New Zealand suspends entry for travellers from India
New Zealand on Thursday temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks following a high number of positive cases arriving from the South Asian country.
The move comes after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases at its border on Thursday, of which 17 were from India.
“We are temporarily suspending entry into New Zealand for travellers from India,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference in Auckland.
India is battling a deadly second wave with daily infections this week passing the peak of the first wave seen last September.
South Korea reports surge in cases, more restrictions expected
South Korea reported 700 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily figure since early January, and the Prime Minister reiterated warnings on Thursday that new social distancing rules would likely be needed.
Wednesday’s tally compares with an average of 477 cases last week, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and will fuel fears that the country may be facing a fourth wave of infections.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting a new wave of infections could disrupt South Korea’s vaccination programme which has been suffering delays as the international vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX struggles to provide promised doses on time.
South Korea also said on Wednesday it will temporarily suspend providing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people below 60 as it undergoes reviews in Europe.
Brazil detects first case of South African variant
Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious variant discovered in South Africa, a fresh danger sign for a country already ravaged by the world’s worst daily death toll and scrambling to make space for burials.
Scientists warned on Wednesday that yet another new variant could be emerging in Brazil’s inland city of Belo Horizonte.
The Federal University of Minas Gerais said in a statement that two samples taken in the city included a previously unseen set of 18 mutations, including some in the same genes modified by the South African variant and Brazil’s already prevalent variant, known as P.1.
The detection of additional variants adds to concerns that a brutal Covid-19 wave battering Brazil may keep breaking grim records for weeks to come.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza claimed on Wednesday that without economic sanctions against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, the country would already have purchased all 30 million coronavirus vaccines it needs.
The US, one of many countries not to recognise MMr aduro’s reelection in 2018, has frozen millions of dollars of Venezuelan money in US bank accounts.
It views the election as fraudulent, and along with European and other countries recognises opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s acting president. Washington has handed control of the frozen funds to Mr Guaido.
“If Venezuela did not have its resources blocked we would have been able to buy the 30 million vaccines the country needs three months ago,” Arreaza said in an interview with AFP. “As they are blocked, here we are.”
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of CDC, said hospitals are seeing more younger adults being admitted with severe disease, which can be attributed to increasing prevalence of variants.
The Kent variant, known as B117, was first identified in the US in December after it swept across the UK at the end of last year before spreading across the world.
During a White House coronavirus response team’s briefing on Wednesday, she said: “Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B117 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States. So there are many different lineages. There are several different kinds of, sort of, wild-type variants, and this is, in fact, the most common lineage right now.”