Germany to send medical aid to Portugal: COVID latest | Coronavirus pandemic NewsJanuary 31, 2021
Germany said on Sunday it will send medical staff and equipment to Portugal, where space in hospital intensive care units is running out after a surge in coronavirus infections.
Separately, World Health Organization experts have visited the market in Wuhan, central China, linked to the first known COVID-19 cluster, seeking clues about the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak as a number of nations further tightened restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of the pandemic.
France closed its borders to non-European countries except for essential travel, a day after Germany imposed a ban on most travellers from nations hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants.
Globally more than 2 million people have died from the virus, with nearly 102 million cases recorded and 56 million recoveries.
Below are the latest updates:
Portugal virus surge ‘like a tsunami’
Germany’s defence ministry said it will send medical assistance to Portugal, which said on Saturday that only seven of 850 ICU beds set up for COVID-19 cases on its mainland were vacant.
It came after the Portuguese government had asked Berlin for help.
“The situation is only comparable to a tsunami in the sense of the number of infections that we are seeing on the rise for weeks,” Ricardo Baptista Leite, from the Catholic University of Portugal, told Al Jazeera.
“We’ve seen this ongoing now for [three] months, and …. only last Friday did we start to see a slowdown in the rise of new cases … following the closure of schools and a more strict lockdown that was imposed two weeks before.”
In total, Portugal has recorded 711,018 confirmed infections and 12,179 related deaths.
China sees uptick in cases
China recorded more than 2,000 new domestic cases of COVID-19 in January, the highest monthly total since the tail end of the initial outbreak in Wuhan in March of last year.
The National Health Commission said 2,016 cases were reported in January, a figure that does not include another 435 infected people who arrived from abroad. Two people died this month, the first reported COVID-related deaths in China in several months.
Most of the new cases have been in three northern provinces, including more than 900 infections in hardest-hit Hebei province. In the capital, Beijing, 45 cases were registered this month.
Thousands flout virus restrictions at Israel funeral
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have defied Israel’s coronavirus restrictions to attend a rabbi’s funeral, prompting Defence Minister Benny Gantz to demand an end to the community’s repeated breaking of lockdown rules.
A huge crowd, many not wearing masks, packed the streets in Jerusalem for the funeral of 99-year-old Rabbi Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, head of the influential Brisk yeshiva, or religious educational institute.
Egypt ‘receives’ first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines
Egypt has received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, according to airport officials.
The 50,000-dose shipment arrived at Cairo international airport on a flight from Dubai, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.
Mohammed Awad Tag el-Din, Egypt’s presidential health adviser, said the shipment originated in the company’s factory in India.
Italy to relax COVID curbs in many regions
The Italian government has said it would ease coronavirus restrictions across much of the country from Monday, despite warnings from health experts that the move was risky given concerns over the spread of more contagious variants.
After a review of latest COVID-19 data, the health ministry said it was shifting 11 regions from orange to so-called yellow zones, giving inhabitants there greater freedom to travel and allowing bars and restaurants to reopen during the day.
In all, 16 regions will be in the lowest-risk yellow zone, and just four regions – Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and Umbria – in the orange zone, together with the northern Bolzano province. Nowhere in Italy will be classified as a red zone, which brings with it stringent curbs on travel and business.