The United Kingdom reported a daily record of 1,564 coronavirus fatalities on Wednesday, the first time the death toll has passed the 1,500-mark since March last year.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria regions became the latest areas to impose more stringent COVID-19 restrictions amid a rapid increase in infections.
Worldwide, more than 91 million coronavirus cases have been reported with more than 1.9 million deaths.
Here are all the latest updates:
INSIDE STORY: Will poorer nations miss out on COVID-19 vaccine?
The WHO has urged countries to prioritise COVAX, an initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income nations.
Read more here.
‘No limit’ for WHO delegation in month-long Wuhan mission, team member says
A global team of scientists led by the World Health Organisation to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus will spend around a month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, including two weeks in quarantine, a team member said.
Hung Nguyen, a Vietnamese biologist, told Reuters news agency that he did not expect any restrictions to the 10-member team’s work in China as they prepared to fly on Thursday from Singapore to Wuhan, where the first human cases were detected in late 2019.
Turkey approves China-based Sinovac vaccine’s emergency use
Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd, paving the way for the rollout for Turkey’s vaccination program starting with health care workers and other high-risk groups.
The country’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca, and members of the country’s scientific advisory council received the first shots live on television, soon after the health regulatory authority, the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency, announced it had given the green light for use in the country of 83 million.
Britain targets 24/7 COVID-19 vaccine rollout
The United Kingdom is targeting a 24-hour, 7-day a week COVID-19 vaccination programme as soon as possible, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
AstraZeneca executives said the company was on track to deliver 2 million doses of its shot a week before mid-February, and Johnson said increased availability would be crucial to scaling up to a round-the-clock service.
“We’ll be going to 24/7 as soon as we can,” Johnson told parliament. “At the moment the limit is on supply.”
German army offers 10,000 soldiers to help virus fight
The defence minister of Germany offered up to 10,000 soldiers to help carry out coronavirus tests in care homes as the country continues to struggle with high infection numbers.
“The Bundeswehr is ready to assist at short notice with up to 10,000 men and women in old people’s homes and nursing homes if we are called upon,” a spokesman for Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told bioreports news agency.
The soldiers would be able to receive training from manufacturers in how to carry out rapid tests, easing the pressure on care home staff and helping to protect those deemed most at risk from the virus, the spokesman said.
Spanish regions toughen response; Madrid blames UK strain
The Spanish regions of Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria became the latest to tighten coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday amid a spiralling national infection rate that government officials have blamed on lax adherence to the rules over Christmas.
Madrid’s health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero said he suspected the highly contagious variant of the virus first identified in the UK was partly to blame for the surge, accusing the government of “minimising” the issue.
UK registers record daily deaths
On Wednesday, the UK announced 1,564 fatalities, a daily record and the first time the death toll has passed 1,500 in a 24-hour period during the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest figures take the number of deaths to 84,767, among the highest in Europe alongside Italy.
It also registered another 47,525 new infections – a drop on the same day last week, when health officials recorded 62,322 cases.
Al Jazeera and News agencies