CoronaVirus News World Over

More than 150,000 people have received their second dose, according to a New York Times survey of all 50 states. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were inoculated.

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When the City of San Antonio’s Covid-19 vaccination registration site went live at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the 9,000 available slots filled up in six minutes. In Michigan, more than 20,000 people tried to enter a health system’s portal for Covid vaccinations at the same time, crippling the system.

 

As states try to scale up vaccine rollouts that have been marred with confusion and errors, the online registration sites — operated by a welter of agencies and using a range of technologies — are crucial. But the problems they are experiencing reveal yet another challenge to getting Americans inoculated: There are many, many more people who want to be vaccinated than there are opportunities to get the shot.

 

“The registration system worked as designed, but there is far greater demand than available supply at this time,” Dr. Colleen Bridger, an assistant city manager, said in a statement. “When we receive more doses from the State of Texas, we will have more appointments available in the coming days and weeks, and we will keep the public informed about registration opportunities.”

 

Michigan’s largest health care system, Beaumont Health, had problems with its website on Friday, said Hans Keil, the system’s chief information officer. Beaumont Health, which operates several hospitals in the Metro Detroit area, had recently announced plans to offer residents 65 and older vaccinations, and about 25,000 people tried to gain access to the online portal simultaneously, Mr. Keil said. The portal didn’t crash, but many users couldn’t enter.

 

“We’re really having to rethink how we have to do our capacity planning,” Mr. Keil said.

 

On Thursday, Miami-Dade County introduced an online registration tool for appointments. County officials had said they would have a limited number of slots for people 65 and older. The available slots were filled in 20 minutes, said Luisana Pérez Fernández, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.

In Georgia, officials tried to roll out vaccines to individuals 65 and older, beginning Monday in DeKalb County. On Thursday, the DeKalb County Board of Health website was experiencing “latency issues” as individuals signed up for the shot.

High demand was apparent offline as well.

In Montgomery County, Tenn., more than 1,000 appointments were scheduled on Tuesday via a phone system before the lines crashed in the afternoon, officials said. On Wednesday, a new website and phone number were added to help handle the load.

Even in states where online registration seemed to go well, some people were stuck with long waits.

In Indiana, more than 21,000 people 65 and older signed up for appointments in the first 90 minutes that registration was open on Friday, and a total of 35,000 people had signed up by an hour later. Officials from the state’s Department of Health said that some 200 people experienced delays.

“Individuals may encounter wait times due to a high volume of interest,” a statement from the department said. “The registration system was designed to put visitors into a holding queue when volume is high.”

 

 

Japan Aiming To Impose further COVID-19 Emergency

Japan is preparing to expand a coronavirus state of emergency to the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo by the end of the week, Jiji news agency reported on Monday, citing unidentified government sources.

 

The three prefectures on Saturday asked the government to impose a state of emergency, which is already in place in Tokyo and surrounding regions, to include them in an effort to contain the latest spread of the coronavirus.

 

Separately, the governor of the central prefecture of Aichi said he and authorities in the neighbouring prefecture of Gifu aimed to ask the government as early as Tuesday to expand the state of emergency to their areas.

 

“Stronger restrictive measures as well as more decisive changes in our citizens’ behaviour – that’s what I am seeking,” the Aichi governor, Hideaki Omura, told media.

 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government on Thursday declared a limited state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three neighbouring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba to stem the spread of infections.

 

Restrictions under the one-month emergency to Feb. 7 centre on combating transmission in bars and restaurants, which the government says are main risk areas.

 

The new curbs are narrower in scope than those imposed in April under an emergency that ran to late May. At that time, the curbs were nationwide and schools and non-essential businesses were mostly shuttered. This time, schools are not being closed.

 

Japan has seen coronavirus cases total around 289,000, with 4,067 deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK. Since the outset of the pandemic it has tried to balance controlling the spread of the virus while limiting damage to the world’s third-biggest economy.

 

Under a law revised in March to cover the coronavirus, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a grave danger to lives and if its rapid spread threatens serious economic damage.

 

That gives local authorities legal basis to ask residents and businesses to restrict movements and work.

 

 

Other News:

 

The new variant of the coronavirus first detected in Britain has been confirmed in northern Mexico, health officials said on Sunday, adding a new layer of concern to an already severe national outbreak.

 

The confirmation of the especially contagious new variant of the virus marks the first time it has been found in Mexico, home to the pandemic’s forth-highest death toll globally.

 

A 56-year-old British man who flew on Dec. 29 from Mexico City to the city of Matamoros, just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, tested positive for the new strain, both state and national health officials said on Sunday.

 

The man arrived to the Mexican capital a day earlier on a flight from Amsterdam, said Jose Luis Alomia, the head of epidemiology for the national health ministry, at a regular government news conference.

 

The official explained that upon arriving in Matamoros, the man did not show any symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But he nonetheless tested positive again after a second test was administered to him on Dec. 31.

Alomia stressed that while the new variant has been detected, it is not believed to be circulating on any significant scale among the population.

A dozen passengers on the same Mexico City-Matamoros flight have not yet been identified, officials said, while the rest of the 45-passenger flight have all tested negative, including the plane’s crew.

The British man remains hospitalized in Matamoros, and was placed on a ventilator on Saturday.

Officials did not say that any form of contact tracing or testing had been conducted on passengers on the Amsterdam-Mexico City flight.

The fast-spreading new strain of the virus has also been found in South Africa and Australia, prompting authorities to take more aggressive action to prevent even greater contagion as countries across the globe struggle to contain the pandemic.

 

While in Other News

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered on Monday moves to advance the construction of some 800 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, an official statement said.

The announcement, in the final days of the Trump administration, was widely expected ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has been critical of Israeli settlement policies in the past.

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