China reports 6 new cases vs 10 a day earlier
Mainland China reported six new Covid-19 cases on February 27, down from 10 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Sunday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement all of the new cases were imported infections. Six new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, were reported, compared with eight the day before.
Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China stand at 89,893, while the death toll remains 4,636, according to the statement.
US authorises Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine
The US government on Saturday authorised Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, enabling millions more Americans to be vaccinated in the coming weeks and setting it up for additional approvals around the world.
The US Food and Drug Administration announced the emergency use authorisation for adults aged 18 and older following Friday's unanimous endorsement by the agency's panel of outside experts. Shipments are expected to begin on Sunday or Monday.
Breaking News: The FDA authorized Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, the first that requires only a single shot. Distribution is expected to begin soon. https://t.co/d8P6Jfi3sM— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 27, 2021
US President Joe Biden hailed the move but cautioned Americans against celebrating too soon. "Things are still likely to get worse again as new variants spread," he said in a statement, urging people to continue washing their hands, wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable," he said.
In J&J's 44,000-person global trial, the vaccine was found to be 66% effective at preventing moderate-to-severe Covid-19 four weeks after inoculation, and 100% effective in preventing hospitalisation and death due to the virus.
There were very few serious side effects reported in the trial, which also offered some preliminary evidence that the vaccine reduced asymptomatic infections.
However, more study is expected, and the FDA on Sunday dismissed the idea that evidence proved the vaccine prevented transmission between people and added there was no data to determine how long the vaccine's protection lasted.
New Zealand's Auckland starts second lockdown in month
Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city, woke up on Sunday morning to a second lockdown in a month as health authorities try to rein in a coronavirus cluster of the more contagious UK variant.
The seven-day lockdown, announced late Saturday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, follows a three-day stay-at-home order in mid-February after a local emergence of the UK variant of the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Genomic sequencing of a new case recorded on Saturday, which prompted the lockdown, was linked to the existing cluster, health authorities said on Sunday, bringing it to 13 cases.
UK’s Sunak to provide $7 billion of grants to pandemic hit businesses in budget
British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce $7 billion (5 billion pounds) of additional grants to help businesses hit hard by pandemic lockdowns in his budget statement next week, the government said on Saturday.
Just in: The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. https://t.co/Mu7dnN9qWz— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 27, 2021
Shops, bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants, gyms and hair salons would be among nearly 700,000 companies eligible for new direct cash grants of up 18,000 pounds.
The government said the funding takes the total spent on direct grants to businesses during the crisis to 25 billion pounds.
Encouraged by the rapid roll-out of vaccines, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a route out of lockdown for England.
However, some businesses will need to remain shuttered until the summer.
Local authorities in England will also get an extra 425 million pounds to distribute grants to businesses not eligible for the restart grants, while the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive 794 million pounds of extra funding.
The government has already racked up more than 280 billion pounds in coronavirus spending and tax cuts, pushing Britain's borrowing to its highest level since World War Two.
Brazil registers over 1,300 deaths for fifth straight day
Brazil registered 1,386 Covid-19 deaths on Saturday and 61,602 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.
The South American country has suffered an enduring second wave since November, and infection rates have not begun to fall. Saturday was the fifth consecutive day Brazil registered over 1,300 deaths and 60,000 cases due to the coronavirus.
The nation has now registered 10,517,232 total confirmed cases and 254,221 deaths due to the virus.
Vatican Iraq envoy tests positive for Covid-19
The Vatican ambassador to Iraq, the point man for Pope Francis' trip to the country next week, has tested positive for Covid-19 but the visit will go ahead, he said on Saturday.
Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, who has been the key person planning the March 5-8 trip, told Reuters that he as well as several other staff at the nunciature (embassy) were in self-isolation.
"This is not going to influence the pope's program, which is going on as planned," Leskovar said.
Leskovar, who is Slovenian and whose title is Apostolic Nuncio, said he had been experiencing only light symptoms so far.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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