Australia Wants to Start Vaccination Drive Amid Zero Cases

Published January 24th, 2021 - 08:33 GMT
A policeman keeps watch as tennis players, coaches and officials arrive at a hotel in Melbourne on January 15, 2021, before quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. William WEST / AFP
A policeman keeps watch as tennis players, coaches and officials arrive at a hotel in Melbourne on January 15, 2021, before quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. William WEST / AFP
The novel coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 99 million people around the world, with over 2.1 million fatalities. Here are updates for January 24:

Australia has eye on vaccination drive 

Australia recorded no new local coronavirus cases, maintaining a recent run of success in keeping the virus at bay, but nevertheless is keen to press on with its vaccination campaign from next month, government officials said.

Australia's first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is due to arrive in February and its campaign will then begin with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the front of the queue.

"We have the virus under control here in Australia but we want to roll out the vaccine," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a news conference.

The campaign was on track despite the low transmission numbers and shortage of supply of the Pfizer vaccine seen in some other countries, he said.

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 12,257 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 12,257 to 2,134,936, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 349 to 51,870, the tally showed. 

Thailand reports 198 new virus cases and one more death

Thailand reported 198 new virus cases, taking its total number of confirmed infections to 13,500.

Seven of the new infections were imported, a Covid-19 taskforce told a briefing. One additional virus-related death was recorded, bringing total fatalities to 73 since the outbreak began last year. 

Tears and fears as India's huge virus vaccine push falters

India's huge coronavirus vaccination drive is behind schedule, with a third of recipients not showing up for appointments because of safety fears, technical glitches and a belief that the pandemic is ending.

After one week, India has vaccinated 1.4 million people, or 200,000 people per day. It had initially hoped to process 300,000 per day before ramping up the rollout and inoculating 300 million by July.

New virus clusters hit China's north provinces

A Chinese city has brought 2,600 temporary treatment rooms online as the country’s north battles new clusters of the virus.

The single-occupancy rooms in the city of Nangong in Hebei province just outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heaters, toilets, showers and other amenities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Special attention has been paid to Hebei because of its proximity to the capital and the province has locked down large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which encompasses Nangong, have been largely sealed off from the rest of the country. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been enforced.

First person in Brazil gets AstraZeneca vaccine

Health workers in Rio de Janeiro were among the first people to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after Brazil received its first two million doses from the Serum Institute of India.

During a symbolic ceremony at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation headquarters, Estevão Portela, a medic from the National Infectolgy Institute was chosen to be the first person vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

First landing in Sao Paulo, then transferred to another aircraft and flown to Rio de Janeiro, the cargo carrying the vaccines was taken to Brazil's state-run Fiocruz Institute.

New Zealand health officials probe probable community Covid-19 case

New Zealand health officials said they were investigating a probable community coronavirus case, the country's first in months.

New Zealand, one of the most successful developed nations in controlling the spread of the pandemic, last recorded a community coronavirus transmission on November 18, according to information on the Health Ministry website.

"Health officials are currently investigating the case," the health ministry said in a statement.

UK to quarantine visitors from nations with high virus risk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is preparing to force travellers from countries where there is a high risk of Covid-19 to go into quarantine for 10 days after arriving in Britain, the Daily Mail reported.

Travellers from Brazil and South Africa, and neighbouring countries, will be met on arrival and escorted to hotels to quarantine, under plans being discussed by UK ministers, the Daily Mail said. 

Johnson favoured a more targeted approach than making all air passengers go into quarantine, said the report, which added that the quarantine decision would be taken on Monday.

Egypt to start vaccination campaign

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has announced that Egypt would start rolling out a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign the following day with the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab.

"We are starting a vaccination drive tomorrow beginning with healthcare workers followed by those suffering from chronic diseases and later the elderly," Sisi said in brief comments after unveiling several development projects in Port Said.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, received its first batch of the Sinopharm vaccines in December.

The company says its vaccine is 79 percent eff ective against the novel coronavirus.

New warning on vaccine supplies sparks EU concern over supply

A warning from AstraZeneca that initial supplies of its Covid vaccinations to Europe will be lower than expected has sparked fresh concern over the rollout of inoculations, forcing some countries to plan for a sharp drop in deliveries.

Friday's announcement by the British pharmaceutical firm followed another last week by Pfizer, which said it would delay shipments of its vaccine for up to a month due to works at its key plant in Belgium.

The companies' warnings come amid deepening concern over new Covid-19 variants, particularly one that emerged in Britain and which is believed to be more infectious than the original strain.

Mexico reports more than 20,000 cases

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 20,057 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 1,470 additional fatalities, bringing the country's total to 1,752,347 cases and 149,084 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

Mainland China reports 80 new cases

Mainland China has reported 80 new cases, down from 107 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said.

The National Health Commission, in a statement, said 65 of the new cases were local infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 92 from 99 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 88,991, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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