Coronavirus claims 40 more lives, infects another 2,007 in Pakistan
Pakistan reported 40 new deaths and 2,007 infections by the deadly coronavirus during the last 24 hours (Friday). The country conducted 40,898 tests during the last 24 hours, showed the data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday morning.
With the addition of 2,007 new infections, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country has reached 499,517 after conducting 7,043,604 tests. Of the total cases, Punjab has 144,111 patients, Sindh 224,004, Balochistan 18,351, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 60,751, Islamabad 38,970, Gilgit Baltistan 4,879 and Azad Kashmir 8,451.
The number of total deaths has risen to 10,598 after adding 40 new ones while the number of recoveries stands at 455,445.
There are currently 33,474 active cases of Covid-19 in the country, with the NCOC saying 2,779 of them are in critical condition.
Brisbane locks down
Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane entered its first day of a snap lockdown on Saturday, with officials on "high alert" over the emergence of more contagious strains of Covid-19.
The streets were quiet Saturday morning, with only a small number of masked locals venturing out for essential reasons after the city was ordered into a three-day lockdown beginning Friday evening.
The stay-at-home order for Brisbane's more than two million residents was triggered after the UK strain of the virus spread from a returned traveller to a cleaner at a quarantine hotel -- Australia's first recorded local case of the variant.
The UK strain is among a number of emerging variants around the world believed to be more infectious.
Authorities also issued a warning for passengers of a flight that arrived in Brisbane from Melbourne earlier this month, after a woman tested positive for the UK strain despite already undergoing a period of isolation.
"The risk is extremely low -- very, very, very low -- because she (the traveller) is right at the end of her potential infectious period," Queensland's Chief health officer Jeannette Young told media.
"But because of this new variant we're just being ultra cautious."
The news comes as parts of Sydney prepared to end a weeks-long lockdown at midnight, following an outbreak which emerged last month.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state remained on "high alert" due to an increasing number of quarantined travellers testing positive for new variants of Covid-19.
"Obviously, there was a hope we might have entered 2021 with no Covid, but it's here to stay," he added.
Australia has recorded more than 28,500 Covid-19 cases and 909 deaths linked to the virus, in a population of about 25 million.
Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
- Record deaths in Britain -
Britain reports a record 1,325 coronavirus deaths over a 24-hour period, as a surge in cases piles pressure on overstretched health services, forcing London to declare a major incident.
- Vaccine queue call -
The World Health Organization urges rich countries to stop making bilateral deals for the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines. It says 42 countries have started their vaccination programme. of which 36 are high-income nations and six middle-income.
- Vaccine nixes variants -
German company BioNTech says a preliminary study shows its vaccine works against strains uncovered in Britain and South Africa.
- Chinese cities sealed off -
China seals off two cities south of Beijing, cutting transport links and banning millions of residents from leaving, as authorities move to stem the country's largest outbreak in six months.
- Millions more jabs -
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen says the EU has struck a deal to double its supply of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to a total of 600 million doses.
- Weeks still for EU OK -
EU regulators say they could approve the cheaper Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January as Britain greenlights the Moderna shot. Its government has been criticised for not ordering enough of the US vaccine.
- Nearly 1.9 million dead -
The coronavirus has killed at least 1,899,396 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally on Friday based on official sources.
The US is the worst-affected country with 365,321 deaths, followed by Brazil with 200,498, India with 150,570 and Mexico with 131,031.
The number of deaths globally is broadly under-estimated. The toll is calculated from daily figures published by national health authorities and does not include later revisions by statistics agencies.
- US job losses -
The US economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, according to the US Labor Department which said the losses reflect the recent spike in Covid-19 infections.
- Iran bans US, British vaccines -
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bans the import of American and British-produced vaccines against Covid-19, saying they are "completely untrustworthy".
- Canada airline makes cuts -
Westjet, Canada's second largest airline, announces temporary layoffs of as many as 1,000 staff and reduction of its capacity by almost one-third "in the face of continuing federal government travel advisories and restrictions."
With inputs from AFP.