Pakistan’s planning minister says the country’s drug regulatory authority has approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and the government is trying to make it available by the first quarter of the year.
Asad Umar, who is also the head of the national agency for COVID-19, told Geo TV that the vaccine in the first phase will be administered to health workers and those aged 65 and above.
Umar said the Chinese company CanSino is also holding clinical trials in Pakistan and hoped its vaccine would also be registered next month.
People sit outside a restaurant in a heated tent in Glenview, Ill., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that limited indoor service will be allowed for regions of the state that see their COVID-19 metrics improve enough to move down to the state's Tier 1 mitigation level. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
He said Pakistan will get the vaccines through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI, and other alternative international sources. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being prepared in India, which has strained relations with rival Pakistan and says it will prioritize its own population.
Pakistan reported 2,521 new cases and 43 deaths in the last 24 hours.
China has finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad.
Brazilhasn’t approved a single vaccine yet, and independent health experts who participated in its immunization program say the plan is still incomplete, at best.
A new U.N. report estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of international migrantsby 2 million by the middle of 2020 because of border closings and a halt to travel worldwide.
China on Sunday reported 109 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, two-thirds of them in a northern province that abuts Beijing, and no deaths.
There were 72 new cases in Hebei province, where the government is building isolation hospitals with a total of 9,500 rooms to combat an upsurge in infections, according to the National Health Commission.
China had largely contained the virus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has reported hundreds of new infections since December. The Health Commission on Saturday blamed them on travelers and imported goods it said brought the virus from abroad.
China’s death toll stands at 4,653 out of 88,227 total cases.
Mexico posted its second straight day of more than 20,000 coronavirus cases Saturday, suggesting a surge in a country already struggling in many areas with overflowing hospitals.
There were 20,523 newly confirmed cases Saturday after 21,366 infections were reported Friday. That was about double the daily rate of increase just a week ago. Reporting normally declines on weekends, suggesting next week may bring even higher numbers.
LA County Dept. of Medical Examiner-Coroner shows National Guard members assisting with processing COVID-19 deaths and placing them into temporary storage at LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner Office in Los Angeles in Los Angeles. More than 500 people are dying each day in California because of the coronavirus. The death toll has prompted state officials to send more refrigerated trailers to local governments to act as makeshift morgues. State officials said Friday they have helped distribute 98 refrigerated trailers to help county coroners store dead bodies. California reported 669 COVID-19 deaths, the second-highest daily death count, on Saturday, Jan. 16, and the nation's most populous county announced it had detected its first case of a more transmissible strain of the coronavirus. Public health authorities in Los Angeles County confirmed its first case of the variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom. It was identified in a man who recently spent time in the county. (LA County Dept. of Medical Examiner-Coroner via AP, File)
The country also recorded 1,219 more deaths, a near-record. The country has now seen almost 1.63 million total infections and has registered over 140,000 deaths so far in the pandemic.
In Mexico City, the current center of the pandemic in Mexico, 88% percent of hospital beds are full.
BATON ROUGE, La.
Louisiana has identified the state’s first case of a coronavirus variant believed to be more transmissible than the original.
The governor’s office said Saturday the case was detected in a person in the New Orleans area.
The variant, first detected in Britain, has alarmed officials in many nations because studies indicate it may spread more easily than other viral strains, though it it is not believed to be more deadly and appears to be vulnerable to vaccines.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement saying it is urgent “that everyone double down on the mitigation measures that we know are effective in reducing the spread of the virus.”
Edwards noted that the variant has been detected in at least 15 other states.
In neighboring Texas, health officials in Dallas County on Saturday reported the state’s third case of the variant, this one in a Dallas man in his 20s with no history of travel outside the United States.
Texas reported a Houston-area man as its first case of a person infected with the new variant on Jan. 7.
CARSON CITY, Nev.
take your pick — Nevada on Saturday reported a daily record high of 63 COVID-19 deaths along with 2,040 additional confirmed cases as the coronavirus surge continued.
The state’s pandemic totals increased to 260,090 cases and 3,761 deaths, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.
Nevada’s previous high number of deaths reported on a single day was 62 on Thursday.
A man closes his stop at the start of the new curfew to counter the COVID-19, in Lille, northern France, Saturday, Jan 16, 2021. All of France will be under a stricter curfew starting Saturday at 6 p.m. for at least 15 days to fight the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
The 311 deaths reported in the week since Jan. 10 were a pandemic one -week high for Nevada, surpassing the 299 deaths reported the previous week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
President-elect Joe Biden introduced his team of scientific advisers on Saturday, saying they will lead with “science and truth. We believe in both.”
Biden is elevating the position of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first. He called Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome is in line to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, “one of the most brilliant guys I know.”
Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome.
Lander says Biden has tasked his advisers and “the whole scientific community and the American public” to “rise to this moment.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris recalled her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher, who she credited with teaching her to think critically.
“The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan,” Harris said. “The same laws apply, the same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.”
As the rollout of coronavirus vaccines begins, the U.S. leads the world with 23.6 million cases and more than 393,000 confirmed deaths.
Health officials in Hawaii have partnered with local pharmacies to offer drive-thru and in-home coronavirus vaccinations for residents.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the Department of Health started scheduling licensed care homes in Oahu for vaccinations this week. Neighboring islands have already started drive-thru clinics, county hubs and other mobile services.
Christians inside their cars pray during a drive-in worship service amid measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Songgok high school in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
The health department is working with employers to identify front-line workers for the vaccination. The department is planning to launch an online portal where workers can register for the vaccine. Officials say more than 56,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Health officials reported 150 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and no new deaths on Friday. The state has more than 24,000 confirmed cases and more than 300 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
South Dakota is looking to build its coronavirus rollout by making shots available to a larger group of people.
Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the state will begin vaccinating people 80 and over and those with high-risk medical conditions. Some rural health care providers worry their patients will be missed by large hospital systems.
South Dakota has vaccinated 6.5% of the population, one of the highest rates in the country. Last fall, the state had one of the highest positivity rates in the nation.
The Department of Health reported 341 positive tests, raising the confirmed total to 105,278.
The Oklahoma City school district is set to resume some in-person classes for the district’s youngest students and those in alternative education.
The district’s pre-kindergarten through 4th grade students and those in alternative education will begin returning Tuesday for alternating in-person and in-person classes. Students in grades 5-12 are scheduled to return on Feb. 1.
Oklahoma ranked fourth in the nation Saturday in the rate of new cases per capita with 1,448 per 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the state has increased from 2,626 per day on Jan. 1 to 3,922 on Friday. The rolling average of deaths rose from 23 deaths per day to 31 according to the data.
The state health department on Saturday reported 3,621 coronavirus cases and 27 deaths for confirmed totals of 351,665 cases and 2,952 deaths.
A third person with a case of the coronavirus variant has been reported in Texas.
Dallas County Health and Human Services reported Saturday that a Dallas man in his 20s with no history of travel outside the United States has tested positive for the variant that originated in the United Kingdom.
Texas is among a handful of states with at least one known case of the new variant that appears to spread more easily. But state health officials say there is no evidence it causes more severe disease, and say current vaccines are expected to still be effective.
Texas reported a Houston-area man as its first case of a person infected with the new variant on Jan. 7.
The state health department on Friday reported confirmed totals of more than 2 million cases and more than 31,00 deaths in Texas.
More than 800 people were wounded and about 15,000 others took shelters as a 6.2-magnitude quake, which hit Indonesia's West Sulawesi province on Friday, massively destroyed houses and infrastructures, a disaster official said here on Saturday.
Those with serious injuries have been treated in hospitals and field hospitals set up after the shallow under-land quake struck Mamuju city and Majene district, the National Disaster Management Agency's Spokesman Raditya Jati said.
As many as 189 people suffered serious injuries in Mamuju and 639 got minor wounds in Majene, the spokesman disclosed.
"Now, the patients who were treated in the impacted-hospitals have been removed to the field hospitals," he told Xinhua in a text message.
The jolts have destroyed the Mitra Manakarra Hospital in Mamuju, according to Syarifuddin. S., an official of the provincial social office.
The spokesman said that the displaced persons have taken shelters in 10 evacuation centers, and emergency relief aids have been sent to the affected people.
The risk assessment and evacuation of the victims are underway, according to him.
Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered rescuers after a strong earthquake left at least 46 people dead and hundreds injured on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.
Operations were focused on about eight locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people were still believed trapped following early Friday’s magnitude 6.2 quake, said Saidar Rahmanjaya, who heads the local search and rescue agency.
Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta landed late Friday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands of people spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks and a possible tsunami.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said rescuers had so far recovered the bodies of 37 victims in Mamuju and nine in neighboring Majene district.
At least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters, Jati said.
Bodies retrieved by rescuers were sent to a police hospital for identification by relatives, said West Sulawesi police spokesperson Syamsu Ridwan.
He said more than 200 people were receiving treatment in the Bhayangkara police hospital and several others in Mamuju alone. Another 630 were injured in Majene.
Among those pulled alive was a young girl who was stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister.
The girl was seen in video released by the disaster agency Friday crying for help. She was being treated in a hospital.
She identified herself as Angel and said that her sister, Catherine, who did not appear in the video, was beside her under the rubble and was still breathing.
The fate of Catherine and other family members was unclear.
The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas.
Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi province with nearly 75,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A governor office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge collapsed and patients with drips laid on folding beds under tarpaulin tents outside one of the damaged hospitals.
Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others were overwhelmed.
Many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications.
Video from a TV station showed villagers in Majene, some carrying machetes, forcibly stopping vehicles carrying aid. They climbed onto a truck and threw boxes of instant noodles and other supplies at dozens of people who were scrambling to get them.
Two ships headed to the devastated areas from the nearby cities of Makassar and Balikpapan with rescuers and equipment, including excavators.
State-owned firm AirNav Indonesia, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the quake did not cause significant damage to the Mamuju airport runway or control tower.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Friday that he instructed his Cabinet ministers and disaster and military officials to coordinate the response.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, the pontiff expressed “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster.”
The pope was praying for “the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all who grieve.” Francis also offered encouragement to those continuing search and rescue effects, and he invoked “the divine blessings of strength and hope.”
International humanitarian missions including the Water Mission, Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross said in statements that they have joined in efforts to provide relief for people in need.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi Island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighborhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra Island in western Indonesia in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad.
The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since December.
A total of 645 people are being treated in Nangong and the Hebei provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said. A 3,000-room hospital is under construction in Shijiazhuang.
Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Liaoning in the northeast and Sichuan in the southwest.
The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission said.
“It is harder to handle,” a Commission statement said. “Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent.”
The Commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from abroad. It blamed “abnormal management” and “inadequate protection of workers” involved in imports but gave no details.
“They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods,” said the statement.
The Chinese government has suggested the disease might have originated abroad and publicized what it says is the discovery of the virus on imported food, mostly frozen fish, though foreign scientists are skeptical.
Also Saturday, the city government of Beijing said travelers arriving in the Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of “medical monitoring” after a 14-day quarantine but gave no details.
Nationwide, the Health Commission reported 130 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. It said 90 of those were in Hebei.
On Saturday, the Hebei government reported 32 additional cases since midnight, the Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported.
In Shijiazhuang, authorities have finished construction of 1,000 rooms of the planned hospital, state TV said Saturday. Xinhua said all the facilities are due to be completed within a week.
A similar program of rapid hospital construction was launched by the ruling Communist Party at the start of the outbreak last year in Wuhan.
More than 10 million people in Shijiazhuang underwent virus tests by late Friday, Xinhua said, citing a deputy mayor, Meng Xianghong. It said 247 locally transmitted cases were found.
Meanwhile, researchers sent by the World Health Organization were in Wuhan preparing to investigate the origins of the virus. The team, which arrived Thursday, was under a two-week quarantine but was due to talk with Chinese experts by video link.
The team’s arrival was held up for months by diplomatic wrangling that prompted a rare public complaint by the head of the WHO.
That delay, and the secretive ruling party’s orders to scientists not to talk publicly about the disease, have raised questions about whether Beijing might try to block discoveries that would hurt its self-proclaimed status as a leader in the anti-virus battle.
A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 42 people.
More than 600 people were injured by the magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness. Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas.
There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.
In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl stuck in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members also trapped. “Please help me, it hurts,” the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her.
The rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses.
The earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside. Rescuers struggled to extract seven patients and staff who were trapped under tons of rubble. After several hours, an excavator came to help and the rescuers eventually retrieved four survivors and three bodies.
Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried.
Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.
The quake was centered 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Rescuers carry a body bag containing a victim of an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing a number of people. (AP Photo/Azhari Surahman)
The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 42 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 34 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.
The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 others were injured in Mamuju’s neighboring district of Majene.
It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.
West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor’s office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remained trapped.
Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering efforts to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save dozens of people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor’s office, a hospital and a hotel.
“We are racing against time to rescue them,” he said.
Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull a body of a loved one from a damaged home in devastated Mamuju. It was placed in an orange body bag and taken away for burial.
“Oh my God, why did we have to go through this?” cried Rina, who uses one name. “I can’t save my dear sister ... forgive me, sister, forgive us, God!”
Rescuers search for survivors among the ruin of a building damaged by an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing a number of people. (AP Photo/Yusuf Wahil)
President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that he had ordered his social minister and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures and search and rescue operations as quickly as possible.
“I, on behalf of the Government and all Indonesian people, would like to express my deep condolences to families of the victims,” Widodo said.
The National Search and Rescue Agency’s chief, Bagus Puruhito, said rescuers from the cities of Palu, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jakarta were being deployed to help in Mamuju and Majene.
Two ships were heading to the affected areas from Makassar and Balikpapan carrying rescuers and search and rescue equipment, while a Hercules plane carrying supplies was on its way from Jakarta.
Puruhito is already leading more than 4,100 rescue personnel in a separate massive search operation for victims of the crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet into the Java Sea last Saturday.
Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief.
Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur.
Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson.
Residents inspect earthquake-damaged houses in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. A strong inland and shallow earthquake hit eastern Indonesia early Friday causing people to panic in parts of the country's Sulawesi island and run to higher ground. (AP Photo/Rudy Akdyaksyah)
On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties.
Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysical agency, known by its Indonesian acronym BMKG, warned of the dangers of aftershocks and the potential for a tsunami. Its chairwoman urged people in coastal areas to move to higher ground as a precaution.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
Also Read: Death toll climbs to 222 in Indonesia tsunam
In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighborhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.