What you need to know about COVID-19 now
A World Health Organization (WHO) team of international experts tasked with investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic will arrive in China this week, its national health authority said.
The team was initially aiming to arrive in early January for the investigation but their arrival was delayed due to lack of authorisation from Beijing.
The National Health Commission, which announced the date on Monday, did not give details on the team’s itinerary.
Paralysed by snowstorm, Spain sends out vaccine, food
The Spanish government will send convoys carrying the COVID-19 vaccine and food supplies on Monday to areas cut off by Storm Filomena, which brought the heaviest snowfall in decades to central Spain and killed four people.
Forecasters warned of dangerous conditions in the coming days, with temperatures expected to fall to up to minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) next week and the prospect of snow turning to ice and damaged trees falling.
Dr Álvaro Sanchez walked 17 km (10.5 miles) through the snow on Saturday to work at a hospital in Majadahonda, prompting owners of 4×4 vehicles to give health workers lifts to work.
Aggressive moves in China after biggest daily increase in over five months
Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in more than five months, the national health authority said on Monday, as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing rose. The total number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported on July 30.
Hebei’s highway authority said that multiple sections of highways in the province had been closed for COVID-19 prevention and that vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, where coronavirus cases have been found, will be asked to go back.
Wangkui county in Heilongjiang province reported eight new asymptomatic cases and moved on Monday to close all non-essential businesses, ban people from leaving the city and block all non-essential traffic, state television reported. Each family in the county can have one person leave their home once every three days to buy necessities, the report said.
New coronavirus variant found in Brazil travellers to Japan
A new coronavirus variant has been detected in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state, Japan’s health ministry said on Sunday, the latest new mutation of the virus discovered. A ministry official said studies were underway into the efficacy of vaccines against the new variant, which differs from highly infectious variants first found in Britain and South Africa that have driven a surge in cases.
“At the moment, there is no proof showing the new variant found in those from Brazil is high in infectiousness,” Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told a health ministry briefing.
Brazil’s health ministry said it has been notified by Japanese authorities that the new variant has 12 mutations, and one of them had already been identified as also in the variants found in Britain and in South Africa. “It implies in a potential higher virus infectiousness,” it said.