Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
UK needs tighter rules to avert new ‘catastrophe’
Britain’s government needs to bring in tighter lockdown rules to avert a fresh wave of deaths from a new strain of coronavirus, a leading epidemiologist and government advisor warned on Tuesday.
Britain reported 41,385 new cases on Monday, the highest number since testing became widely available in the middle of 2020, and English hospitals say they have more COVID patients than during the first wave of the pandemic in April.
“We are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic, and we’re going to need decisive early national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February,” said Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London.
Renewed lockdowns likely in Southern California
The United States topped 19 million COVID cases on Monday as hospital intensive care units were full to overflowing across much of California, portending an extension of strict stay-at-home orders imposed this month.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said mandatory constraints on social gatherings and business activities would almost certainly be renewed for at least three more weeks in Southern California – encompassing the state’s biggest metropolitan areas – and its agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley.
Newsom said a formal decision on continuing the stay-at-home orders, among the most stringent in the United States, would be announced on Tuesday.
Dutch death rate at highest level since WWII
The number of deaths in the Netherlands increased at the highest rate since World War Two this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Dutch national statistics office said on Tuesday.
Up to last week, around 162,000 deaths were reported in the country of 17 million this year, 13,000 more than would have been expected in a regular year.
Around 9,000 people more than normal died during the first wave of infections between early March and early May, while more than 6,000 extra fatalities have been reported since the start of the second wave mid-September.
First U.S. troops vaccinated in South Korea
American troops stationed in South Korea received the first doses of coronavirus vaccine to be administered in the country on Tuesday, as health officials in Seoul reported a daily record of 40 deaths amid a surge in new cases.
U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), which includes around 28,500 American military personnel as well as thousands of other workers and family members, gave the first doses to military and civilian healthcare workers and first responders in the force as well as top officers.
The vaccinations are voluntary, and will be provided to the rest of the military command as more supplies arrive, USFK’s commander, Gen. Robert Abrams, said.
Iran starts human testing of first domestic vaccine
Iran launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate, state media reported on Tuesday, which Tehran says could help it defeat the pandemic despite U.S. sanctions interfering with its ability to import vaccines.
Setad, a giant state-affiliated conglomerate controlled by Iran’s supreme leader, said production of the vaccine developed by one of its companies, Shifa Pharmed, could reach 12 million doses per month, six months after a successful trial ends.
The first volunteers to take the vaccine were officials of the conglomerate and the daughter of its head, in an apparent effort to boost public confidence.