In this file photo taken on March 26, 2021, cemetery workers prepare for the burial of a victim of COVID-19 at the Sao Joao municipal cemetery in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on March 26, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
LONDON / NEW YORK / CARIO / SAO PAULO – The Brazilian government cut by nearly 30% the number of COVID-19 vaccines expected to be delivered between January and April, according to a new calendar released by the country's health minister on Saturday.
Last month, former health minister Eduardo Pazuello said Brazil would receive roughly 103 million doses in the first four months of the year. But the latest calendar released by minister Marcelo Queiroga showed only 73 million doses.
Brazil’s infections and deaths fell for a second consecutive week, according to Health Ministry data. Weekly infections have dropped by more than 130,000 since a record five weeks ago. The nation reported 71,137 new cases on Saturday for a total of 14.3 million, the most after the US and India.
Weekly fatalities have fallen by more than 3,000 since a record three weeks ago. Another 3,076 deaths were reported on Saturday, for a total of 389,492.
Brazil registered 3,076 more COVID-19-related deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 389,492, the country's Ministry of Health reported on Saturday.
According to the ministry, another 71,137 new cases were registered, bringing the country's caseload to 14,308,215.
Brazil is currently ranked second in the world in the number of deaths from COVID-19, surpassed only by the United States, and third in the world in the number of cases, behind the United States and India.
Since the beginning of this year, the South American country has been facing a new wave of the virus, and the health systems in several states are close to collapse.
More than 12 million people in Britain are fully vaccinated by Saturday, the official figures said.
The British government said that 12,071, 810 people are fully vaccinated, having had their second dose.
The total number of people who have had a first dose is 33,508,590. More than half Britain's population has had one jab, according to the official figures.
A total of 38,189,536 COVID-19 vaccinations took place in England between Dec. 8 and April 23, according to National Health Service (NHS) England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 501,800 over the previous day.
Government data up to April 23 showed that of the 45,580,400 jabs given in the country so far, 33,508,590 were first doses, a rise of 119,953 over the previous day.
Another 2,061 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,403,170, according to official figures released Saturday.
The country also reported another 32 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 127,417. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
Belgium lowered the age threshold for administering AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, Wouter Beke, minister of health of Flanders said on twitter. The shot will now be given to anyone over the age of 40. It was previously being offered only to those over 55s previously. Johnson & Jonhson’s single-shot vaccine will be administered without age restrictions. The decisions were taken following the latest assessment of the EU’s drugs regulator.
Poland registered 9,505 new COVID-19 cases and 513 deaths linked to the virus over the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. That was a 40 percent drop in new infections compared with a week ago, adding to pressure on the government to loosen restrictions.
Russia reported 8,780 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, including 2,526 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,762,569 since the start of the pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis centre said 332 more deaths of coronavirus patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 108,232.
Italy has joined other countries by imposing restrictions on travel from India to avert the spread of a COVID-19 variant as the Asian nation struggles with a surge in infections.
Italy's Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Twitter he had signed an order barring foreign travellers who have been in India in the past 14 days from entering the country.
India, which is facing a health crisis, is battling a "double mutant" strain of COVID-19. On Sunday, the country posted the world's highest single-day increase in cases for a fourth day.
The number of new COVID -19 cases in Germany slowed to 14,422, the lowest in five days, and the number of new deaths was at a six-day low. At the same time, a key pandemic measure watched by the government rose to the highest in months. The so-called seven-day incidence rate, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days, increased to 165.6 on Sunday, the highest since January.
Germany’s latest lock-down measures went into effect on Saturday after both houses of parliament backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bill this week. The law — which expires at the end of June — triggers tighter restrictions in virus hot spots, including nighttime curfews and closing schools and non-essential stores.
“This is something new in our fight against the pandemic and I am convinced it is urgently needed”, Merkel said in her weekly podcast, published on Saturday. “We are in the middle of the third wave. The more contagious variant of the virus has also taken hold in Germany.”
The Swiss government estimates that about one-third of the population has been infected with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. About 2.8 million people have already caught the disease but many are unaware as they showed no symptoms of the virus, a government spokeswoman told newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
Only about 650,000 people in the Alpine nation have received positive Covid tests during the pandemic. At the end of 2020, government scientists found antibodies in about 20% of those tested and now believe that another 10% have been infected.
Meanwhile, the first case of the variant that is driving a deadly outbreak in India was identified for the first time in Switzerland, NZZ reported.
READ MORE: EU to strike world's largest vaccine deal with Pfizer
Italy's coronavirus vaccine rollout hit a major milestone Saturday, though it appeared unlikely the country would reach its end-of-month target for daily vaccinations.
The country's Ministry of Health reported on Saturday that five million Italian residents had been fully vaccinated, making Italy the third European Union (EU) member state to reach that milestone, following Germany and France.
A total of 17.3 million people in Italy have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, which means that around 28.5 percent of the country's population is partially vaccinated.
The Italian vaccine rollout, which was launched on Dec. 27, 2020, had seen problems so far, including a four-day pause in the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid worries about blood clots in some patients.
Earlier this month, the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was halted before it was set to start due to similar safety worries. But the government started limited use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday, with more doses expected to arrive next week.
ALSO READ: US ends pause on J&J’s vaccine after concern about clots
US states from New York to Arizona moved to begin administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine again, restoring one of the nation’s options even as inoculation rates slow. Illinois, Nevada, Maryland and Tennessee were among other states to resume giving the shots, a day after US health agencies lifted the pause on the vaccine while they reviewed serious and rare cases of blood clots.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who authorized administering the shots at state-run sites immediately, urged people to get whatever vaccine “is available to them first.”
“The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put the long COVID-19 nightmare behind us once and for all,” he said in a statement.
The US added more than 63,300 new cases Friday, amid a general easing of the latest viral wave, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. New cases have been slowing in hard-hit states in the Midwest, including Michigan, the data show.
Another 877 people died, the data show. Daily fatalities have not exceeded 1,000 for more than two weeks, roughly a quarter of the number at the peak of the post-holiday surge.
Healthcare workers wearing protective masks administer doses of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to senior residents at San Rafael Commons in San Rafael, California. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
France recorded 32,633 new cases in the past 24 hours, with deaths rising by 217 to a total of 102,713 on Saturday. The country is still in its third national lockdown, with schools set to reopen progressively from Monday. The vaccination campaign continues, with Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer saying in a tweet he got his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday there will be a “cautious and progressive” reopening of the economy from mid May.
The fourth batch of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines that Hungary had purchased arrived here on Saturday and were welcomed by the Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade at the airport.
Peter Szijjarto said the vaccines "allow us to further speed up our vaccination program, helping us to reach 4 million vaccinated Hungarians next week."
"This is a huge step towards victory, a huge step to get our population to safety, to restart the Hungarian economy, and to take further steps to bringing life back to normal."
When reaching the 4 million threshold, expected in the middle of next week, the Hungarian government plans to open a wide range of services to the population.
COVID-19 is continuing to strain Canada's healthcare system despite a seven-day average of 8,444 new cases daily between April 16 and 22, a 2.6 percent decrease from the previous seven-day period, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada on Saturday.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said average weekly rates of admission to hospitals, including intensive care units, continued rising.
On average 4,167 COVID-19 patients were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the week of April 16 to 22, marking a 22 percent increase over the week before.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Macedonia exceeded 150,000 on Saturday, as the Health Ministry reported 564 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
According to the Health Ministry, 3,526 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, of which 564 came back positive, taking the total tally of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 150,274.
Twenty-two patients diagnosed with COVID-19 lost their lives in the past 24 hours, raising the number of fatalities in the country to 4,650.
According to the Health Ministry, currently 1,528 COVID-19 patients are receiving hospital treatment across the country.
Cuba reported on Saturday over 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus disease for the tenth consecutive day, with 1,110 cases and 12 deaths registered in the last 24 hours.
The Ministry of Public Health said that the country has registered 100,318 cases and 581 deaths.
"The evolution of the disease is not the same as at the beginning of the pandemic," said the ministry's national director of hygiene and epidemiology, Francisco Duran.
Duran stated that 663 of the newly reported cases were detected in Havana, the epicenter of the country's pandemic, which has an incidence rate of 402.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Colombia registered 16,730 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking its nationwide tally to 2,757,274, the ministry of health and social protection said Saturday.
The country also reported 440 more deaths, raising the national death toll to 70,886, said the ministry.
According to the ministry, a total of 4,318,314 doses of vaccine have been applied in the South American country, and 1,357,291 people have received a second jab.
Argentina on Saturday reported 21,220 COVID-19 infections and 298 more related deaths in a day, bringing the respective national tallies to 2,845,872 and 61,474, said the Health Ministry.
A total of 2,496,277 patients have recovered from the disease so far, while 288,121 cases remain active, it said.
According to the Public Vaccination Monitor, Argentina has administered 8,701,508 doses of vaccine since Dec. 29, 2020.
The country is currently under social, preventive and mandatory distancing measures until April 30.
Costa Rica on Saturday registered 1,830 new COVID-19 infections, its highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic, with space for the most critical patients at public hospitals nearly full, health authorities said.
There have been 238,760 cases and 3,143 deaths from COVID-19 in the Central American country of 5 million people, whose tourism-driven economy has been hit by the pandemic's toll on global travel.
Venezuela received a new shipment of some 80,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, officials said on Saturday, as COVID-19 cases surged and opposition lawmakers criticized the government's vaccine rollout.
The shipment brings the total number of vaccines that Venezuela has received to 880,000, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said. He said the government would focus on inoculating healthcare workers and the elderly with the new shipments. Venezuela has also inoculated public officials, firefighters, civil protection personnel and oxygen distribution workers.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Public Health reported 1,448 new cases and 90 more deaths from the novel coronavirus disease on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 372,754 and the death toll to 13,085.
Another 5,073 deaths are considered to be COVID-19 related, but not verified, according to the ministry.
The province of Pichincha continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the country, with 35 percent of the total cases reported nationwide, most of them concentrated in the capital city of Quito.
Chile's Ministry of Health reported 6,796 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with 101 deaths.
At a press conference, Minister of Health Enrique Paris said that with these latest figures, the country has reached 1,162,811 total cases, with the death toll rising to 25,742.
"We must continue making all efforts to reduce cases, maintaining sanitary measures and standards," Paris said.
Although the daily cases of COVID-19 in Chile have remained steady this week, the seven-day moving average of daily cases has been decreasing since last week, according to the ministry.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 4,487,605 as of Saturday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.
The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union (AU), said the death toll from the pandemic stood at 119,635 while 4,028,831 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.
South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt are among the African countries with the most cases in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.
In terms of caseload cases, southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by northern Africa and eastern Africa regions, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the African health agency.
Kenya's Ministry of Health said Saturday it will scale up vaccination against COVID-19 across the country, saying its success is apparent in controlling the virus from spreading in countries.
Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health said Kenya is doing everything within its power to continue vaccinating as many people as possible, yet "the reality is, like the rest of the world, we are struggling to source for the vaccine".
She said the ministry has so far vaccinated 822,651 persons against COVID-19, adding that the number comprises targeted groups including health care workers, security personnel, teachers and people aged over 58 years.
She advised Kenyans to be patient as the government tries to explore alternative sources of the vaccines for the second dose amid concern that those who took the first dose might miss out on the second, with reports indicating that the second dose might be of a different brand.
Morocco's COVID-19 tally rose to 509,037 on Saturday as 507 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.
The death toll hit 8,988 with five new fatalities, while 358 people are in intensive care units, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health.
The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 in Morocco increased to 494,872 after 457 new ones were added, the statement said.
Tunisian Health Ministry reported on Saturday 2,229 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 298,572.
The death toll from the virus rose by 61 to 10,231 in Tunisia, the ministry said in a statement.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the North African country reached 2,688, including 493 in intensive care units, while the total number of recoveries reached 248,013, it said.