• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Japan declares limited state of emergency; WHO calls for more equitable vaccine rollout; Singapore PM gets vaccine.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 88 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.89 million.

Arrivals in England will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result upon entry to the country. The test will need to have been administered no more than 72 hours beforehand.

Travellers to Australia will also need to show a negative test – before boarding their planes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today. It comes as Brisbane goes into a short lockdown after the discovery of a case of a new COVID-19 variant.

Asian stocks have hit record highs and Japan's Nikkei hit a three-decade peak on hopes of an economic recovery later in the year.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has received his first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, urging others to also get the jab. Singapore has reported just a handful of local cases in recent months.

Bogota, Colombia, has entered a strict quarantine until Tuesday amid rising numbers of infections and fears a new variant of the virus is circulating.

A lab study suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective against a key mutation in new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa.

China has introduced a new lockdown in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, after more than 100 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed there. The measures affect some 11 million people.

Traffic in London and Rome falling again
Streets in major cities have been much quieter as a result of the pandemic.
Image: Reuters

2. Japan declares limited state of emergency

Japan has declared a limited state of emergency in the capital of Tokyo, along with three neighbouring prefectures.

The measures are part of an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus, as new daily infections hit 7,000 for the first time yesterday, according to media reports. Tokyo recorded 2,447 positive tests on Thursday.

The government said the emergency would run for a month and covers an area home to some 30% of the country's population. There are concerns the restrictions might not go far enough, as the government tries to balance potential economic damage.

“The global pandemic has been a tougher one than we expected, but I’m hopeful we can overcome this,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a televised news conference. “For this to happen, I must ask citizens to endure life with some restrictions.”

3. WHO calls for more equitable vaccine rollout

In the World Health Organization's (WHO) first Member State briefing of 2021, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for more work to be done to ensure the vaccine rollout is equitable.

Forty-two countries have started vaccinating their high-risk populations, he explained. Of these, 36 are high-income and six are upper middle-income.

"This is clearly a problem and this problem is getting worse because some countries are pursuing new deals outside of COVAX offering higher prices," he said.

"History will not judge us kindly if we fail the low- and middle-income countries in their hour of need and sharing is in the best interest of each and every country," he added.

"We can only recover faster as a global community by sharing."