The novel coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 99 million people around the world, with over 2.1 million fatalities. Here are updates for January 24:

Protesters clash with Dutch anti-riot police officers during a demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands, on January 24, 2021.
Protesters clash with Dutch anti-riot police officers during a demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands, on January 24, 2021. (AFP)

Sunday, January 24, 2021:

Anti-curfew protests hit Dutch cities

Protests against a new curfew to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Netherlands have degenerated into clashes with police in some locations, authorities and reports said.

Authorities used water cannon and dogs at a square in downtown Amsterdam, where hundreds of protesters gathered over the curfew that began on Saturday, public television NOS reported.

In Eindhoven in the country's south, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred, regional television Omroep Brabant reported. At least 30 people were arrested there, police said. 

A number of vehicles were burned and businesses at Eindhoven's central train station were looted, media reports said.

UK records over 30,000 new cases

The United Kingdom has recorded 30,004 new cases of Covid-19, with the total for the past seven days at 251,504, down 22 percent on the previous seven days, official figures showed.

Another 610 people died of Covid-19 in the country, raising the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 97,939. The seven-day total was 8,678, up 11percent on the previous seven days.

The daily number of people who received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine was 491,970, a record high that took the overall number of people in Britain to have had their first dose to 6.353 million. 

Italy reports new 299 deaths and 11,629 new cases

Italy has reported 299 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 488 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 11,629 from 13,331.

Some 216,211 tests for Cobid-19 were carried out in the past day, against a previous 286,331, the Health Ministry said.

Turkey's Covid-19 death toll tops 25,000

Turkey has passed 25,000 Covid-19-related deaths since the start of the outbreak in March, the Health Ministry said.

A daily toll of 140 fatalities saw the total figure rise to 25,073. Turkey has recorded more than 2.4 million infections since the first case was recorded on March 11 last year.

The number of daily cases has fallen to around 6,000 in recent days from a high of more than 33,000 in December.

Thousands hit streets protesting Bolsonaro's Covid response

Thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets for a second day to call for the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro, who is under fire for his government's response to rampant cases of Covid-19, which has claimed more than 216,000 lives in the country.

Horn-honking cars paraded through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and a dozen or more other cities as other protesters marched on foot, some calling, "Get out Bolsonaro!"

Sunday's protests were called by conservative groups that had once backed the president, while those on Saturday had come from the left.

Israel decides to ban passenger flights to curb spread

Israel has decided to ban incoming and outgoing passenger flights from Monday at 22:00 GMT until the end of January in order to stop the spread of the virus and new strains, Israel's Haaretz news website reported.

Egypt says it has launched vaccinations

Egypt has launched a vaccination campaign, with the first shots of Sinopharm's vaccine given to healthcare workers in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.

Health Minister Hala Zayed told a televised news conference that they will prioritise vaccinating healthcare workers in 40 hospitals that are designated to isolate and treat patients across the country.

Next, they would vaccinate elders and those suffer from chronic diseases, Zayed said. She did not offer a timeframe for vaccinating the whole population.

Zayed said people would receive two doses of the vaccine over 21 days. The vaccine is 86 percent effective, she added.

Trump administration had no vaccine distribution plan

There was no distribution plan for the vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in their last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, has said.

"The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

Sweden bans travellers from Norway

Sweden said it would temporarily stop all foreigners coming in from Norway from midnight, in a bid to halt the spread of the new coronavirus variant first spotted in Britain.

Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told a news conference the entry ban, with exemptions for commuters and some other groups, would last until February 14.

The decision came a day after Norway imposed some of its toughest lockdown measures yet in several municipalities after an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant.

Damberg said the Swedish measures would stop Norwegian shoppers heading over the long shared border to escape those tougher restrictions.

Sweden was also extending an existing ban on entries from Britain and Denmark, he said.

Rioting youths in Dutch village torch testing centre

Rioting youths protesting on the first night of a Dutch curfew have torched a coronavirus testing facility and threw fireworks at police in a Dutch fishing village.

Police said they fined more than 3,600 people nationwide for breaching the curfew that ran from 9 pm on Saturday until 4:30 am on Sunday and arrested 25 people for breaching the curfew or for violence.

Video from the village of Urk, 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam, showed youths breaking into the coronavirus testing facility near the village's harbor before it was set ablaze on Saturday night.

The police and municipality issued a statement on Sunday expressing their anger at rioting, "from throwing fireworks and stones to destroying police cars and with the torching of the test location as a deep point."

On Sunday, all that remained of the portable building used to administer coronavirus tests was a burned-out shell.

Police in Amsterdam also were bracing for another protest on Sunday, sending officers to a square where demonstrators clashed with police a week ago. The city's municipality designated the square a "risk area," a move that gave police extra powers to frisk people.

Turkey expecting 6.5M CoronaVac doses on Monday

As many as 6.5 million doses of China's CoronaVac vaccine will be delivered to Turkey on Monday, the country's health minister has announced.

"In line with our purchasing plan, the vaccine shipments to Turkey will continue smoothly," Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Sunday.

Mass vaccinations began in Turkey on January 14 after the first batch of 3 million doses of the vaccine developed by China's SinoVac Biotech arrived on December 30. Later, a second consignment of 10 million doses was approved.

Over 1.23 million people, mostly health workers and elderly people, have been inoculated since January 14.

The health minister and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the first ones to be vaccinated to boost public confidence in the vaccine.

The government has also introduced nighttime and weekend curfews to stem the spread of Covid-19.

UK vaccination drive expands as virus toll nears 100,000

Britain is expanding a vaccination drive that has seen almost 6 million people get the first of two doses, even as the country's death toll in the pandemic approaches 100,000.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that three-quarters of the UK’s over-80s have received a vaccine shot. He said three-quarters of nursing home residents have also had their first jab.

Almost 5.9 million doses of vaccine had been administered by Saturday. Health officials aim to give 15 million people, including everyone over 70, a first vaccine shot by February 15, and cover the entire adult population by September.

Britain is inoculating people with two vaccines, one made by US pharma firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech, the other by UK-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It has authorized a third, developed by Moderna.

Britain’s vaccination campaign is a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak. The UK has recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive, including 1,348 new deaths reported Saturday.

Oman land border closure extended by a week

Oman will extend the close of its land borders for another week until February 1, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency ONA has said, citing a decision by the Gulf state's coronavirus emergency committee.

The borders were closed last week because of concerns about a new coronavirus variant, although it did not specify which one, as well as due to lax adherence inside the sultanate to wearing face masks and avoiding large social gatherings.

China sees fall in new cases amid strict local lockdowns

China has reported 80 new cases, mostly in the northeast where some residents complained they were short of food amid an ongoing local lockdowns, down from Friday's 107.

The numbers pale in comparison to many countries, where new daily infections can measure in the thousands, but the world's most populous country is determined to keep the spread in check ahead of next month's Lunar New Year holiday when millions travel to their home provinces.

Saturday's toll included 65 domestic cases, with more than half in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin.

China, which this weekend marked the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown in the central city of Wuhan, is facing its worst wave of local cases since March last year.

The virus was first identified in Wuhan at the end of 2019.

The total number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 92 on Saturday from 99 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China now stands at 88,991, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

Iran reports 89 daily fatalities 

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Sima Sadat Lari has stated that 89 people died in the last 24 hours due to the outbreak, 5,945 new cases were detected and 437 of them were hospitalised.

Lari stated that the loss of life caused by the virus increased to 57,383 and the number of cases to 1,372,977.

Stating that 4,90 of the patients were treated in intensive care units, Lari said that the number of those who have recovered since the beginning of the epidemic has reached 1,164,794.

Lari also noted that the total number of tests performed in the country with a population of approximately 83 million is 8 million 905 thousand 93 as of today.

Stating that there are no "red" level cities in the country, Lari added that 18 cities are determined as "orange", 154 cities as "yellow" and 276 as "blue".

Dubai slows down Pfizer vaccine rollout amid shipment delays

The emirate of Dubai has said it was slowing down its rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine due to a temporary delay in global deliveries. 

Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, began mass inoculations in December after the approval of vaccines by Chinese firm Sinopharm and US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. 

According to health officials, the UAE has already vaccinated over two million of its approximately 10 million population – one of the highest rate in the world. 

UK health minister hopes schools reopening, says SA variant at 77

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hoped schools, which have been closed to most pupils since January 5 as part of a national lockdown, would be able to reopen by Easter in early April but said it would depend on Covid-19 data.

"I would hope so," Hancock said, when asked during an interview on Sky News if schools would be open at Easter.

Hancock also said that 77 cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 had been found in the United Kingdom, all of them connected to travel from South Africa and under close observation.

Hancock said there was a very low number of cases of the Brazilian variant, 9 at the latest count, and those were also being closely monitored.

Russia reports 21,127 new virus cases, 491 deaths

Russia reported 21,127 new virus cases in 24 hours including 3,069 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,719,400.

Authorities also reported an additional 491 deaths, raising the total count to 69,462. 

Nine active virus cases in Australian Open quarantine

One case of Covid-19 among those in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open has been reclassified, local health officials said, leaving nine active cases in the group of players and support staff isolating in Melbourne hotels.

Health officials previously said they were investigating some positive tests for evidence of "viral shedding", where people who have had the virus continue to shed non-infectious remnants after they have recovered.

Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria also said in a statement that the one case of the virus acquired overseas was not connected to the tennis Grand Slam.

Most of the 970 people in the Australian Open quarantine hotels have entered their second week of the 14-day isolation period with the first arrivals due to be freed from lockdown on Friday.

India to give homegrown vaccine in seven more states 

India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country.

The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

The expansion from the 12 states now administering COVAXIN includes the southern state of Kerala, which has a high virus caseload, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat, the government said.

Some doctors have expressed doubt about COVAXIN, which was approved without efficacy data from late-stage clinical trials. The government says it is safe. The Lancet medical journal said on Thursday the drug produced an immune response in a small group of adults.

Spain's virus surge hits mental health of front-line workers

The unrelenting increase in virus infections in Spain following the holiday season is again straining hospitals, threatening the mental health of doctors and nurses who have been at the forefront of the pandemic for nearly a year.

In Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar, the critical care capacity has more than doubled and is nearly full, with 80 percent of ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients.

Chinese city makes thousands of temporary treatment rooms

A Chinese city has completed 2,600 temporary treatment rooms as the country’s north battles new clusters of the virus.

The single-occupancy rooms in the city of Nangong in Hebei province just outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heaters, toilets, showers and other amenities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Special attention has been paid to Hebei because of its proximity to the capital and the province has locked down large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which encompasses Nangong, have been largely sealed off. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been enforced.

Australia has eye on vaccination drive 

Australia recorded no new local coronavirus cases, maintaining a recent run of success in keeping the virus at bay, but nevertheless is keen to press on with its vaccination campaign from next month, government officials said.

Australia's first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is due to arrive in February and its campaign will then begin with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the front of the queue.

"We have the virus under control here in Australia but we want to roll out the vaccine," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a news conference.

The campaign was on track despite the low transmission numbers and shortage of supply of the Pfizer vaccine seen in some other countries, he said.

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 12,257 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 12,257 to 2,134,936, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 349 to 51,870, the tally showed. 

Thailand reports 198 new virus cases and one more death

Thailand reported 198 new virus cases, taking its total number of confirmed infections to 13,500.

Seven of the new infections were imported, a Covid-19 taskforce told a briefing. One additional virus-related death was recorded, bringing total fatalities to 73 since the outbreak began last year. 

Tears and fears as India's huge virus vaccine push falters

India's huge coronavirus vaccination drive is behind schedule, with a third of recipients not showing up for appointments because of safety fears, technical glitches and a belief that the pandemic is ending.

After one week, India has vaccinated 1.4 million people, or 200,000 people per day. It had initially hoped to process 300,000 per day before ramping up the rollout and inoculating 300 million by July.

New virus clusters hit China's north provinces

A Chinese city has brought 2,600 temporary treatment rooms online as the country’s north battles new clusters of the virus.

The single-occupancy rooms in the city of Nangong in Hebei province just outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heaters, toilets, showers and other amenities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Special attention has been paid to Hebei because of its proximity to the capital and the province has locked down large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which encompasses Nangong, have been largely sealed off from the rest of the country. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been enforced.

First person in Brazil gets AstraZeneca vaccine

Health workers in Rio de Janeiro were among the first people to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after Brazil received its first two million doses from the Serum Institute of India.

During a symbolic ceremony at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation headquarters, Estevão Portela, a medic from the National Infectolgy Institute was chosen to be the first person vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

First landing in Sao Paulo, then transferred to another aircraft and flown to Rio de Janeiro, the cargo carrying the vaccines was taken to Brazil's state-run Fiocruz Institute.

New Zealand health officials probe probable community Covid-19 case

New Zealand health officials said they were investigating a probable community coronavirus case, the country's first in months.

New Zealand, one of the most successful developed nations in controlling the spread of the pandemic, last recorded a community coronavirus transmission on November 18, according to information on the Health Ministry website.

"Health officials are currently investigating the case," the health ministry said in a statement.

UK to quarantine visitors from nations with high virus risk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is preparing to force travellers from countries where there is a high risk of Covid-19 to go into quarantine for 10 days after arriving in Britain, the Daily Mail reported.

Travellers from Brazil and South Africa, and neighbouring countries, will be met on arrival and escorted to hotels to quarantine, under plans being discussed by UK ministers, the Daily Mail said. 

Johnson favoured a more targeted approach than making all air passengers go into quarantine, said the report, which added that the quarantine decision would be taken on Monday.

Egypt to start vaccination campaign

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has announced that Egypt would start rolling out a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign the following day with the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab.

"We are starting a vaccination drive tomorrow beginning with healthcare workers followed by those suffering from chronic diseases and later the elderly," Sisi said in brief comments after unveiling several development projects in Port Said.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, received its first batch of the Sinopharm vaccines in December.

The company says its vaccine is 79 percent eff ective against the novel coronavirus.

New warning on vaccine supplies sparks EU concern over supply

A warning from AstraZeneca that initial supplies of its Covid vaccinations to Europe will be lower than expected has sparked fresh concern over the rollout of inoculations, forcing some countries to plan for a sharp drop in deliveries.

Friday's announcement by the British pharmaceutical firm followed another last week by Pfizer, which said it would delay shipments of its vaccine for up to a month due to works at its key plant in Belgium.

The companies' warnings come amid deepening concern over new Covid-19 variants, particularly one that emerged in Britain and which is believed to be more infectious than the original strain.

Mexico reports more than 20,000 cases

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 20,057 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 1,470 additional fatalities, bringing the country's total to 1,752,347 cases and 149,084 deaths.

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

Mainland China reports 80 new cases

Mainland China has reported 80 new cases, down from 107 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said.

The National Health Commission, in a statement, said 65 of the new cases were local infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 92 from 99 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 88,991, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies