The novel coronavirus has infected more than 86 million people globally and claimed over 1.8 million lives.
Mexico reports highest daily death toll since start of pandemic
Mexico’s health ministry reported 11,271 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,065 additional fatalities in the country, bringing the total to 1,466,490 infections and 128,822 deaths.
The latest daily death toll was one of the highest since the start of the pandemic.
The real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the official count, the health ministry has said.
Senegal imposes new state of emergency and curfew
Senegal President Macky Sall announced a new state of emergency in response to record cases of sweeping parts of the West African nation.
Starting Wednesday, a nighttime curfew will be enforced in the regions of Dakar and Thies, which Sall said are home to more than 90% of cases.
Mask-wearing will be mandatory and large gatherings banned.
The new measures come six months after a first state of emergency was lifted in an attempt to bolster an economy hit hard by restrictions on movement during a first wave of the virus.
Senegal has reported 19,964 infections and 428 deaths since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Reuters.
New cases rose by a record 240 on Dec. 26; on Dec. 29, seven deaths were reported, the second highest count yet.
Amnesty calls on Israel to give Palestinians virus vaccine
Amnesty International called on Israel to provide vaccine doses to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, saying the Jewish state was obligated to do so under international law.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, which is home to some 2.8 million Palestinians, has not publicly asked for Israeli assistance in vaccine procurement.
Hamas, who control the Gaza strip, where about two million Palestinians live, are highly unlikely to publicly coordinate with Israel in any vaccination effort.
But UK-based rights group Amnesty said Israel needed to “stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
The PA has said Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be vaccinated through the United Nations-backed COVAX programme.
The Palestinian health ministry said Monday that it expected to receive its first vaccine doses next month through COVAX.
Israel began innoculating its citizens, including Israeli settle rs in the West Bank, on December 19, starting with medical workers and the over 60s, and has so far injected more than a million people.
Three inactive Turkish-made vaccines ready for human trials
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 17 different vaccine candidates are currently being developed in Turkey, and among them, three candidates have applied to the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency to begin human trials.
“Our inactive vaccine that is in human experiment phase is about to start Phase 2. It is expected to start Phase 3 in April.”
Koca added that a Virus-Like Particle vaccine, which is unique in the world, will be tested on humans soon.
He said Turkey’s scientific capacity is competent enough to conduct research and development activities for all vaccine types.
“I believe the scientific and technical background of our country and the ambition and efforts of our scientists will bring us the best vaccines.”
Grammy awards postponed until March
The Grammy awards celebrating music slated for January 31 in Los Angeles have been postponed until March due to Covid-19, which has been rapidly spreading in California.
The Recording Academy behind the gala did not immediately respond to AFP inquiries but updated the events listing on its website, setting the ceremony’s new date as March 21.
The 63rd annual ceremony’s delay comes less than a month before it was set to take place in the shadow of the pandemic, which has dealt devastating blows to the music industry.
The organisation had said the show set for late January would be mostly virtual, but had not released specific plans.
Beyonce, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and rapper Roddy Ricch are the top nominees at the normally star-studded gala.
Comedian Trevor Noah was set to host the 2021 show, and it wasn’t immediately clear if that was still the plan.
Fauci: US could soon give 1 million vaccinations a day
The US could soon be giving at least a million virus vaccinations a day despite the sluggish start, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, even as he warned of a dangerous next few weeks as the virus surges.
The slow pace is frustrating health officials and a desperate public alike, with only about a third of the first supplies shipped to states used as of Tuesday morning, just over three weeks into the vaccination campaign.
“Any time you start a big program, there’s always glitches. I think the glitches have been worked out,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert told The Associated Press.
Vaccinations have already begun speeding up, reaching roughly half a million injections a day, he pointed out.
Now, with the holidays over, “once you get rolling and get some momentum, I think we can achieve 1 million a day or even more,” Fauci said.
He called President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days “a very realistic, important, achievable goal.”
It’s an optimistic prediction considering the logistical hurdles facing states and counties as they struggle to administer rationed vaccine supplies amid rising hospitalisations.
Puerto Rico to reopen beaches, relax curfew
Puerto Rico’s new governor announced Tuesday that he will reopen beaches, marinas and pools, eliminate a Sunday lockdown and shorten a curfew that has been in place since the pandemic began to control the number of cases.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi stressed alcohol will be banned at beaches and other places, and that social distancing is required between people who are not family members, with no large groups allowed to gather.
Meanwhile, the new curfew will run from 11pm to 5am and face masks remain mandatory.
He said the new measures go into effect January 8 and will be in place for 30 days but can be amended any time if there’s a spike in cases.
Chile to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory
Chilean lawmakers presented a bill before Congress that would make vaccinations mandatory as the country’s center-right government pushes to inosculate the majority of its population by mid-year.
The bill would modify the country’s health code, which already requires vaccination against smallpox, whooping cough and other diseases, according to the opposition Christian Democracy party lawmakers who submitted the legislation.
Chile was the first country in South America to begin a COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Andean nation is also among the best positioned in the region for vaccine supply, having struck deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE , and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.