LISBON, The first case of the South African coronavirus variant was identified in Portugal on Friday as the country struggles to contain a crippling surge in cases partially blamed on the rapid spread of the British variant.
“We are undergoing due process to rapidly test and interrupt this potential chain of transmission,” the Ricardo Jorge Institute told Lusa news agency. It did not say where in Portugal the strain was detected.
The country of 10 million people registered a record 234 coronavirus deaths and 13,987 deaths on Friday, and is currently reporting the highest seven-day rolling average of new cases and deaths per million worldwide according to ourworldindata.org.
ITALY reported 472 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, against 521 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 13,633 from 14,078.
Some 264,728 tests were carried out in the past day, against a previous 267,567.
Italy has now registered 84,674 COVID-19 deaths since its outbreak came to light last February, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has also reported 2.44 million cases to date.
BELGIUM will ban non-essential trips out of the country from Wednesday (Jan 27) in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections, especially highly contagious variants, a government official said.
The Belgian health ministry said that it cannot yet lift coronavirus-related restrictions despite a stabilising of COVID-19 infections and falling daily deaths.
With one of the world’s highest per capita death rates from COVID-19, Belgium has so far avoided a third wave of infections such as those seen in Britain and Germany. But the health ministry said the numbers remained too high to start easing measures.
The objective is to have fewer than 800 confirmed infections a day and fewer than 75 new hospitalisations a day for three weeks before starting to ease lockdown rules, a far cry from the current average of just under 2,000 infections a day.
The country of 11 million, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, has officially recorded 20,620 COVID-19-related deaths so far.
SPAIN: A steady drip-feed of public officials admitting to having been vaccinated ahead of priority groups has sparked uproar on social media in Spain at a time when several regions are tightening restrictions in an effort to curb a spike in infections.
Several local mayors admitted to getting vaccinated before their turn, while the regional health chief of the exclave of Ceuta was heavily criticised both for getting vaccinated early and for saying he had done this under pressure from his staff.
Some called for the resignation of those who could not wait their turn.
Nationwide infection rates have soared since late December, pushing Spain’s 14-day incidence of the virus up beyond 800 cases per 100,000 people.
In Madrid, some 50 medical staff protested outside the La Paz hospital against being pulled from their regular jobs to staff a hospital built for COVID-19 patients.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK