A little more on India’s approval of two Covid vaccines for rollout. India has undertaken extraordinary public health initiatives in the past, most notably in its efforts to eradicate polio, which involved the largest public immunisation campaign in history.
My colleague Hannah Ellis-Petersen reports:
India has granted emergency approval to both the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and the domestically developed Covaxin, signalling the start of one of the largest Covid-19 immunisation drives in the world.
We will watch this as it develops, but Fuji TV has reported Japan is considering declaring a state of emergency for capital Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures as early as this week, as coronavirus cases climb.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is due to hold a news conference to mark the start of 2021 at 11am Tokyo time (2am GMT). We will bring you that news as it emerges.
Tokyo reported 816 new cases on Sunday.
On Thursday, Tokyo logged a record 1,337 new infections, exceeding the 1,000 mark for the first time since the pandemic began. A nationwide record was also set Thursday, with 4,520 new cases.
In Australia (where your correspondent currently sits), mass testing drives are seeking to restrict outbreaks in the country’s two most populous states New South Wales and Victoria. By global standards, Australia’s outbreaks are small, but there is a concerted push to break these chains of community transmission.
Victoria has reported three new cases of locally acquired Covid-19 infection in the past 24 hours.
NSW reported zero new local cases in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday, but seven in hotel quarantine. However, in NSW, two new cases have been detected overnight. These will be counted in tomorrow’s figures. Yes, it is confusing.
To follow updates in Australia, see the work of my indefatigable colleague Calla Wahlquist here:
Mainland China reported 33 new Covid-19 cases on 3 January, up from 24 cases a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Monday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement 20 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.
The commission also reported 13 new locally transmitted cases: six in Liaoning province, four in Hebei province, two in Beijing and one in Heilongjiang province.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 40 from eight cases a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,150, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, said in an emailed statement that 43 staffers in the emergency department tested positive between 27 December and 1 January.
“We will ensure that every affected staff member receives the care and support they need,” the statement said.
The hospital is investigating whether an inflatable costume worn by one of the infected staff members may have contributed to the spread of of the virus.
“Any exposure, if it occurred, would have been completely innocent, and quite accidental, as the individual had no Covid symptoms and only sought to lift the spirits of those around them during what is a very stressful time,” the hospital said in the statement.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
My name is Ben Doherty and I’ll be bringing you the latest updates from around the world for the next few hours. Correspondence and comments always welcome, you can reach me at [email protected] or on twitter @BenDohertyCorro.
The US has passed 350,000 coronavirus deaths – the highest toll in the world, amid several days of more than 2,500 deaths per day. The US also confirmed nearly 300,000 new cases in 24 hours on 2 January (the most recent available toll), according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Meanwhile India authorised two Covid-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country.
The country’s drugs regulator gave emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.
Here are the key recent developments:
- Coronavirus deaths in the UK have passed 75,000, with 54,990 new cases reported on Sunday as well as 454 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
- The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has urged Boris Johnson to bring in new national Covid restrictions in England within the next 24 hours, rather than hint that he will do so soon.
- A number of local councils in England have asked the government to allow primary schools to remain shut ahead of the first day of term tomorrow, including Southampton city council and Cumbria county council, both of which have said they support schools in prioritising education for children of key workers and vulnerable children in light of staffing shortages.
- Ireland has reported a further 4,962 cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of cases past 100,000. Sunday’s figure breaks the previous day’s record of 3,394 cases – itself almost double the highest number of cases previously recorded in 24 hours.
- The new variant of the coronavirus, first spotted in the UK, has been detected in Greece, it was reported this evening. Five Greeks and a Briton who tested positive for the virus upon arrival from the UK were found to have been infected with the new strain according to Skai radio.
- France has recorded 12,489 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, up from the 3,466 reported a day earlier, according to the country’s health ministry.
- Kuwait’s civil aviation authority has suspended direct commercial flights to and from the UK, according to a tweet published a few minutes ago.
- Egypt has said it had opened an investigation into the deaths of four Covid-19 patients in an intensive care unit allegedly due to lack of oxygen, which caused a public outcry.
- Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has approved the import of 2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, although the jab is not yet approved for use in the country.