Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Wednesday, January 13

The slow vaccine rollout is yet to have an impact on the COVID-19 pandemic, with confirmed infections and deaths still rising quicker than ever before. 

Here's the latest from around the world overnight. 

Europe

Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel has told lawmakers in her conservative party that she expects a lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus to last until the start of April, top-selling Bild daily cited participants at the meeting as saying.

"If we don't manage to stop this British virus, then we will have 10 times the number of cases by Easter."

On Tuesday, Germany reported 12,802 new coronavirus cases. The COVID-19 death toll rose by 891, bringing the overall total of deaths to 41,577.

Italy

Italy reported 616 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, up from 448 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 14,242 from 12,532.

United Kingdom

Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Waitrose will not let shoppers into their stores if they are not wearing a face covering, the British supermarket groups said on Tuesday, joining rivals Sainsbury's and Morrisons which made the policy change a day earlier.

With COVID-19 infection numbers rising sharply, the UK government has expressed concern about the spread of the virus in supermarkets, with some people breaching rules by not wearing masks while shopping.

Britain reported 1243 new deaths within 28 days of positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday, making it one of the most deadly days in the country's battle against the virus, and another 45,533 cases.

British naturalist David Attenborough, 94, has received a vaccination against COVID-19, his spokesman said on Tuesday, the latest well-known British figure to have received a shot as a mass inoculation programme is rolled out.

David Attenborough.
David Attenborough. Photo credit: File

Austria

Austria said on Tuesday it has identified a new cluster of 17 COVID-19 cases, a mainly British group on a ski teacher training course, despite the country being on lockdown and having banned flights from Britain over fears of a new coronavirus variant.

The fact such a training course was allowed to happen despite lockdown restrictions, which include closing schools to all but daycare, stunned many Austrians.

Poland

Polish retailers are considering suing the state over coronavirus restrictions, arguing the rules unfairly discriminate against clothing and other shops.

Russia

A Russian woman who was admitted to hospital heavily pregnant and with what doctors said were potentially fatal levels of COVID-19 lung damage was reunited with her newborn baby after spending 51 days on a ventilator and giving birth by C-section.

Sweden

Sweden has registered 17,395 new coronavirus cases since Friday, taking the total above 500,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, as hospitals struggled to cope with a rampant second wave of the virus, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday.

More people are being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals in Sweden now than at any time during the pandemic. 

The country of 10 million inhabitants has registered 234 new deaths since Friday, taking the total to 9667. 

Americas

United States

US airlines carried 61 percent fewer passengers in November over the same month in 2019 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to discourage air travel, the Transportation Department said Tuesday.

A third Democratic US lawmaker announced a positive test for COVID-19 after being locked down for hours with other colleagues, including Republicans who did not wear face masks, to avoid the mob that attacked the US Capitol.

The Trump administration plans to release COVID-19 vaccine doses it has been holding back for second shots and will urge states to offer them to all Americans over age 65.

Canada 

Canada has ordered an additional 20 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday after provinces complained about inadequate supplies.

Asia-Pacific

China

The Chinese city of Langfang near Beijing went into lockdown on Tuesday as new coronavirus infections raised worries about a second wave in a country that has mostly contained COVID-19.

The National Health Commission reported 55 new cases on Tuesday, down from 103 on Monday. Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, accounted for 40 of the 42 locally transmitted infections.

Indonesia

Indonesia starts a mass coronavirus vaccination campaign on Wednesday, with President Joko Widodo to receive the first shot of an ambitious drive launched amid record deaths from one of Asia's most stubborn epidemics.

Malaysia

Malaysia on Tuesday reported 3,309 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, as the country imposed a nationwide state of emergency.

Malaysia's palace said the king had declared the emergency as COVID-19 infections had reached "a critical stage".

Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he is considering extending a state of emergency further beyond Tokyo to include Aichi prefecture.

Daily cases hit a high of 7882 last Friday, bringing the overall tally to nearly 300,000, public broadcaster NHK said.

Men wearing traditional loin clothes and women dressed in white robes clapped and chanted before going into an ice water bath during a Shinto ritual at a Tokyo shrine on Sunday to purify the soul and pray for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

India

Indian airlines started delivering batches of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide on Tuesday, preparing for the launch of a campaign to offer shots to 1.3 billion people, in what officials call the world's biggest vaccination drive.

On Tuesday India added 12,584 cases, for its lowest daily increase in several months, while the death toll exceeds 151,000.

Middle East and Africa

Israel

Israel may include children over the age of 12 in groups receiving COVID-19 vaccines within the next two months if research shows this is safe, a top health official said on Tuesday.

Vaccinating at a world-record pace, Israel says it aims to have administered one or both shots to 5 million of its 9 million citizens, and reopen the economy, by mid-March.

Elderly Israelis and adults with medical conditions or jobs in critical high-risk sectors have been given priority. But with Israeli officials anticipating more regular vaccine shipments, the eligibility categories have been expanded.

Malawi

Two senior Malawian cabinet ministers and two other senior political figures died on Tuesday from COVID-19.

Vaccine

Misinformation battle

The Google News Initiative on Tuesday launched a global open fund to fight misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, worth up to US$3 million.

The "COVID-19 Vaccine Counter Misinformation Open Fund" aims to support journalistic efforts to effectively fact-check misinformation about the COVID-19 immunisation process, the initiative belonging to Alphabet's Google said in a blog post.

"While the COVID-19 infodemic has been global in nature, misinformation has also been used to target specific populations," it added.

"Some of the available research also suggests that the audiences coming across misinformation and those seeking fact checks don't necessarily overlap."

Sinovac

A coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac showed "general efficacy" of 50.4 percent in a late-stage trial in Brazil, the company's local partners said on Tuesday, revealing a more modest figure after pressure for more transparency.