COVID-19 SUMMARY: France says earlier curfew is effective, China’s coronavirus response faces a “big test” during Lunar New Year


13th January 2021 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 92,182,532 with 1,974,176 deaths as of 11.45pm today.


The role and remit of the World Health Organization (WHO) should be examined in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reforms will likely be needed to free it from politics and give it more independence, public health experts said on Wednesday.

A large proportion of doctors and nurses have been traumatized by working in intensive care during the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, a new study reveals, with almost half reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression, and some feeling they would be better off dead. The study — which has not yet been peer reviewed — was published Wednesday by researchers at King’s College London. It analyzed the responses to an anonymous online survey in June and July of more than 700 doctors and nurses working in intensive care units (ICUs) across six different hospitals.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford says he has spoken to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid a growing row about Covid poverty and the government provision of free meals to school children.

AstraZeneca pledged to deliver 2 million doses a week of its coronavirus vaccine for the U.K. before mid-February as it ramps up production to help fuel the country’s immunization campaign.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday that authorities were considering putting COVID-19 patients in hotels as a “backup plan.”

A cluster of Covid cases in the Austrian ski resort of Tyrol has been linked to a group of mainly British skiers who had travelled there to train to be instructors. The local government said 17 people found to be positive were now being tested to see if they had the UK variant of the virus.

The Austrian government may extend the country’s third lockdown, which was supposed to end on 24th January, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told Austrian public radio Oe1. 

Cabin crew members and pilots for the British discount airline EasyJet will be trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines, the company said Wednesday. 

Switzerland will close shops and toughen social distancing restrictions in a bid to prevent a surge of a faster-spreading strain that has already swamped U.K. hospitals.

Scotland’s 5.5 million people, already subject to nationwide lockdown rules, will from Saturday face a series of additional restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday that Denmark would extend its lockdown measures in an effort to combat the coronavirus.“I believe that an extension of the restrictions is clearly necessary. Not least to ensure that the British mutation does not spread,” Frederiksen said. Current lockdown measures are in effect until 17th Jan. Local media, citing sources from a meeting in parliament, said those measures would be extended by three weeks until 7th Feb. Frederiksen did not give a date.

The Vatican started administering COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, its spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. Vaccinations are taking place in the Vatican auditorium, where Pope Francis often holds his weekly general audiences, he said. 

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn has said the country is in one of the “gravest phases so far” of the coronavirus pandemic. Germany is introducing tighter rules for travellers returning to the country, due to the risk of new coronavirus mutations currently spreading in some parts of the world.  According to the German health ministry, starting 14th January, anyone entering the country from an area of risk must be able to prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus no later than 48 hours after entering the country.

The head of the scientific council that advises the French government warned Wednesday of the spread of the new variant first discovered in the UK. Speaking to France Info radio on Wednesday morning, Delfraissy said, “the variant is going to spread and we cannot stop it, we can slow it down by taking a number of restrictive measures.” 

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that bringing forward the curfew to 6pm from 8pm in certain parts of the country has been effective against the spread of the virus.

U.S. and Canada

Dropbox Inc on Wednesday announced the exit of operations chief and said it will cut 11% of its global workforce, or 315 people, as the file hosting service provider shifts business resources in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Jersey will expand COVID-19 vaccinations to people 65 years old and over after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that states open eligibility to seniors.

Central and Latin America

Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense Tuesday.

China and Hong Kong

China posted its biggest daily jump in COVID cases in more than five months on Wednesday, stepping up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown, as the world’s second-biggest economy scrambles to head off a new wave of infections. Most of the new cases were reported near the capital Beijing, but a province in far northeast China also saw a rise in infections, official data showed, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people placed under home quarantine.

China’s coronavirus response faces a “big test” in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holiday, Wang Bin, an official with the National Health Commission, said at a briefing. More gatherings, the transport of goods and people returning from overseas during the holiday could amplify risks, Wang said.

A leading Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech was just 50.38% effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, significantly lower than earlier results showed, according to a statement published by the government of Sao Paulo Tuesday.

A global team of scientists led by the World Health Organisation to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus will spend around a month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, including two weeks in quarantine, a team member said on Wednesday. A global team of scientists led by the World Health Organisation to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus will spend around a month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, including two weeks in quarantine, a team member said on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the world

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to step up its inoculation efforts, launching a “mass vaccination” push that will start next week. Russia began a “large-scale” coronavirus vaccination program, as Putin previously called it, in December but it is not clear exactly how many people have been vaccinated as part of this drive. 

The president of Armenia is in the hospital with a severe case of COVID-19, his assistant has told CNN.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in seven additional areas across the nation at the government Covid-19 task force meeting Wednesday.

The leader of a South Korean religious group has been found not guilty of violating the country’s Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Law, a news release from Suwon district court said Wednesday. Lee Man-hee, the leader of the religious group Shincheonji, was accused of intentionally submitting incomplete lists of his congregation to authorities as they were trying to track COVID-19 patients. So far, 22 people in South Korea have been indicted for violating the country’s social distancing rules since they were implemented last month, health official Son Young-rae said Wednesday.

The Philippines said it detected the COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K in the samples of a male citizen who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on 7th January via an Emirates flight.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged Wednesday (13th January) that China will help Indonesia fight COVID-19 by sharing its experiences, providing vaccines and supporting the Southeast Asian country as it begins to produce them domestically. Indonesia has received 3 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine and raw materials for 15 million doses that are to be produced in Indonesia.

The African Union secured almost 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for the continent, a step toward starting the complex task of inoculating more than 1.2 billion people with limited logistical and financial resources.

Fourth Malaysian Cabinet member tested positive for COVID-19 in 5 days.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.