s attending physician said Sunday.“Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” physician Brian Monahan said in a statement. “During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

About 150 US medical troops are arriving in Southern California to help overwhelmed hospital workers. Most of them are Air Force nurses and Army medics, KABC-TV reported Sunday. The Greater Los Angeles area added 14,482 new cases. Cases since the start of the pandemic exceeded 900,000 last week, meaning that more than one in 11 in the county’s 10 million residents have been infected at some point. Reported deaths increased by 166 on Sunday to 12,250. The county said it has tested almost 5 million people, equivalent to half of its population, with 17% of them reporting positive results.

China: Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in Covid-19 cases in more than five months, the country’s national health authority said on Monday, as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing continued to rise. Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on 10 January, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement, with Liaoning Province also reporting two new cases and Beijing reporting one new case. The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.

UK: England’s chief medical officer has warned the NHS faces the “most dangerous situation” in living memory as the pandemic causes record deaths and hospital admissions. Chris Whitty has said the only way to prevent avoidable deaths is for the public to stay home wherever possible.

Brazil: Covid-19 cases in Brazil surpassed 8.1 million with the addition of almost 30,000 cases on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data. The death toll increased by 469 to 203,100. The governor of Sao Paulo State, Joao Doria, called on Brazil’s health regulator to show a “sense of urgency” about approving a vaccine made in partnership with China’s Sinovac.

South Korea: South Korea reported fewer than 500 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the first time since record high daily case numbers over the Christmas holiday period. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 451 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, driven by a lull in testing as well as an apparent easing in infections. The country reported a record 1,241 cases in one day during the Christmas holiday, the peak of the country’s largest wave of infections yet.

Japan: Tokyo found 1,219 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the local government said, marking a seventh straight day of more than 1,000 daily infections.

The Japanese government will start large-scale PCR testing for the coronavirus in big cities as early as March, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday.

Vaccination updates

US: Two mass vaccination locations opened in New York City on Sunday. The mass sites were open for part of the day on Sunday before they start operating round the clock, seven days a week on Monday as part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to set up 250 vaccination locations to meet the ambitious goal of inoculating 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month. Three other smaller sites also opened on Sunday.

India: India is preparing for a mass coronavirus vaccine rollout. India aims to begin vaccinating its 1.3 billion people against coronavirus from Saturday, a colossal and complex task compounded by safety worries, shaky infrastructure and public scepticism. In one of the world’s biggest rollouts, the planet’s second-most populous nation hopes to inoculate 300 million people – equal almost to the entire US population – by July.

UK: Seven mass vaccination sites are to open Monday in England. The new centres – including at a football stadium and a tennis club – will be joined later this week by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total to around 1,200, NHS England said. The locations – Ashton Gate in Bristol, Epsom racecourse in Surrey, the Excel Centre where London’s Nightingale hospital is based, Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham’s Millennium Point – will offer jabs to people aged 80 and above, along with health and care staff.

Philippines: The Philippines targets to vaccinate its entire population of more than 100 million people by 2023, officials said. Vaccine rollout may start as early as February, although bulk of the inoculations will begin in the second half of 2021, vaccine czar Carlito Galvezsaid at a Senate hearing Monday.

Malaysia: will buy an additional 12.2 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Latest order ramps up availability to 25 million doses, enough to inoculate 39% of the population. Malaysia will begin receiving its first supply of Pfizer vaccines end of next month.

Algeria: Algeria granted emergency use authorization to Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, the Russian Direct Investments Fund said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

UK: Nearly half of England’s headteachers are being forced to prioritise class places among vulnerable students and the children of key workers because of a huge increase in demand, according to a survey of school leaders.

Japan: About 80% of people in Japan are against holding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the host city and other parts of Japan. A weekend poll by the Kyodo news agency found that 35.3% wanted the Games to be cancelled, while 44.8% favoured another delay. Local organisers and the International Olympic Committee have said that it will not be possible to postpone a second time. The Games, which are due to open on 23 July, were delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.

Japan’s government called on the public to stay home during a three-day weekend that includes Monday, but the nation’s second state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures appears to have failed to reduce foot traffic as effectively as during the first in April, Yomiuri reported earlier.

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo agreed to extend the ban for foreigners to enter Indonesia for two weeks to 28 January, the Cabinet Secretariat said in a statement.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s hospital admissions and deaths have declined after peaking in December, Asad Umar, the planning commission minister who’s leading the nation’s virus nerve center, said in a Twitter post. The nation announced last week is would reopen schools in phases from January 18. Pakistan has seen about 505,000 infections and 10,500 deaths from the virus. Deaths have declined for three straight weeks.

Australia: Queensland state will lift the three-day lockdown on its capital city Brisbane from 6pm local time after zero new coronavirus cases were recorded overnight, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. However, some restrictions will remain on the amount of people allowed in shops and restaurants, and masks must be worn in public indoor places places like libraries and supermarkets, she told reporters Monday.

Czech Republic: Several thousand people protested in Old Town Square in central Prague on Sunday, demanding the government end lockdown restrictions, the police. The country of 10.7 million, which reported a record 17,730 new infections on Wednesday, is one of the world’s worst-hit by the current outbreak. It has recorded 13,115 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The government has closed most shops, services and schools, and imposed a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am It plans to keep the lockdown in place until at least 22 January.

Economy updates

Thailand: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has asked all government agencies to cut costs and cancel or delay any unnecessary projects as the Covid-19 outbreak has curbed revenue. Try to maximize spendings and consider other source of fundings apart from government budget including setting up funds and public-private partnership, Prayuth says in a webcast briefing on Monday.

Australia: Household spending jumped in November as the southeastern state of Victoria was released from lockdown and consumers took advantage of discounts during annual Black Friday sales. Retail sales advanced 7.1% from a month earlier, compared with the 7% gain forecast by economists and the 7% reported in late December as the preliminary figure, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Monday.