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Coronavirus digest: Indonesia surpasses 1 million infections

Meanwhile, several people were arrested in Sydney after defying government protocols for public gatherings during COVID-19 to protest the contentious timing of Australia Day. Follow DW for the latest.

Indonesia surpassed 1 million coronavirus cases, its health ministry said on Tuesday. The country reported 13,094 new infections, bringing the total to 1,012,350. 

The death toll also rose by 336, bringing the total number of fatalities to 28,468 since the start of the pandemic. 

The milestone comes just weeks after the nation launched a campaign to inocculate two-thirds of the country's 270 million people, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of the vaccine. Health care workers, military, police, teachers and other at-risk populations are being prioritized for the jab, in the world's fourth most populous country. 

Officials have said Indonesia will require almost 427 million doses, taking into account the estimate that 15% of the doses may be wasted during the distribution process, in the nation of more than 17,000 islands. 

Watch video 02:07

Indonesia begins coronavirus vaccine rollout

Global

The World Health Organization backed delaying second injections of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for up to 42 days in some situations, as they have already done for the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs. 

Both vaccines require boosters after three to four weeks, but several countries facing limited vaccine supplies have said they will delay administering the second injection so that more people can get the first dose. 

The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) also said that international travelers shouldn't receive priority for any vaccinations for the time being. 

SAGE additionally said that the vaccine should not be used on pregnant women unless they are healthcare workers exposed to the virus, or have medical conditions putting them at high risk. 

Watch video 02:22

Vaccination: Why are some medical workers hesitant?

Oceania

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that the country might authorize a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week, albeit without committing to a date. "We are making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we are also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective," said Ardern.

A tough lockdown and geographical isolation has helped New Zealand virtually eliminate the virus. The country confirmed its first case in the community in months, a traveler recently returned to the country, on Monday. New Zealand has recorded fewer than 2,000 cases to date.

Australia has marked its national day amid the pandemic, with arrests in Sydney as a handful of protesters ignored restrictions on assembly. Five protesters were arrested in Sydney after they defied police orders and a 500-person cap for protests. In the end, between 2,000-3,000 people took part, though police saw only limited cause to intervene.

"With the exception of the few, they were well-behaved," New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said at a televised press conference.

"Australia Day" is marked on January 26, the anniversary of the British First Fleet in New South Wales in 1788. But this choice of date is contentious for many, given injustices towards Australia's indigenous peoples during British colonization, and rival "Invasion Day" protests are common in major cities. 

Police observe a protest in Sydney on January 26, 2021.

Despite some arrests the protests were largely peaceful and socially distanced, with police observing

Africa

Morocco became the first African nation to begin its vaccine rollout, this week. Health workers and citizens are registering online to receive the jab in 3,000 different locations, said Ben Azouz Mohammed, the head of the health ministry's vaccination program. 

Morocco on Friday received 2 million doses of the AstraZeneza vaccine, manufactured by India's Serum Institute, and expects to get 500,000 doses of the shot from China's Sinopharm on Wednesday. 

Asia

Two provinces in China which experienced a flare-up in cases appear to be largely back under control, at least according to official data released on Tuesday. Jilin and Heibei reported seven and five new cases, after an outbreak had hit the two northeastern provinces. China reported a total of just 82 cases on the mainland on January 25, down from 124 case a day earlier.

The fall in cases come after China imposed several measures such as home quarantine, mass testing and travel curbs in January to contain the new wave of coronavirus infections.

South Korea's GDP contracted 1% in 2020 year-on-year, the worst growth in over two decades, according to estimates by the country's central bank. South Korea last performed this poorly in 1998, when it reported a 5.1% decline in economic growth in the light of the Asian financial crisis.

Despite the weak performance last year, South Korea is expected to be among the best-performers in the OECD countries. The Bank of Korea cited private spending and exports for the weak performance in 2020.

Japan's government will shoulder all costs of coronavirus vaccinations, Kono Taro, the country's minister for administrative affairs said on Tuesday. Japan is set to begin vaccinating its population with the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in February. 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reimposed a ban on children aged 10 to 14 from leaving home, as the country battles an outbreak of one of the new coronavirus strains.

He encouraged children to "stay home and watch TV" instead of going outside. 

"Go back to your homes… and besides, they're good just with the TV. They can glue their attention to the TV the whole day," he said. Many parents have, however, ignored the rules, allowing their children to play in parks or on the street. Classrooms also remain closed.

Watch video 02:10

Coronavirus threatens existence of waste pickers

Middle East

Israel banned all incoming flights with the exception of cargo and firefighting flights, and flights for emergency medical evacuations. The measures, which is meant to prevent the arrival of the new virus variants, took effect at midnight between Monday and Tuesday and is set to last until the end of the month. 

Israel has so far vaccinated more than 10% of its 9.2-million population, and on Saturday became the first country to begin vaccinating teens against the virus.

The Israeli statistics office also announced on Tuesday that around 900 holocaust survivors had died from coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some 179,600 survivors are living in the country according to official statistics, all of whom are over 75 years old.

Watch video 01:56

Palestinian territories face vaccine shortage

Saudi Arabia's finance minister said the Gulf country was talking to manufacturers about how to provide vaccines to low-income countries including Yemen and African states.

"We are negotiating with a lot of the vaccination companies to provide more vaccinations, particularly to low-income countries," Mohammed al-JAdaan told the virtual World Economic Forum in Davos. 

Saudi Arabia supports COVAX, the WHO-led program to provide inoculations to poor countries. The program aims to help Yemen reach 20% of its high-risk population with donated vaccines. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier told the same forum that wealthy countries should stop hoarding excess vaccines that they had ordered but did not immediately need. 

Iran has approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and plans to both import and produce it, said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"The Sputnik V vaccine was yesterday also registered and approved by our health authorities," said Zarif, at a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. "In the near future, we hope to be able to purchase it, as well as start joint production." 

Earlier this month, Iran banned imports of vaccines from the United States and Britain. Iran, the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country, has recorded over 1.38 million cases and more than 57,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

Europe

The Netherlands experienced another night of unrest heading into Tuesday after protesters opposing a coronavirus curfew confronted police and threw fireworks.      

It was the third night of unrest in towns and cities across the Netherlands that initially grew out of calls to protest against the country's tough lockdown, but degenerated into vandalism by crowds of mainly young people.

The number of confirmed cases in Germany rose by 6,408 to 2,148,077, while the death toll rose by 903 to 52,990, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases. 

The new figures mark a significant decline in the number of cases detected in previous months. However, officials are still grappling with the spread of the highly infectious UK variant of the virus. 

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the variant posed a "very serious danger" to the country, where only a relatively small number of cases have been discovered so far.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Jens Spahn said that European authorities will this week base a decision on whether to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine, on available data. Spahn declined to comment on media reports that the jab is not very effective for elderly people. 

Watch video 02:21

Spahn calls for COVID vaccine exports to be authorized by EU

Europe's top football clubs are expected to lose over €2 billion ($2.43 billion) in revenue by the end of the 2021-21 season due to the impact of the pandemic, according to Deloitte's Football Money League. The report said the figure includes amounts missed in 2019-20 when the top 20 highest-earning clubs in Europe earned €8.2 billion of combined revenue. 

With the majority of games being played without spectators since June, matchday revenue for top European clubs is also likely to remain close to zero until the end of the 2020-21 season.

"Matchday operations are a cornerstone of a club's business model and help drive other revenue-generating activity," Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said.

"The final size of the financial impact of the pandemic on football will depend, in no small part, on the timing and scale of fans' return."

Britain said it was confident that it would receive all of the vaccine doses it has ordered, despite supply chain issues within Europe. The UK is racing to meet a targeting of vaccinating nearly 15 million people by the middle of next month, and the entire adult population by fall. 

However, fears are growing that the rollout could be threatened by supply issues and possible post-Brexit action on the part of the European Union. 

AstraZeneca, whose shots are already being rolled out in the UK, said on Friday it would not meet its contractual delivery commitments to the EU because of "reduced yields." Pharmaceutical company Pfizer also said it would reduce all deliveries in January and February, as it tries to scale up production. 

Watch video 02:44

EU insists AstraZeneca supply vaccines as promised

Americas

US President Joe Biden has reinstated travel restrictions on travelers from Brazil, South Korea, Ireland, the UK and 26 European countries. South Africa was added to the list over growing concerns related to the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.

According to the new restrictions, all foreign nationals who have been in any of the countries on the restricted list 14 days before their scheduled travel to the US will no longer be allowed to enter the US.

Mexico's death toll topped 150,000, making it the fourth country in the world to pass the milestone. The country's highest number of deaths in a 24 hour period – 1,803 – was recorded last Thursday, and the total is now 150,273. 

The new figures follow President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's announcement on Sunday, that he had tested positive for the virus. 

Watch video 01:29

Mexico-City restaurant owners defy lockdown

Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo died from viral pneumonia related to COVID-19, the government said. The 69-year-old politician was hospitalized on January 12. He was a close ally of Colombian President Ivan Duque and was considered a strong presidential contender for the 2022 national elections. 

am, lc/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)

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