South Africa

COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | Three mutant Covid-19 variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk in Europe

A nurse gestures through a doorway in the HDU (High Dependency Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021.

A nurse gestures through a doorway in the HDU (High Dependency Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Pfizer slashed in half the volume of vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week.

Three mutant Covid-19 variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk in Europe, Europe's disease surveillance agency said, while in the United States, President Joe Biden moved swiftly to coordinate a federal effort to fight the pandemic

Hotspots of Covid-19 infections in the European Union will be labelled "dark red" zones and travellers from those areas will be required to take a test before departure and undergo quarantine, the chief of the bloc's executive said on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told his European Union counterparts France would make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into France from Sunday, including from fellow EU countries.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday that all flights to and from Britain would be suspended from Saturday onwards as Portugal scrambles to tackle the rapid spread of the new variant of the coronavirus.

It is too early to say when the national lockdown in England will end, British PM Boris Johnson said, as daily deaths reach new highs.

The Netherlands will impose its first night-time curfew since World War II from Saturday onwards, while Portugal sought to slow contagion rates by ordering all schools to close for 15 days from Friday.

France is now recommending people wear surgical masks in public because they offer better protection from transmission than fabric face coverings.

Thailand reports 309 new coronavirus cases

Thailand reported 309 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 13,104 since it detected its first case a year ago.

The tally included 12 imported cases and there were no new deaths reported, the country's Covid-19 taskforce said. Thailand has recorded 71 coronavirus-related fatalities so far.

Reuters

Join me in prayer, first lady asks Zimbabwean women as Covid sets in

Zimbabwe's first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has invited women in her country to join her for three days of prayer and fasting over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mnangagwa — who refers to herself as “the mother of the nation” — said she would fast and pray from Thursday until Saturday for Zimbabwe to be spared from further “calamity and suffering”.

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 17,862 -RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 17,862 to 2,106,262, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The reported death toll rose by 859 to 50,642, the tally showed. 

Reuters

Beijing launches mass virus tests as China's daily tally drops slightly

Beijing launched mass Covid-19 testing in some areas on Friday, while Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China battles its worst outbreak of the disease since March and families fret over reunion plans for the Lunar New Year amid new curbs.

Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily Covid-19 cases on Friday - 103 from 144 cases a day earlier.

Of these new cases, 94 were local transmissions: northeastern Heilongjiang reported 47 new cases, while Jilin province reported 19 new cases. Shanghai reported six new cases, while the capital Beijing reported three new cases.

Some districts in Beijing launched mass Covid-19 tests following several consecutive days of new cases in the Chinese capital, with long queues forming in certain parts of the town.

Shanghai began testing all hospital staff for the disease on Thursday after two such workers tested positive.

Almost all of the local transmissions and asymptomatic cases in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, were linked to a meat processing plant owned by a joint venture between Thailand's top agro-industrial conglomerate, CP Group, and a local development zone, according to a statement by local officials. 

Reuters

Black market alcohol takes a dive due to 'Janu-worry', rise in Covid-19 cases and fewer suppliers

With the rise in Covid-19 cases, more police visibility and “Janu-worry” blues, alcohol sales in the illicit market have slumped.

“Business is bad,” Lawrence told TimesLIVE in an interview this week. “We never got a chance to stock up. Our suppliers, too, did not get a chance to stock up before alcohol was banned.”

Lawrence, which is not his real name, was essentially an alcohol bootlegger during the first lockdown. The first time around, South Africans were given time to buy booze before the ban kicked in. The most recent ban, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on January 28, however, was with immediate effect as lockdown level 3 was implemented.

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