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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now - Metro US

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

FILE PHOTO: A security guard wearing a protective face mask is seen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

‘A wartime undertaking’

President Joe Biden unveiled sweeping measures to battle COVID-19 on his first full day in office on Thursday, with his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, praising his new boss’ willingness to “let the science speak” in contrast to the Trump administration.

Biden said he was stepping up the federal response to the virus including by taking steps to expand testing and vaccinations and increase mask-wearing.

“This is a wartime undertaking,” the Democratic president said at a White House event where he signed executive orders to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travellers and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities.

1 million inoculated in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday India was completely self-reliant on coronavirus vaccine supplies as the world’s second-most populous country inoculated more than one million people within a week of starting a massive campaign.

On Saturday, India began what the government calls the world’s biggest vaccination programme, using two shots made locally: one licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and another developed at home by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

“Our preparation has been such that vaccine is fast reaching every corner of the country,” Modi said.

Hungary breaks ranks on Russian vaccine

Hungary has signed a deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the first European Union country to do so, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a briefing during talks in Moscow on Friday.

Hungary unilaterally approved the shot as frustrations build in Europe over delays in supplies of Western vaccines.

Scientists have raised concern about the speed at which Moscow has launched its vaccine, giving the regulatory go-ahead for the shot at home and beginning mass vaccinations before full trials to test its safety and efficacy had been completed.

Pandemic overwhelms Portugal

Overwhelmed by record numbers of COVID-19 patients, Portuguese hospital doctors spoke of exhaustion and despair, as the government sought to slow contagion rates by ordering all schools to close for 15 days from Friday.

Western Europe’s poorest country coped well in last year’s first wave of the pandemic, but it has been swamped in recent weeks by a faster-spreading mutation, registering the world’s highest infection and death rates.

“Lots of people are cracking, lots of people are burning out and it gets harder and harder,” said intensive care doctor Gustavo Carona, 40, in Porto. “Everyone is very tired.”

Japan denies Olympics will be cancelled

Japan stood firm on Friday on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied a report of a possible cancellation, but the pledge looks unlikely to ease public concern about holding the event during a pandemic.

Though much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of infections, Tokyo Olympic organisers have vowed to press ahead with the rescheduled Games, which are due to open on July 23 after being postponed for a year.

A government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in Britain’s Times newspaper that the government had privately concluded the Games would have to be cancelled.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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