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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)

Coronavirus - 21st February 2021

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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 09:50

Summary for Sunday, 21st February

  • The PM pledges that all adults in the UK will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of July
  • The government's previous target was to offer all adults the first dose by September
  • Boris Johnson says he now wants the programme to "go further and faster"
  • He is due to hold a final meeting with senior ministers about how to ease England's lockdown
  • Johnson will reveal his "road map" for easing restrictions on Monday
  • Israel is easing restrictions following vaccine success, with shops, libraries and museums allowed to open
  • Australia's PM receives the coronavirus vaccine as the country prepares to start inoculations this week


The latest headlines

Just waking up? Here's what you need to know this morning:


From The Guardian:

  • Australia has begun its vaccine rollout a day early, with the country’s prime minister among the first people to receive a dose on Sunday. “It’s safe, it’s important, join us on this Australian path that sees us come out of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
  • Among Saturday’s reported figures, Mexico recorded 7,785 new cases and 832 more fatalities, while in Germany there were 7,676 new cases and 145 deaths.
  • Malaysia moved up its Covid-19 inoculation drive by two days as the first batch of vaccines arrived in the Southeast Asian nation on Sunday.
  • All adults in the UK will be offered a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July, Boris Johnson has said ahead of an announcement on how England will begin to ease its third lockdown.
  • Israel has reported a 95.8% drop in Covid-19 infection among those who have received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, its health ministry announced on Saturday.
  • A further 21 cases of the virus variant first discovered in the UK have been detected in Morocco, its health ministry has said, taking the number of reported cases with the mutation to 24.
  • Coronavirus cases are rising in a number of Indian states, including Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. The rise in infections comes amid the detection of new virus variants in Maharashtra, the Times of India reports.
  • France’s number of new coronavirus cases compared with a week earlier increased for the third day in a row, with the health ministry reporting 22,371 new cases on Saturday.
  • Micheál Martin, the taoiseach, has ruled out reopening Ireland’s hospitality sector until mid-summer due to the high level of Covid-19 cases in the country.
  • Mexico’s deputy health minister has announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19, adding that his symptoms are mild.
  • Iran has closed several crossing points at its border with Iraq in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid variant first detected in the UK after it was found in the country.
  • The UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, acted unlawfully by failing to publish multibillion-pound Covid-19 government contracts within the 30-day period required by law, a high court judge has ruled.
  • More than 17 million people in the UK have now had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to government figures .


All UK adults to be offered jab by 31 July, says PM

All adults in the UK will be offered their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July, the prime minister has said.
More than 17 million people have been given a jab since the UK's Covid vaccine rollout began in December 2020.
The government's previous target was to offer all adults the first dose by September.
But Boris Johnson said he now wants the programme to "go further and faster".
He said the July target would allow vulnerable people to be protected "sooner" and would help to further ease lockdown rules across the country.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said there were "early signs" the vaccine rollout was contributing to a fall in hospital admissions.
Read the full story here.


'New target' for vaccine rollout

The health secretary says the government now has a "new target" for the vaccine rollout in England.
Categories 1-9, the most vulnerable people, over-50s and health and social care workers will receive their jabs by 15 April, Matt Hancock tell Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
After that, all adults should be offered the jab by the end of July, he says.
Vaccines are able to be delivered at a rate of 500,000 a day, he says.

Brazil and SA variant cases coming down

More from the health secretary. He also says the number of cases of the Brazilian and South Africa variants are coming down. But he adds we must remain vigilant against the new variants.
"If one of these variants doesn't respond to the vaccine as well as the standard variant in the UK which is the Kent variant then that's obviously a very serious risk for the vaccination programme," he says.
But the good news is the actions we are taking right now do appear to be working, he says.
Asked if the UK was to host the European football championships this summer he says: "I haven't seen anything on that, I understand that's not right."

China reports seven new cases

China has reported seven new cases in the mainland for Saturday, compared with eight cases a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
All the new infections were imported cases, it said in a statement. There were no new deaths.
China also reported six new asymptomatic patients, compared with 13 a day earlier. China does not classify asymptomatic cases as confirmed Covid-19 cases.
As of Saturday, mainland China had 89,831 confirmed coronavirus infections, while the death toll remained at 4,636, it said.

Germany records more than 7,600 new cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 7,676 to 2,386,559, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.
The reported death toll rose by 145 to 67,841, the tally showed.

Malaysia starts vaccine program early

Malaysia moved up its Covid-19 inoculation drive by two days as the first batch of vaccines arrived in the Southeast Asian nation on Sunday.
Malaysia aims to vaccinate at least 80% of its 32 million people within a year as it pushes to revive an economy that, slammed by coronavirus-related curbs, recorded its worst slump in over two decades in 2020.
It has imposed more lockdowns this year amid a fresh wave of coronavirus infections. The country has recorded 280,272 cases and 1,051 deaths.
A total of 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to Malaysia on Sunday morning, with more expected in coming weeks.
“The second delivery will be made on 26 February, and we will continue to receive (Pfizer) deliveries every two weeks until it is completed,” Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a virtual news conference.
Malaysia has secured 32 million doses from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech are scheduled to be delivered in bulk on 27 February, pending approval from local regulators, Khairy said.
The national vaccine rollout will begin Wednesday, earlier than initially scheduled, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and health ministry director General Noor Hisham Abdullah set to receive the first doses, Khairy said.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 10:14

Concerns that a third coronavirus wave may be imminent in Germany

Shortly before schools will reopen in ten of Germany’s federal states on Monday, there are increasing indications that a third coronavirus wave could be imminent in the country.
Despite the strict lockdown, the number of new infections every day has hardly or not decreased at all recently. Experts attribute this to the spread of much more contagious virus variants.
This development has fuelled a debate about teachers and educators being prioritised for vaccinations.
The German Press Agency reports that daycare and primary school employees are in group three and would therefore probably not be getting jabs until the summer.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of government of the federal states had asked the Ministry of Health at their latest meeting to check whether these employees could be brought forward on the priority list.

Russia reports 12,742 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours

Russia on Sunday reported 12,742 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 1,602 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,164,726.
Authorities also reported another 417 deaths, raising the official toll to 83,293.
On Saturday, the country reported 12,953 new infections, and 13,968 a week ago.

Mayor of Nice calls for weekend lockdown

Jedidajah Otte - The Guardian
The mayor of the French Mediterranean city of Nice called on Sunday for a weekend lockdown in the area to stop the flow of visitors and curb a sharp spike in coronavirus infections.
“We need a strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either a tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown. A weekend lockdown would make sense ...that would stop the inflow of visitors,” mayor Christian Estrosi said on franceinfo radio.
I’m Jedidajah Otte and will be taking over for the next few hours. As always, do feel free to get in touch with updates, tips or comments, you can reach me on Twitter @JedySays or via email.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 10:34

Irish pub forced to close during lockdown reopens as a wildlife hospital

A pub that closed its doors during lockdown is now serving a menagerie of very different clientele after transforming into Ireland’s first wildlife hospital, Reuters reports.
The bar of the Tara Na Ri pub in County Meath to the northwest of Dublin is now deserted, the blinds pulled down, the Guinness taps dry and the till empty.
But the pub’s outbuildings are a hive of activity.

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Since Ireland’s first coronavirus lockdown pub the Tara Na Ri has been closed to regulars, but now it hosts a menagerie of new clientèle as the nation’s first wildlife hospital. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

n one, a member of staff bottle-feeds Liam, a two-week-old wild Irish goat who was found on a mountainside.
Three swans nest on straw in former stables, a skittish fox settles in a new enclosure, and a wide-eyed buzzard is being nursed back to health.
“We were very much accustomed to just one singular way of living,” said James McCarthy, whose family have owned the pub for more than a decade.
“When that’s taken away you’re just kind of left with a void. It takes some time before it starts getting replaced with other things that you never would have thought were possible before.”
McCarthy has turned the outbuildings over to the government-backed agency Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland (WRI) and instead of pulling pints, now serves drive-through customers with takeaway coffees at the front of the pub.

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A member of staff feeds a two week-old native wild Irish goat which was found on a mountainside and named Liam, at Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland’s new premises situated behind the Tara na Ri Pub, which is shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, at Garlow Cross outside Navan in County Meath, Ireland on February 18, 2021. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 13:10

Israel eases restrictions following vaccine success

Israel is easing lockdown restrictions as studies there reveal the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospitalisations and death.
From Sunday, shops, libraries and museums can open but social distancing and masks are still required.
The health ministry says it is the first stage of returning to normal life.
Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world. More than 49% of people have received at least one dose .
The country entered its third lockdown on 27 December after a resurgence of the virus.
Under the easing measures, people are now able to enter shopping malls and tourist attractions such as zoos.

Caution remains over lockdown 'roadmap' plan

Helen Catt - Political correspondent
The speedier rollout of the vaccine is likely to raise expectations - and pressure - for a swifter unlocking in England, but the government is still talking the language of caution.
Senior ministers will finalise the "roadmap" plan today before it's presented to the wider cabinet for approval tomorrow.
It's unlikely that any restrictions will change before 8 March, when the government hopes to get all children back into schools.
The prime minister has long said that is his top priority.
But it is likely that a small tweak will be made from that date to allow people to meet one other person outdoors for social purposes rather than just for exercise.
A Downing Street source said this would be the beginning of allowing people to meet each other for socialising once again as the government recognised the impact of not seeing loved ones.
It's understood various options - which could include reintroducing the rule of six - are being considered for the weeks beyond.

UK headlines

If you're just catching up, here's the latest coronavirus news in the UK this morning:
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 13:16

Lord Hague: 'Lift lockdown after over-50s vaccinated'

Former Conservative leader William Hague has urged the prime minister not to keep coronavirus lockdown restrictions in place beyond April when all those over 50 have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he says there "wouldn't be much justification for keeping most of the restrictions on people" by then, provided the number of cases is down to a "very low level".
But he warns there would need to be a "deal" between the public and the government to do mass testing at that point, and said people would need to be ready for "rapid, ruthless" local lockdowns.
Lord Hague says he is hoping to hear in the "road map" to exiting lockdown, which Boris Johnson will announce on Monday, that the "great majority of restrictions on people can be lifted".
He says: "Now, he is presumably going to say that will depend on the progress that's being made and that's fair enough."

WHO pleads with Tanzania to reveal Covid-19 cases

The World Health Organization has urged Tanzania to start reporting coronavirus cases and share its data.
The WHO's plea comes after a spate of deaths of government officials.
Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world to not publish data on Covid-19 cases.
This makes it difficult to know the extent of the spread of coronavirus in Tanzania.
But WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Tanzanians travelling outside the country have tested positive for coronavirus.
"This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond," he said.
Read more on this story.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 13:19

World headlines

And here are the latest developments around the world:

  • Israel is easing lockdown restrictions as studies there reveal the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospital admissions and death
  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received the vaccine as the country prepares to start inoculations
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Tanzania to start reporting coronavirus cases and share its data. It is one of the few countries in the world not to publish data on Covid-19 cases
  • The mayor of Nice, France, says the southern city and the surrounding area need either a weekend lockdown or a local tightening of the nationwide curfew to combat coronavirus figures that are the worst in the country


Analysis: Why the caution in easing lockdown?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Lockdown has reduced cases more than some believed was possible - and now there are the early indications the vaccination programme is having an impact too.
Despite this, it looks likely the government will announce a very gradual lifting of restrictions in England on Monday.
Why the caution? Even if rates rebound only a little, there are still large numbers of vulnerable people. Nearly half of hospitalisations have been in the under-70s for example.
What is more, high levels of infection, at a time when vaccines are being rolled out and immunity being built, provides the perfect breeding ground for new variants.
Mutation may be unavoidable in the long-term, but encouraging them at this point would, many experts believe, be foolish.
The problem is that there are so many unknowns: Will the arrival of spring help to keep the virus at bay? Will the UK variant mean the reopening of schools has a significant impact on infection levels?
But, on the flip side, being too cautious will prolong the costs of lockdown. It is, to say the least, a tricky balancing act.

Call for three weeks between lockdown easing steps

A statistician who advises the government on coronavirus says the prime minister will still need "highly local" measures in the plan to ease lockdown that he is due to announce tomorrow.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter told Times Radio: "I understand they're going to try to have national measures, rather than regional tiered systems, since that caused such a lot of problems.
"It seems to me that there's still going to be a need for highly local measures that might have to take place."
The member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) says "three weeks" might be needed between each step to ease lockdown "to have a feeling for what's happening so that any impact can feed through the charts".
"Things can change pretty rapidly, and that's quite worrying," he says.
"I do like this idea of an adaptive strategy," he says, adding: "Something I wish they'd done right at the beginning, of admitting the uncertainty, that there's so much we still don't know and things can be taken by surprise."
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 13:21

Surge testing to roll out in postcode

A part of Essex will see "surge testing" rolled out after a case of the South African variant was found in the area.
People in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood are "strongly encouraged" to take a test when offered, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said - whether or not they have symptoms.
"Working in partnership with the local authority, additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to the CM13 postcode in Brentwood, Essex, where a single case of the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found," the spokesman said.
Surge testing for the South African variant in England began on 1 February.
It is additional community testing to help reduce the spread of infection by finding asymptomatic cases and prompting people to self-isolate.
Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help scientists and public health officials understand the variant and its spread.

Which countries in Africa are administering vaccines?

Reality Check
Africa has now recorded more than 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, and there's been concern over the delay in rolling out Covid-19 vaccinations there.
Some nations have just begun vaccination programmes, but many have yet to start.
There has been global competition to get hold of vaccines, and African countries have generally not been as successful as richer countries in securing supplies.
Currently, in North Africa, these are the countries vaccinating (and the vaccines being used):

  • Morocco (AstraZeneca and Sinopharm)
  • Algeria (Sputnik V)
  • Egypt (Sinopharm)

In sub-Saharan Africa, the countries vaccinating are:

  • South Africa (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Seychelles (Sinopharm and AstraZeneca)
  • Rwanda (reportedly using Pfizer and Moderna)
  • Mauritius (AstraZeneca)
  • Zimbabwe (Sinopharm)

Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 14:27

Safety assurance ahead of pupils return to Scotland's schools

Scotland's Education Secretary John Swinney has insisted it is safe for the youngest pupils to return to the classroom.
Children in early years education and the first three years of primary will go back to school on Monday.
It is the first step in a phased reopening of schools, which have been closed to all but a minority of pupils since the beginning of January.
Concerns were raised by the EIS teaching union and one epidemiologist about the measures put in place to reduce risk of transmission in schools.
But Mr Swinney said "detailed clinical analysis" assured him it was safe.
When will schools go back in other parts of the UK?
Boris Johnson will make an an announcement tomorrow about the re-opening of schools in England. The government has previously said its aim is to get all pupils in England back to the classroom on 8 March, but it's not certain that every pupil will be able to return before the Easter holidays at the start of April.
In Wales, pupils aged three to seven will return to classrooms from tomorrow - along with some older pupils on vocational courses. First Minister Mark Drakeford says he hopes older primary pupils - and secondary pupils preparing for exams - will be back on Monday 15 March.
And in Northern Ireland, schools will open to primary school pupils in years one to three on 8 March. Children in pre-school settings are also likely to return then. Pupils in years 12 to 14 will not return until 22 March. However, pupils in years four to seven in primaries and years eight to 11 will not return before the Easter break at the start of April.

Vaccine offer 'cruellest twist' in Jo Whiley's sister's fight


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DJ Jo Whiley says it has been "the worst week of our lives" as her sister, who has a learning disability and diabetes, is in hospital with Covid.
The BBC Radio 2 presenter said Frances Whiley, 53, had been called in for a vaccine appointment on Saturday evening, but it was "too late" and she was now "fighting for her life".
"It couldn't be crueller," Whiley told the BBC's Andrew Marr.
The DJ has previously questioned why she was offered the vaccine before her sister, who has the rare genetic syndrome Cri du Chat.
"I have no idea why I was offered the vaccine and my sister wasn't - it felt like the cruellest twist in the world because I've been asking for her, wanting for her to have her vaccine for a year... to be protected," she said.

Earlier this week the DJ told BBC Radio 4 it was possible she was offered the vaccine because she is listed as her sister's carer.
She said people with complex needs should be vaccinated "as quickly as possible".
The DJ said her family has "hope" because Frances's oxygen levels improved yesterday: "Twenty-four hours ago we didn't have any hope at all, so she is an amazing fighter, she always has been a great fighter and I'm just hoping that her spirit gets her through."
Read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 16:49

Breaking News 

A further 215 die with coronavirus in the UK

A further 215 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, daily figures from the government show.
It takes the total number of people to die within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 120,580.
There have also been a further 9,834 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

Vaccines pass 17.5m in the UK

The total number of people to receive their first vaccination in the UK has risen to 17,582,121, according to today's figures.
Another 615,148 people have also had their second dose.

Medical regulator investigates £30m Covid contract firm

A firm is being investigated by the UK medical regulator after it was awarded a £30m contract during the pandemic.
Alex Bourne - who used to run a pub near Matt Hancock's old constituency home in West Suffolk - made vials for Covid testing through his firm Hinpack, which had no history of medical goods.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed it is now investigating the company.
Mr Hancock has previously said he had nothing to do with the contract.
The MHRA said it took "all reports of non-compliance very seriously".
The Guardian reported Mr Bourne had offered his services to the government via a personal WhatsApp message to the health secretary, saying they had known each other for years.
The businessman told the newspaper that messages had been exchanged between the pair over several months, but he said there was "no evidence" he was given preferential treatment by the Department of Health and Social Care because of the connection.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 17:02

Eighteen new cases of the UK Variant detected in the Philippines

Eighteen new cases of the UK Covid-19 variant first discovered in Kent, England have been detected in the Philippines.
According to the country’s department of health, 13 of these cases are returning overseas Filipinos who entered the country between 3 and 27 January.
“All of these cases are now tagged as recovered and the DOH is currently investigating compliance to isolation protocols and the contact tracing done for these ROFs,” the ministry said.
The Philippines’ Covid-19 infections tally rose past 561,000 on Sunday after the Department of Health announced 1,888 new patients.
A week ago, the country registered 1,921 new daily infections.
CNN Philippines reports:
The case count now stands at 561,169, of which 26,238 or 4.7% are active cases, the latest report showed. This update does not yet include data from two testing laboratories which failed to submit on time.
The DOH said 9,737 patients were also cleared of the infection, raising the number of recoveries to 522,843.
Meanwhile, the death toll climbed to 12,088 with 20 more fatalities, including 12 which were previously tagged as recoveries.

227 illegal parties raided in Madrid over the weekend

Partygoers hid under mattresses and in a cupboard at a packed house in Madrid in an attempt to avoid police at one of 227 illegal parties raided in the city over the weekend for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions.
Reuters reports:
Police video showed the hiding revellers, who were arrested. Another raid took place a bar which was not complying with restrictions to try and contain the spread of the virus.
“Two hundred and twenty seven illegal parties have been detected in Madrid on Friday and Saturday. People were not complying with the curfew, not using masks or were in premises without any security measures,” Madrid’s Municipal Police force in a statement issued on Saturday.
“We keep asking you for collaboration and responsibilty.”
Madrid has the second highest two-week infection rate in Spain at 427 cases per 100,000 people on Friday, while the national rate is 294, a marked decline from 900 at the end of January
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 17:10

Lorry drivers will no longer need tests to go from UK to France if they stayed less than 48 hours

Lorry drivers returning to France from the UK will not now need to have a coronavirus test if they have spent less than 48 hours in the country, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday.
Reuters reports:
France demanded in December that lorry drivers travelling from Britain to France must carry a negative Covid test result to reduce the spread of a more infectious coronavirus variant that had been found in Kent in southeast England.
“I’ve agreed more flexibility in testing for hauliers travelling from the UK to France,” Shapps said on Twitter.
“From 11 p.m. (2300 GMT) tonight, lorries returning to France from UK having spent less than 48 hours in the UK will no longer require a coronavirus test.”

US: Fauci says Americans may still be wearing masks in 2022

US infectious diseases official Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that it is possible Americans will still be wearing masks in 2022, but that measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 would be increasingly relaxed as more vaccines are administered.
Roughly one year since the first known death caused by Covid-19 was recorded in the US, the country is approaching 500,000 deaths from the virus.
The US has recorded 497,670 deaths from coronavirus to date, accordin to Johns Hopkins University.
On Saturday, the country recorded 1,831 further deaths, and 1,080 a week ago.

India's western Maharashtra state imposes new restrictions in four districts

India’s western Maharashtra state, home to the country’s financial hub Mumbai, is imposing new coronavirus restrictions in four districts, amid concerns about a second wave and slow vaccine rollout.
Reuters reports:
India, with a population of about 1.4 billion, has reported 10.9 million confirmed coronavirus infections, the world’s second highest after the United States, and 156,212 deaths. It has vaccinated about 11 million people since mid-January.
As the number of cases has risen in recent days, India’s health ministry has asked several states to expand testing and surveillance, including Maharashtra, which has about 112 million people and accounts for about 16% of India’s economic output.
Maharashtra’s chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said daily cases in the state had risen to almost 7,000 from about 2,000 earlier this month, demanding stricter measures from Monday to control the spread of the virus in four districts of the state.
“The second wave has been knocking on our door. Whether it has come or not will be confirmed in next eight to 15 days,” he said, adding restrictions could be widened beyond those four districts if necessary.
India’s health ministry has also asked Maharashtra and some other states to keep a close eye on variants of the coronavirus and to monitor emerging clusters of cases. Some epidemiologists have suggested the current rise in cases could be caused by new strains.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced criticism for the slow pace of the vaccination rollout. The authorities are expected to expand the vaccination programme to reach a government target of 300 million by July.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 17:17

Anti-lockdown protests broken up by police in Amsterdam

Police have forcibly cleared demonstrators protesting against lockdown in Amsterdam’s Museum Square.
There is a ban on public gatherings due to coronavirus restrictions.
Officers detained a small number of protesters. Some were carrying signs saying “freedom” or held yellow umbrellas, Reuters reports, adding of most of the demonstrators were young.

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Demonstrators hold umbrellas reading “Freedom” and “Love” as several hundreds of people protested against the coronavirus lockdown and curfew in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

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Police officers are seen, as people protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 21, 2021. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

The city’s square has become a regular meeting place for people opposed to coronavirus lockdowns.
The Netherlands saw several days of rioting in January, when an evening curfew was added to other lockdown measures.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 17:21

Gaza receives vaccine shipment from UAE


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The vaccine shipment entered Gaza via the Rafah crossing with Egypt

A shipment of 20,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has arrived in Gaza, donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Health officials in the territory said they would begin vaccination on Monday.
Gaza received 2,000 doses of the vaccine from the Palestinian Authority last week, but this new delivery is reported to have been organised by a former senior Palestinian official, Mohammad Dahlan, who now lives in the UAE.
He was forced out of the territory a decade ago after clashing with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian leader's Islamist Hamas rivals.
Analysts say it's an attempt to score points ahead of a planned Palestinian election later this year.
Gaza has registered more than 54,000 cases with 543 deaths .
Palestinians have had little access to coronavirus vaccines, in contrast with Israel, which is easing lockdown restrictions after inoculating almost half its population.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 19:12

Czech Republic considers slower lockdown easing

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent

Coronavirus - 21st February 2021 C0a9b010
The number of free ICU beds in Covid wards is dwindling across the country

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has signalled that more children may not begin to return to school on 1 March as promised, as the virus situation is so bad.
It's been exacerbated by the spread of the UK variant and public non-compliance and widespread resignation.
There are also problems with sourcing the antigen tests necessary to make it happen, after the prime minister said a tender to supply them should be cancelled over lack of transparency.
Official figures show that in eight of the country's 14 regions, the number of free ICU beds in wards designated for Covid patients has fallen to single figures.
The capital Prague - a city of 1.2 million people - currently has eight free ICU beds in Covid wards.
Health Minister Jan Blatny says authorities may have to take drastic measures if the situation does not improve.
According to the European Centre for Disease Control, the Czech Republic has had the highest number of new Covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 14 days than any other country in the EU/EEA.
According to Our World in Data, the country now has the fourth highest total number of Covid deaths per million inhabitants in the world. At 1,783 per million, it is more than the UK (1,776) or Italy (1,579).
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Coronavirus - 21st February 2021 Empty Re: Coronavirus - 21st February 2021

Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 21 2021, 19:16

What's been happening today?

As our live page draws to a close, here’s a final round-up of the latest headlines from the UK and around the world today:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a final meeting with senior ministers about how to ease England's lockdown. He's due to unveil his "road map" on Monday
  • The latest data shows a reduction in transmission in people who have had a coronavirus vaccine in England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock says, adding that hospital admissions were falling "much more sharply" than in the first wave
  • All adults in the UK will be offered a coronavirus jab by the end of July, the PM pledges
  • Hancock insisted it was "the right thing to do" to delay publishing contracts during the pandemic, despite a court ruling that he acted unlawfully
  • BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley says it’s been "the worst week of our lives" as her sister, who has a learning disability and diabetes, is in hospital in England with Covid
  • A firm is being investigated by the UK medical regulator after it was awarded a £30m contract during the pandemic. Alex Bourne - who used to run a pub near Matt Hancock's old home - made vials for Covid testing through his firm Hinpack, which had no history of medical goods
  • Israel is easing lockdown restrictions as studies there reveal the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospitalisations and death. Shops, libraries and museums can open but social distancing and masks are still required
  • The World Health Organization urges Tanzania to start reporting coronavirus cases and share its data. It is one of the few countries in the world to not publish data on Covid-19 cases.


Goodbye - and thanks for joining us

And with those headlines, it’s goodbye from us.
Today's live page has been the work of:
Jennifer Meierhans, Hazel Shearing, Alexandra Fouché, Jo Couzens, Alice Evans, Claire Heald and Sarah Collerton.
We’ll be back with more on Monday – and we hope you can join us.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 15:07