UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the high Covid-19 death toll in England and rate of hospital admissions mean that it is far too early to speculate about easing lockdown measures.
Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Patel said the UK is in a pivotal stage in the vaccination effort but that the country has a long way to go.
"When we still see hospitalization figures, now standing at over 38,000 people, with the number of people still dying with coronavirus, with the number of hospital admissions increasing, this is no time to speak about the relaxation of measures," she said.
"We cannot talk about easing restrictions and measures until we are absolutely clear that we have vaccinated priority groups."
The UK recorded 1,610 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday -- the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. Some 33,355 new cases were also reported Tuesday.
More than 15.7 million total coronavirus vaccine doses have been given out to nearly 13.6 million Americans, as of 6 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This breaks downto roughly 8.9 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 6.8 million from Moderna.
The CDC reports that more than 2 million people have received a second shot to complete their vaccination.
New method: The CDC had last updated the vaccine data on its Covid data tracker Friday, when it said more than12 million doseshad been administered to10.6 million people.More than31milliondoseshad been distributed in total.
The agency has not since updated the number of doses distributed --31,161,075--becauseCDCis refining how the number of doses distributed is reported on CDC COVID Data Tracker to move from reporting doses shipped to doses delivered, the CDC explained.
The United States reported 168,058 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to at least 24,246,830 since the epidemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
There were 2,550 virus-related deaths also reported Tuesday. The total number of US Covid-19 fatalities now stands at 401,553.
The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases
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China is rushing to build a massive quarantine camp that can house more than 4,000 people, after an outbreak ofCovid-19this month that has left tens of millions of people under strict lockdown.
The quarantine camp is located on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which surrounds the country's capital, Beijing.
China has largely contained the spread of the virus, with much of the country returning to normal. However, a sudden rise incases has alarmed officials and raised concerns ahead of the Lunar New Year, the county's most important annual festival, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to visit family members.
Officials in Shijiazhuang, where the outbreak is centered, have initiated mass testing and strict lockdowns, moving entire villages into centralized quarantine facilities in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The new quarantine camp will house close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients, as authorities continue an extensive contact tracing and testing program.
Quick build: The camp was originally planned to house 3,000 people, but has since been expanded to a capacity of 4,160. More than 4,000 construction workers performed "six days' and nights' work" to complete the first phase, said Shijiazhuang Deputy Mayor Meng Xianghong on Tuesday.
Authorities began construction on January 13 and the first section of the camp is now complete and ready for use, while construction continues on the second phase, according to state-owned broadcaster CCTV.
Each prefabricated room is expected to measure 18 square meters (around 194 square feet), and will come with an en-suite bathroom and shower, desks, chairs, beds, Wi-Fi, and a television set, according to CCTV.
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Frustration visibly boiled over with some Canadian leaders Tuesday as Pfizer told Canada that it would not receive any vaccine doses next week due to the continuing manufacturing disruptions at its facility in Belgium.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that the vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing citizen vaccinated by September, would remain on track.
But it was Ontarios Premier, Doug Ford, who bluntly voiced the frustration of many provincial leaders as Pfizer continues to cut its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.
We got to be on these guys like a blanket. Id be outside that guys house. Every time he moved, Id be saying, Wheres our vaccines?.' Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? Thats my question to Pfizer, we need your support, said Ford during a news conference Tuesday.
Ford's plea to US President-elect Biden: Canadas supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the United States after the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported.
Theres a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours away in Kalamazoo, Michigan with the Americans. My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and thats a direct message to President Biden, help out your neighbor, said Ford.
Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.
To date, 60 countries across all six World Health Organization regions have reported either imported cases or community transmission of the UK coronavirus strain -- 10 more than a week ago, WHO said in a news release Wednesday.
Among the countries which have reported cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom are the United States, Russia, Brazil, India and Spain.
US cases: On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that at least 122 cases of athe UK varianthave been identified in 20 US states.
This includes at least 46 cases in Florida; 40 in California; six in Colorado; five in Minnesota; four each in Indiana and New York; two each in Connecticut, Maryland, and Texas; and one each in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
CDC said this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.
While thevariant, known as B.1.1.7, appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to CDC.
Authorities in Chinas capital Beijing said they will investigate everyone entering the city from overseas and shut down two subway stations after reporting the biggest daily rise in new Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks.
Beijing reported seven new cases on Tuesday -- six in the city's Daxing district. Beijing's metro operator said it will shut down the Tiangong Yuan and Biomedical Base metro stations located in Daxing as part of the city's Covid-19 prevention measures.
Beijing authorities said during a meeting on Tuesday that residential compounds with confirmed cases in Daxing and surrounding areas will be under close management. In addition, all individuals who entered the city from abroad since December 10 will be investigated, with an increased frequency of screening.
New cases: China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday that a total of 103 new Covid-19 cases were reported from Tuesday across the country. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new infections.
Some 58 new asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, were also reported Tuesday. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,557, while the official death toll is 4,635.
Colombias Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who tested positive for Covid-19 on January 12, is in the ICU, sedated and on ventilator support, according to a statement from the countrys presidency released on Tuesday.
Holmes Trujillo has been diagnosed with viral pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2, the statement said.
At the moment (the ministers) health condition is stable with a positive response to the health treatment (being) provided, according to the statement. It did not say what treatment the minister was being given.
The Ministry of Defense first announced on January 12 that Holmes Trujillo had tested positive for the virus, saying he would continue with his duties virtually. However, a day later the minister was taken to the hospital, where he has remained since Wednesday.
On Monday, General Commander of the Military Forces Luis Fernando Navarro Jimenez was appointed acting defense minister until Holmes Trujillo is able to resume his duties.
A newstudysuggests someone might be able to get infected with one of the new variants of the coronavirus even if they've had Covid-19 before or have been vaccinated.
The variant was first spotted in South Africa in October and has now been found in more than a dozen countries.
"I think we should be alarmed," said Penny Moore, associate professor at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa and the senior author of the study.
"Based on Penny's data, it's likely that the vaccine is going to be somewhat less effective, but how much less effective we don't know," said David Montefiore, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center.
Montefiore added that this is the first study that gives him serious doubt about whether prior infection or a vaccine will protect against a new coronavirus variant.
"This is the first time I've been concerned about a variant partially evading the immune response and partially evading the vaccine," he said.
Both experts emphasized that people should still get the vaccine. It's extremely effective against other forms of the virus and they think it likely will still give some level of protection against the new variant as well.
The study was posted on a pre-print server and has not been peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal.
This is one of the first reports to look at the variant's effect on antibody potency. Labs around the world are furiously studying the issue and expect to report results within the next few weeks.
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