07:25 GMT08 March 2021
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    A dozen countries around the world are rolling out vaccine campaigns in a bid to battle the coronavirus pandemic, that has so far shown no sign of abating. On the contrary, the biggest daily death toll was registered this Thursday, although since then fatalities have started to ebb.

    The global case count, according to the latest WHO data, is 92,506,811, while the death toll, which crossed the 2 mln mark this week, is now over 2,001,773.

    The United States remains the most affected nation in the world, with the highest case count and the highest number of related deaths.

    The US is followed by India and Brazil in terms of cases, although the Latin American nation reports more fatalities than India, which is behind Brazil in this respect.

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    • 17:45

      US Chief Infectious Disease Expert Says Vaccination to Help Beat Even New COVID-19 Strains

      When the majority of US citizens are vaccinated against COVID-19 it will allow the country to beat even new coronavirus variants, Anthony Fauci, the country's chief expert on infectious diseases, said Sunday.

      "If we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated we'd be in very good shape and could beat even the mutant," Fauci said in an interview with NBC.

      Nevertheless, the vaccines may require an upgrade if new coronavirus strains become stronger than the currently available means against them, according to the expert.

      Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden is planning to conduct 100 million vaccinations during his first 100 days in office.

      In late December, the United Kingdom identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 virus strains.

    • 17:32

      Austrians Required to Wear FFP2 Masks in Transport, Shops Over New SARS-CoV-2 Variants

      Austria is making FFP2 face masks, which filter over 90 percent of airborne particles, mandatory on public transport and in shops in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus variants, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Sunday.

      Earlier in the day, the Austrian cabinet extended the third strict lockdown until February 7.

      Citing "a high transmission threat of the new mutations originated from the United Kingdom and South Africa," Kurz unveiled a toughening of coronavirus restrictions.

      "Starting January 25, FFP2 masks will be mandatory in spheres like public transport and trade," he said.

      In addition, Austrians will have to keep a minimum social distance of two meters, up from the current one meter. The chancellor also reaffirmed calls for employees to switch staff to remote work.

      Since December 26, the country has been on a third strict lockdown, which was set to last until January 24. The lockdown prescribes closure of everything except grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and service providers without close contact with a client. Restrictions on leaving home without a valid reason are in effect around the clock.

      Public fatigue from tough quarantine measures, meanwhile, continues to grow. On Saturday, some 10,000 people took part in an anti-lockdown protest in Vienna.

    • 16:06

      UK Records Over 38,000 New COVID Cases on Sunday, 671 New Deaths

    • 15:28

      Brazil's Bahia State Applies to Supreme Court to Register Sputnik V Vaccine

      The authorities of the Brazilian state of Bahia has applied to the country's Supreme Court with the request to allow imports of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and its registration, the head of the local health ministry, Fabio Vilas-Boas said.

      On Saturday, it was reported that the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) had refused to grant Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica authorization for the emergency use of Sputnik V. Anvisa said in a statement that the application, submitted by Uniao Quimica jointly with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), was returned because it does not present the minimum requirements to be subjected to analysis.

      "Unfortunately, Anvisa insists on its inflexible position ... We hope that the country's higher courts are less detached from reality and will give a quick response to our society," Vilas-Boas said as quoted by Antagonista newspaper.

      RDIF however said on Sunday that Anvisa requested additional information about the Sputnik V vaccine trials before authorizing emergency use and did not refuse to grant a license as some media had reported.

      Uniao Quimica started the production of the Russian coronavirus vaccine in Brazil earlier this month.

      RDIF is expected to deliver 10 million doses of Sputnik V to Brazil in the first quarter of 2021, with a total of 150 million doses to be delivered this year.

    • 15:07

      France Discussing Enhancing Border Control Inside EU With Member States, Foreign Ministry Says

      Minister of State for European Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry Clement Beaune said on Sunday that France was discussing with other European countries measures to strengthen border control inside the EU over the spread of coronavirus.

      "Yes, we are considering strengthening controls [at borders] inside the EU. It does not mean closure of borders - especially for those working at borders. We need goods to circulate so that personnel could continue working. But yes, it is possible. We have not announced it yet, because we are discussing it with European countries," Beaune told France Info.

      He noted that the final decision can be made in the coming days.

      French Prime Minister Jean Castex previously said that France would tighten the conditions for entering the country amid the coronavirus epidemic, for those arriving from outside the EU. Arrivals will be required to show a negative test for COVID-19 when boarding an aircraft and spend a week on quarantine.

    • 14:55

      India Reports Highest Number of COVID Vaccinations in Single Day

      On Day 1 of the Covid-19 Vaccination drive, 2,07,229 people were vaccinated- the highest day one vaccination number in the world.
      On Day 2, a total of 17,072 beneficiaries have been vaccinated in six states of India including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu.
      A total of 224,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till date in the two-day pan-India drive.
      A total of 447 cases of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) were reported in two days out of which only three individuals have required hospitalisation.

    • 14:22

      Denmark Registers 283 Cases of New Coronavirus Strain First Discovered in Britain, Health Officials Say

    • 13:44

      US Registers 198,000 New COVID-19 Cases Over Past 24 Hours

      The United States has registered more than 198,000 new coronavirus cases and over 3,200 coronavirus-related fatalities within the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

      According to the data, the total US case tally amounts to 23,760,080, with 395,851 deaths.

      US authorities have begun vaccination campaigns across the country but the rollout has proven slower than earlier projected figures.

      The university COVID-19 database shows that overall tally of more than 94.5 million confirmed cases across the globe, including 2,024,006 fatalities.

    • 11:08

      Oman to Close Land Borders for 1 Week to Stop COVID-19 Spread, Reports Say

    • 10:52

      Second Dose in Doubt After Pfizer Vaccine Reportedly Leaves Dozen of Israelis With Facial Paralysis

      A medical professional prepares to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a woman at a makeshift vaccination center in a sports arena in Jerusalem, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

      Second Dose in Doubt After Pfizer Vaccine Reportedly Leaves Dozen Israelis With Facial Paralysis

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - At least 13 Israelis have suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after getting the Pfizer vaccine, media reported, citing health ministry officials.
      Read more
    • 10:22

      Russia May Roll Out 3rd Domestic COVID-19 Vaccine in March

      The coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chumakov research centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences may be rolled out for civilian circulation in March, Development Director Konstantin Chernov told the Rossiya 1 channel.

      The Chumakov centre is currently completing phase 2 clinical trial for its inactivated vaccine. The Russian public health watchdog said earlier in the week that the vaccine is expected to receive an authorisation in the coming days.

      "Ours [vaccine] is to be expected to enter civil circulation, probably around March", Chernov said.

      According to the scientist, the new vaccine will be "the most comprehensive".

      "Over 50 different proteins have so far been detected in the virus. When we present an organism with the entire spectrum of everything that is there, we expect that our protection will be more comprehensive", he explained.

      Russia has so far registered two homegrown COVID-19 vaccines — Sputnik V, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, and EpiVacCorona, created by Siberian research centre Vector. In December, the country launched a large-scale coronavirus vaccination.


    • 10:08

      Austria Extends Coronavirus Lockdown Measures for at Least Three More Weeks

      Austrian authorities have decided to extend the third strict lockdown until February over surge in COVID-19 incidence, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Sunday.

      "We should inform you that it is necessary to extend the lockdown, including restrictions on leaving the house. Experts agree that before we can open up, the 7-day infection rate [per 100,000 residents] should be reduced to 50, and ideally to 25", Kurz said at a press conference.

      He clarified that for Austria this means about 700 new infection cases per day, adding that it is unclear whether reaching this figure on time is generally possible.

      "We will be assessing the situation on a weekly basis, but our goal is to bring the 7-day incidence rate closer to 50 by 8 February, and on 8 February to take the first steps to open up. including trade and service sector that provides for close contact with a client [hairdressers, beauty salons] and museums," Kurz said.

      Since 26 December, the country has been on a third strict lockdown, which was set to last until 24 January. The lockdown prescribes closure of everything except grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and service providers without close contact with a client. Restrictions on leaving the house without a valid reason are in effect around the clock.

      Population's fatigue from tough quarantine measures continues to grow. On Saturday, some 10,000 people took part in an anti-lockdown protest in Vienna.

    • 09:30

      German Foreign Minister Backs Lifting COVID-19 Restriction for Vaccinated People

      German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview that people inoculated against COVID-19 should be allowed to return to public life.

      "Vaccinated people should be able to exercise their basic rights again", Maas said, speaking to German tabloid Bild. "If there are only vaccinated people in a restaurant or a cinema, they can no longer endanger each other."

      Maas’ position contradicts the government’s stance that restriction measures should be lifted or imposed for all citizens equally regardless of vaccination status, arguing against creating social divisions. Maas maintained that such a reality would be temporary in a prospective transition period.

      "Yes, it will lead to inequalities in a transitional period, but as long as there is an objective reason, it is constitutionally justifiable", Maas argued.

      The diplomat argued that although the science is not yet clear on how whether vaccinated individuals can possibly spread the coronavirus, they are surely not likely to be burdensome on the health care system.

      Maas added that such selective easing of measures can also be respite to restaurants and small business owners battered by the pandemic.

      Germany’s strict lockdown was imposed in mid-December and is set to last through late January. Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to discuss extending the lockdown next week, with the number of new daily cases still in the tens of thousands.

      Germany’s vaccination campaign is underway in full force as the overall infections have exceeded the two million mark. Over 47,000 COVID-19 deaths have been registered in the country.

    • 09:18

      UK Hopes to Begin Easing Lockdown Rules by Early Spring

      "What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible", Raab told Sky News television."By early spring, hopefully by March, we'll be in a position to make those decisions. I think it's right to say we won't do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we'll end up phasing through a tiered approach."

    • 09:16

      Germany Registers 13,882 New Cases, 445 New Fatalities

    • 08:26

      Russia Registers 23,586 COVID-19 Cases Over Past 24 Hours

      Russia registered 23,586 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 24,092 the day before, taking the tally to 3,568,209, the coronavirus response centre said on Sunday.

      "Over the past day, 23,586 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 1,849 cases (12.1 percent) that were detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms", the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 3,568,209 with the rate of increase at 0.7 percent.

      Moscow confirmed 4,012 new coronavirus cases over the given period, up from 5,639 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 3,316 cases, down from 3,625 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 1,426 new cases, down from 1,300 the day before.

      The response centre reported 481 coronavirus fatalities, down from 590 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 65,566.

      Total recoveries count 2,936,911 after 23,440 people were discharged from hospitals over the past day, down from 27,311 the day before.

    • 08:14

      RDIF Rejects Media Claims Sputnik V Was Denied Authorisation for Emergency Use in Brazil

      Russian Gam-COVID-VAK (trademark Sputnik V) coronavirus vaccine

      RDIF Rejects Media Claims Sputnik V Was Denied Authorisation for Emergency Use in Brazil

      Uniao Quimica, a Brazilian chemical-pharmaceutical company, launched the production of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in Brazil in January. Developed by Russia's Gamaleya Centre, it was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be registered in the world.
      Read more
    • 07:37

      4,317 Health Workers Inoculated in Delhi With COVID-19 Vaccine, Authorities Say

      4,317 health workers received COVID-19 vaccine shots at 81 centres in Delhi yesterday. 51 minor and one serious adverse events were reported. The number of vaccination sites will be increased to 175 and then to 1,000, according to Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain.

    • 06:38

      Tokyo Reports 1,592 New Infections

    • 05:59

      China Registers 109 New COVID-19 Cases, No Deaths

      China on Sunday registered 109 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths over the past 24 hours, down from 130 cases reported a day prior.

      According to data provided by the country’s National Health Commission, 96 of them were local transmissions while 13 were imported cases. The provinces of Hebei and Heilongjiang, where lockdowns were imposed after local infection clusters were detected earlier this month, reported 72 and 12 cases respectively.

      The commission said there are currently 1,205 active cases in the country, 42 of which are in serious condition. This is the highest number in both metrics since last summer when transmissions petered out to a halt.

      This puts the daily tally on a three-day downward trend as the past two days have posted 144 and 130 cases consecutively.

      Chinese authorities took no chances when an uptick of transmissions was detected in the Hebei province, surrounding the capital Beijing, and placed some 20 million people in two large cities under strict lockdown. Health services have since begun mass testing the entire population of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai.

    • 04:51

      India Registers Over 15 Thousand New Cases, 181 Fatalities Over Past 24 Hours

      India reports 15,144 new COVID19 cases, 17,170 discharges and 181 deaths over the past 24 hours, as per Union Health Ministry.

      • Total cases: 10,557,985
      • Active cases: 208,826
      • Total discharges: 10,196,885
      • Death toll: 152,274
    COVID-19 Live Updates: UK Hopes to Begin Easing Lockdown Rules by Early Spring
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