South Korea daily virus cases under 500 for first time since record highs in December
South Korea reported fewer than 500 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the first time since record high daily case numbers over the Christmas holiday period, Reuters reports. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 451 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, driven by a lull in testing as well as an apparent easing in infections.
The country reported a record 1,241 cases in one day during the Christmas holiday, the peak of the country’s largest wave of infections yet.
South Korea stopped short of a complete lockdown or stay-at-home order, but has imposed unprecedented restrictions for weeks, including banning private gatherings of more than four people.In the capital Seoul and surrounding areas a number of high-risk businesses such as bars and gyms were ordered to close and coffee shops can only offer takeaway service.The country employs aggressive tracing and testing which has allowed it to blunt successive waves of infections, though the latest surge threatens to overwhelm that system.
Overall South Korea has reported a total of 69,114 cases, with 1,140 deaths.
Mexican president's spokesman tests positive for coronavirus
The spokesman for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the same day the country detected a case of a Covid-19 variant that is spreading in the United Kingdom, AP reports.
Spokesman Jesús Ramírez Cuevas wrote on his Twitter account, “I am in good health and I will be working from home.” There was no word on whether the president had been tested:
Ramírez Cuevas is close to López Obrador, often handing him documents or going on trips with the president.
López Obrador is 67 and has high blood pressure, but almost never wears a mask.
On Sunday, López Obrador toured the Pacific coast seaport of Manzanillo and gave a speech, as usual without a mask on.
Also on Sunday, health authorities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas detected a case of the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7. That strain has also been found in the United States, Canada, Italy, India and the United Arab Emirates.Scientists in the U.K. have said the variant may be more contagious than previously identified strains.
The Tamaulipas state health department said the case was detected in a 56-year-old man who arrived on 29 December at an airport in the border city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, aboard a flight from Mexico City. No one else on the flight tested positive.
Global coronavirus cases pass 90m
New York opens mass vaccination sites
Brooklyn Army Terminal is one of two mass vaccination locations that opened in New York City on Sunday. The second one is located at Bathgate Contract Postal Station in the borough of the Bronx.
Reuters: The mass sites were open for part of the day on Sunday before they start operating round the clock, seven days a week on Monday as part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to set up 250 vaccination locations to meet the ambitious goal of inoculating 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month.
Three other smaller sites also opened on Sunday in Brooklyn, the Bronx and in Queens.
In New York, like in much of the United States, efforts to get the two vaccines that have so far been authorised into the arms of Americans have moved slower than hoped due to a slew of issues.
They included strict rules controlling who should get inoculated first, with some healthcare workers at the front of the line declining the shots, and a lack of planning or direction on the federal level.
As of early Sunday, New York City had administered 203,181 doses of the vaccines to its residents out of more than 524,000 doses that have been delivered, data from the city’s health department showed.On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who previously said all healthcare workers should be inoculated before the state moved on to other categories, changed course, saying people aged 75 and over could receive the shot starting on Monday.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff should have priority for the limited supply of vaccines. The agency softened that guidance on Friday, recommending that states move to those next on the list - people over age 75 and so called “essential” workers - to accelerate lagging vaccination programs.
Hello and welcome to our live coronavirus coverage with me, Helen Sullivan.
I’ll be bringing you the latest good and bad pandemic developments worldwide for the next few hours.
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Two mass vaccination locations opened in New York City on Sunday. The mass sites were open for part of the day on Sunday before they start operating round the clock, seven days a week on Monday as part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to set up 250 vaccination locations to meet the ambitious goal of inoculating 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month.
Three other smaller sites also opened on Sunday.
Meanwhile the global coronavirus case total has come another sad milestone closer to a staggering 100m, with the total passing 90m on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. The death toll stands at 1,932,266.
Here are the other key recent developments:
- US House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone testing positive for Covid-19 during the Capitol siege by a violent mob loyal to Donald Trump. The Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers Sunday of the virus exposure and urged them to be tested.
- A new coronavirus variant of coronavirus has been detected in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state, Japan’s health ministry has said, in the latest recorded instance of the virus evolving.
- Seven people in Marseilles, southern France, have tested positive for the new, more infectious variant of Covid-19 first found in Britain, local authorities have announced.
- Russia has detected its first case of the more infectious coronavirus variant found in England, in a Russian who returned from Britain and tested positive late last month.
- Northern Ireland’s health minister said Covid-19 was placing the healthcare system under pressure “like never before,” as one hospital appealed on social media for the immediate help of all off-duty healthworkers nearby.
- One in five people in England may have had coronavirus, new modelling suggests, equivalent to 12.4 million people, rising to almost one in two in some areas.