Here are the latest developments so far today:
- Britain has secured an additional two million doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine candidate, meaning it will have access to enough doses of the vaccine for around 3.5 million people. Overall, it has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from seven different developers.
- North Korea is further toughening restrictions on entering seawaters as part of elevated steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, state media said Sunday, two days after South Korea said the North had banned sea fishing.
- South Korean authorities will consider tighter social distancing restrictions on Sunday to clamp down on economic activities after last week saw the fastest spread of infections since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Brazil has registered 51,922 additional coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours and 587 new deaths, according to the country’s health ministry.
- Mexico reported 10,008 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 586 additional deaths on Saturday. This brings the official number of cases to 1,100,683 with a total death toll of 105,459.
- The Australian state of Victoria, which has recorded 30 days with no confirmed coronavirus cases, has eased some of its restrictions. From 11.59pm tonight, businesses will be allowed to open their workplaces to a quarter of their employees.
- South Australian health authorities are urging anyone who visited several “high-risk” locations to get tested for coronavirus immediately, after a Covid-19-positive man broke his required home quarantine in Adelaide.
- Brazil has registered 51,922 additional coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours and 587 new deaths, according to the country’s health ministry. In total, Brazil has now registered 6,290,272 total confirmed infectionss and 172,561 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
- Victoria, in south-east Australia, recorded its 30th consecutive day without a new Covid-19 cases , with no lives lost on Saturday and just under 6,000 tests conducted. New South Wales has also now gone 22 days without any local transmission.
- Greece reported 121 coronavirus-related deaths, a daily record, with hospitals in the north of the country under pressure as intensive care beds fill up.
- Turkey’s daily Covid-19 death toll hit a record high for a sixth consecutive day, with the health ministry recording 182 fatalities within the last 24 hours.
- In the UK, a further 479 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, down from 521 the previous day. On Saturday, 155 people were arrested at anti-lockdown protests in central London , with offences including breaching coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer and possession of drugs.
A year after Wuhan alarm, China seeks to change Covid origin storyNearly a year after doctors identified the first cases of a worrying new disease in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the country appears to be stepping up a campaign to question the origins of the global Covid-19 pandemic, report Emma Graham-Harrison and Robin McKie .
State media has been reporting intensively on coronavirus discovered on packaging of frozen food imports, not considered a significant vector of infection elsewhere, and research into possible cases of the disease found outside China’s borders before December 2019.
The official People’s Daily newspaper claimed in a Facebook post last week that “all available evidence suggests that the coronavirus did not start in central China’s Wuhan”.
A foreign ministry spokesman, asked about state media reports that the virus originated outside China, said only that it was important to distinguish between where Covid-19 was first detected and where it crossed the species barrier to infect humans.
“Although China was the first to report cases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the virus originated in China,” Zhao Lijian told a briefing. “Origin tracing is an ongoing process that may involve multiple countries and regions.”
Chinese scientists have even submitted a paper for publication to the Lancet – although it has not yet been peer-reviewed – that claims “Wuhan is not the place where human-to-human Sars-CoV-2 transmission first happened”, suggesting instead that the first case may have been in the “Indian subcontinent”.
Claims that the virus had origins outside China are given little credence by western scientists. Michael Ryan, director of the health emergencies programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), said last week that it would be “highly speculative” to argue that the disease did not emerge in China.
South Korea mulls stricter virus restrictionsSouth Korean authorities will consider tighter social distancing restrictions on Sunday to clamp down on economic activities after last week saw the fastest spread of infections since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters news agency has reported.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun is to meet with health authority officials this afternoon to decide whether virus curbs need to be tightened further to slow transmissions.
South Korea reported 450 infections on Sunday after reporting more than 500 new coronavirus cases for three days in a row, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
This third wave marks the highest level of infections in nearly nine months.
South Korea on Tuesday began applying Level 2 social distancing rules, the third-highest in the country’s five-tier system, in greater Seoul area.
UK secures additional two million doses of Moderna vaccineBritain will have access to a further two million doses of Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Reuters news agency has reported.
Following the latest deal, Britain has access to enough doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate for around 3.5 million people. Overall, it has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from 7 different developers, according to a government statement.
“With a wide range of vaccine candidates in our portfolio, we stand ready to deploy a vaccine should they receive approval from our medicines regulator, starting with those who will benefit most,” Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, said in the statement.
Cambodia's first instance of community transmissionCambodian president Hun Sen has advised the public to avoid large gatherings after the wife of a government official tested positive for Covid-19. He has described the case as the first instance of community transmission, according to local media.
The government is tracing anyone who had contact with the woman, including in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Mondulkiri provinces. Cambodia has so far managed to avoid a major outbreak, with the government reporting 309 cases.