Novel coronavirus has infected over 85 million people globally and claimed more than 1.8 million lives. Here are the updates for January 3:

Paramedics wheel a patient into the Royal London Hospital in east London on January 3, 2021.
Paramedics wheel a patient into the Royal London Hospital in east London on January 3, 2021. (AFP)

Sunday, January 3, 2021

UK reports 54,990 new daily cases, call for lockdown

Britain has reported 54,990 new cases and a further 454 new deaths within 28 days of positive test.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the country to expect tougher restrictions to combat spiralling cases, as a row flared over whether schools should reopen.

"It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country," Johnson told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

"I'm fully, fully reconciled to that."

Opposition leader Keir Starmer on Sunday called on Johnson to bring in a new lockdown in England within the next 24 hours.

France adds almost 12,500 new cases

France has recorded 12,489 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, up from the 3,466 reported a day earlier, the Health Ministry said in a daily update.

The increase was higher than the government's target of 5,000 or less per day and brought the cumulative total to 2,665,728, the ministry's data showed.

The Covid-19 death toll was up by 116 to 65,037, after rising by 157 on Saturday.

Norway imposes new restrictions

Norway has said it will impose fresh restrictions to prevent a resurgence in infection spreading, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars and not inviting guests home.

The Nordic country has seen a rise in cases over the past month and now estimates that one sick person infects 1.3 person on average, authorities have said.

"We see more signs of a new wave of infections," Solberg told a news conference, citing Christmas and New Year 's Eve celebrations and the emergence of the more contagious variant of the virus first identified in Britain among the reasons.

Italy reports 347 deaths

Italy has reported 347 deaths against 364 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 14,245 from 11,831.

Some 102,974 swab tests were carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 67,174.

Italy has registered 75,332 deaths since its outbreak came to light on February 21, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world. 

The country has also reported 2.155 million cases to date, the health ministry said.

Turkey's daily infections dip below 10,000

The daily number of cases in Turkey has fallen to 9,877 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, bringing the total number of cases to 2,241,912 since the country's outbreak emerged in March.

The number of deaths fell to 193 in the last 24 hours from 202 a day earlier, falling below 200 for the first time since December 6. The total death toll stands at 21,488.

Turkey has been in a four-day lockdown for the New Year which will be lifted at 0200GMT on January 4. Ankara has also imposed curfews each weekday evening.

Egypt to probe virus patients' ICU deaths

Egyptian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the deaths of at least four patients at a public Egyptian hospital, after a video of nurses struggling to keep the patients alive was shared widely on social media.

The governor of Sharqia province Mamdouh Ghorab denied allegations by a relative of one of the patients that the deaths were caused by a lack of oxygen at the government-run intensive care unit treating patients. 

The Sharqia prosecutor's office said they were investigating the deaths. The hospital director and doctors were being questioned, according to an official at the public prosecutor’s office in Cairo who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.

Greek-administered Cyprus reports 12 cases of new virus variant from UK arrivals 

Greek-administered Cyprus has discovered 12 cases of the new virus variant in people who recently travelled from Britain, the health ministry said.

The new variant of the virus, now spreading around the world, was first found in Britain and is more transmissible than the original variant of the virus first identified in China a year ago. 

Kuwait suspends direct flights to and from UK

Kuwait civil aviation authority has said it will suspend direct commercial flights to and from Britain starting January 6 at 0100 GMT, until further notice, the authority said in a tweet on Sunday. 

Officials reject Trump claim that US virus deaths over-counted

Two top US health officials have disputed a claim by President Donald Trump that federal data on virus cases and deaths in the United States is overblown, and both expressed optimism that the pace of vaccinations is picking up.

"The deaths are real deaths," Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC News’ This Week, adding that jam-packed hospitals and stressed-out healthcare workers are "not fake. That’s real.”

Fauci and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, defended the accuracy of coronavirus data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after Trump attacked the agency’s tabulation methods.

The death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 as experts anticipate another surge in cases and deaths stemming from holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year's.

Britain targets tens of millions of vaccinations in next three months

Britain will have 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine ready to administer on Monday and hopes to provide "tens of millions" of vaccinations over the next three months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

"We do hope that ... we'll be able to do tens of millions in the course of the next three months," he told the BBC.

The British prime minister also said that tougher lockdown restrictions were probably on the way as Covid-19 cases keep rising, but that schools were safe and children should continue to attend.

Israel plans to vaccinate 2 million people by end of January

Israel has said that two million people will have received a two-dose Covid-19 vaccination by the end of January, a pace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasts is the world's fastest.

Starting on December 19, when Netanyahu got his first jab, Israel launched an aggressive push to administer the vaccine made by US-German pharma alliance Pfizer-BioNTech.

Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy said that because of the enthusiastic takeup, Israel would be easing the speed of vaccination to eke out stocks.

The vaccine must be given in two separate jabs, administered three weeks apart.

Egypt approves Sinopharm vaccine

Egypt has approved the use of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm with its rollout to start later in January, the health minister said.

"The Egyptian pharmaceutical authority approved on Saturday the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine," Hala Zayed said on the local MBC Masr channel.

The first batch of the vaccine was delivered in December, with further doses expected this month.

"The second shipment of this vaccine is due to arrive in the second or third week of January, and as soon as it arrives, we will start vaccinations," the minister said.

Each batch of the vaccine consists of 50,000 doses, and the ministry has announced that the first group to receive it will be medical workers.

Zayed said Egypt plans to purchase 40 million doses of the Sinopharm jab.

Russia reports 24,150 new cases

Russia has reported an additional 24,150 new coronavirus cases from the last 24 hours, including 3,851 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,236,787.

Authorities said an additional 504 people had died, taking Russia's official death toll to 58,506. 

India approves urgent-use of AstraZeneca, local vaccines

India's drugs regulator has given final emergency-use approval for two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the other by local company Bharat Biotech.

The overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was 70.42 percent, while Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN was "safe and provides a robust immune response", Drugs Controller General of India V.G. Somani said.

The British-developed AstraZeneca/Oxford shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India, while Bharat Biotech has teamed up with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

Germany's cases rise by 10,315

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 10,315 to 1,765,666, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 312 to 34,272.

US news star Larry King hospitalised

Veteran talk show host Larry King has been hospitalised with Covid-19, US media reported.

Citing a "source close to the family," CNN reported that King, one of the network's biggest stars, has been hospitalised for more than a week at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

King, 87, has Type 2 diabetes and has had a long history of medical issues, including several heart attacks, lung cancer and angina, a condition caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.

Australian states reimpose travel restrictions

More Australian states and territories are reimposing travel restrictions to prevent the coronavirus spreading from new outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria states.

The Australian Capital Territory has shut out non-residents who have been in the northern beaches of Sydney, where the outbreaks are most concentrated, Greater Sydney and other smaller centers, unless they have an exemption.

The island state of Tasmania has barred anyone directly linked to the latest Victorian cases, listing exposure sites where confirmed cases are known to have been.

The move followed Tasmania’s declaration of Greater Sydney and the Wollongong area south of Sydney as medium-risk zones, requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, while those from Sydney’s northern beaches are barred from entering.

Mexico's official death toll rises to 126,851

Mexico has registered 6,359 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 344 additional fatalities on Saturday, bringing its total to 1,443,544 infections and 126,851 deaths, according to the health ministry's official count.

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

Australia's virus cluster expands further 

Australia's most-populous state of New South Wales reported eight new Covid-19 cases on Sunday as new social distancing restrictions and mandatory mask wearing kicked in while neighbouring Victoria had three new cases.

The New South Wales outbreak, which began around mid-December at Sydney's Northern Beaches, now totals 148. There are also smaller clusters in Sydney's west and south, which authorities fear could rise in coming days.

NSW will enforce mask wearing from midnight in indoor venues like gaming rooms, hair salons, nail salons and retail shops.

"I would encourage the community across Greater Sydney, to wear masks in compliance with the law, but do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your community, that's the main reason," said state Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Victoria's three cases on Sunday were all linked to the same Melbourne restaurant, though the source of the infection is still under investigation.

Saudi Arabia ends entry ban, keeps some virus restrictions 

Saudi Arabia said that entry to the kingdom by sea, land and air will be resumed starting on Sunday after a ban that lasted two weeks amid fears of a new coronavirus variant, the state news agency reported on Sunday.

A ministry of interior official said that some restrictions including asking people coming from countries where the new variant spread such as the UK, South Africa and any others, to stay at least 14 days out of these countries before entering the kingdom.

US distributes over 13.07 mln doses of vaccines; 4.2 mln administered - CDC

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 4,225,756 first doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 13,071,925 doses.

The tally of vaccine doses distributed and the number of people who received the first dose are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccines as of 9:00 am ET on Saturday, the agency said.

According to the tally posted on December 30, the agency had administered 2,794,588 first doses of the vaccines and distributed 12,409,050 doses.

A total of 2,217,025 vaccine doses were distributed for use on long-term care facilities and 282,740 people in the facilities got their first dose, the agency said.

The agency also reported 20,061,818 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 168,637 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 2,428 to 346,925.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET Friday versus its previous report published on December 31. 

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Brazil reports 15,827 new cases, 314 more deaths

Brazil recorded 15,827 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 314 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Brazil has registered more than 7.7 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began 10 months ago, while the official death toll has risen to 195,725, according to ministry data.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies