PARIS, Feb 21, 2021 (AFP) – These are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– US nears 500,000 deaths –
The United States is on the brink of the grim milestone of 500,000 Covid-related deaths, though hopeful signs are emerging thanks to the rollout of vaccines and the dropping off of a massive winter spike in infections.
“It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918 pandemic of influenza,” says Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden.
According to figures from the Johns Hopkins University, the toll throughout the US stands at over 497,000 by early Sunday.
– Australia starts vaccinating –
Australia begins its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with top officials among a small group receiving the first jabs a day before the programme starts in earnest.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison gets the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a medical centre in Sydney, in what the government says is a bid to boost pubic confidence in the vaccinations.
The inoculation programme begins a day after thousands turned out in anti-vaccine protests.
– Vaccines arrive in Gaza –
Around 20,000 coronavirus vaccine doses arrive in Gaza from the United Arab Emirates.
The Russian-made Sputnik V jabs enter via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, meaning they did not pass through Israel, which has maintained a tight blockade on Gaza since 2007.
– Britain accelerates rollout –
The UK government vows to offer a first coronavirus vaccine dose to every adult by the end of July, as it prepares to announce a gradual easing of its third lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline the lockdown review in parliament on Monday.
– WHO calls on Tanzania to act –
The WHO’s head in Tanzania urges the country to take “robust action” against the coronavirus, after President John Magufuli refuses to take strong measures to curb its spread.
The president says the virus has been fended off by prayer, but a recent spate of deaths attributed to pneumonia has struck both members of the public and government officials.
– Swab tests at US-Canada border –
Canada will provide mandatory swab tests at over a hundred land crossings on its border with the US from Monday, as concerns grow over the spread of new variants.
On Friday, the government extended its closure of the border to all non-essential travellers until March 21 because of the threat from highly infectious strains.
– Russia vaccinates homeless –
Forty homeless people in Saint Petersburg receive coronavirus vaccine jabs, under a charity initiative that received the backing of local officials.
– 205 million doses injected worldwide –
More than 205 million coronavirus doses have been administered worldwide, but 45 percent are in the wealthy G7 nations and 92 percent in countries ranked high- or upper-middle income by the World Bank.
– More than 2.46 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed more than 2.46 million people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources at 1100 GMT Sunday.
The United States remains the worst-affected country with 497,648 deaths, followed by Brazil, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.
The number of deaths globally is broadly under-estimated, according to experts. burs-jah/pvh/kjl Agence France-Presse