US to escalate tracking of Covid variants
China reports higher daily cases
Residents in locked down Tonghua, China complain of food and medicine shortages
Hong Kong lifts lockdown in Kowloon
Pfizer Covid vaccine approved for Australia rollout
In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine has met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy, a statement from the prime minister’s office said on Monday, and the vaccine has been approved for rollout in Australia for people age 16 years and older.
The first vaccinations are expected to be in late February and the first 1.4m doses will go to a priority group that includes quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers in high-risk settings, and aged care and disability staff and residents. This will be administered at hospitals, with the government aiming for 80,000 doses a week.
Next, 14.8m doses will go to elderly adults age 70 and above and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 55. Other healthcare workers; young adults with underlying medical conditions and disability; and critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, ambulance, fire and meat workers will also be vaccinated as part of the second phase:
at 8.27pm EST
Mexico president tests positive for coronavirus
Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has become the latest world leader to contract Covid-19.
“I’m sorry to inform you that I’ve been infected,” the 67-year-old politician announced on Twitter on Sunday evening.
“The symptoms are mild but I’m receiving medical treatment. As always, I’m optimistic,” added López Obrador, a populist nationalist who has been heavily criticised for his handling of the pandemic and decision to shun face masks.
Mexico is going through a particularly dire moment its epidemic, with hospitals in many states stretched to their limits. The country’s daily average number of Covid deaths last week overtook that of neighbouring Brazil where more than 1,000 fatalities are being registered each day.
According to Mexico’s official death toll nearly 150,000 people have so far died from Covid there, the world’s fourth highest number. But many suspect low testing rates mean Mexico’s true death toll is even higher than that of Brazil, where 217,000 deaths have been recorded.
López Obrador said that while he was being treated he would remain in the presidential palace in Mexico City which has been under a Covid red alert since last month.
More now from New Zealand.
Over three dozen guests at the Pullman hotel in central Auckland, where the infected woman was undergoing government-managed isolation, are being held longer in their rooms while the source of the newly confirmed local infection is investigated. Nearly all 200 hotel staff have been tested
Although health authorities suspect the virus was contacted directly – meaning person to person contact – they have not ruled out airborne or surface contact.
Hundreds of people have been lining up all day for tests in Whangarei, Northland and Auckland. Test results for these people will be known tomorrow. The director-general also said many people who had no symptoms or contact with the infected woman have been lining up for tests – and he asked them to go home so close contacts could be prioritised.
The Covid-19 response minister said news was circulating on social media of an impending lockdown. He said this was “fake news” and “not true at all”.
Community case confirmed in New Zealand
A community case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in New Zealand, with genome sequencing identifying it as of the South African variant of the virus.
Investigators think the 56-year-old woman contracted the infection from a fellow guest at the Pullman hotel, where she was undergoing government-managed isolation.
World nears 100m cases
Israel ‘closes skies’ to air travel to prevent virus spread
Biden to reinstate travel ban and add South Africa
at 6.37pm EST