World Covid-19 updates: Warnings of infection at US’ Super Bowl gatherings, Philippines prosecutes people over fake tests
|Illustrative photo: Anadolu Agency.|
China reports no new local Covid-19 infection for first time in nearly two months
China reported no new locally transmitted mainland Covid-19 case for the first time in nearly two months, official data showed on Monday, adding to signs that it has managed to stamp out the latest wave of the disease. The total number of Covid-19 cases rose slightly to 14 on Feb. 7 from 12 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement, but all were imported infections from overseas. Seven of the cases were in Shanghai, the rest in the southeastern Guangdong province.
India becomes third topmost in terms of Covid-19 vaccine doses
With 12,059 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India has reported a total of 1,08,26,363 cases so far. 11,805 discharges and 78 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours taking the total discharges and death toll to 1,05,22,601 and 1,54,996 respectively.
India has become the third topmost country in the world in terms of the number of COVID19 vaccine doses administered. Only the United States and the United Kingdom remain ahead of India.
South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccinations over variant data
South Africa will put on hold use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in its vaccination programme, after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild-to-moderate infection caused by the country’s dominant coronavirus variant, Reuter reported.
Prior to widespread circulation of the more contagious variant, the vaccine was showing efficacy of around 75%, researchers said.
In a later analysis based mostly on infections by the new variant, there was only a 22% lower risk of developing mild-to-moderate COVID-19 versus those given a placebo. Although researchers said the figure was not statistically significant, due to trial design, it is well below the benchmark of at least 50% regulators have set for vaccines to be considered effective against the virus.
The study did not assess whether the vaccine helped prevent severe COVID-19 because it involved mostly relatively young adults not considered to be at high risk for serious illness.
France begins distributing AstraZeneca COVID vaccine amid UK variant warning
France began distributing the AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday as epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet warned the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 -- first identified in the UK - could be dominant in the country by March.
"Between January 7-8, [the B.1.1.7 Variant] accounted for 3.3 per cent of new contaminations; on January 27, it was 14 per cent according to preliminary results from the second flash study," Fontanet, who is also a member of the Scientific Council advising the French government on the pandemic, said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche quoted by CNN.
"This progression confirms it is 50 to 60 per cent more transmissible than the 2020 virus. If we continue on this trajectory, with an R number of 1.5 for the English variant, we will reach 30-35 per cent by mid-February and the number of hospital admissions will be around 2,000 a day. This variant will become dominant around March 1," he added.
CNN reported that the warning comes after an announcement by the French Ministry of Health on Saturday that the first shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been delivered to healthcare professionals.
Citing a statement, the Ministry said the first doses will be given to healthcare staff under the age of 65. The first shipment concerns 273,600 doses, the statement read. The second shipment of 304,800 doses will take place "next week."
Warnings of possible Covid-19 infection as people gather at Super Bowl
Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are decreasing across much of the United States, but health experts warned that could change if fans gathered Sunday to watch the Super Bowl with people from outside their households.
"When people get together in private residences in close proximity, that is one of the single most effective ways to spread this disease," Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said. "We can't afford to have the disease spread now, with these mutations and these variants."
|Fans social distance as they watch a stage show before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP)|
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "while the instinct may be to celebrate together, we cannot get cocky."
"We must continue doing the things we know are effective at taming the virus: wear a mask, adhere to social distancing, and avoid gatherings," he said. "We can beat this thing, but we must stay smart."
That's especially true after a new study found the highly contagious B.1.1.7 strain, first detected in the United Kingdom, is now spreading rapidly in the US.
While the B.1.1.7 strain still makes up a relatively small portion of known US cases, it's doubling about every 10 days, researchers said.
US labs are still sequencing only a small portion of coronavirus samples, the researchers said, so it's not clear what variants are circulating in the country.
At least 699 cases of the coronavirus variants first identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil had been reported in the US as of Sunday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of them, 690, were the B.1.1.7 variant, which has so far been identified in 33 states.
Philippines to prosecute people over fake tests
Philippine authorities on Monday called on the country’s police to arrest and prosecute people found with fake Covid-19 test results. The Department of the Interior and Local Government said violators would be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law” after authorities reported an increasing incidence of false reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests, Financial Times reported.
“The DILG directs the [Philippine National Police] to arrest and prosecute individuals who are forging their RT-PCR tests,” the department said in a statement. On February 3, the country’s Department of Tourism confirmed that three of six tourists who used false test papers to enter the resort island of Boracay subsequently tested positive. A negative RT-PCR test result no more than 72 hours before travel remains a requirement for a tourist to visit Boracay, one of the country’s most popular destinations.
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