Covid-19: Italy’s latest toll of 311 deaths brings total well over 93,000

World wrap: China refused to give raw data on early cases to WHO as NZ reports death

 

More than 108 million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded worldwide with more than 2.3 million deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

A country by country breakdown of the latest major developments on the virus around the world is as follows:

Italy

Italy reported 311 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 316 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections dipped to 13,532 from 13,908 reported on Friday.

Some 290,534 tests for Covid-19 were carried out, compared with 305,619 the day before, the ministry said.

Italy has registered a total of 93,356 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has reported 2.71 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 18,500 on Saturday, down from 18,736 a day earlier.

There were 118 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 153 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 2,062 from the previous 2,095.

When Italy’s second wave of the epidemic was accelerating quickly in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by about 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by about 100 per day.

UK

The efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in children is set to be tested in a new clinical trial.

Researchers will use 300 volunteers to assess whether the vaccine will produce a strong immune response in children aged between six and 17.

Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination.

“These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups.”

The first vaccinations under the trial will take place this month, with up to 240 children receiving the vaccine and the others receiving a control meningitis jab.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said there is evidence Covid-19 can cause death and severe illness in children, but that this is rare.

The University of Oxford said theirs was the first trial in the 6-17 age group. It said other trials had begun but only measuring efficacy in those aged 16 and 17.

China

China refused to give raw data on early Covid-19 cases to a World Health Organisation-led team investigating the origins of the pandemic, one of the team’s investigators said.

The team had requested raw patient data on the 174 cases of Covid-19 that China had identified from the early phase of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan in December 2019, as well as other cases, but were only provided with a summary, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert who is a member of the team.

Such raw data is known as “line listings”, he said, and would typically be anonymised but contain details such as what questions were asked of individual patients, their responses and how their responses were analysed. “That’s standard practice for an outbreak investigation,” he told Reuters on Saturday.

He said that gaining access to the raw data was especially important since only half of the 174 cases had exposure to the Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood centre in Wuhan where the virus was initially detected. “That’s why we’ve persisted to ask for that,” he said.

“Why that doesn’t happen, I couldn’t comment. Whether it’s political or time or it’s difficult . . . But whether there are any other reasons why the data isn’t available, I don’t know. One would only speculate.”

A summary of the team’s findings could be released as early as next week, the WHO said on Friday.

Australia

Victoria state entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 cases.

One new locally acquired case was confirmed in the past 24 hours, Victoria health authorities said on Saturday, taking the number of active cases in the state to 20.

“A lot of people will be hurting today. This is not the position Victorians wanted to be in but I can’t have a situation where in two weeks’ time, we look back and wish we had taken these decisions now,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday.

Mr Andrews said prime minister Scott Morrison had agreed to stop all international flights to Melbourne for the next five days.

The cluster that triggered the renewed restrictions stemmed from a quarantine hotel at Melbourne airport. Streets in downtown Melbourne, the state’s capital, and its suburbs were almost empty early Saturday, with people ordered to stay home for all but essential shopping, two hours of outdoor exercise, caregiving, or work that cannot be done from home.

Among the “essential” work, play at the Australian Open continued but fans are banned for the next five days. Thousands were forced to leave mid-matches before midnight on Friday.

New Zealand

A patient diagnosed with Covid-19 has died at a New Zealand hospital, the ministry of health has confirmed, after being transferred from a managed isolation facility for treatment of a separate, serious health condition last week.

The person, whose death was not yet being included in New Zealand’s official Covid-related death toll, was diagnosed with the virus after their admission to North Shore hospital in Auckland.

The ministry said more information on the case would be provided on Monday, pending further investigations.

Two more cases were recorded on Saturday in managed isolation facilities, taking the country’s total number of active cases to 45. Only 25 people have died of Covid-19 in New Zealand, which has been routinely praised for its response to the pandemic.

Pakistan

Two 11-week-old white tiger cubs that died in a Pakistani zoo last month have died of Covid-19, officials said. The cubs died in the Lahore Zoo on January 30th, four days after beginning treatment for what officials thought was feline panleukopenia virus, a disease that zoo officials said is common in Pakistan and targets cats’ immune system.

But an autopsy found the cubs’ lungs were badly damaged and they were suffering from severe infection, with pathologists concluding they died from Covid-19. Although no PCR test for the new coronavirus was conducted, zoo deputy director Kiran Saleem told Reuters the zoo believes the cubs were the victims of the pandemic.

“After their death, the zoo administration conducted tests of all officials, and six were tested positive, including one official who handled the cubs,” Saleem said. “It strengthens the findings of the autopsy. The cubs probably caught the virus from the person handling and feeding them.” – Reuters, PA, Guardian