The Latest: China city offers rewards to root out untested
BEIJING — A city in northern China is offering rewards of 500 yuan ($77) for anyone who reports on a resident who has not taken a coronavirus test.
The offer from the government of Nangong comes as millions in the city and the surrounding province of Hebei are being tested as part of efforts to control China’s most serious recent outbreak of infections.
The offering of rewards for information on political or social nonconformists has a long history in China.
China has largely controlled local transmission of the virus through the use of measures considered by some to be extreme and highly intrusive, including lockdowns of entire cities, close electronic monitoring of people’s movements and bans on traveling to and from parts of the country.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
Surges in Arizona put focus on Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's handling of pandemic Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo area after it hit a high of daily coronavirus cases. South Africa says it will buy 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate health care workers.
Quebec begins a provincewide 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday to curb surging coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. The Israeli Cabinet OKs tightening a lockdown by closing schools and businesses for two weeks. Mexico has reported a new daily high in coronavirus cases.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
CANBERRA, Australia: — Australia is almost halving the number of passengers allowed to arrive by plane in a bid to prevent the spread of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain.
A cleaner at a Brisbane quarantine hotel diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday is the first person infected with the variant found in the Australian community. Other cases have been detected among travelers while in hotel quarantine, where there is little risk of community spread.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that state leaders have agreed that international arrivals to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia state airports will be halved until Feb. 15. Arrivals at Victoria were already relatively low and will remain unchanged.
Quarantine workers would be tested for the virus daily.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico continues to see record increases in coronavirus cases, with a 24-hour caseload of 13,734 confirmed infections setting a new high for the second consecutive day.
Officials also reported a near-record of 1,044 more deaths. The country has recorded about 1.49 million infections and over 131,000 deaths so far in the pandemic.
Experts say Mexico’s extremely low testing rate means that is an undercount, and official estimates suggest the real death toll is over 180,000.
The country’s vaccination effort is moving slowly, with 4,444 shots administered Thursday — a rate similar to previous days.
In Mexico City, the current center of the pandemic in Mexico, 89% percent of hospital beds are full.
LONDON — The British government says that beginning next week all people arriving from other countries will have to provide proof of a negative coronavius test taken within the 72 hours before departure.
There are exemptions for some, including truckers, airline crew and children under 11.
Many public health experts have long urged the U.K. to adopt the measure as a way of reducing imported infections, though the virus is more widespread in Britain than in many other countries.
The government said Friday that the new measure will help protect against new variants of the virus, such as one recently identified in South Africa.
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Nevada officials are reporting the most new coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
State officials reported 3,402 new confirmed virus infections Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 240,795 cases.
Nevada pandemic response director Caleb Cage predicted the spike earlier in the week and said it mirrored other post-holiday rises the state has experienced.
Nevada has consistently rewritten its record books for coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations throughout the months-long surge that has spared no county, rural or urban. Gov. Steve Sisolak’s tightened restrictions on business capacity and private gatherings are set to expire on Jan. 15, unless he extends them.
BRISBANE, Australia — Authorities in Brisbane, Australia, are locking the city down for three days beginning Friday, after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain.
The Queensland state government says masks will also be compulsory for the first time in Brisbane and the surrounding municipalities of Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands.
The state's chief health officer said “we need to act really, really fast.”
While several cases of the variant have been found in travelers in hotel quarantine, the cleaner is the first person to be infected with it in Australia. Authorities believe the woman was infectious after Jan. 2. She tested positive after showing symptoms Wednesday.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas expects to finish giving coronavirus vaccinations to long-term care residents and health care workers by the end of this month and has moved people aged 65 and older into the next group to receive the shots.
Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday announced new details about the order in which the state’s residents will be eligible for inoculations.
Making people ages 65 to 74 an earlier priority was the biggest shift. The state’s previous plan had that age group getting theirs after people in “congregate” living, such as state hospitals, shelters for the homeless, and prisons.
SAO PAULO — Brazil has passed 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. That is the second highest total in the world.
The health ministry said Thursday that the country had 1,524 deaths in the previous 24 hours, rising to a total of 200,498 for the pandemic.
The milestone was reached as Brazilians are once again crowding their beaches.
Many Brazilians have been straining against quarantine for months, going to bars or small gatherings with friends, but massive blowouts had been few and far between since the pandemic began. Then big festivities kicked off after the Southern Hemisphere’s summer started Dec. 21.
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has reached a new agreement with the Pfizer drug company that will allow Israel to vaccinate all citizens over 16 by the end of March.
Israel has already secured millions of doses and launched one of the earliest and fastest vaccination drives in the world. The country of 9 million has already vaccinated more than 15% of its population. Israel’s Magen David Adom medical service said Thursday it has given the first of two vaccine doses to all nursing home residents and staff.
Netanyahu said that under the agreement with Pfizer, Israel would be a “global model” and a source of statistical data that could be used to combat the pandemic elsewhere.
Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza will have to wait longer, as Israel has not announced any plans to distribute the vaccine to them. The Palestinian Authority says it has not requested any from Israel, and is instead relying on a World Health Organization program.
SAN FRANCISCO — California’s epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Pan, said more than 2 million vaccine doses have shipped to the state and well over 530,000 doses administered, although she expects the numbers are several days out of date. She said like other states, California needs to ramp up distribution and expects to do so as more doses arrive and more pharmacy, dental and medical field staff made available to administer the doses.
“Having the vaccine come in the middle of our worst surge of all has been a real stress on our health care system and on our public health departments,” said Pan at a Thursday webinar hosted by San Francisco area’s business association Bay Area Council. “So a lot of the people who we would traditionally rely on to vaccinate are actually very busy helping support the surge across the state.”
Pan said momentum for vaccinations is building as more frontline workers receive the vaccine but said how quickly regular people get the doses will depend on local conditions. Some counties don’t have many skilled nursing homes so could be able to move on to the next phase faster. About 3 million people are expected to be in the current phase.
The next phase of vaccinations will include agriculture workers as well as people 75 and older.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida broke its record for the highest single-day number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, tallying 19,816 new cases on Thursday, while the state’s death toll reached 22,400.
Statistics from the Florida Department of Health on Thursday showed the totals surpassed the previous single-day record, which was 17,783 cases on Wednesday.
Since the pandemic started in March, about 1.4 million people in Florida have contracted COVID. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 7,331 people in the state were hospitalized with the virus.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California issued a new travel advisory late Wednesday that says people from out of state are “strongly discouraged” from entering California. It also says Californians should avoid traveling more than 120 miles from home except for essential travel.
The state’s previous advisory, issued in November, encouraged people to stay home or within their region without giving a specific distance that people could travel. It outlined quarantine guidelines for out-of-state travelers but did not explicitly discourage travel.
“Intra-state travel, likewise threatens to exacerbate community spread within California—particularly because travel itself (especially the use of shared conveyances in air, bus, or rail travel) can increase a person’s chance of spreading and getting COVID-19,” says the new advisory, issued by the California Department of Public Health.
People arriving in California from other places, including state residents returning home, should self-quarantine for 10 days.
The advisory broadly makes exceptions for essential travel and work
TORONTO — Elementary students in southern Ontario will continue remote learning until Jan. 25. The Ontario government says coronavirus cases are continuing to rise at an alarming rate. Ontario is Canada’s most populous province.
Chief medical officer Dr. David Williams says the move is being made to ensure students and staff in schools remain safe as rates of COVID-19 increase.
All students are currently learning online as part of a provincial lockdown, but those in northern Ontario and elementary students in southern Ontario were supposed to return to schools next week.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he received new data Wednesday night that indicates positivity rates amongst children have been increasing
LOS ANGELES — California health authorities have reported a record two-day total of 1,042 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads.
The state Department of Public Health’s website lists 583 new deaths Thursday, a day after 459 deaths.
The previous two-day total was 1,013 deaths at the end of December.
California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic now stands at 28,045
MADRID — Spain’s health ministry says the country’s pandemic tally for infections has now surpassed the 2 million figure after 42,360 officially recorded new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days were reported Thursday amid a continuing post-Christmas rise in daily numbers.
Government virus expert María José Sierra said the official number of people infected was 2.02 million. The Health ministry said that since Tuesday 245 people have died from the virus, making for total of 51,675 fatalities.
The 14-day cumulative index watched by epidemiologists rose to 321 per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 295 on Tuesday, the last day official figures were issued.
Intensive care unit occupation by coronavirus patients inched up to 24 percent.
Sierra said more COVID-19 patients were being admitted to hospital than patients being released, breaking with a trend of recent weeks.
The health ministry said 207,000 people have been vaccinated since Dec.27. The country hopes to vaccinate 2.5 million people by the end of March. Spain’s population is 47 million.
The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the day a mob attacked the Capitol.
On Wednesday, the nation recorded nearly 3,900 deaths. The virus is surging in nearly every state. California is particularly hard hit, with skyrocketing deaths and infections threatening to force hospitals to ration care.
On Thursday, there were 583 deaths in California for a record two-day total of 1,042. The confirmed death toll now stands at 28,045. The state has registered over a quarter million weekly cases.
More than 360,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus. December was the nation’s deadliest month. Health experts are warning January could be worse because of holiday travel and family gatherings.
About 1.9 million people around the world have died of the coronavirus.