Dubai, reeling from an uptick in coronavirus infections, ordered the medical community to suspend elective and non-urgent surgeries. In addition, all entertainment activities in hotels and restaurants have been canceled. On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates reported a record daily high of over 3,500 new infections. The UAE has increased its testing for the cornavirus, testing some 163,000 people on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka and Australia are requiring travelers to produce a valid negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of entering their countries. China, which is preparing for the Lunar New Year in three weeks, is enacting more regulations for travelers within its border including requiring a negative coronavirus test and, in some cases, quarantine. Sri Lanka, which was closed to international travelers for 10 months, is now allowing international tourists onto the island on condition that they stay in one of 14 so-called “tourism bubbles,” do not interact with local Sri Lankans, and undergo a coronavirus test a week into the stay.
The World Bank approved $34 million in funds for Lebanon’s vaccination efforts. The bank reported it will reallocate the funds from Lebanon’s Health Resilience Project to enable the country ravaged by the coronavirus to purchase additional vaccines to reach more of its population. This is the first World Bank-financed operation to fund the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. According to a statement from World Bank Group President David Malpass: “Fair, broad and fast access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to protecting lives and supporting economic recovery.”
The World Health Organization reported that the UK variant of the coronavirus, which spreads the infection more quickly than the original virus strain, has been found in 60 countries worldwide. It also reported that the South African variant is present in 23 countries. Another two variants have also been identified in Brazil, the organization said, as it continues to trace mutations of the deadly virus.
Some 15,000 people in the island-nation of Sri Lanka drank a concoction created by a local holy man to protect against the coronavirus. One of those, Women and Child Development Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva, was later hospitalized, despite having drunk the syrup. His office confirmed he was ill with the virus. The holy man asserted that the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, Kali, provided him with the recipe.
The United Kingdom is vaccinating some 140 people per minute on average, according to UK Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi. By Monday, the UK reportedly had vaccinated more than 3.8 million people with the first dose of the vaccine. The minister said on Monday that the country planned to open 50 new large vaccination centers and a 24-hour center in London by the end of the month in a race to vaccinate its population.
The Philippines’ confirmed infections from the coronavirus pushed over 500,000 yesterday amid uncertainty about when the country will receive vaccine doses. With close to 9,900 deaths related to the coronavirus, the government is in the midst of negotiations with several companies to purchase vaccines. According to reports, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal guards have been vaccinated, whereas the president maintains he has not received a vaccine.
Brazil has granted emergency use approval for two vaccines against the coronavirus: AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Sinovac Biotech from China. The first vaccines were administered immediately following Sunday’s decision by the country’s regulatory body. Brazil has the second highest death toll from the virus with over 209,000 and has the third largest number of reported cases at 8,488,000.
Businesses in the United Kingdom hit by lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic can receive compensation from their insurance companies following a decision by the UK Supreme Court to dismiss appeals by various insurance companies that said the pandemic was not a business interruption. Six commercial insurers argued that the UK’s first lockdown should not be covered; however, the court disagreed and now British businesses can begin the process for requesting payouts that could reach billions of English pounds.
The Australian Open Grand Slam tennis championship, which begins in early February and is the first major tennis tournament of the year, has placed 47 players in hard lockdown, such as not being allowed to leave their hotel rooms, after other passengers on charter flights tested positive for COVID-19. All participants, including coaches, media, officials and family, are required to be quarantined for 14 days following their arrival in the country. Those not put into hard lockdown are being allowed to practice for five hours a day, though they will be tested daily for the virus.