(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Beijing steps up measures
China’s capital Beijing said on Wednesday it will investigate everyone who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks.
The Communist Party-backed Beijing Daily said the capital’s party and government leadership met late on Tuesday and agreed to tighten monitoring, minimise public gatherings and reduce passenger loads on public transport.
China has opted to let local governments choose their own tactics to battle the latest outbreaks, an approach that avoids the kinds of widespread shutdowns during the height of the epidemic in 2020.
India to start COVID vaccine exports on Wednesday
India will start exporting COVID-19 vaccines from Wednesday, paving the way for many mid- and lower-income countries to get supplies of the easy-to-store Oxford/AstraZeneca drug, of which it said it plans to ship millions of doses within days.
Officials said the first doses would go to Bhutan and the Maldives. Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles will also get supplies in this week’s first phase, India’s foreign ministry said.
The vast majority of the production of the three most widely approved COVID vaccines globally has been hoovered up by developed countries, raising concern at the WHO and elsewhere that poorer countries could face a long wait for supplies.
More Australian Open players test positive
Two more Australian Open players have tested positive for COVID-19, government officials said, as authorities were at cross-purposes over who would pay for the tournament’s quarantine bill. A total of 10 people associated with the Grand Slam, including four players, have now tested positive for the virus.
More than 70 players and members of their entourages are confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open after passengers on three charter flights returned positive tests.
A number of players have complained about the conditions, drawing a backlash from Australians, who have criticised the players for being “entitled” even as thousands of the nation’s citizens remain stranded overseas.
Japan’s vaccine programme chief denies reports of May roll-out
The chief of Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, administrative reform minister Taro Kono, denied media reports that vaccinations for the general population may start in May, as the country battles a third wave that has brought record numbers of infections and serious cases.
The government has said it would prioritise medical workers, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions in its vaccine programme expected to start by the end of February, but has not provided a timeline beyond that.
The timeline for the roll-out has garnered interest in Japan, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga saying that the vaccines are key to a safe Olympics. Japan has arranged to buy 540 million doses from Western developers including Pfizer Inc, whose vaccine is expected to be the first to get regulatory approval.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)