Meanwhile, head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday he was “very disappointed” that China has still not authorised the entry of a team of international experts to examine the origins of the coronavirus. The 10-strong team had been due to set off in early January as part of a long-awaited mission to probe early cases of the coronavirus, first reported over a year ago in China’s Wuhan. “Today we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news conference in Geneva.
Germany Extends, Toughens Partial Lockdown to End-January | Germany prolonged and toughened its partial lockdown with stricter limits on social contacts, as Europe’s top economy struggles to curb stubbornly high coronavirus infections. Schools, leisure and sporting facilities, and non-essential shops will remain shut through to January 31, Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with leaders of Germany’s 16 states.
Australia to Bring Forward Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Plans | Australia will bring forward its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans by two weeks to early March, health authorities said on Wednesday as the country seeks to contain fresh cases in its two largest cities. Australia has repeatedly resisted pressure to expedite its vaccination distribution timetable, citing low coronavirus cases in the country though new clusters in Sydney and Melbourne have sparked fears of a wider outbreak.
COVID Vaccination Voluntary, Antibodies Develop 2 Weeks after Second Dose: AIIMS Director | Getting immunised against COVID-19 will be a voluntary exercise and it is important that both dozes of the vaccine be administered to an individual for developing better immune response against the disease, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria has said. Protective levels of antibodies generally develop two weeks after receiving the second dose, he said. The senior pulmonologist also stressed that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries.
China Blocks Entry to WHO Team Studying Covid’s Origins | China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organization investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that their visas had not yet been approved even as some members of the group were on their way. The WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed his dismay and said he had called on China to allow the team in. “I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already begun their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute,” he said.
UK PM Promises Daily Vaccine Updates as COVID-19 Cases Top 60,000 for 1st time | UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised to give daily updates on the country’s vaccination programme to protect the most vulnerable groups from COVID-19 as the daily coronavirus infections hit a new record figure of 60,196 for the first time since the pandemic began last year. Addressing a press briefing, Johnson revealed that the National Health Service (NHS) has completed vaccinating 1.3 million people with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, and that rollout will continue to be further accelerated as the main route out of the lockdown.
Bengal Reports 24 More Covid-19 Deaths, 812 Fresh Cases | The COVID-19 death toll in West Bengal rose to 9,841 after 24 more people succumbed to the disease on Tuesday, the state health department said in a bulletin. The tally mounted to 5,56,384 after 812 fresh cases of the infection were reported from various parts of the state, it said. Since Monday, 1,166 recoveries were reported in the state bettering the discharge rate to 96.56 per cent. Altogether 5,37,250 people have so far been cured of the disease in West Bengal, the bulletin said.