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Covid-19 cases in US surpasses 22.09 million
The total number of Covid-19 cases in the United States has surpassed 22.09 million as of yesterday evening, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The national case count has risen to 22,095,975, with 371,989 relevant deaths, as of 7.21pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) yesterday, according to the CSSE tally.
On the first day of 2021, the number of confirmed cases exceeded 20 million and it was added to two million more cases within eight days.
Eight days into the New Year, the country has already seen 23,083 Covid-19 deaths, data showed.
The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported yesterday that many medical experts and virologists warned that the unmasked supporters of President Donald Trump who breached the US Capitol building on Wednesday afternoon might become a prime example of a Covid-19 superspreader event.
In addition, eight states including New York, California and Colorado have seen cases of the variant of Covid-19 (B.1.1.7) detected in the United Kingdom.
There are over 60 cases of the coronavirus variant in the US so far.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the data did not represent the real number of cases of the variant as experts suspect there could be more.
England's chief medical officer has warned the NHS faces the "most dangerous situation" in living memory as the pandemic causes record deaths and hospital admissions.
As the country awaits the ramping up of coronavirus testing and vaccinations this week, Chris Whitty has said the only way to prevent avoidable deaths is for the public to stay home wherever possible.
"Hospitals are always busy in winter, but the NHS in some parts of the country is currently facing the most dangerous situation anyone can remember," Prof Whitty wrote in the Sunday Times.
"If the virus continues on this trajectory, hospitals will be in real difficulties, and soon.
"Staff-to-patient ratios - already stretched - will become unacceptable even in intensive care."
The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital is at a record high in England, while the official coronavirus death toll for the UK passed 80,000 yesterday and lab-confirmed cases hit more than three million.
Prof Whitty commended the public for their efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 and noted the hope offered by various vaccines, but he echoed other experts in saying it would be some weeks before the jabs start to reduce the number of people taken to hospital.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said that expanding the Community Testing Programme to more people without symptoms is "crucial given that around one in three people" who contract Covid-19 are asymptomatic.
DHSC said councils would be encouraged to test those unable to work from home during lockdown - a move likely to include police officers, supermarket workers and taxi drivers.
Lateral flow tests, which can return results in as little as 30 minutes, are at the heart of the programme, the eligibility of which has now been "expanded to cover all 317 local authorities", DHSC said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said targeted asymptomatic testing followed by isolation was "highly effective in breaking chains of transmission".
But doctor Angela Raffle, a consultant in public health with the University of Bristol Medical School, said increasing lateral flow testing "is very worrying".
"Any benefit from finding symptomless cases will be outweighed by the many more infectious cases that are missed by these tests," she said.
"Already outbreaks are known to have occurred because people have been falsely reassured by a negative lateral flow result, leading them to attend work whilst having symptoms."
Meanwhile, as the vaccine rollout gathers pace, more than half a million over-80s are due to receive invites this week to sign up to receive a jab.
The first 130,000 invites were due to arrive over the weekend, as the Government strives to meet its target of offering inoculations to almost 14 million vulnerable people in the UK by mid-February.
Boris Johnson said: "There are deeply challenging weeks ahead, but today signals another significant step forward in the race to protect the public, and defeat the virus."
Some experts have branded the current lockdown measures not strict enough, in the face of the more transmissible variant which has spread rapidly in many parts of the country.
Vietnam will limit flights bringing citizens home from now until the end of the Lunar New Year in mid-February, when big gatherings indoors are expected,to reduce coronavirus risks, the country's prime minister said.
With a new Covid-19 variant spreading around the globe and the upcoming Lunar New Year, the country's most important holiday, only necessary flights approved by health, foreign, defence, public security and transport ministry are allowed to enter the country, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said.
After the Lunar New Year, which falls on 10-16 February the transport ministry will study the possibility of international flights resumption, Mr Phuc added.
Vietnam has suspended all inbound international commercial flights since late March, but the government has been operating repatriation flights to bring home Vietnamese citizens stuck abroad amid the pandemic.
Some special flights carrying foreign experts and investors have been allowed to fly into Vietnam. All people entering the country have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
The country on Tuesday suspended inbound flights from countries with new Covid-19 variants, initially Britain and South Africa.
Thanks to strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam fared much better than many nations, registering a total of 1,513 coronavirus infections and 35 deaths. It has gone 38 days with no locally transmitted cases.
The total number of deaths in Germany caused by the coronavirus crossed the 40,000 mark today, the centre for disease control announced.
Germany recorded 465 deaths over the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute said, raising the toll since the start of the pandemic to 40,343.
More than 1.9 million people have been infected so far, with almost 17,000 new cases added since yesterday.
In her weekly video message yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the full impact of socialising over the Christmas and New Year's period was yet to show up in the statistics.
She warned Germans that the coming weeks will be "the hardest phase of the pandemic" so far, with many doctors and medical staff working at their limits.
Germany fared better than many other European countries during the first Covid-19 wave in the spring but it has been hit hard by the second wave.
The nation of some 83 million people, the bloc's most populous, has imposed another round of restrictions to limit social contacts and help hospitals cope with a surge in patients.
More than 5,000 Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care nationwide, with more than 80% of intensive care beds occupied.
Germany has closed schools and non-essential shops, culture and leisure facilities until at least January 31 in the hopes of slowing the outbreak.
Like other EU nations, it started vaccinating citizens against Covid-19 in late December using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
More than half a million have received the jab so far.
Ms Merkel acknowledged the vaccine campaign had got off to a slow start, "but the tempo will pick up", she said.
"What's important is that we can say: we will have enough of the vaccine available for everyone in Germany," she added.
"Month after month we will inoculate more people and eventually we will be able to offer the vaccine to anyone who wants it."
Pope Francis and Britain's Queen Elizabeth became the latest high-profile figures to join the global vaccination campaign against the coronavirus.
More than 1.9 million people worldwide have now died from the virus, with new variants adding to soaring cases and prompting the re-introduction of restrictions on movement across the globe - even as some countries begin mass inoculation campaigns.
Pope Francis urged people to get the vaccination, calling opposition to the jab "suicidal denial" and saying he would get inoculated against the virus himself next week when the Vatican would begin its campaign.
"There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated," the pontiff said in segments from an interview with Canale 5 due to be broadcast in full today.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip received their Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday, Buckingham Palace said, in a rare public comment on the private health matters of the long-serving monarch.
A source told the Press Association news agency that the queen, 94, and Philip, 99, were given the injections by a royal household doctor at Windsor Castle.
India will launch one of the world's most ambitious coronavirus free vaccination drives next Saturday, aiming to reach 300 million people by July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
India is the second worst-hit country with more than 10 million cases, though the death rate is one of the world's lowest.
Cuba, meanwhile, said it would test its most advanced Covid vaccine candidate in Iran, after Tehran banned the import of already-proven US and British-produced vaccines.
Fears have been rising over new virus variants that emerged in Britain and South Africa, but BioNTech brought some relief on Friday, saying its vaccine was effective against a "key mutation" found in the strains.
Soaring infections are forcing governments once again to introduce restrictions that helped slow the spread of the virus last year, but battered the global economy and disrupted business, sports and cultural events worldwide.
France will extend its Covid-19 curfews to a further eight departments, Prime Minister Jean Castex said yesterday, citing a "tough and necessary" response.
After a rise in cases, Burundi will close its land and lakeside borders from Monday and impose a seven-day quarantine on travellers arriving by plane, officials said.
Yesterday the streets of the Australian city of Brisbane were quiet as its more than two million residents were ordered back into lockdown, after authorities detected a single infection of the new strain from Britain.
"Quite surreal, like something from a movie set," local man Scott told AFP in Brisbane's deserted downtown, though he added: "It's necessary."
And Israel said four people had tested positive for the new South African strain, which is also more infectious than the original. It had already recorded the new British variant.
In China, where the original coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, authorities also tightened restrictions on two cities near Beijing to stamp out a growing cluster.
The new week-long stay at home orders affecting about 18 million people in Shijiazhuang and Xingtai come as cases spike ahead of the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions criss-cross the country to visit family and friends.
Yesterday Beijing's National Health Commission said authorities had so far given out more than nine million vaccine doses, but warned the upcoming holiday would "further boost the risk of transmission."
China also said that preparations were still ongoing for a World Health Organization mission to Wuhan to investigate the origins of Covid-19, following a rare rebuke from the UN body over a delay to the long-planned trip.
"As long as these experts complete the procedures and confirm their schedule, we will go to Wuhan together to carry out investigations," National Health Commission vice minister Zeng Yixin told reporters.