Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Europe begins vaccine rollout as new virus strain spreads fears

The approval and rollout of vaccines has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite from the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.7 million people so far.

Other News

Churchill mosque painting sold by Angelina Jolie smashes record

The painting of a Marrakech mosque at sunset is a piece of both political and Hollywood history.

Over half of Malaysians struggling to meet expenses with current income, survey shows

A similar number say they are dipping into their savings to make ends meet.

1,555 kes baru Covid-19 dikesan hari ini

Kes aktif dengan kebolehjangkitan pula kini berjumlah 25,542.

Hospital swasta sedia peroleh vaksin dari sumber lain

Hospital swasta boleh digerakkan untuk melengkapkan usaha kerajaan dalam memastikan majoriti penduduk mendapat vaksin.

New cases inch lower to 1,555

2,528 recoveries, six more deaths.

A swath of EU nations begin vaccinating their most vulnerable groups Sunday as a reputedly more contagious coronavirus variant spread internationally and the WHO warned that the current pandemic would not be the last.

First doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in EU countries including hard-hit Italy, Spain and France on Saturday, ready for distribution to retirement homes and care staff.

The approval and rollout of vaccines has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite from the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.7 million people since emerging in China late last year.

However, in a video message ahead of the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was time to learn the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“History tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life,” said Tedros.

“Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between humans and animals, and the existential threat of climate change that’s making our earth less habitable,” he added.

101-year-old woman vaccinated

Vaccinations in all 27 European Union countries had been set to begin from Sunday, after regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec 21.

But some countries began on Saturday: a 101-year-old woman in a care home became the first person in Germany to be inoculated, and the first jabs were also handed out in Hungary and Slovakia.

The three EU countries joined China, Russia and Britain, Canada, the US, Switzerland, Serbia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, which have also begun their vaccination campaigns.

“We’ll get our freedom back, we’ll be able to embrace again,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said as he urged his countrymen to get the shot.

But polls show only 57% of Italians intend to get the jab, whereas scientists estimate herd immunity can only be reached if 75 to 80% have it.

Flare-ups of the virus continue to force nations to toughen restrictions, with Austria beginning a third national lockdown on Saturday and millions waking to tougher restrictions in Britain.

France’s health minister Olivier Veran would not rule out a third lockdown if authorities decide it’s necessary to tamp down infections.

New variant

Jitters also remained over a new strain that has emerged in Britain and reached several other European countries such as France and Sweden, as well as Japan.

Four cases were confirmed in Madrid on Saturday, though the patients were not seriously ill, according to the Madrid regional government’s deputy health chief Antonio Zapatero, who said “there is no need for alarm”.

Canada reported Saturday that it had detected two variant cases in the province of Ontario – a couple who had not travelled recently nor had high risk contacts with other people.

The new strain, which experts fear is more contagious, prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK.

In Asia, China’s communist leadership issued a statement hailing the “extremely extraordinary glory” of its handling of the virus, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Japanese capital Tokyo reported a record 949 new daily cases, while Thailand has seen a new outbreak linked to a seafood market near Bangkok infect almost 1,500 people.

In Australia, there was little sign of the usual rush to the Boxing Day sales in Sydney, with residents largely heeding the state premier’s request they stay home in the face of a new virus cluster.

“Even when we entered the store there were less than 10 people,” shopper Lia Gunawan told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian golf great Greg Norman became the latest well-known name to quarantine, saying on Saturday he was isolating at home after spending Christmas Day in the hospital with Covid-19 symptoms.

Licorice cure claim

Across the world, people were still being urged to respect social distancing guidelines.

Switzerland’s health minister Alain Berset noted Saturday his country had put the emphasis on personal responsibility.

But he admitted that had not worked and that the government blundered in easing restrictions too far, resulting in some of Europe’s fiercest infection rates during the pandemic’s second wave.

In authoritarian post-Soviet Turkmenistan, where the government says no coronavirus cases have been detected, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov claimed that licorice root could cure Covid-19.

Without citing any scientific evidence, former dentist Berdymukhamedov claimed that “licorice stops the coronavirus from developing”.

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/malaysianow

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

New cases inch lower to 1,555

2,528 recoveries, six more deaths.

MCO states to come under CMCO

Inter-district travel will also be allowed although the ban on interstate travel remains.

Consider private doctors as first phase frontliners, medical group tells govt

The Malaysian Medical Association says private healthcare workers are among the first to be directly exposed to patients with symptoms of Covid-19.

Tokyo asks China to end Covid-19 anal swabs for Japanese

Officials in China have used anal swabs to test people it considers at high-risk of contracting Covid-19, including residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed cases as well as some international travellers.

Pfizer, AZ Covid jabs ‘highly effective’ in elderly, UK study shows

The study comes as France and Germany consider reversing their refusal to authorise the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65 due to concerns of its efficacy.