FACTBOX-Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus


Countries braced for higher infections ahead of the New Year long weekend, with Australia tightening curbs on gatherings in Sydney, while the first known US case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant was detected in Colorado on Tuesday.


* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved placing further swathes of the country into tier 4 restrictions as the government becomes increasingly alarmed by the speed at which a new variant of the virus was spreading, The Times reported.

* The European Union will buy an extra 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total from the two firms to 300 million doses, European CommissionPresident Ursula von der Leyen said.

* Switzerland has documented five cases of a coronavirus variant from Britain and two cases of a South African variant, a Swiss health ministry official said on Tuesday.

* Turkey received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinovac, Reuters television footage showed.


* The first known U.S. case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant was detected in Colorado as President-elect Joe Biden warned it could take years for most Americans to be vaccinated for the virus at current distribution rates.

* Strict stay-at-home orders were renewed indefinitely for much of California, as the state’s top health official said that many hospitals were teetering on the brink of crisis.

* U.S. Representative-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana died on Tuesday of COVID-19, his campaign said.

* Panama has signed agreements with four producers ofCOVID-19 vaccines to acquire a total of 5.5 million doses, enough for 80% of the population.

* Deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean from COVID-19 topped 500,000 on Tuesday and cases soared above 15 million, according to a tally of figures in government reports.


* A 46-year-old nurse became the first person in Singapore to receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

* Chinese meat importers and processors have called on exporters in countries with COVID-19 outbreaks to step up checks on shipments before they are sent to the world’s biggest market, China’s top industry group said.

* South Korean authorities scrambled to contain a cluster of infections in a Seoul prison as inmates waved signs through barred windows pleading for help.

* The coronavirus situation in Tokyo is quite severe and the Japanese capital could potentially face an “explosion” of corvid-19 cases, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Wednesday ahead of the New Year’s holiday.

* Australian authorities restricted movement and tightened curbs on gatherings in Sydney, hoping to avoid a coronavirus”super spreader” event during the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.


* The United Arab Emirates has discovered a “limited number” of cases of people infected with the new coronavirus variant in the country, a government official said, the first confirmed cases of a more contagious COVID-19 mutant in the Gulf region.


* A vaccine developed by a unit of China National BiotecGroup (CNBG) is 79.34% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 and the company has filed an application for regulatory approval in China for its general public use.

* A new variant of the novel coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England.

* Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said initial data from an ongoing study of its experimental antibody cocktail for use in some hospitalized COVID-19 patients show the therapy was sufficiently effective to warrant continuing the trial.


* Asian shares hit a record high as investors bet on a strong economic recovery next year, as there is little sign policymakers wind back massive stimulus efforts aimed at staving off coronavirus-fuelled downturns.

Source: sabcnews