Coronavirus: Latest Global Developments

Paris, Jan 8 (AFP/APP): Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

Record deaths in Britain

Britain reports a record 1,325 coronavirus deaths over a 24-hour period, as a surge in cases piles pressure on overstretched health services, forcing London to declare a major incident.

Vaccine queue call

The World Health Organization urges rich countries to stop making bilateral deals for the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines. It says 42 countries have started their vaccination programme. of which 36 are high-income nations and six middle-income.

Vaccine nixes variants

German company BioNTech says a preliminary study shows its vaccine works against strains uncovered in Britain and South Africa.

Chinese cities sealed off

China seals off two cities south of Beijing, cutting transport links and banning millions of residents from leaving, as authorities move to stem the country’s largest outbreak in six months.

Millions more jabs

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen says the EU has struck a deal to double its supply of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to a total of 600 million doses.

Weeks still for EU OK

EU regulators say they could approve the cheaper Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January as Britain greenlights the Moderna shot. Its government has been criticised for not ordering enough of the US vaccine.

Nearly 1.9 million dead

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,899,396 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally on Friday based on official sources. The US is the worst-affected country with 365,321 deaths, followed by Brazil with 200,498, India with 150,570 and Mexico with 131,031. The number of deaths globally is broadly under-estimated. The toll is calculated from daily figures published by national health authorities and does not include later revisions by statistics agencies.

US job losses

The US economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, according to the US Labor Department which said the losses reflect the recent spike in Covid-19 infections.

Iran bans US, British vaccines

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bans the import of American and British-produced vaccines against Covid-19, saying they are “completely untrustworthy”.

Canada airline makes cuts

Westjet, Canada’s second largest airline, announces temporary layoffs of as many as 1,000 staff and reduction of its capacity by almost one-third “in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions.”

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