World Roundup: 30 million infected with COVID in Europe


More than 30 million coronavirus cases have been officially recorded in Europe, according to an AFP tally based on official health statistics on Friday.

The 52 nations, which include Russia, constitute the world’s worst-affected zone in terms of the number of infections, with a total of 30,003,905.

Europe is followed by the United States and Canada, which had recorded 23,994,507 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean 16,989,628, Asia 14,485,588, the Middle East 4,323,966, Africa 3,170,837 and Oceania 31,443.

Europe and North America are the regions with the highest number of daily cases. Last week, each of these two regions registered an average of around 260,000 new cases per day.

In total, more than 92 million cases of the coronavirus have been registered worldwide, including almost 2 million deaths, since the pandemic began in China in late 2019.

China puts 20,000 villagers under quarantine

China has sent over 20,000 rural residents living in the epicenter of the country’s latest virus outbreak to state-run quarantine facilities, as Beijing on Friday reported the worst nationwide figures since March.

Another 144 infections were reported by the National Health Commission on Friday – the highest single-day tally since March last year – mostly in Hebei province where more than 22 million people are in lockdown.

The surge appears to be fuelled by so-called “silent infections” – or asymptomatic cases – in mostly rural areas on the outskirts of cities.

India’s Covaxin sparks concern

A homegrown coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in India from Saturday even though clinical trials haven’t been completed. But the government insists it will be safe and effective.

The All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), an independent watchdog, led a chorus of concern from experts saying it was “shocked” and “baffled” by the emergency approval of Covaxin.

India has been hit hard by the virus, logging the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections globally with more than 10.5 million cases, and over 150,000 deaths – behind only the United States and Brazil. 

In early January New Delhi greenlighted Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s shot made by India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

But it also gave “emergency approval” to Covaxin, developed in India by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research, even though phase 3 human trials were yet to be completed.

Mass testing in Hiroshima

Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture is to conduct the country’s first mass coronavirus tests as it battles a surge of infections, an official said Friday.

Prefectural official Kazuhiro Saito confirmed reports that the tests would be offered to up to 800,000 people living and working in parts of Hiroshima City, home to 1.2 million people.

“We want to discover positive cases at an early stage to prevent the virus from spreading, especially in the city area,” he told AFP.

Eleven of Japan’s regions are currently under a virus state of emergency as the country battles a third wave of infections, though Hiroshima is not among them. 

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