World Covid-19 updates: Malaysia imposes targeted lockdowns

World Covid-19 updates: Malaysia imposes targeted lockdowns to battle virus wave, Germany imposes tougher restrictions as deaths surge, the US has recorded more than 100,000 Covid hospitalizations for 40 days in a row, etc.
January 12, 2021 | 07:13
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Malaysia imposes targeted lockdowns to battle virus wave

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People wait in line to be tested for the coronavirus in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Jan. 7. The country is tightening measures to control the virus amid growing infection numbers. Photo: Reuters

Malaysia will place most of the country under some form of lockdown for two weeks starting Wednesday as it intensifies efforts to quell the surge in coronavirus infections, according to Bloomberg.

While five essential sectors including manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, will remain open, interstate travel will be banned throughout the country, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address on Monday.

The decision came after the government forecast daily cases could jump to 8,000 by late March or late May, based on a predictive modeling analysis. Daily cases hit a record high last week.

“Our healthcare system is under tremendous pressure now than at any other time since the start of the pandemic,” said Muhyiddin. “As I have said before, unprecedented situations call for unprecedented measures.”

Malaysia has struggled to contain a fresh wave of infections fueled by a local election in September. While the government imposed fresh curbs in most states, restrictions on travel and tourism were eased in December to provide the consumption-based economy some breathing space. The easing led to new cases topping 1,000 daily for most of the past month and stood at 2,232 on Monday.

Germany imposes tougher restrictions as deaths mount

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A person walks through a deserted shopping arcade in Munich, Germany, on Monday, January 11. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany strengthened its Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, which include longer school closures and travel limits. These measures will last until at least January 31, said CNN.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss extending the measures past February 1 with federal state leaders on January 25. She said Germany was entering the most difficult phase of the pandemic in the coming weeks, during her weekly podcast this weekend.

The country's new restrictions include: residents may only have one home visitor at a time; those living in high-incidence regions are confined to a nine-mile radius around their houses; only grocery stores and drugstores can remain open; and travelers entering Germany from high-risk areas must register upon arrival, quarantine for 10 days, and be tested for the virus.

Germany has been seeing record Covid-19 infections as it struggles with a winter surge. On Sunday, it recorded 16,946 new infections and 465 deaths -- pushing the total death toll to more than 40,000.

The US has recorded more than 100,000 Covid hospitalizations for 40 days in a row

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Clinicians reposition a Covid-19 patient into the supine position at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, on January 6. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

With Covid-19 hospitalizations surpassing 100,000 for 40 days in a row, officials are trying to ramp up the pace of vaccinations across the United States.

We really need to get this vaccine out more quickly, because this is really our only tool," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday.

On Sunday, 129,229 people were in US hospitals with coronavirus, but the day marked only the sixth highest in pandemic history, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Experts have long said the best defenses against surging cases are preventative measures like masks and social distancing, as well as widespread vaccination. So far, at least 22.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been distributed and nearly 6.7 million have made their way into patients' arms.

Health officials had hoped to get 20 million people vaccinated at the start of the new year, but the administration of vaccines has undergone delays and roadblocks.

Japan preparing to expand coronavirus emergency

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Pedestrians wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, make their way at Ginza shopping district which closed to cars on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan, January 10, 2021.

Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan is preparing to expand a coronavirus state of emergency to the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo by the end of the week, Jiji news agency reported on Monday, citing unidentified government sources, Reuters reported.

The three prefectures on Saturday asked the government to impose a state of emergency, which is already in place in Tokyo and surrounding regions, to include them in an effort to contain the latest spread of the coronavirus.

Separately, the governor of the central prefecture of Aichi said he and authorities in the neighboring prefecture of Gifu aimed to ask the government as early as Tuesday to expand the state of emergency to their areas.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government on Thursday declared a limited state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba to stem the spread of infections.

China reports biggest daily COVID-19 case jump in over 5 months

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People wearing face masks walk past a Chinese flag, following new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, in Beijing, China January 11, 2021. Photo: Reuters/tingshu Wang

Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in over five months, the country’s health authority said on Monday, as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing continued to rise.

A county in northeastern Heilongjiang province on Monday moved into lockdown after reporting new coronavirus infections, state television also reported separately.

Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on Jan. 10, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement, with Liaoning province also reporting two new cases and Beijing reporting one new case. The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.

The total number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported on July 30.

Hebei said on Monday that several sections of highways in the province have been closed, and vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai will be asked to go back. The latter city has also reported COVID-19 cases in recent days. The NHC reported 76 new asymptomatic cases for all of mainland China, up from 27 a day earlier. China does not count individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus but are not showing symptoms as confirmed COVID-19 cases.

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