The global coronavirus pandemic has infected at least 72 million people around the world and claimed more than 1.6 million lives. Here are updates for December 13:

A sign reading
A sign reading "Mask mandatory, cover your mouth and nose!“ hangs on a lamp post in front of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) at Neumarkt in Dresden, eastern Germany on December 12, 2020. (AFP)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Germany orders partial lockdown 

Germany will go into a partial lockdown from Wednesday with non-essential shops and schools to close, as Europe's biggest economy battles to halt an "exponential growth" in coronavirus infections.

The new curbs will apply until January 10, with companies also urged to allow employees to work from home or offer extended company holidays, under the new measures agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel with regional leaders of Germany's 16 states on Sunday.

"That would help to implement the principle 'we're staying at home'," according to the policy paper agreed by Merkel and state premiers.

Germans are urged to limit their social contacts to another household, with a maximum of five people excluding children under 14 meeting at each time.

Turkey reports 218 additional fatalities

Turkey reported 26,919 more Covid-19 infections, including 5,103 symptomatic patients, over the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry data.

The total number of cases hit 1,836,728 with the latest additions, the data showed on Sunday.

A total of 22,215 patients recovered from the diseases over the past day, bringing the tally to 1,603,780 while total fatalities rose to 16,417 with 218 additions. 

Across the country, over 181,100 more Covid-19 tests were conducted, pushing the total to more than 21.07 million. 

The number of seriously ill people now stands at 5,973 though the rate of increase in severe cases is falling. 

Italy's daily Covid-19 death toll falls to 484

Italy reported 484 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 649 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections also fell to 17,938 from 19,903.

There were 152,697 swabs carried out in the past 24 hours, well below a previous 196,439, the health ministry said.

UK reports 18,447 new cases, 144 deaths
Britain reported 18,447 cases of coronavirus and 144 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, marking a decline on Saturday's tallies, according to government data. 

Cases in Netherlands jump by almost 10,000 

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has jumped by almost 10,000 in the past 24 hours, data released by national health authorities showed, marking their biggest jump since the end of October.

The increase continues a rising trend seen over the previous week, as the effects of a partial lockdown which has been in effect since October 13 seem to have waned.

The Dutch government has convened an emergency meeting for Sunday to discuss extra measures to limit the spread of the disease. It is expected to make an announcement of possible further measures on Tuesday.

Palestine reports 17 more deaths 

Palestine confirmed additional 17 fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said 11 deaths were reported in the occupied West Bank and six in the Gaza Strip.
She said 1,639 people tested positive for the virus, taking the overall tally to 124,641 cases, including 1,079 deaths, and 98,518 recoveries.
The Palestinian minister said 93 patients are still in intensive care units, of whom 30 are on ventilators.

Pakistan raises vaccine budget to $250 million

Pakistan has increased its funds allocation for purchasing vaccines amid a surge in the virus.

Dr. Nausheen Hamid, parliamentary secretary for National Health Services, says the budget for the vaccines has been enhanced to $250 million. 

Earlier, the government had set aside $150 million.

Pakistan recorded 3,369 new cases of the virus and 72 new deaths on Saturday.

A surge in the virus comes amid massive disregard by people for precautionary measures despite constant warnings by the authorities.

Bahrain approves registration for Sinopharm vaccine

Bahrain's National Health Regulatory Authority said on Sunday it had approved the registration of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

The Bahrain statement said the kingdom had participated in Phase III trials of the approved vaccine and had previously authorised it for emergency use to frontline professionals.

It did not clarify whether approving it for registration meant that it would now be available to the general public.

Bahrain, which earlier this month granted emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, had said on December10 that it would provide vaccine for free for all citizens and residents.

In fellow Gulf Arab state Kuwait, the Ministry of Health on Sunday granted emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, state news agency KUNA said.

Turkey's local vaccine to begin phase two trials on Dec 25

Phase two trials for Turkey's homegrown ERUCOV-VAC Covid-19 vaccine will begin on December 25.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said he hopes the vaccine will be made available by April 2021.

The ERUCOV-VAC vaccine is being developed at the Erciyes University in the central Kayseri province with support from Turkey's Institutes of Health Administration.

Russia reports 28,080 new cases, 488 deaths

Russia confirmed 28,080 new cases in the last 24 hours on Sunday, including 6,425 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 2,653,928 since the pandemic began.

Authorities said 488 people had died overnight, taking the official death toll to 46,941. 

Global alliance pledges $20B in aid for newborns

A global alliance of more than 1,000 organisations has announced $20.6 billion in pledges to help women, newborns, young children and adolescents deal with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as longstanding issues.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which is hosted by the World Health Organization, says $16.1 billion are new commitments to address Covid-19, $2.2 billion is new money not linked to the coronavirus, and $2.3 billion is new funding for existing programs.

Low and middle income countries including Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Liberia and Nigeria pledged a total of $6.6 billion while $14 billion came from international aid and grants from Germany, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the partnership said. The pledges were announced Thursday and Friday.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who chairs the partnership, says: “Our concern is that resources,  insufficient to begin with, are being diverted away to respond to the pandemic.”

Clark, who also led the UN development agency from 2009 to 2017, said the $20.6 billion will ensure w omen, children and adolescents can access health services and priority social protections throughout the crisis and recovery periods.

Germany to close non-essential shops  - draft govt proposal

Germany is planning to close most shops from Wednesday as it tightens lockdown restrictions to tame coronavirus infections, according to a draft government proposal seen by Reuters.

The measure would remain in place through January 10, according to the draft.

US leads world with over 16.5 million cases of virus

The US has recorded more than 16.5 million cases, by far the most of any country in the world, according to data by Worldometer analytics.

Cases of the virus have been rising across much of the US, causing record death totals in recent days.

India and Brazil are the only two other countries that have reported more than 6 million cases each. 

Globally, more than 72 million cases have been confirmed. 

The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms.

The US also leads the world in deaths at more than 305,000, including a record 3,309 recorded on Friday.

The increases come as millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer start rolling into US hospitals on Monday. The first vaccines will go to hospital staff and other health care professionals.

The coronavirus has caused more than 1.6 million global deaths.

China reports 24 new cases, monitoring tourist spot Hainan

China reported 24 new cases in the mainland, up from 13 cases a day earlier, while the authorities were monitoring possible contacts in the domestic tourism hotspot of Hainan.

There were five local cases and 19 imported infections on Saturday, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 14 from 17 a day earlier.

As of Saturday, mainland China had 86,725 confirmed cases, the health authority said. The death toll remained at 4,634.

Two tourists visiting Sanya in Hainan, China's southernmost island province, were found to be in close contact with an asymptomatic case in Xian in northwest China, after they had lunch with this person on Wednesday.

The two tourists and 43 other people who were in close contact are being quarantined in Sanya, according to a statement on the city's official WeChat account.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 20,200 - RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 20,200 to 1,320,716, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 321 to 21,787, the tally showed.

Japan's daily virus cases rise above 3,000

Japan’s daily cases have exceeded 3,000 for the first time while the government delays stricter measures for fear of hurting the economy ahead of the holiday season.

The 3,030 new cases, including 621 in Tokyo, took Japan’s national tally to 177,287 with 2,562 deaths, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

Experts say serious cases are on the rise around the country, putting burden on hospitals and affecting the daily medical treatment for other patients. They urged authorities to take measures such as suspending out-of-town trips and requesting stores to close early.

Recent media surveys show support ratings for the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have dropped about 20 points from around 70% during his first three months in office amid public discontent over his virus handling.

Japan issued a non-binding state of emergency in the spring and has survived earlier infection peaks without a lockdown. Experts say the ongoing resurgence in the dry and cold season would be a bigger challenge.

Pfizer prepares first vaccine  being prepared to ship from Michigan site

Pfizer Inc has said that the first Covid-19 vaccine supplies are being prepared to ship from the company's Kalamazoo, Michigan site.

They will be distributed by the US Department of Defense in partnership with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to government-designated facilities across the country, Pfizer said after a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended the nation's first Covid-19 vaccine.

Mexico reports 12,057 new cases, 685 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 12,057 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 685 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,241,436 cases and 113,704 deaths.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Brazil registers 43,900 new cases, 686 deaths

Brazil has reported 43,900 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 686 fatalities from Covid-19, its Health Ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 6,781,799 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 179,765, according to ministry data.

Meanwhile, Brazil's government has presented a Supreme Court justice with a coronavirus immunisation plan that provides initially for only enough shots for about a quarter of the population and does not indicate a start date.

The plan calls for the government to provide immunisation shots for priority groups that amount to about 51 million people, just under 25 percent of Brazil's 212 million people.

Country singer Charley Pride dies from Covid-19 at 86

African-American country singer Charley Pride, whose No. 1 country hits included "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)" and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin,'" has died at age 86 of complications from Covid-19, according to his website.

South Korea reports 1,030 new cases, record daily rise

South Korea has reported a record daily increase in novel coronavirus cases for a second straight day with 1,030 new infections, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Of the new cases, 1,002 were locally transmitted, which bring the total tally to 42,766 infections, with 580 deaths.

On Saturday, South Korea reported 950 new infections, and the authorities warned they may tighten social-distancing restrictions to their strictest level.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies