Boxes of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines sit at a warehouse of Hungaropharma, a Hungarian pharmaceutical wholesale company, in Budapest, Hungary, April 13, 2021. (SZILARD KOSZTICSAK / MTI VIA AP)
LISBON / NEW YORK / PARIS / LONDON - The United States has administered 205,871,913 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 264,499,715 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.
Those figures are up from the 202,282,923 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by April 16 out of 258,502,815 doses delivered.
The US added just over 80,000 new cases on Friday, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The seven-day average has risen for five consecutive weeks; it’s at its highest point since mid-February as infections, particularly in the Midwest, continue to surge. Another 932 people died, the data show.
South Africa’s health regulator asked the government to lift the pause on administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines provided certain conditions are met.
“These conditions include, but are not limited to, strengthened screening and monitoring of participants who are at high risk of a blood clotting disorder,” the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said in a statement.
South Africa halted J&J vaccines after health agencies on Tuesday called for their suspension in the US. The J&J shot is a key element to South Africa’s vaccination plan and has already been used to inoculate health workers, with no reported adverse effects.
The third wave of the pandemic is waning in Poland. The country reported 15,763 new cases on Saturday, a 37 percent decline from the week earlier. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals fell by more than 2,000 from a week ago to 32,073 and is the lowest since April 4.
Total deaths rose to 61,825, with 8,772 deaths reported so far April; 616 were reported today, compared with 749 last Saturday
The Portuguese vaccination task force said on Saturday that people recovered from COVID-19 will be vaccinated in the second phase of the program, changing the original plan of the health authority.
The task force coordinator, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, said that there was a "change of concept" because "in the first phase there was a shortage of vaccines" and it was necessary "to concentrate the vaccines where they were most needed."
Since the beginning of April, there has been a "greater abundance of vaccines" for the second phase, which allows those who have already been infected to enter the vaccination process.
More than 600,000 first and second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Britain in the space of 24 hours, according to data released on Saturday.
Another 2,206 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,385,938, according to official figures released Saturday.
The country also reported another 35 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 127,260. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
More than 32.6 million people have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.
The regional health commission in Italy's Lombardy said Saturday that public confidence in the country's use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been hindered by safety fears.
Giovanni Pavesi, director-general of the Lombardy Region Welfare Department, told health officials and reporters, mostly via video hookup, that reports of health concerns tied to the AstraZeneca vaccine have resulted in people turning down that vaccine.
"This is a more serious problem than we anticipated," Pavesi said, adding the hesitation over AstraZeneca is having an impact on the broader rollout in his region and elsewhere.
Both Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the country's president, Sergio Mattarella, were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Canadian police forces say they will not randomly stop motorists to enforce the province of Ontario’s stay-at-home campaign. On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had no choice but to impose tough restrictions to curb a sharp rise in infections, including extraordinary powers to stop vehicles and individuals to ask why they aren’t at home.
But police in Toronto, Waterloo and other cities quickly issued statements saying they won’t do random checks.
Ottawa police said they would be involved with setting up checkpoints on bridges between Ontario and neighboring Quebec to enforce new constraints on travelers from other provinces. People will still be allowed to cross the provincial boundary for work.
The Canadian province of Alberta reported a case of blood clotting after an AstraZeneca vaccine. It is the second clot case in Canada out of total of 700,000 AstraZeneca doses administered, Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer, said in a statement Saturday.
The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France has fallen and the number of patients in hospital has also dropped, the health ministry said on Saturday, in a sign that pressure on the medical system is easing.
France recorded 35,861 new coronavirus cases and 189 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 100,593. The country, currently in its third national lockdown, earlier this week surpassed the threshold of 100,000 deaths, a humbling moment for President Emmanuel Macron, who had refused to lock down the country for a third time in January.
France also said Saturday it administered 298,247 vaccine shots in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of shots to almost 17 million, 12.5 million of which are first doses.
Macron, who is up for re-election next year, is walking a thin line after he pledged to start reopening some cultural venues, open-air restaurants and bars in mid May. Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman, said Friday the country will stick to a target of reopening schools progressively at the end of April.
France will order a strict 10-day quarantine for all travellers coming from Brazil starting April 24, the prime minister's office said on Saturday, in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant first found in the South American county.
France decided this week to suspend all flights to and from Brazil. The measure will be extended until April 23, the prime minister's office said in the same statement.
Brazil's COVID-19 death toll on Saturday reached 371,678 after registering another 2,929 fatalities, the country's ministry of health reported.
According to the ministry, another 67,636 cases were registered, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 13,900,091.
Since the beginning of this year, the country has been facing a second wave of the virus, which has resulted in the collapse of a large part of its healthcare system.
The state of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country, has been the most affected, with 2,739,823 cases and 88,097 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 699,422 cases and 41,162 deaths.
New deaths in Brazil fell for the first week since mid-February, with almost 800 fewer fatalities compared with the week before, according to Health Ministry data.
Chile's Ministry of Health reported on Saturday 7,696 new cases of COVID-19 and 132 more deaths amid a rise in contagion in the South American country.
According to the ministry, the total number of cases has reached 1,117,348, with 45,965 currently in the active stage of the disease, while the country's death toll has risen to 25,055.
Chile is facing another wave of COVID-19 infections after relaxing restrictive measures during the summer season and resuming face-to-face activities in March, which has contributed to the spread of the virus.
A total of 3,308 people are currently hospitalized in intensive care units, of which 2,855 are on ventilators, and only 193 intensive care beds remain available in the country.
Ecuador reported 2,193 cases and 103 more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 358,157 and the death toll to 12,677, the Ministry of Public Health reported on Saturday.
The province of Pichincha continues to be the epicenter of the virus in the country, with the capital city of Quito reporting the most cases.
According to authorities, the country is facing a spike in cases due to citizen indiscipline, and 11 of the 24 Ecuadoran provinces have reported a high incidence of infections, leading the government to implement restrictions on mobility, particularly in larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil.
Argentinean Foreign Minister Felipe Sola asked the United Nations (UN) that vaccines against COVID-19 be seen as a "global public good which everyone should be able to access," the Foreign Ministry reported on Saturday.
Sola announced Argentina's position during the Special Ministerial Meeting organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) dedicated to the topic of vaccines.
"Despite having the first vaccines in just 12 months, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 0.1 percent of the doses administered in the world were in low-income countries, while the high-income countries make up more than half of the injected doses," he said.
Sola called on the international community to "avoid practices that encourage the shortage of critical supplies, treatments, and vaccines" against COVID-19.
Argentina on Saturday reported 9,119 COVID-19 infections and 80 more related deaths in a day, bringing the national tallies to 2,677,747 and 59,164 respectively, said the Health Ministry.
Currently, 274,775 cases are active, and four of the country's 24 districts have reported over 1,000 new cases per day.
Colombia has registered 16,654 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking its nationwide tally to 2,636,076, the ministry of health and social protection said Saturday.
The country also reported 367 more deaths, raising the national death toll to 67,931, said the ministry.
According to the ministry, a total of 3,590,096 citizens have been vaccinated in the South American country, and 1,093,853 of them have received a second jab.
Cuba registered 1,026 cases and 12 deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily death toll since the disease appeared in the country last year, the Ministry of Public Health reported on Saturday.
According to the ministry, the total number of cases has reached 92,474 while the death toll has climbed to 512.
The ministry's national director of hygiene and epidemiology, Francisco Duran, explained that 29 patients were currently hospitalized in critical condition and 35 were in serious condition.
Havana continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the country, with 366.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest incidence rate in the country, followed by the provinces of Matanzas and Sancti Spiritus.
Morocco's COVID-19 tally rose to 505,447 on Saturday as 600 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.
The death toll hit 8,944 with 10 new fatalities, while 432 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 491,537 after 616 new ones were added, the statement said.
The COVID-19 fatality rate in Morocco stands at 1.8 percent while the recovery rate is 97.2 percent.
Amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Tunisia, Tunisian authorities on Saturday announced new measures to curb its spread.
"These measures will be applicable from April 18 to April 30," Hasna Ben Slimane, spokesperson of the Tunisian government, said during a press conference held at the government's headquarters.
The decision put a ban on all vehicles from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, on top of the existing curfew which forbids people leaving their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Tunisian Health Ministry on Saturday reported 2,199 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 283,976.
The death toll from the virus rose by 78 to 9,717 in Tunisia, the ministry said in a statement.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the North African country reached 2,333, including 462 in intensive care units, while the total number of recoveries reached 234,012, it said.
Despite increased information on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and repeated assurance that Zambia will only accept proven vaccines, skepticism has continued with people expressing reservations on whether to take it or not.
On Wednesday, April 14, the government officially launched the vaccination program in which it targets to vaccinate about 8.3 million of the eligible population from 18 years and above.
The program is being undertaken in a phased manner on a voluntary basis with the first phase targeting health workers and other people the most at risk.
The Director of the National Center for Disease Control of Libya, Dadr Addin Annajar, on Saturday announced the start of the vaccination against COVID-19 in the capital Tripoli.
Annajar revealed that Libya so far has received vaccines from China, Russia and other nations and will distribute them to different parts of the country via 450 vaccination centers.
He also explained that vaccination priority will be for medical staff treating COVID-19 patients inside isolation units, followed by the elderly, those with chronic diseases, and then the health workers who do not deal with the infectious virus.
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