COVID-19 SUMMARY: Pope Francis and Jordan’s King Abdullah II vaccinated, highest single-day pandemic death toll of 1,244 in Germany


14th January 2021 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 92,951,231 with 1,990,789 deaths as of 11.30pm today.


The U.K. has administered three million vaccines so far, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a tweet. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target to deliver about 15 million shots to the most vulnerable people by mid-February.

Germany’s economy shrank by 5.0% in 2020, less than expected and a smaller contraction than during the global financial crisis, as unprecedented government rescue and stimulus measures helped lessen the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of coronavirus fatalities in Germany is “very worrying,” the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said Thursday, as the country reported its highest single-day pandemic death toll of 1,244, bringing the nationwide death toll to 43,881. It was a record daily rise in COVID-19 deaths, higher than the 1,188 recorded on 8th January.

Germany’s public health agency warned that intensive-care units in some states were running close to capacity because of the latest tide of new cases. Austria recorded at least 11% more deaths than its five-year average in 2020.

At least 90,123 people died in Austria last year, 11% more than the five-year average, according to preliminary numbers from Statistik Austria. Excess mortality was highest in the week of 30th November, when deaths were 59% above the average. 

Hungary’s coronavirus cases need to drop significantly or vaccinations need to pick up quickly to allow the government to ease pandemic curbs, Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas said.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 may have immunity to the virus for around five months, according to preliminary findings in a new study led by Public Health England (PHE).

Pope Francis has received the first dose of a COVID019 vaccine, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Thursday.

Italy extended emergency powers through 30th April amid the pandemic, according to deliberations taken at a cabinet meeting Wednesday night.

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have eased somewhat in Finland over the past few weeks, authorities said. A feared upswing in infections and related hospital admissions hasn’t materialized after Christmas and New Year holidays, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said.

U.S. and Canada

More than 38,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the new year.

COVID-19 caused a significant jump in the US death rate in the second quarter of 2020according to early estimates released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate was 769 per 100,000 in the first quarter of 2020 and rose to 840 in the second quarter of the year. Comparatively, the death rate for the second quarter of 2019 was 702 per 100,000. 

U.S. Representative Andriano Espaillat on Thursday said he had tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fourth member of Congress to announce they had contracted the novel coronavirus following a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

American Airlines is telling its pilots to take the COVID-19 vaccine on their days off if they choose to be inoculated against the virus, which the company is not currently requiring, according to a memo reviewed by Reuters.

Tech giants including Microsoft Corp, Oracle Corp and healthcare companies Cigna Corp and Mayo Clinic are part of a coalition pushing for digital records of people who get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A Northern California hospital was fined $43,000 after it delayed reporting a recent COVID-19 outbreak which resulted in the death of one employee.

China and Hong Kong

Two World Health Organisation scientists en route to China to investigate the origins of the pandemic are stuck in Singapore after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, the UN agency said in a series of tweets Thursday. The two members are part of the team of scientists travelling to the central Chinese city of Wuhan to conduct field research.

China reported a death from COVID-19 on Thursday – its first in eight months – as the country battles to contain a resurgence in cases and prepares for the arrival of an expert team from the World Health Organization (WHO).

A survey released this week by the Chinese University of Hong Kong showed an “alarming” acceptance rate of just 37% for coronavirus vaccines in Hong Kong, as the government prepares to start a free vaccination program next month. Researchers based their findings on phone interviews with 1,200 adults.

Elsewhere in the world

COVID-19 cases in Africa have now topped 3 million and daily cases have surpassed the peak of the first wave, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).  The African Union has secured an additional 270 million Covid vaccine doses for African countries, but it still may not be enough to meet demand for the region, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) announced Wednesday.

A recent COVID-19 cluster in South Korea has been linked to a religious group gathering in North Gyeongsang Province, according to the country’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

India, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of inoculations, plans to offer 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to its neighbours as it draws up a policy to supply vials to countries across the globe, people with knowledge of the matter said.

CanSino Biologics Inc.’s Russian partner Petrovax Pharm expects local authorities to register the Chinese company’s Covid-19 vaccine soon, potentially marking the first approval for use of the inoculation outside of China.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II received the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, as the country started rolling out inoculations to certain parts of the population, a statement from the Royal Court said on Twitter. 

Nigeria wants to vaccinate as much as 40% of its population against the coronavirus in 2021, a government official said. The plan was described as unfeasible by a state governor and analysts.

Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa says he told Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to consider expanding the state of emergency to cover the entire nation.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will be vaccinated for COVID-19 live on television later on Thursday, a spokesman for his ruling AK Party said, aiming to alleviate any public doubts over the effectiveness of the vaccine. Turkey began administering the shots developed by China’s Sinovac to health workers on Thursday, as it rolls out a nationwide vaccination programme against the disease that has killed more than 23,000 people in the country. It has so far vaccinated more than 200,000 health workers.

Thailand is pitching six golf courses as state quarantine centers to foreign tourists as it looks to gradually reopen its tourism industry. Patrons will be able to enjoy golf and roam freely within the premises rather than confining themselves in their rooms during a two-week mandatory quarantine.

The Philippines approved Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE’s vaccine, the first to be allowed for emergency use in the country. The Food and Drug Administration found Pfizer’s vaccine may be effective to prevent, diagnose or treat Covid-19, and can be used for people aged 16 and up, its head Eric Domingo said in a virtual briefing.

 Singapore reported 45 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Thursday, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its preliminary daily update.

Developing South-East nation, Malaysia reported a record 3,337 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the biggest daily jump in cases since the start of the pandemic. The state of Selangor reported the highest number of new infections – 1,036 – followed by Johor and Sabah, with 460 and 389 new infections respectively. The capital Kuala Lumpur recorded 257 new cases. 

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.