Coronavirus: Latest from around the world - Sunday, January 31

A sweeping order has been issued requiring Americans to wear a face mask on nearly all forms of public transport as of Monday (local time), as the country's staggering COVID-19 death toll continues to climb.

Meanwhile in Europe, Germany is already ordering a supply of vaccines for 2022, in case further doses are required to keep the population immune to variants of the virus. The UK has recorded a drop in both infections and deaths on Saturday (local time), as the country continues to battle through its stringent lockdown restrictions. 

More than 102 million cases of the virus have been recorded worldwide, with the global death toll sitting above 2.2 million.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a sweeping order late Friday (local time) requiring the use of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation as of Monday, as the country continues to report thousands of daily COVID-19 deaths.

The order requires masks to be worn by all travellers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares and at transportation hubs like airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations and seaports.

The US has now recorded more than 26 million cases of the virus, with 166,595 new infections reported on Friday. The country's official death toll is sitting above 437,000.

Middle East and Africa

Algeria has launched its vaccination campaign a day after receiving its first shipment of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, the government said.

Algeria received 50,000 doses of Sputnik V on Friday, said Djamel Fourar, the head of the Scientific Committee in charge of dealing with the pandemic. The North African country will also receive a shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday, Communication Minister Ammar Belhimer said, without specifying the number of doses.

The country's vaccination campaign will prioritise health workers, people with chronic diseases and the elderly.


Germany is already ordering vaccines for 2022, in case regular or booster doses are required to keep the population immune against variants of COVID-19, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday.

"We are now actually ordering further vaccines for 2022, to have at least some on hand," Spahn said. "Nobody knows if we'll need a booster... we'll order vaccines as a precaution. If we don't need them, good, but if we do then they'll be available."

Meanwhile in Italy, the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has been approved for use by medicines regulator AIFA.

"The arrival of a third vaccine is an important contribution to the ongoing vaccination campaign," AIFA Director General Nicola Magrini said.

On Saturday, the UK reported 23,275 new cases of COVID-19, compared to 29,073 a day earlier, according to government data. It also recorded 1,200 new deaths, compared with 1,245 the day prior.

Health officials in Portugal claim the nation only has seven vacant beds remaining in its COVID-19 intensive care units (ICUs). Health Ministry data showed that out of 850 ICU beds allocated to COVID-19 cases on its mainland, a record 843 beds were now occupied. 


Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to lower-income nations, a government health official said on Saturday, and will launch a vaccination drive next week.

About 6 million doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021 under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year. 

Pakistan also expects to receive 500,000 doses of a vaccine made by China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) in the coming days, and is likely to approve Russia's Sputnik V.

The South Asian nation also expects China to donate a further 1 million doses.

Reuters / Newshub.