Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 124 million people claiming at least 2.7 million lives around the world. Here are updates for March 22:

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the Covid-19 outbreak, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the Covid-19 outbreak, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. (Reuters)

Monday, March 22, 2021

WHO: Unequal vaccine distribution 'grotesque'

The World Health Organization blasted the growing gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich and poor countries, branding it a "moral outrage."

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was "shocking" how little had been done to avert an entirely predictable "catastrophic moral failure" to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines.

Turkey adds over 22,200 new cases

Turkey has reported more than 22,200 new coronavirus cases, according to Health Ministry data.

A total of 22,216 cases, including 981 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, the data showed.

Turkey's overall case tally is now over 3.03 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 30,178 with 117 more fatalities over the past day.

France sees new record for intensive care cases

France has reported 15,792 new cases, more than double the 6,471 reported last Monday and the number of people in intensive care with the virus rose by 142 to a new 2021 high of 4,548, health ministry data showed.

France also reported 343 new deaths bringing the country's total fatalities to 92,621.

UK's daily death toll falls to a six-month low

The United Kingdom's daily death toll has fallen to 17, the lowest figure in about six months, official data showed.

While deaths have dropped sharply in recent weeks, daily new cases have remained steady at around 5,000 to 6,000 this month.

The data showed 5,342 new cases were recorded. The seven -day figure was down 4.7 percent.

Switzerland approves J&J Covid vaccine

The Swissmedic regulatory authority have said in a statement that it authorised the use of the vaccine, which has the advantages of being a single-shot jab that can be stored with regular refrigeration rather than at ultra-cold temperatures.

Bosnia reports record daily number of deaths

Bosnia has reported a record daily number of deaths as medical staff said the health system was in danger of being overwhelmed and demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the closure of bars and restaurants.

The Balkan country of about 3.3 million, which has yet to begin mass inoculations because of a shortage of vaccines, reported 73 deaths and 818 new cases, health authorities said.

Israel, New Zealand OK sale of virus killing nasal spray

Israel and New Zealand have given interim approval for the sale of biotech firm SaNOtize Research and Development's Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) which could help prevent transmission of the Covid-19 virus, the company said.

NONS protects users from viruses that enter the body through the upper nasal pathways.

Russia says clinical trials for Sputnik Light vaccine complete

Russia has completed clinical trials for its one-shot "Sputnik-Light" version of its vaccine, the health minister said on state television.

Russia said in January that it would trial the slimmed-down vaccine as a possible "temporary" solution to help countries with high infection rates make the vaccine go further.

Lithuania's leaders get AstraZeneca vaccine in show of trust

Lithuania's president, prime minister and speaker of parliament have been given the AstraZeneca vaccine, in a show of trust in the producer after its use was suspended for two days last week.

Lithuania Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told reporters the leadership w anted to show trust in the vaccine after they suspended its use last Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of a European Medicines Agency report into its safety.

Mauritius approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

Mauritius has approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for use, becoming the 55th country to do so, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund said.

AstraZeneca hails US trials as EU rows with UK over supplies

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said that trials showed its vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease, as a row simmered between Britain and the EU over much-needed supplies of the jab.

The AstraZeneca shot is cheaper and easier to store than many of its rivals, several countries in Europe and other parts of the world last week suspended its use because of isolated cases of blood clots.

Russia reaches deal with Virchow Biotech to make Sputnik V in India

Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund said it had reached an agreement with India's Virchow Biotech to produce up to 200 million doses a year of the Sputnik V vaccine in India.

RDIF said the transfer of technology needed to produce the vaccine would be completed in the second quarter of the year.

Pakistan to start private imports of CanSino vaccine for sale 

A private company in Pakistan will begin receiving shipments of China's CanSino Biologics Covid-19 vaccine this week for commercial sale, an official at the company's local partner told Reuters.

Pakistan, one of the first countries in the world to allow private imports of virus vaccines, has already received a batch of the Russian Sputnik vaccine for commercial sale.

India reports worst daily rise in virus cases in months

India reported its most virus cases and deaths in months, on the first anniversary of the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown that left many people jobless and shrank the economy.

Authorities reintroduced some curbs to slow the spread of the virus, especially in the western state of Maharashtra, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the 46,951 new infections and the majority of the 212 deaths. 

Some hospitals in the country's worst-affected state have begun to run short of beds.

With the biggest rise in cases since early November, India's total has surpassed 11.65 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. The increase in deaths was the largest since early January, and took the total to 159,967.

Greece orders private sector doctors to assist against virus

Greece has ordered private sector doctors in the broader Athens region to assist its public health system to fight a rise in new virus infections, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.

The government had earlier called on private sector doctors to help out as Greece's public hospitals have been overwhelmed by surging virus infections and intensive care wards are running out of beds. It said about 200 doctors were needed.

Germany's virus cases rise by 7,709

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 7,709 to 2,667,225, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 50 to 74,714, the tally showed.

AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine 79 percent effective in US trial

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79 percent effective in a large US trial at preventing symptomatic illness, and was 100 percent effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation. 

The US study comprised 30,000 volunteers, 20,000 of whom were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots. The results were announced Monday.

New Zealand to announce date for quarantine-free travel with Australia

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she will announce a date for quarantine-free travel with Australia on April 6.

“We don’t have a date for you,” Ardern said in a news conference.

Ardern said more time was needed to set up the final framework of an agreement and determine arrangements such as contact tracing measures and managed isolation facilities.

Australia accelerates the pace of vaccination rollout

Australia begun accelerating the pace of virus inoculations after Canberra approved local manufacturing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt said about 1,000 general practitioners will now be able to administer AstraZeneca’s virus vaccine.

Anyone aged 70 and above, people with underlying health issues and members of Australia’s indigenous population over 55 years old - about 6 million people in total - are now eligible to receive the inoculation.

Miami Beach extends curfew

Miami Beach officials voted to extend an 8 pm curfew and emergency powers for up to three weeks to help control unruly and mostly maskless crowds that have converged on the party destination during spring break.

Thousands of people have packed the city’s Art Deco Cultural District causing bedlam and lawlessness in recent days when university students typically celebrate spring break, leading some businesses to close voluntarily out of concern for public safety.

Mayor Dan Gelber told an emergency meeting of the city commission that all manner of out-of-town and out-of-state visitors, not just college students, were filling the streets since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on February 26 called the state an “oasis of freedom” from coronavirus restrictions.

Virus cases, deaths rise in Arab countries

Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia announced more coronavirus infections and deaths Sunday as efforts continued to contain the disease.

Jordan’s Health Ministry announced 8,789 more cases, taking the country’s total number of infections to 535,455. A total of 434,167 people have recovered from the disease so far. The death toll rose by 88 to 5,876.

Another 42 people in Lebanon died from Covid-19, pushing the death toll to 5,757, the Lebanese Health Ministry announced. 

Another 968 people tested positive, with infections rising to 439,543, while the number of recoveries reached 343,078.

The Tunisian Health Ministry registered 20 more deaths as well as 301 new cases and 555 recoveries. Total infections rose to 245,706. The country has recorded 8,546 fatalities and 212,304 recoveries so far. 

Poll points to AstraZeneca concerns in Europe

Trust in AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in many European countries has plunged following controversy around the jab in recent weeks, according to a new survey unveiled by British pollsters YouGov.

A majority of people in the biggest European Union member states, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy, now see the inoculation as unsafe, the recent poll found.

However, views of the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant's jab remain overwhelming positive in Britain, where two-thirds of respondents said it is safe, compared to just nine percent believing it is not.

The findings come at a tumultuous time for the AstraZeneca vaccine and the EU's troubled inoculation campaign, as a third virus wave on the continent prompts renewed social restrictions.

Taiwan premier gets AstraZeneca shot

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang has received AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shot, as the island began its inoculation campaign.

"I have just finished getting the injection, there is no pain at the injection site, and there is no soreness of the body," Su told reporters at National Taiwan University Hospital in central Taipei.

"The doctor told me to more drink boiled water and rest a bit. The first point I'll follow, and the second point may be more difficult. But I'll still try to rest as much as possible," he added.

Brazil reports 47,774 new cases

Brazil recorded 47,774 additional cases of the novel coronavirus during the past 24 hours, along with 1,290 deaths from the disease, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered nearly 12 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 294,042, according to ministry data.

China reports seven new cases

China has reported seven new Covid-19 cases, down from 12 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all the new cases were imported infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, remained the same as the day earlier at eight.

Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stand at 90,106. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,636.

Venezuela suspends Holy Week events

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced two weeks of what he referred to as "radical quarantine," leaving Holy Week celebrations suspended.

"I announce that Holy Week this year will be again in radical quarantine. So we are going to have fourteen days, two weeks of radical quarantine," he said on Sunday.

Maduro had previously announced that the Holy Week would be flexible this year but, due to the rise in Covid-19 cases and the presence in the country of the variant of the virus detected in Brazil, the president announced the suspension of all Holy Week celebrations.

Maduro also reported that the country has 8,872 active Covid-19 cases.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies