Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Friday, January 15

It's been another grim day for the world, with several countries posting their worst daily death tolls yet. 

Unless there's some kind of miracle, the confirmed death toll is now only one day away from passing 2 million. More than 93 million infections have been confirmed, likely to be far short of the true figure. 

One tracker recorded more than 16,000 deaths yesterday - the worst so far.

Here's the latest from around the world overnight.

Americas

United States

More than 10 million Americans had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the year-old pandemic roared on unchecked.

The nation set a new record for coronavirus deaths in one day, with 4336 fatalities on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally. Nationwide more than 380,000 people have died of COVID-19. 

The number of Americans filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits surged last week, confirming a weakening in labor market conditions as a worsening COVID-19 pandemic disrupts operations at restaurants and other businesses.

US Representative Andriano Espaillat on Thursday said he had tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fourth member of Congress to announce they had contracted the coronavirus following a mob attack on the US Capitol last week.

Democrats have blamed Republicans for not wearing masks while sheltering in secure areas on January 6, as violent supporters of Republican President Donald Trump stormed the building.

Mexico

Mexico reported 15,873 new confirmed cases and 1235 more fatalities on Wednesday.

Europe

United Kingdom

Britain will ban arrivals from Brazil, other South American states and Portugal due to concerns over a new coronavirus variant, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Thursday. On Sunday, Japan said the variant had been found in four travellers from Brazil's Amazonas state. It shares some characteristics with variants in Britain and South Africa which are believed to be more transmissible than normal.

Germany

Germany recorded a new record number of deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, prompting calls for an even tighter lockdown after the country emerged relatively unscathed in 2020.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 25,164 new coronavirus cases and 1244 fatalities, bringing Germany's total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 43,881.

Sweden 

Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy placed it in the global spotlight, reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for a single day on Thursday, taking the total toll above 10,000. The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 351 more deaths since Wednesday, statistics from the Public Health Agency showed, and reported 6580 new coronavirus cases.

Switzerland

Three-quarters of a nursing home's residents and half its workers have been infected with the coronavirus variant first found in Britain, a Swiss regional government said on Thursday.

Nearly 2 million have died so far.
Nearly 2 million have died so far. Photo credit: Getty

Russia

Some Russian regions are proposing to relax COVID-19 restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing and other incentives for Russians who receive the homegrown vaccine.

Russia, which has the world's fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases, began large-scale inoculations with its Sputnik V vaccine last month and President Vladimir Putin has said the programme should be made available to all Russians next week.

Vatican

Both Pope Francis and ex Pope Benedict have received the first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus, the Vatican said on Thursday. Both men are vulnerable to contracting the virus because of their age. Francis is perhaps more at risk because part of one of his lungs was removed following an illness when he was a young man in his native Argentina.

Italy

Italian police seized documents from the health ministry in Rome on Thursday as part of an investigation into the handling of the initial phase of its coronavirus epidemic, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Another 522 Italians died on Thursday.

Asia-Pacific

China

China has reported 138 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases - 124 locally transmitted and 14 imported cases.

An international expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in central China's Wuhan on Thursday to carry out work to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan received his COVID-19 vaccine in front of TV cameras on Thursday. So far 23,000 Turks have lost their lives to the disease. 

Japan

The once-delayed Tokyo Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned, a Japanese  minister said.

Middle East and Africa

The African Union secured 270 million doses for the continent where a second wave is infecting about 30,000 people a day.

Medical developments

People who have had COVID-19 are highly likely to have immunity to it for at least five months, but there is evidence that those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus, a study of British healthcare workers has found.

People who contracted the disease in the first wave of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 may now be vulnerable to catching it again.

They also warned that people with so-called natural immunity - acquired through having had the infection - may still be able carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat and could unwittingly pass it on.

Reuters / Newshub.