International update: US Covid deaths exceed 400,000 – global infections pass 96.1 million

20 January 2021 (Last Updated January 20th, 2021 09:14)

20 January

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,057,743 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 96.1 million world wide.

The Covid pandemic has exposed how underfunded and powerless the World Health Organization is to carry out the tasks the world expects of it, an independent expert panel has said.

US: As the country prepares to inaugurate a new president, the US Covid-19 coronavirus death toll makes grim reading as it now exceeds 400,000. Meanwhile, US infections have passed 24.2 million, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The number of Californians hospitalized with Covid-19 is starting to drop after reaching record levels and overwhelming health-care systems. The statewide total has fallen 8.5% in the last 14 days to 20,262, Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, said Tuesday. Officials had feared the total could top 25,000.

Mexico: Mexico’s health ministry reported 1,584 deaths on Tuesday, the highest increase other than 5 October when authorities adjusted the way they count fatalities caused by the virus. Infections in the country rose by 18,894 to 1,668,396.

UK: The UK reported 1,610 new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday, the most in a single day. A further 33,355 cases were reported, lower than the seven-day rolling average of 44,997. The average number of new cases has been steadily falling since early January, although it remains significantly higher as a more infectious strain spreads through the country.

Portugal: Portugal on Tuesday reported the biggest daily increase in deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the outbreak. There were 218 fatalities in a day, more than the previous record of 167 on Monday, taking the total to 9,246 deaths. The government reported 10,455 new confirmed infections in a day.

Vaccine news

US: The US distributed another 5.5 million Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, bringing the total to about 35.8 million, according to a statement from Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. President-elect Joe Biden, who is to be inaugurated on Wednesday, has pledged to deliver 100 million doses in his first 100 days.

The administration of President-elect Joe Biden plans to join the Covax vaccine initiative that US President Donald Trump declined to take part in, Antony Blinken, nominee to be secretary of state, told lawmakers Tuesday at his confirmation hearing. “The combination of rejoining, taking part in Covax and looking at how we can help make sure the vaccine is equitably distributed is something we’re going to take on,” Blinken said. He added that he sees global risks rising as the pandemic continues to spread.

New York City will have to close vaccination sites after Thursday if it doesn’t get a major resupply, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city wants to vaccinate 300,000 people this week but has only about 92,000 doses, de Blasio said in a Tuesday briefing. More than 450,000 doses have been in administered in the city.

Denmark: Denmark has announced it will include homeless people among those given priority for Covid-19 vaccines. According to social services, Denmark has about 6,500 homeless people, and the decision follows calls from charities and officials who have pointed to an increased risk of transmission among the homeless. It also announced it would extend lockdown measures.

Brazil: The Amazonian city of Manaus in Brazil has begun administering Covid vaccines as the rainforest’s biggest city’s health system struggles desperately amid an increase in infections and dwindling oxygen supplies.

Thailand: Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned that his government would prosecute anyone who shares false information about coronavirus vaccines in social or mass media. It came after the government was accused of acting too slowly to inoculate the country’s population and criticised the country’s coronavirus vaccine strategy as being too reliant on a company owned by the Thai king.

Japan: The Japanese government aims to provide Covid-19 vaccines to non-priority residents as soon as May, Yomiuri reported. The health ministry plans to start inoculating medical workers from the end of February, and aims to vaccinate about 50 million people in priority tiers by the end of April. Most of the population should be vaccinated by around July.

UK: There are now more than 4.26 million people who have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose in the UK.

India: India will begin shipping coronavirus vaccines to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Jan. 20, the Indian foreign ministry said Tuesday. India is waiting for regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius to send out vaccines, it said.

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: The embattled Dutch government has said it needs to strengthen lockdown measures “as soon as possible” to rein in the spread of the coronavirus amid fears about more transmissible variants. Health minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to parliament that the government would announce extra measures tomorrow afternoon.

Thailand: Thailand’s capital and some other provinces are considering relaxing restrictions on businesses and travel in coming weeks amid a decline in new coronavirus cases in certain regions. Chiang Mai, the most-populous province in northern Thailand, lifted a ban on alcohol in restaurants from Wednesday, while Bangkok Metropolitan Authority is set to meet on Thursday to consider reopening businesses including massage parlors and gyms.

China: Beijing imposed a lockdown of 1.7 million people in part of the Chinese capital as officials race to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence in the country’s northern region from seeping into the city. Daxing district in southern Beijing, where its new airport is located, has been sealed off from the rest of the country after six infections were found there. The total number of cases in Beijing stands at 15, while over a thousand infections have been found nationwide since early January, mostly in China’s vast rural northern provinces.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed to extend and tighten Germany’s coronavirus restrictions to check the stubborn spread of the disease. She also warned of possible border controls without coordinated efforts to guard against risks posed by new strains.

Singapore: Singapore Airlines Ltd. set up pre-flight coronavirus tests for passengers through its booking platforms as part of efforts to revive travel demand. People flying from Singapore as well as those traveling from Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia can take tests at clinics and get results within 36 hours. If negative, they can be used for travel.