The novel coronavirus has infected over 92 million people globally and claimed more than 1.9 million lives. Here are the updates for January 13:

Mavis, 87, is pushed by her daughter out of the Covid-19 vaccination centre at ExCel London, home to the London Nightingale Hospital, in London, on January 12, 2021.
Mavis, 87, is pushed by her daughter out of the Covid-19 vaccination centre at ExCel London, home to the London Nightingale Hospital, in London, on January 12, 2021. (AFP)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021:

UK records highest-ever daily number of deaths

The UK has recorded 1,564 coronavirus-linked deaths, the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic, taking the overall death toll to 84,767.

Government figures also showed that 47,525 new cases of Covid-19 had emerged in the country over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,211,576.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told members of parliament that he was "concerned" about a new variant of the virus discovered in Brazil and that the UK was "taking steps" to keep it out of the country.

"I think it's fair to say that there are lots of questions we still have," Johnson said.

Turkey to begin vaccinating health personnel

Turkey will begin vaccinating all health personnel against the novel coronavirus starting January 14, the country's top health official has announced.

"It's our top priority to run the vaccination program in a transparent manner," said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, adding that he, along with the members of Turkey's Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Committee that have not contracted the disease yet would soon be first in the country to receive doses of the vaccine.

Speaking after a meeting of the committee in the capital Ankara, he explained that by getting vaccinated, senior officials would be "setting an example" for the public to follow suit.

Each individual will be assigned vaccine doses by name with a barcode, Koca added, saying: "We're determined to apply the vaccine and comply with measures and restrictions until the pandemic comes to an end."

Italy reports 507 deaths, 15,774 new cases

Italy has reported 507 coronavirus-related deaths, against 616 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 15,774 from 14,242.

Some 175,429 swab tests were carried out in the past day, against a previous 141,641.

Italy has registered 80,326 Covid-19 deaths since its outbreak came to light on February 21, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. 

The country has also reported 2.319 million cases to date, the health ministry said.

Patients in the hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 23,525 on Wednesday, down 187 from a day earlier.

There were 165 new admissions to intensive care units, against 196 the day before. The total number of intensive care patients fell by 57 to 2,579.

French new cases lower than a week ago

France has reported 23,852 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, more than the 19,752 but down from 25,379 a week ago.

Health Ministry data also showed that 229 people had died from the virus in hospitals, from 355 on Tuesday.

The number of people in intensive care rose by double-digit numbers for the fourth consecutive day, up by 23 to 2,711.

The number of people in hospital with the disease rose by 32 to 24,769. The number of people in the hospital has been stable between about 24,000 and 25,500 for five weeks.

Brazil's Bolsonaro sabotaged anti-Covid-19 efforts

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has tried to sabotage efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 in his country and pursued policies that undermine the rights of Brazilians, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The Supreme Court, Congress, and other institutions have stepped up to protect Brazilians and blocked some of Bolsonaro's most damaging policies, the rights group said in the Brazil chapter of its annual world report.

The group's executive director predicted that Washington will join the European Union in pressuring Bolsonaro's government to protect the Amazon from deforestation under the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden.

Bolsonaro wanted to remove the authority of states to restrict people's movements, as they sought to contain the world's second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak after the United States, but the Supreme Court ruled against him.

The top court also intervened to stop his government from withholding Covid-19 data from the public.

J&J may not meet US vaccine supply target by spring

Johnson & Johnson is facing unexpected delays in the manufacturing of its coronavirus vaccine and may not be able to supply the doses it promised the federal government by spring, the New York Times has reported.

US federal officials have been told that J&J has fallen as much as two months behind the original production schedule and will not catch up until the end of April, when it was supposed to have delivered more than 60 million doses, the NYT reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The company and the US Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Earlier this week, J&J's chief executive officer said the company was on track to have close to a billion vaccine doses by 2021-end.

UAE daily cases cross 3,000

The daily number of cases in the United Arab Emirates have crossed the 3,000 threshold for the first time this week as authorities in the Middle East's business and tourism hub urged people to accept vaccinations.

The health ministry reported 3,243 new daily infections and six deaths. That was the highest in the Gulf Arab region where daily cases in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.

The Gulf Arab state has also ramped up its immunisation campaign, ranking second behind Israel in terms of its vaccination rate. Emirati officials have said they aim to vaccinate more than 50 percent of its roughly 9 million population in the first quarter of this year.

The UAE has approved the vaccine developed by Sinopharm's China National Pharmaceutical Group and has made it available to the general public. Dubai emirate is inoculating people with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTec.

The UAE is participating in Phase III trials for the Sinopharm vaccine and for Russia's Sputnik V shot.

In total, the UAE has recorded 236,225 infections and 717 deaths.

Taiwan confirms first case of South African variant

Taiwan health authorities said they had confirmed the first case of the highly transmissible South African variant, in an eSwatini national being treated in hospital.

The infection with the variant had been confirmed on Tuesday by laboratory test, the Central Epidemic Command Centre said.

The man in his 30s had arrived in Taiwan to work on December 24 and began developing symptoms while in quarantine and was initially confirmed to have Covid-19 on January 3, according to details previously released by the government.

South Africa reported a new peak of more than 21,000 daily infections last week, taking total cases to more than 1.2 million, the most on the African continent. Coronavirus deaths now exceed 33,000.

Taiwan has reported 843 cases including seven deaths. Almost all the cases have been imported and about 100 people are being treated in hospital. 

Japan widens virus emergency 

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures, affecting more than half the population amid a surge in infections across the country.

Prime Minister Yoshide Suga also said Japan will suspend fast-track business entry permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place.

Suga's announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until February 7.

The government is asking bars and restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Tochigi prefectures to close by 8 pm (1100GMT), employers to have 70 percent of their staff work from home and residents in the affected areas avoid going out for nonessential purposes.

Dutch hold mass testing amid new variant fears

Residents of a Dutch town have filed into a sports hall to take part in the country's first mass coronavirus testing program, which aims to find out more about the spread of a new more transmissible coronavirus variant.

The makeshift testing center in Bergschenhoek, near the port city of Rotterdam, was set up after a cluster of cases linked to an elementary school turned up 30 cases of the new variant that is sweeping through Britain and Ireland, putting hospitals in those countries under severe strain.

On Tuesday night, as the Dutch government extended its current lockdown by three more weeks, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that only 2 percent to 5 percent of all cases in the Netherlands are now the new variant.

Confirmed new infections in the Netherlands over the last week fell 12 percent to 49,398, the Dutch public health institute said Tuesday. Hospital admissions for virus patients fell 18 percent and new patients in intensive care units declined by 12 percent.

The overall Dutch death toll now stands at more than 12,500.

Russia reports 22,850 new cases, 566 deaths

Russia has reported 22,850 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 4,320 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,471,053, the world's fourth largest.

Authorities also confirmed 566 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 63,370. 

Hungary detects UK variant, surgeon general says

Hungary has detected a new, more easily transmissible variant of coronavirus first found in Britain, Surgeon General Cecilia Muller said.

"My colleagues have identified the UK virus variant, already found in neighbouring countries, in the samples of three patients," Muller said. "It was obvious that Hungary would not be able to avoid this variant either." 

Indonesia starts mass vaccinations with president

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has received the first shot of a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccine millions of people in the world’s fourth most populated country.

After Widodo, top military, police and medical officials were vaccinated, as well as the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims. Others such as a healthcare workers, businesspeople and a social media influencer also received the shots to encourage people to get the vaccine when it is available to them.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 19,600 into nearly 2M 

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany has increased by 19,600 to 1,953,426, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 1,060 to 42,637, the tally showed. 

Arrivals in US will need negative test

The United States has announced that all air travellers entering the country will need a negative test before departure, as concerns grow over more contagious virus variants.

The policy takes effect on January 26 and expands an existing measure targeting Britain, where the strain known as B117 has been tied to a drastic spike in cases.

Ireland, which now has the world's highest infection rate, also announced Tuesday it was extending to all arrivals testing measures that previously applied only to travellers from the UK and South Africa.

Africa secures close to 300 million vaccine doses 

The African Union has secured close to 300 million virus vaccine doses in the largest such agreement yet for Africa, a continental official said.

Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press in an interview that the current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to announce the news on Wednesday.

The 300 million doses are being secured independently of the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing virus vaccines to lower-income countries, Ndembi said.

US death toll hits new daily record of nearly 4,500 

The US death toll from virus has hit a new daily record of nearly 4,500, Johns Hopkins University said.

As the health crisis rages out of control in the US, this was the first time the toll in the country hardest hit by the pandemic surpassed 4,000 in 24 hours.

The US recorded more than 235,000 new cases of virus infection and 4,470 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tally as of 0130GMT.

Around 131,000 people are now hospitalised in the US with the virus, said the Covid Tracking Project.

The weekly average of fatalities is at its highest level since the pandemic started, it said.

Chinese province of 37m declares 'emergency state'

A Chinese province of more than 37 million has declared an "emergency state" to snuff out a handful of cases, as the country moved decisively to contain infections.

The government of northeastern Heilongjiang – with a population of 37.5 million people – declared an "emergency state", telling residents not to leave the province unless absolutely necessary, and to cancel conferences and gatherings.

More than 20 million are now under some form of lockdown in the country's northern regions.

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales tests positive

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has tested positive for the virus and is getting treatment to combat symptoms, according to a statement issued by his office late.

"He is currently stable and is receiving medical attention," the statement said, without providing details on his symptoms.

Last week, 61-year-old Morales participated in group meetings with coca growers in Cochabamba in the central part of the country.

Ireland has highest transferral rate in the world

In the midst of a third wave of infections, Ireland now holds the unhappy title of the nation with the highest transmission rate in the world.

The country of five million has suffered only 2,397 virus deaths to date and gained plaudits for the way it handled two previous pandemic waves.

In December, it had the lowest incidence rate in the European Union after becoming the first member country to launch a second lockdown.

But now it sits atop a world table tracking fresh infections.

There were 1,288 confirmed cases per million of the population on Monday according to data compiled by Oxford University, placing Ireland first, ahead of the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

Ireland had officially registered just over 93,000 cases on January 1 but that figure jumped to more than 150,000 by Monday.

According to new figures, there are 1,700 patients hospitalised with the virus, nearly double the peak registered in Ireland's first wave early last year.

The third lockdown has seen schools, non-essential retail and the hospitality sector totally shut.

China sees biggest daily case jump in over 5 months

China has recorded the biggest daily jump in cases in more than five months, despite three cities in lockdown, increased testing and other measures aimed at preventing another wave of infections in the world's second biggest economy.

Most of the new patients were reported near the capital Beijing, but a province in northeast China also saw a rise in new cases, official data showed on Wednesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 115 new confirmed cases were reported in the mainland compared with 55 a day earlier.

This was the highest daily increase since July 30.

The commission said 107 of the new cases were local infections. Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing, accounted for 90 of the cases, while northeastern Heilongjiang province reported 16 new cases.

The number of new cases reported in recent days remains a small fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020.

Travellers to US must show negative test 

Anyone flying to the US will need to show proof of a negative test, health officials announced.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement expands on a similar one announced late last month for passengers coming from the United Kingdom.

The virus is already widespread in the US, with more than 22 million cases reported to date, including more than 375,000 deaths. 

The new measures are designed to try to prevent travellers from bringing in newer forms of the virus that scientists say can spread more easily.

The CDC order is to take effect in about two weeks, on January 26. 

It requires air passengers to get a test within three days before their flight departs to the US, and to provide written proof of the test result to the airline. Travellers can also provide documentation that they had the infection in the past and recovered.

Airlines are ordered to stop passengers from boarding if they don’t have proof of a negative test or a prior infection.

Lines form for virus tests in north China city

Millions of Chinese are lining up in subzero temperatures to receive a second round of tests in a city south of Beijing that is at the heart of China’s most serious latest outbreak.

Officials on Wednesday announced 90 newly confirmed cases in Hebei province, whose capital Shijiazhuang has accounted for the vast majority of recent cases. The Hebei outbreak is of particular concern because of the province’s close proximity to Beijing.

Travel to and from three cities, Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang, has been suspended and residents of some communities have been told to stay home for the next week.

All Shijiazhuang’s roughly 10 million people have been ordered to undergo a second round of testing as authorities seek to isolate the sources of infection.

Mexico records another high daily toll

Mexico has posted another high for its daily increase in cases, with 14,395 newly confirmed infections and a near-record of 1,314 more deaths.

The country has now topped 1.55 million total infections and has seen 135,682 deaths so far in the pandemic. 

Because of Mexico's extremely low testing rate, official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000.

Mexico received a shipment of almost 440,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday, its biggest shipment to date but still inadequate for the 750,000 front-line health care workers.

Mexico has pinned much of its hopes on cheaper, easier-to-handle vaccines made by China’s CanSino.

But that vaccine has not yet been approved for use.

Canada buys additional 20M Pfizer vaccine doses

Canada announced a deal to secure an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which would allow for more than half of Canadians to be inoculated before summer.

The American and German pharmaceutical giants will also accelerate deliveries of their jointly-developed vaccine over the coming months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.

"Between mid-April and June, we will have enough doses to vaccinate up to 20 million people," or more than half of Canada's population of 38 million, he said.

This, along with the parallel rollout of a Moderna vaccine in December, puts Canada "on track to have every Canadian who wants a vaccine receive one by September", he added.

Hedging bets, Canada has ordered and placed options with seven pharmaceutical firms for more than 400 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in total.

As of Tuesday, Canada counted more than 673,000 Covid-19 cases and 17,000 deaths.

Greece urges EU to adopt vaccine certificate for travel

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged the EU to adopt a "standardised" vaccination certificate to boost travel this year, his office said.

"Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel," Mitsotakis wrote to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in a letter released by his office.

"It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states," the Greek PM said, calling for a "standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated".

Greece's economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism, took a major blow this year from the coronavirus pandemic, even after reopening all its airports to foreign travellers in July.

The budget sees the Greek economy slumping by 10.5 percent in 2020, worse than the 8.2 percent predicted in October.

NBA tightens health protocols as virus impacts season

NBA players should stay at their residences when they are at home and in their hotels when on the road for at least the next two weeks, the league said in a list of new health protocols designed to limit Covid-19's impact on the season.

The league, which postponed one game on Sunday and three games this week due to the virus, is trying to avoid a league-wide suspension of play like the one that derailed it in March before it returned in a "bubble" environment in Orlando in July.

The NBA said the new protocols, which take effect immediately, were issued "in response to the surge of cases across the country and an uptick among NBA teams requiring potential player quarantines."

Players and team staff can leave their homes to attend team-related activities, exercise outside, perform essential activities or as a result of extraordinary circumstances, the protocols said.

While at hotels, players and team staff are prohibited from leaving expect for team activities or emergencies. They are also barred from interacting with non-team guests.

Players and coaches must wear face masks at all times on the bench and in the locker room, according to the protocols, which were endorsed by the players' union.

US widens vaccination eligibility as deaths mount

US federal officials on Tuesday agreed to send states additional vaccine doses requested by several governors, as the country tries to ramp up the pace of inoculations with the daily death toll hovering at 3,200.

Officials also recommended that states broaden vaccination eligibility to people as young as 65 or who have other chronic health conditions that make them vulnerable to severe Covid-19, drawing a mixed reaction from states that have tailored their inoculation priorities differently.

Releasing additional vaccine was called for last week by President-elect Joe Biden's spokesman and nine Democratic governors, including Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. "Michigan and states across the country remain ready to get more shots in arms, which is why the Trump Administration’s decision to grant our request and release millions of doses of the vaccine is so crucial,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Whitmer, who had backed the lower vaccination age, also said she was still awaiting a reply from the administration to her request to allow Michigan to purchase 100,000 vaccine doses directly from its manufacturer, Pfizer Inc.

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised the vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE and a second vaccine from Moderna Inc for emergency use.

Ireland to require all arrivals show negative virus test

Ireland said that from Saturday all arriving travellers will have to show a negative test as the country's infection rate is now the highest in the world.

In the first such blanket restrictions, the Irish government said in a statement that all travellers will need to show a negative test result taken within the last 72 hours.

Currently this only applies to travellers from the United Kingdom and South Africa, where new highly infectious strains have been detected.

Travellers from the UK and South Africa will still have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, even after showing a negative test result.

Ireland, a country of five million, in December had the lowest infection rate in the European Union but the number of cases has soared since a dramatic relaxation of restrictions over the festive period.

The number of confirmed cases rose from just over 93,000 cases on January 1 to more than 150,000 on Monday. The number of cases per million of population, 1,288, is the highest in the world, according to data compiled by the University of Oxford.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies