WHO lists Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use


Novel coronavirus has infected over 83.7 million people globally and has claimed more than 1.8 million lives.

Virus variant found in Florida

A more infectious variant of Covid-19 that has swept through the United Kingdom has been identified in Florida, state health officials said, marking the third known US state to identify such a case.

The Florida Department of Health said the case involved a male in his 20s in Martin County with no history of travel. Two other cases involving the UK variant have been identified in Colorado and California.

“The Department is working with the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on this investigation,” it tweeted.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 had been identified in Southern California.

A day earlier, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the variant had been identified there, while another state health official said a second possible case was being investigated.

Mexico’s official death toll rises to 125,807

Mexico registered 12,159 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 910 additional fatalities on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,426,094 infections and 125,807 deaths, according to the health ministry’s official count.

The government says the real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the confirmed figures.

Daily cases top 1,000 as South Korea marks subdued New Year

South Korea reported 1,029 new coronavirus cases on Friday amid subdued New Year’s celebrations.

The tally was up from 967 the day before, and brought total cases to 61,769, with 917 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

After initial success in subduing earlier waves of infections, South Korea has struggled to reduce this latest and largest surge, with daily cases hovering around 1,000 for weeks.

Amid the strictest social distancing restrictions yet, authorities shut down the beaches on the country’s east coast where people traditionally gathered to watch the first sunrise of the New Year.

In Seoul, the Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony was cancelled for the first time since 1953, though it was streamed on the city’s website.

China reports 19 new cases vs 25 a day earlier

China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases on December 31, down from 25 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that 10 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.

The nine locally transmitted cases came from the northeastern province of Liaoning and the capital city of Beijing.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 19 from eight a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,071, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Chad locks down capital for first time as cases rise

Chad has locked down its capital N’djamena for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and has declared a dusk to dawn curfew due to a rise in infections, a decree signed by President Idriss Deby showed on Friday.

The West African nation has until now reported a relatively low number of cases compared with other countries in the region, with 2,113 Covid-19 cases since March, and 104 deaths.

New daily cases fell into the single digits in early December, according to Reuters data. It has risen to double digits in recent days, mostly in the capital, including 36 on Friday, health ministry data showed.

The decree said the lockdown that starts on New Year’s Day will last for a week, and could be extended. The city’s borders will close. Chad’s airspace will also close, allowing only cargo flights.

Schools, universities, places of worship, bars, restaurants and non-essential public services will shut down.

Gatherings of over 10 people are banned.

Brazil reports more than 1,000 deaths for third straight day

Brazil reported 56,773 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 1,074 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said on Thursday.

It was the third day in a row with over 1,000 deaths in a resurgence of the pandemic in the South American country.

Brazil has registered 7,675,973 cases since the pandemic began in March, while the official death toll has risen to 194,949, according to ministry data, in the world’s third worst outbreak outside the United States and India.

Browns cancel practice after positive Covid-19 tests

The Cleveland Browns’ preparations for their pivotal regular-season finale took another hit as the team said they would not practice on Thursday after two more players tested positive for Covid-19.

The Browns, who can clinch their first playoff berth in 17 years with a win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, said they would instead work remotely for the rest of the day and hope to reopen on Friday.

“In light of today’s positive test results and after consulting with the NFL, we’ve decided to keep our facility closed for the day,” the Browns said in a statement.

“As we’ve previously stated, the health and well-being of our players, coaches and staff is our highest priority and this decision was made with that in-mind.”

Cleveland had to close their facility on Wednesday after a coach and practice squad player tested positive for the virus but the team were cleared to reopen the site hours later after contract tracing was completed.

Canada to require air travellers to test negative for Covid-19

Canada will require air travellers aged 5 and up to test negative for Covid-19 before arrival, starting January 7, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Thursday, as the country tightens travel restrictions amid soaring cases of the coronavirus.

Passengers will need to have a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to their scheduled departure to Canada, the country said on Wednesday, after social media images of maskless Canadian tourists abroad prompted calls for stricter measures to curb the virus.

Documentation showing a negative result must be shown to the airline before boarding a flight to Canada, Garneau said in a statement that offers additional details about the requirement, like the starting date.

Pre-departure testing will not eliminate a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals, in a blow to Canada’s battered airlines, which had been pushing for a negative result to be accepted as an alternative to such restrictions.

“The announcement only addresses one element of the path forward: the utilisation of testing to help further protect public health,” said Mike McNaney, president of National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents large carriers like Air Canada.

“We strongly believe it must also be utilised in conjunction with measures to reduce quarantine levels,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new measures add to Canada’s existing restrictions, which normally deny non-essential foreigners entry and where citizens returning from abroad are required to quarantine.

Canada will also increase surveillance to ensure travellers entering Canada complete their quarantine, Garneau said.

Canada reported on Thursday a total of 572,982 cases of Covid-19, as new cases surged in its most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

WHO emergency Covid-19 vaccine listing aims to lift access in poor countries

The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, in a move seeking to speed access in the developing world.

The United Nations health agency said it will work with regional partners to tell national health authorities about the two-dose shot and its anticipated benefits.

The WHO established its emergency use listing (EUL) process to help poorer countries without their own regulatory resources quickly approve medicines new diseases like Covid-19, which otherwise could lead to delays.

The WHO’s review found Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine met the “must-have” criteria for safety and efficacy benefits outweigh its risks.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to Covid-19 vaccines,” said Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s access to medicines program leader.

“But I want to emphasise the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere.”

US Senator Perdue quarantining after coronavirus contact days before Georgia runoff vote

David Perdue, one of two Republican US senators facing a run-off election next week, is quarantining after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, his campaign said in a statement on Thursday.

Perdue was notified on Thursday he was in “close contact” with someone on his campaign who was infected with the virus, the statement said, adding that Perdue and his wife tested negative.

The quarantine threatens to disrupt the final days of campaigning ahead of the January 5 contest that will determine whether President-elect Joe Biden’s Democrats control both chambers of Congress and can more easily advance his agenda.

Source: https://www.trtworld.com/life/who-lists-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-emergency-use-latest-updates-42863

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