Global Cases Top 85 Million; Japan Mulls Emergency: Virus Update
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U.S. daily coronavirus cases soared to a record of nearly 300,000 after the holidays, while global cases hit 85 million. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the vaccine rollout ispicking up speed after a slow start and could be fully on track within a week or so.
India grantedemergency approval for the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine and allowed for limited use of a locally developed shot. Japan is considering another state of emergency as cases spike. South Korea extended its current social-distancing rules by two weeks.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tougher lockdown measures in England will probably be needed, while France is working toavoid a third lockdown.
- Global Tracker: Cases pass 85 million; deaths exceed 1.84 million
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Japan Mulls More Limited State of Emergency: NHK (7:21 a.m. HK)
Japan’s government is considering declaring a state of emergency with more limited restrictions than the one in April, NHK reported, without attribution. The government held off from declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo and three adjacent prefectures over the weekend, and will consult experts again before making a decision. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to ask all restaurants to close no later than 8 p.m. nightly, Nikkei reported, citing multiple people.
South Dakota Passes 100,000 Cases (5:56 p.m. NY)
South Dakota passed 100,000 infections after reporting another 703 cases on Sunday. The state reported another 12 deaths, a day after reaching 1,500 total fatalities. The state, which has resisted mask mandates and other restrictions, was among the hardest-hit in the virus wave that swept through the Midwest this fall. But cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been dropping since November.
Denmark Extends U.K. Travel Ban (3:58 p.m. NY)
Denmark extended its ban on travelers arriving from the U.K. and also advised Danes against visiting the country on business trips due to fears over the new mutation of the coronavirus. The ban on travelers from the U.K., which covers all non-Danish citizens or citizens without a Danish residence, will last until Jan. 17, the ministry of justice in Copenhagen said in a statement on Sunday.
NYC Positive Test Rate Again Above 9% (2:40 p.m. NY)
New York City’s rolling seven-day average of positive tests topped 9% for the third consecutive day, a level that compares with less than 2% in November. New hospitalizations increased to 213 and new cases rose to 3,885, based on a seven-day average, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
California Hospitalizations Add to Health-Care Burden (2:15 p.m. NY)
California’s hospitalizations remained at one of the highest levels as an increase in infections following Christmas further strained the health-care system.
The state added 45,352 new cases, bringing the total to almost 2.4 million. An additional 181 new deaths were reported, with the total at 26,538. Intensive-care capacity stands at zero across Southern California as hospitals strain to add space to cater to an increased patient load.
The test positivity rate of 12.3% is also at one of its highest levels since the initial peak of the outbreak. Hospitalizations increased by 307 to 21,510. California has a stay-home order for most of the state.
Norway Reimposes Curbs (2:11 p.m. NY)
Norway is tightening restrictions amid evidence that infections are rising after the Christmas and New Year holidays. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it will be forbidden to serve alcohol in restaurants and bars, while private gatherings outside the home will be limited to five people. The measures, which also advise limiting social visits and postponing sporting and cultural events, will be in place for an initial 14 days.
France Cases Rise Amid Criticism of Vaccine Rollout (2:03 p.m. NY)
France reported 12,489 new cases on Sunday, compared with 3,466 registered on Saturday. Deaths rose by 116 to 65,037 in Sunday’s update, the smallest increase since Oct. 25.
The government is facing criticism for the slow start to the country’s vaccination campaign. It’s too soon to draw conclusions after “only six days” of vaccinations, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told BFM TV.
France’s goal is to inoculate 26 million people by summer, he said. That would be about 40% of the population. France expects to vaccinate 1 million people by the end of January, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on LCI.
Schools will reopen as planned on Monday, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on BFM TV, even as worries mount about a potential surge in new Covid-19 cases after year-end festivities.
New Strain to Expand Quickly in U.S., Gottlieb Says (1:45 p.m. NY)
Incidence of the new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus will rise sharply in the U.S. over the next few months, said former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb.
“There are some estimates that the new variant probably represents about 1% of all infections in this country. By March, it’s going to be the majority of infections. It’s going to grow quickly,” Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The new variant has been found in at least three states after emerging in the U.K.
Gottlieb, a board member of Pfizer Inc., said the trend further raised the need for a more rapid rollout of the vaccination regime against Covid-19, which has been off to a slow start but is picking up pace, according to U.S. health officials on Sunday.
Moderna Vaccine Dose May Be Cut in Half (1:37 p.m. NY)
Officials from Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s vaccine drive, are asking Moderna Inc. and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cut in half the dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccination for people ages 18 to 55 after finding that it induces the same immune response, Chief Scientific Adviser Moncef Slaoui.
That would double the amount of vaccine available for the age group, while providing the same level of protection, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Ireland Hits Record for Second Straight Day (1:04 p.m. NY)
Ireland recorded almost 5,000 new infections, signaling what health authorities called a significant surge in the virus.
The government may introduce additional curbs such as reducing the distance people can travel from home to 2 kilometers from 5 kilometers (to 1.25 miles from 3 miles), Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said Sunday. Most sectors are already locked down with bars, restaurants, nonessential stores and personal services such as hairdressers shuttered.
Hospitalizations rose 16% to 685 in the past 24 hours, the country’s emergency task force said.
Arizona Cases Spike (11:57 a.m. NY)
Arizona on Sunday reported 17,234 new cases, a record that far surpassed any previous single-day tally in the state. It brought the total number of cases to 556,384 since the pandemic began, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
A department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the surge reflected a holiday backlog of cases. The state reported no new Covid-19 deaths, leaving the toll at 9,061.
Italy Cases Accelerate, Deaths Slow (11:11 a.m. NY)
Italy reported 347 Covid-19 deaths Sunday, down from 364 a day earlier, and 14,245 new cases versus 11,831 the previous day as the government struggled to tame the outbreak.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met with leaders of his ruling coalition’s parties to discuss new measures to combat the pandemic after winter holiday travel and business restrictions expire Jan. 6.
Fauci Says Vaccine Pace Picking Up After Slow Start (10:48 a.m. NY)
The U.S. government’s top infectious-disease doctor said the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines ispicking up speed and could be fully on track within a week or so.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that in the past 72 hours, about 1.5 million vaccine doses have been administered, or about 500,000 per day, a substantial pickup in pace.
“We are not where we want to be, no doubt about that, but I think we can get there if we really accelerate,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
U.K. New Cases Stay Above 50,000 (10:40 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported more than 50,000 new infections for a sixth consecutive day. The 54,990 new cases on Sunday compare with a daily average of 48,849 over the previous seven days. Another 454 people died, below the weekly average of 584, although deaths in Scotland were not included.
— With assistance by Ian Fisher
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