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Coronavirus digest: Brazil pledges $1 billion after hitting record deaths | DW

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed an executive order to spend 5.3 billion reais ($918 million; €783 million) in funds to fight the coronavirus.

The commitment came as Brazil registered 3,780 deaths on Tuesday, a new record for the country.

Brazil now accounts for nearly a quarter of the total coronavirus deaths registered every day across the world. Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic has been widely condemned, most recently as the country’s vaccination drive faces a lack of shots.

Brazil expected to receive 46 million vaccine doses this month but ended up with only 22 million.

The Finance Ministry said the newly announced loans will be used to support Brazil’s healthcare system. The funds will be used at over 2,600 public health clinics and to build more hospital beds. 

Brazil: Experts fear more mutations due to complacency

Global developments

The pandemic has stalled efforts to reach global gender equality, a report from the World Economic Forum has revealed. At the current rate, it will take 133.4 years to achieve equality between men and women worldwide.

The WEF evaluates progress in achieving gender equality in four key dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

Europe

Austria has said that it will look to order at least 1 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V doses, potentially as early as next week.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has argued Vienna is not going to receive their fair share from the EU’s joint purchasing scheme.

Previously Kurz had said he would wait for approval from the European regulatory body, the EMA. He made no mention of this on Wednesday. Two other EU nations have already placed orders: Slovakia and Hungary.

Russia announced registering what it said was the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals. The Russian agriculture oversight agency Rosselkhoznadzor said it had been testing the vaccine called Carnivak-Cov since October. 

“All test animals that were vaccinated developed antibodies to coronavirus in 100 percent of cases,” said Konstantin Savenkov, deputy head of Rosselkhoznadzor.

Savenkov said Carnivak-Cov was a vital step to disrupting mutations, citing the mutated coronavirus outbreak among mink in Denmark. 

COVID-19 Special: What COVID mutation could mean

Spain has expanded the list of places where people have to wear masks “until the end of the crisis.” This includes all public places — inside and outside — even when a distance of 1.5 meters can be maintained, for example, the pool and the beach.

The government has also announced that the country will use the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 55-65, but could give Johnson & Johnson’s version of the shot to older people once it is available in the country.

Germany has registered 17,051 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases to 2,808,873, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. With 249 deaths reported, the country’s death toll has risen to 76,342.

Germany will offer its first public round-the-clock vaccination center offered by the German army. The center will operate 24 hours a day, and will be able to handle 1,000 injections per day, state authorities said.

Ukraine reported a record number of new coronavirus deaths and daily hospitalizations. The country’s health system is under a huge burden as authorities struggle to accelerate a vaccine rollout. 

Americas

Venezuela has received doses of Russian coronavirus vaccine candidate EpiVacCorona for trials, officials have announced. In a visit to Venezuela, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said: “We could consider supplying that vaccine in addition to Sputnik V.”

Venezuela is set to be supplied with 10 million doses of the Sputnik V shot, Russia’s flagship jab, but so far only several hundred thousand have been received. 

More than 115,000 EpiVacCorona doses have been introduced into Russia’s vaccination campaign. Moscow said it had produced positive results, although some trial volunteers have voiced concerns about its efficacy.

Merkel: ‘We have to be able to trust our vaccines’

Africa

South Africa has restricted the sale of alcohol over Easter to prevent a new surge in COVID-19 cases. The government has also restricted gatherings to a maximum of 250 people at indoor religious gatherings and 500 people at outdoor events.

“Given the role of alcohol in fuelling reckless behavior, we will put in place some restrictions over the Easter weekend,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said, with retail sales of alcohol banned Friday through Monday.

Asia

China’s southwestern city of Ruili, which borders Myanmar, has ordered mass testing and a one-week home quarantine of residents after six new locally transmitted coronavirus cases were reported.

While the six cases were Chinese citizens, three asymptomatic patients were citizens of Myanmar. Authorities are set to crack down on illegal border crossings following the discovery of new cases.

Asia pacific 

Australia has missed its target for coronavirus vaccinations, with only around 670,000 people who have received the jab. Australia’s initial target was to vaccinate 4 million people by the end of March. 

Officials have blamed the slow roullout on floods slowing down vaccine delivery and Europe cutting back on supply. 

However, Australia hit a record of 72,826 vaccinations on Tuesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters, signaling that health authorities were pushing to accelerate the process. 

Australia has largely contained the spread of COVID-19 through border closure and contact tracing. The country of 25 million has recorded under 30,000 coronavirus cases. 

Middle East

Yemen has received on Wednesday its first batch of coronavirus vaccine doses through the COVAX program. The UN children’s agency said the war-torn country received 360,000 shots as the first shipment of 1.9 million doses set to arrive throughout the year. 

fb, see/nm (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

 

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