• 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: Mexico, Argentina call for more equitable vaccine distribution; Thailand receives first COVID-19 vaccines; restrictions loosened in two Australian states.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 112.1 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 2.48 million.

Regional authorities in Japan have asked for emergency measures to be lifted before the scheduled date of 7 March, as new COVID-19 cases fall.

Two Australian states are set to loosen restrictions from Friday after several weeks of no new COVID-19 cases.

Thailand has received its first coronavirus vaccines - 200,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac - with inoculations set to start in days.

South Korea is also preparing to begin its vaccine programme, as it transferred AstraZeneca vaccines from a production facility in the country to a warehouse outside of Seoul.

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on Friday on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation.

COVID-19 cases are falling in Portugal, but hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care are falling at a much slower rate.

The EU is set to maintain restrictions on non-essential travel within the bloc.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Cases have fallen in many countries across February.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Rich countries must increase COVID-19 vaccine supply: Argentina, Mexico

The presidents of Mexico and Argentina have pressed the United Nations and the world's richest countries to improve poorer nations' access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the current UN system is not working, with 80% of supplies concentrated in just 10 countries. He described it as "totally unfair".

“Where’s the universal brotherhood?” he said during a joint news conference with his Argentine counterpart, Alberto Fernandez.

It comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen supported a call by French President Emmanuel Macron to donate COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare workers in Africa.

“Vaccines are still scarce everywhere but it is in our common interest to share,” von der Leyen said in a webcast with the World Health Organization (WHO).

3. Deaths in China - outside of Wuhan - fell in first quarter of 2020

A study from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the number of deaths in China, outside of the COVID-19 epicentre of Wuhan, fell slightly during the first three months of last year.

The data suggests that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 reduced deaths from other causes.

The death rate in Wuhan stood at 1,147 per 100,000 over the period, 56% higher than normally expected, the study found.

However, outside Wuhan, the death rate was 675 per 100,000, lower than the expected rate of 715. Nationwide lockdowns reduced the number of deaths from other causes like ordinary pneumonia or traffic accidents, according to the study published by the BMJ.