More than 99 million people have been infected with Covid-19 across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The total case count reached 99,177,542 with 2,129,134 fatalities as of Monday morning, said the data.
The US – the world’s worst-hit country – crossed the grim milestone of 20 million cases on New Year’s Day.
The country’s infection tally reached 25,124,064 and fatalities stood at 419,204 on early Monday.
Brazil registered 592 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 217,037 - the second-highest death toll in the world- the country's Ministry of Health said Sunday.
Another 28,323 COVID-19 cases were reported over the past day, bringing the national caseload to 8,844,577, the ministry said.
Sao Paulo, the most populous state in the country, is the hardest hit, with 1,699,427 cases and 51,502 deaths.
Brazil's outbreak is the third-largest in the world, after the United States and India. The country is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, with cases and deaths on the rise since December.
India’s total tally reached 10,654,533 while the country’s death toll mounted to 153,339 on Monday.
The United Kingdom has been another raging hotspot for the pandemic over the winter, and the country now stands poised to become the first country in Europe, and only the fifth overall (after the USA, Brazil, India and Mexico), to reach 100,000 fatalities - despite a population (66 million) that is almost half that of the smallest among the other four (Mexico with a population of 127 million).
As of Monday, the UK has recorded a caseload of 3.62 million, and 97, 329 deaths from COVID-19.
Apart from the high morbidity, the UK has also been in the news throughout the winter for the identification of a new variant of the virus, which came to be known as the UK Variant, and is now the most common form of the virus, or dominant strain, in England and Northern Ireland, and has spread to more than 50 other countries.
While it was established quite early on that it is a more infectious form of the virus, transmitting more easily from person to person, this week it was revealed that it may even be deadlier than the original.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing: "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant - the variant that was first identified in London and the south east - may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."
Also Read: Global Covid-19 cases near 99 million
Apart from the UK variant, strains emerging out of Brazil and South Africa are also causing headaches to policymakers, and causing governments to consider reimposing travel bans to or from those countries.
New US President Joe Biden will reinstate a re-entry ban on nearly all non-US travelers trying to come into the country from the United Kingdom, Ireland, 26 other European countries and Brazil — and impose a new ban on travel from South Africa, a report said Sunday.
Situation in Bangladesh
Bangladesh recorded a daily infection rate (also known as positivity rate, it tells us out of the number of tests conducted, how many come back positive for COVID-19) of 3.34% with 473 new cases reported until early Sunday.
Since January 6, the daily positivity rate has consistently been below 6%, and over the last week, it has been below 5%.
According to WHO's guidance to governments from May 2020, a daily positivity rate below 5% for two consecutive weeks is indicative that the epidemic is under control in a jurisdiction.
Bangladesh has reported 531,799 cases so far. And the country’s fatalities rose to 8,023 and death rate to 1.51%, with 20 more Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, since the first fatality was reported on March 18.
So far, 3,555,558 tests, including 14,169 reported Sunday, have been carried out. The overall infection rate stood at 14.96%, the Directorate General of Health Services said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to launch a pilot Covid-19 vaccination drive at Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital on January 27.
Also Read: Also Read: Bangladesh’s vaccination plan unveiled
Two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine “gifted” by India reached Dhaka on Thursday.
On January 18, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Bangladesh would receive the first consignment of 5 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine during January 25-26.
Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Residents and workers at aged-care facilities, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine workers are among the groups being prioritized for the first doses.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development. He said Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval.
Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the country overall had secured 140 million vaccines, one of the highest dosing rates per head of population in the world.
The biggest of the pre-orders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL.
Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths.
Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the West African coast, kidnapping 15 sailors and killing one, officials said Sunday.
Turkey’s Maritime Directorate said the crew initially locked themselves in a safe area but the pirates forced entry after six hours. During the struggle, one crew member aboard the M/V Mozart died.
Turkish media identified the victim as engineer Farman Ismayilov of Azerbaijan, the only non-Turkish crew member.
After taking most of the crew on Saturday, the pirates left the ship in the Gulf of Guinea with three sailors aboard, state-run Anadolu news agency said. The vessel is currently heading to Gabon’s Port-Gentil.
Also read: 43 pirates surrender in Cox’s Bazar
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has twice spoken to the senior officer remaining on the ship, Furkan Yaren, the Turkish presidency said in a tweet. It added that Erdogan issued orders for the recovery of the kidnapped crew.
“The owners and operators of the M/V Mozart, which was hijacked at gunpoint in the Gulf of Guinea, have regretfully confirmed that one of its crew has been killed and others abducted,” Istanbul-based Boden Maritime said in a statement.
The Liberian-flagged Mozart was sailing from Lagos, Nigeria, to Cape Town in South Africa when it was attacked 100 nautical miles (185 km) northwest of the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Saturday morning.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to his Azerbaijani counterpart to offer condolences and said the body of the crew member would be transferred when the Mozart reaches port.
According to reports, the pirates disabled most of the ship’s systems, leaving only the navigation system for the remaining crew to find their way to port. The Maritime Traffic website showed the vessel’s location was last recorded at 16:39 GMT on Saturday.
Also read: 3 ‘pirates’ arrested in Sundarbans
The Gulf of Guinea, off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon, is the most dangerous sea in the world for piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
In July 2019, 10 Turkish seamen were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. They were released less than a month later.
Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches midway through the second round Sunday, avenging his loss to the Irish superstar with a knockout victory at UFC 257.
Poirier (26-7) caught McGregor with a series of shots to the head before buckling his knees with two left hands. Poirier then sent McGregor to the canvas with a short right hand and finished it swiftly, setting off stunned excitement among the few thousand screaming fans allowed inside the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.
In his first fight in a year, McGregor (22-5) had a strong first round before he was stopped by punches for the first time in his mixed martial arts career. McGregor, whose previous four losses all came by submission, stayed on the canvas for several moments afterward, gathering himself after his second loss in three fights since 2016.
“You know, it's hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” said McGregor, who hadn't fought since beating Donald Cerrone last January. “I just wasn't as comfortable as I needed to be, but Dustin is some fighter. If you put in the time, you're going to get cozy in here. I have to dust it off and come back, and that's what I will do. ... I'll take my licks, but I'm gutted.”
McGregor and Poirier met for the first time in September 2014 as featherweights, and McGregor won by knockout in just 106 seconds during his incredible early-career success. McGregor became the featherweight champion 15 months later, while Poirier rebuilt his career with just one loss in his next 11 fights.
With a second chance to derail McGregor while boosting his own hopes of regaining the lightweight title, Poirier didn't miss.
Sporting a shaved head and a beard, McGregor pushed the action early against Poirier, who landed an early takedown before getting backed against the cage for stretches of the first round. In the second, Poirier bothered McGregor with leg kicks before throwing the punches that ended it.
In the co-main event at UFC 257, three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler made a stunning UFC debut with a violent knockout of New Zealand’s Dan Hooker midway through the first round.
Chandler could be the next matchup for Poirier in a fight for the lightweight title apparently vacated by long-reigning 155-pound champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who announced his retirement after his final victory last fall.
UFC President Dana White so far has been unable to persuade Nurmagomedov to go back on his vow to his mother to quit the sport after his father's death, not even for a wildly lucrative rematch with McGregor, who repeatedly vowed to fight on after this loss to Poirier.
McGregor has not fought regularly in recent years, but his popularity was undiminished: UFC 257 is expected to be one of the most popular pay-per-view events in the promotion's history, according to White, and distribution problems in the U.S. early in the PPV portion of the card led fans to bombard social media and ESPN with complaints.
Chandler's long-anticipated UFC arrival was worth the wait for his 27th professional fight in a career that began in 2009.
After a deliberate start, Chandler (22-5) jabbed to the body as he lunged forward and caught Hooker with a left hand to the face that crumpled his opponent. Chandler finished a dazed Hooker with punches on the ground before climbing atop the cage and doing a full standing backflip into the octagon from atop the fence.
And Chandler was still fired up in his post-fight interview, calling the bout “the greatest moment of my professional life.”
"Conor McGregor! Surprise, surprise, there's a new king in the lightweight division," Chandler added. "Dustin Poirier, your time is coming. And Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC octagon in your quest for 30 (victories), you know you've got to beat somebody, so beat me — if you can!”
Marina Rodriguez opened the pay-per-view portion of UFC 257 by upsetting fellow Brazilian strawweight contender Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez got a second-round stoppage with a flurry of punches and a knee in the opening minute.
UFC 257 concluded a run of three shows in eight days with a few thousand fans allowed inside the promotion's coronavirus bubble in the Middle East. The promotion hadn't held shows with fans since before the pandemic began last March.
The UFC returns to Las Vegas in two weeks for another run of shows at the fan-free Apex gym on its corporate campus.
The U.S. has reaffirmed support for Taiwan following China’s dispatch of warplanes near the island in an apparent attempt to intimidate its democratic government and test American resolve.
The State Department on Saturday said it “notes with concern the pattern of ongoing (China's) attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan.”
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives," spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement.
Washington will continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defense from Chinese threats, while supporting a peaceful resolution of issues between the sides, the statement said.
There was no immediate Chinese response Sunday.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said China on Saturday sent eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets into airspace just southwest of the island, part of a long-standing pattern of Chinese incursions aimed at pressuring the government of President Tsai Ing-wen into caving to Beijing’s demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.
The latest Chinese overflight came on the heels of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, emphasizing the island's enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between the sides that also include human rights, trade disputes and, most recently, questions about China's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden's administration has shown little sign of reducing pressure on China over such issues, although it is seen as favoring a return to more civil dialogue. In another sign of support for Taiwan, the island's de-facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, was an invited guest at Biden's inauguration.
And in a final swipe at China, the Trump administration’s outgoing U.N. ambassador tweeted that it’s time for the world to oppose China’s efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, drawing sharp criticism from Beijing.
Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the U.N. General Assembly Hall where the island is banned. She carried a handbag with a stuffed Taiwan bear sticking out of the top, a gift from Taiwan’s representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.
Taiwan and China separated amid civil war in 1949 and China says it is determined to bring the island under its control by force if necessary. The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but is legally required to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and the self-governing democratic island enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington.
Tsai has sought to bolster the island’s defenses with the purchase of billions of dollars in U.S. weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting both ships and land targets. She has also boosted support for Taiwan's indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China’s ever-growing naval capabilities.
China’s increased threats come as economic and political enticements bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and dispatch fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis toward the island of 24 million people, which lies 160 kilometers (100 miles) off China’s southeast coast across the Taiwan Strait.