22:58 GMT28 February 2021
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection topped 2.47 million; over 111.7 million cases of the infection have been detected, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from national and local authorities, the media and other sources.

    The United States, India and Brazil have logged the highest overall numbers, followed by Russia, the United Kingdom and France, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    Lockdowns are generally getting tighter in Europe because of the rapid progress of new coronavirus strains and a surge in the number of infections. 

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had outlined a four-stage plan for easing England's lockdown, starting 8 March. Legal limits on social contacts will be removed during the last state, which will happen no earlier than 21 June.

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    • 18:17

      EU Countries Already Received Over 40Mln of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, Official Says

      EU countries have already received approximately 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses, with another 300 million on their way, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said on Tuesday.

      "So far, 40.7 million doses of vaccines have reached our member states. We expect that an additional 300 million doses of three vaccines that are currently authorized in the EU to arrive in the second quarter of this year," Sefcovic said at a press conference.

      The European Union started its vaccination campaign in late December and has already authorized the use of the vaccines by AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

    • 17:34

      Merkel Offers to Hospitalise Czech COVID-19 Patients in Germany, Prime Minister Babis Says

      Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday that he held a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who offered hospital beds in Germany for Czech COVID-19 patients as a surge in cases strains hospitals in the country.

      The most severe situation is currently in the Karlovy Vary and Usti nad Labem regions near the border with Germany. The COVID-19 incidence rate in the regions is three to four times higher than the national average. Due to the overcrowding of local hospitals, new patients are transported to hospitals in other Czech regions.

      "It was an unplanned conversation. Merkel has offered additional places for our COVID-19 patients at hospitals in Bavaria or other German states, if necessary," Babis told reporters adding that Merkel also promised to check the availability of beds in German facilities.

      Earlier in the day, authorities in the Karlovy Vary region, which has already transferred over 200 patients to other parts of the country, said that Germany's Saxony reaffirmed its readiness to receive nine Czech infected with the coronavirus.

      The current number of active cases in the Czech Republic stands over 120,000, with 6,572 of them receiving treatment in hospitals. A total of 1,329 patients are in intensive care units, marking the highest-ever number of severe cases since the outbreak.

    • 16:28

      Medics Suspect S. African Strain of COVID-19 Reaching Czech Republic, Health Authority Says

      Experts from a Czech national reference laboratory (NRL) on Tuesday received two samples possibly containing the South African strain of the coronavirus, which could have entered the country from the outside, the National Institute of Public Health said.

      "The NRL has not yet confirmed that we have the South African strain of the coronavirus. We have information about two samples, one of which was prepared to be studied, while the other was not suited due to a low RNA concentration," the institute's spokesperson Klara Dolakova told journalists, adding that both are suspected to have arrived from abroad.

      According to the spokesperson, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has already warned the national health agencies about a spike of mutated variants across Europe.

      The mutated strain was first detected in South Africa last October and since then has spread to Europe. It is believed to be more contagious than the original coronavirus.

    • 16:07

      San Marino Receives 1st Batch of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine

      The first batch of the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, was delivered to San Marino on Tuesday, the Russian embassy in the Southern European microstate said.

      San Marino became the 30th country to greenlight the Russian vaccine for emergency use earlier in February.

      "The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in the Republic of San Marino on February 23. The agreement between the government of San Marino and the Russian Direct Investment Fund on the supply of the Russian vaccine has become another confirmation of the traditionally stable and constructive interaction between the two countries," the embassy told reporters.

      To date, Sputnik V has been approved in 33 countries — Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, the UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska, Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon, San Marino, Ghana and Kyrgyzstan.

    • 15:39

      Afghanistan Rolls Out Mass Vaccination Campaign Against COVID-19 on Tuesday, Reports Say

      Afghanistan on Tuesday launched its mass inoculation campaign against coronavirus, administering the Covishield vaccine — India's version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine — primarily to security forces, medical and media workers, national media reported.

      According to the 1TV News broadcaster, the country has received 500,000 doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and will get more doses through the COVAX scheme, which are expected to cover 20 percent of the country's population.

      "Today is a fortunate day for Afghanistan as we launch the first vaccination drive, but it would be a challenge to roll the plan to the whole country," acting Health Minister Waheed Majroh said during a ceremony in the presidential palace, as cited by the broadcaster.

      Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said that the authorities were currently making efforts to ensure that 40 percent of the population would be covered in a second round of the vaccination campaign.

      Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Afghanistan has registered over 55,000 infections, including 2,435 fatalities.

    • 14:37

      Lebanon's Vaccine Rollout in Peril as Politicians Reportedly Skip Line for Jab

      Over a dozen Lebanese parliamentarians and five staffers were accused of getting vaccinated out of their turn, causing an uproar and threatening to shut down the vaccination program in the country.

      The World Bank funded two shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the country on the condition that the vaccines are distributed fairly without favouritism for the famously corrupt politicians. Fears are mounting that the World Bank may pull the program amid the scandal.

      According to the L’Orient Today newspaper, Parliament’s secretary-general Adnan Daher confirmed that 16 elderly parliament members were vaccinated out of their turn, but defended the move as approved by the health ministry and the Lebanese Red Cross.

      “Their names are on the official platform … and this [the inoculation] was done in the presence of representatives from the Health Ministry and the Lebanese Red Cross,” Daher said defending the move to vaccinate the MPs.

      “We vaccinated them so we don’t overwhelm hospitals," he said.

      Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Committee, Abdul Rahman Bizri, initially said he would resign after the news broke, but later backtracked and said he would seek clarification over the matter, the newspaper reported.

      A list of the lawmakers and staffers vaccinated shows that several are below the age of 75, in contrast to Daher’s statement that only the very elderly were vaccinated.

      Lebanon’s vaccination program, completely dependent on the World Bank’s $34 million backing, began earlier this month and was reserved for the country’s health care workers and citizens over 75 years of age. Major concerns were voiced throughout that politicians and sectarian leaders may leverage influence to coopt the program and get inoculated out of line.  

    • 14:22

      Scotland's First Minister Sturgeon Expects Phased But Significant Reopening of Economy in Late April

      Scotland's economy will start a "phased reopening" from the last week of April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday.

    • 14:15

      Sri Lanka Orders Additional 13.5Mln Doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine, Reports Say

      Sri Lanka has ordered 13.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine against the coronavirus in addition to 500,000 doses gifted by New Dehli, media reported on Tuesday, citing government spokesman Ramesh Pathirana.

      According to the Times of India newspaper, 10 million doses of the vaccine have been ordered from the Serum Institute of India, which produces the AstraZeneca vaccine — Covieshield — and another 3.5 million doses directly from the UK-Swedish company through the COVAX facility.

      The government spokesman also said that the island nation would use only this vaccine, as other producers had not yet submitted the necessary documents related to the trials.

      Sri Lanka launched its mass vaccination campaign on January 29 after receiving the first 500,000 doses of the Covieshield vaccine from New Delhi.

      Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the island nation has confirmed more than 80,500 cases of the virus, including 450 fatalities and over 75,100 recoveries, according to the national health authorities.

    • 14:06

      Greece Reports Several Cases of Severe Allergic Reaction to Pfizer/BioNTech COVID Vaccine

      A Greek Army medical personnel member works inside a vaccination booth during a media tour at a vaccination centre, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Athens, Greece, February 13, 2021.

      Greek Vaccination Committee Confirms 5 Cases of Severe Side Effects From COVID-19 Shot

      ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greece has registered five cases of side effects — severe allergic reactions — caused by the coronavirus vaccine, according to the President of the National Vaccination Committee Maria Theodoridou.
      Read more
    • 13:03

      Sweden Registers 10,933 New COVID-19 Cases, 64 Deaths Since Friday

    • 12:37

      Egypt Receives 300,000 Sinopharm Vaccine Doses as Gift From China

      China has gifted 300,000 Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine doses to Egypt, Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Tuesday, after the batch arrived in Cairo.

      "The health ministry received at the Cairo airport a batch of 300,000 doses of the vaccine of Chinese company Sinopharm, delivered as a gift from China within the framework of strong relationship between the two countries," Zayed said.

      The ministry also announced that Egyptians will be able to electronically register for COVID-19 vaccination in the coming days. Elderly people and those with chronic diseases will be prioritized in the campaign, which has so far focused on health workers.

      In December, the Arab republic received 50,000 gifted Sinopharm doses from the United Arab Emirates. Earlier, some 3,000 Egyptian volunteers took part in a clinical trial for the vaccine.

      In total, Egypt has secured 100 million doses of various coronavirus vaccines, the health minister said last week.

      The country has so far confirmed over 178,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 10,000 deaths.

    • 12:16

      Anthony Fauci Expects CDC to Soon Relax Some COVID Guidelines for People Who've Been Vaccinated

    • 11:50

      Guyana Becomes 33rd Country to Approve Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V

      Russian vaccine against COVID-19 Sputnik-V (Gam-COVID-Vac) at the primary health care center No. 11 in Donetsk.

      Guyana Becomes 33rd Country to Approve Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Guyana's health ministry has authorized Russia's COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced on Tuesday.
      Read more
    • 11:23

      Mayor of French City of Dunkirk to Propose Ban on Public Gatherings

      "We want absolutely no meetings, no public gatherings ... this is our last chance," Mayor Patrice Vergriete said.

    • 11:01

      Ukraine Receives 1st Batch of Covishield Vaccine, Reports Say

      Ukraine has received the first batch of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine from India, the Ukraina24 reported on Tuesday, citing the Boryspil international airport.

      On Monday, the country approved the vaccine, produced in India under the brand name Covishield, for emergency use.

      A day prior, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov traveled to India’s Pune to personally oversee the transportation of the long-anticipated vaccine bound to Ukraine.

    • 10:49

      UK PM Johnson Says He's Very Optimistic, But Doesn't Guarantee England Will Fully Re-Open on 21 June

    • 09:16

      India Registers 10,584 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 08:56

      Mongolia Launches Nationwide COVID-19 Vaccination, Reports Say

      Mongolia has started a nationwide vaccination against the coronavirus, with country's Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene being the first to receive a shot, the state-owned Montsame news agency said on Tuesday.

      According to the news outlet, the prime minister received the Covishield vaccine, the AstraZeneca variety developed and produced in India.

      The agency stressed that all citizens of the country aged over 16 years would be immunized, and about two million Mongolians would receive their shots by July.

      The Montsame added that Mongolia already received 150,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine and 300,000 doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine that were delivered to the country for free.

      Mongolia has confirmed 2,723 COVID-19 cases, with two deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    • 08:50

      German States Bordering France Reject Pandemic-Driven Border Closures, Germany's Minister for Europe Says

    • 08:03

      Russia Records 11,823 COVID-19 Cases, 417 Deaths in Past Day

      Russia has logged 11,823 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 12,604 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,189,153, the coronavirus response centre said on Tuesday.

      "Over the past day, 11,823 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 84 regions, including 1,312 cases (11.1 percent) that were detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the centre said.

      Russia's cumulative case count has now reached 4,189,153, with the rate of increase at 0.3 percent.

      The highest daily increases were confirmed in Moscow (1,198), St. Petersburg (913) and the Moscow Region (732).

      The death toll has risen by 417, up from 337 the day before, to 84,047.

      Over 3.7 million people have recovered from COVID-19 in Russia. A total of 12,956 patients, up from yesterday's 12,943, have been discharged from hospitals over the past day.

    • 07:15

      We're Determined to Come Out of the Pandemic as Fast as Safely Possible, But no Faster, UK Health Secretary Hancock Says

      "We're all absolutely determined to come out of this as fast as safely possible, but no faster," Matt Hancock said.

    • 06:23

      Japan May Keep COVID-19 State of Emergency Only in Metropolitan Areas, Reports Say

      Japan may scrap a pandemic-linked state of emergency in six prefectures ahead of schedule, leaving it in place only in metropolitan areas, media reported on Tuesday.

      The state of emergency is currently in place in 10 prefectures until 7 March.

      According to the Asahi newspaper, it can be canceled by late February in all but four metropolitan areas: Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba.

      The government will reportedly decide on Wednesday to convene an expert committee on February 26 to cancel the emergency in Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Aichi, Gifu and Fukuoka by the end of the month.

      The governors of Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto agreed at an online meeting earlier on Tuesday to send a proposal to the government to lift the state of emergency ahead of schedule.

      The state of emergency involves shorter operating hours for restaurants, movie theaters, entertainment venues and some shops, a ban on public events and switch of 70 percent of employees to remote work. Under the current restrictions, schools remain open.

    • 05:49

      Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine Against COVID-19 Registered in Kyrgyzstan

      Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been officially registered in Kyrgyzstan, the country's Health Ministry told Sputnik.

      "The department of drugs and medical products under the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Kyrgyz Republic issued a registration certificate for combined vector vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V)," a ministry spokesman said.

      He said the vaccine registration would make it possible "in the near future to vaccinate the population to prevent coronavirus infection."

      The first cases of coronavirus were recorded in Kyrgyzstan in early March 2020. To date, the number of cases has exceeded 86,000, with 1,460 deaths.

    • 05:44

      Brazil Applies New COVID-19 Restrictions, Deaths Surpass 247,000

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