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A U.S. border patrol agent looks out over Tijuana, Mexico from the U.S. Mexico border wall in San Diego, California, U.S., February 2, 2021. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Travel Restrictions at Canada, Mexico Borders With US to be Prolonged Through 21 March

The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 2.44 million, while over 110 million cases of COVID-19 have been detected, according to Baltimore, Maryland's Johns Hopkins University.

The US remains the worst-hit country (almost 27.9 million infected, 493,000 deaths). Next come India (10.95 million cases, 156,000 fatalities), and Brazil (over 10 million cases, and at least 243,000 deaths). At the same time, Mexico has the third-highest death toll in the world (over 178,000 fatalities, while the overall number of infected is around 2 million).

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Table of contents
New firstOld first
23:59 GMT 19.02.2021
A syringe in front of the Pfizer logo. - Sputnik International, 1920
Pfizer to Roll Out 10Mln COVID Vaccines Weekly as Biden Assures Shots for All by July
20:56 GMT 19.02.2021

GAZA (Sputnik) - Israel agreed to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian workers against COVID-19, the Health Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said on Friday.

"Today, in the city of Ramallah, a meeting was held between representatives of the ministries of health of Palestine and Israel, an agreement was reached on the vaccination of 100,000 Palestinian workers who work in Israel," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also called on Israel to recognize Palestinian COVID-19 vaccination cards. Moreover, the sides agreed to cooperate on limiting the spread of new coronavirus variants.

20:17 GMT 19.02.2021
Linda McKinley, a resident in the condominium building where Peel Region public health workers are to test all residents after five cases of the South African coronavirus variant were confirmed, stands among news media members in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada February 15, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Ontario Extends Stay-at-Home Orders for Parts of Toronto Region Until March 8
18:28 GMT 19.02.2021

The United States is experiencing a backlog of six million COVID-19 vaccines after severe storms delayed delivery, although nearly a quarter of those doses should reach their destination by next week, White House coronavirus response adviser Andy Slavitt said on Friday.

"The six million doses represent about three days of delayed shipping", Slavitt told a media briefing. "But 1.4 million doses are already in transit. We anticipate all the backlogged doses will be delivered next week, with most being delivered within the next several days. We will be able to catch up."

After an unseasonably warm start to the 2020/21 winter, a hail of snow storms have descended upon the central and eastern United States in recent weeks, affecting power, heat and water supplies, as well as travel and other logistics.

Earlier this week, some four million homes in Texas were without electricity, and production of oil and gas at key basins in the state, known as the energy capital of the world, was halted. Road closures also held up travel and deliveries in various other states.

Slavitt said 2,000 vaccine sites, located in sites with power outages, could not receive doses this week. Officials were also reluctant to ship to those locations until their power problems were resolved, for fear that further delays in transit and complications on arrival could cause the doses to expire.

Rochelle Walensky, a director at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the media briefing that the United States has vaccinated 41 million Americans since December 14, and save for a few people who experienced common after-effects, there has been no reason for concern.

"I want to emphasise that we implemented the most comprehensive vaccine safety monitoring system programme in our history and the data released from the CDC today are reflective of this effort", she added.

Since the global outbreak of COVID-19 last year, the United States has been the country worst hit by the virus, with nearly 28 million infections and almost 500,000 deaths from those. Yet, latest CDC statistics show a steady recovery. According to the agency, the seven-day average for new cases has declined by 69 percent from a January 11 peak.

18:22 GMT 19.02.2021

The Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) announced on Friday the detection of a brand new strain of the coronavirus, which is believed to be brought in from abroad and features mutations that can potentially reduce the efficacy of the existing vaccines.

The new strain belongs to B.1.1.316 lineage, whose spike protein has the E484K mutation, same as the South African and Brazilian variants, but lacks the N501Y mutation, which is typical of the UK variant, according to NIID.

"It has been determined that this genealogical mutation occurred outside of Japan. Cross-checks with GISAID database failed to determine the country of origin", the institute said.

As reported by Japanese newspaper Asahi, citing science sources, the combination of the new variant's mutations is feared to potentially make it resilient to the existing vaccines, especially the one by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Friday that the new variant has already infected 93 people, including two people who arrived from abroad. All other cases were detected in the Kanto region.

"Experts believe that the [mutated] strain risks turning out more contagious than the constant types and, if its spread continues, might lead to an acute spike in cases", Kato said at a press conference.

Japan has confirmed 151 cases of infection with the Brazilian, UK and South African variants in its territory, as of Friday. The country's total COVID-19 toll exceeds 424,000 cases, including over 7,300 deaths.

18:07 GMT 19.02.2021

Russia’s proposals to the United States on jointly fighting the coronavirus, terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remain on the negotiating table, Russian Ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov said during an online conference at the Council on Foreign Relations on Friday.

"Our proposals are still on the negotiating table", Antonov said. "We are confident that their implementation will help to rebuild the mutual trust and improve the state of Russian-American relations."

Antonov emphasised that joint efforts to better address the aforementioned issues are in the interests of both countries.

Russia has sent a number of proposals to the United States to cooperate in those areas, including collaboration to ensure cyber security, modernization of agreements on the prevention of incidents at sea and in the airspace, Antonov noted.

"We will be raising all these issues at the White House and the State Department upon the appointment of officials responsible for Russian affairs", Antonov said, adding that Russia considers the restoration of a full-fledged communication between the two countries as a primary practical task.

17:53 GMT 19.02.2021
A general view shows the headquarters of the African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 29, 2017.  - Sputnik International, 1920
Macron: Africa to Favour Russian, Chinese Vaccines if EU and US Stall Supply of Doses to Continent
17:44 GMT 19.02.2021

The global distribution of Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine against COVID-19, increases the country’s authority on the world stage, and the West does not like this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

According to Lavrov, the Western countries understand that the Russian vaccine is among the best but still some forces in the West are against it.

"Otherwise, there would not have been such a flow of requests for this vaccine, but they [requests] are growing exponentially. On the other hand, they [the West] realise that the very fact of the distribution of Sputnik V and of our other vaccines, which will soon enter the international market, means an increase in Russia's authority and reputation in the international arena. They don't want this", Lavrov said in an interview with RBC TV.

Lavrov added that many European countries want the EU regulator to approve the use of Sputnik V as soon as possible.

"Hungary believes that they are ready to do this, and we are launching deliveries. The number of requests from Europe is constantly growing. Just the other day, there was a request from Prince Albert II of Monaco to supply vaccines for the entire population of the principality. After scientific assessments of independent structures were published, the West had to admit that the vaccine is good. But, nevertheless, attempts to discredit it continue", the top Russian diplomat added.

17:36 GMT 19.02.2021

The Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the creator of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, has not yet obtained samples of the coronavirus strains originating in South Africa, lead researcher Fyodor Lisitsyn said on Friday.

"With regard to the strains, the Gamaleya Center monitors the situation. We have not yet received any samples of the new South African variants, there are two of them now", Lisitsyn told the Rossiya 24 television channel.

According to the scientist, weather conditions in Russia are not currently conducive to the spread of the coronavirus, which requires above zero temperatures and from 60-80 percent of air humidity. This is more typical of the upcoming spring.

"A certain surge in coronavirus infections is inevitable when conditions favourable for it come along", Lisitsyn added.

The mutated strain was first detected in South Africa last October and has become the dominant one locally by now. It is believed to be more contagious than the original coronavirus.

17:16 GMT 19.02.2021

The leaders of the Group of Seven agreed on Friday to increase cooperation on the health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and committed $7.5 billion in collective support to the COVAX initiative for equitable global access to vaccines.

"Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet", the G7 said in a statement issued at the end of a virtual meeting hosted by UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US also pledged to work together and strengthen their support to the World Health Organization to prepare against future health risks.

"We will work with the WHO, G20 and others, especially through the Global Health Summit in Rome, to bolster global health and health security architecture for pandemic preparedness", they said.

Ahead of Friday’s virtual meeting, a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease said that some of the world’s richest countries are on track to stockpile over one billion more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines than they need to immunize their entire population.

According to ONE Campaign, Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union have bought so much doses that they could inoculate their citizens and still have a surplus of one billion doses, which would be enough to vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa.

The seven most industrialized western countries also committed to help the most vulnerable nations and put global ambitions on climate change at the center of their plans and support Japan to hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer.

As part of its goal to "build back better" from the pandemic, the G7 also announced that they engage with other large economies such as China, although the leaders will consult with each other on collective approaches to address "non-market oriented" policies and practices.

Friday’s virtual closed-door meeting was the first gathering of G7 leaders since April 2020 ahead of the group´s face-to-face summit scheduled for Cornwall, England, in June.

16:56 GMT 19.02.2021
16:37 GMT 19.02.2021

Stronger restrictive measures are needed to control the spread of the new, more contagious coronavirus variants, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a press briefing on Friday.

“With highly contagious variants in our midst, the threat of uncontrolled epidemic growth is significantly elevated, this is why measures must be stronger, stricter and sustained long enough to suppress rapid epidemic growth of variants of concern”, Tam said.

Tam called on local public health authorities to maintain or immediately implement strong new measures, including restrictions and closures, in order to get ahead of or prevent further spread of more contagious new variants. Canadian public health officials have identified community spread of the UK and South African COVID-19 variants in different parts of the country.

Canada’s chief medical officer warned of a stronger resurgence of the virus if public health measures are eased too quickly.

Tam also said that public health officials are zeroing in on the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, as the strain potentially able to displace the original as the dominant strain in Canada.

An expert panel guiding the provincial COVID-19 response in Ontario has projected that the UK variant, which first appeared in the province at the end of December, would “soon dominate.” The UK variant now accounts for 7 percent of all identified positive samples in the province, according to Tam.

UK public health officials in December announced the emergence of the new coronavirus strain that is believed to be up to 70 percent more transmissible. The new strain was first discovered in southeast England in September and subsequently spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

16:36 GMT 19.02.2021

Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates condemned the failure of global leaders to preempt the spread of COVID-19 in his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

"It is a tragedy that the modest steps that would have been required to contain this epidemic weren't taken in advance and so, given the trillions of dollars of damage and other deficits that are tough to measure, we should make the investment, the small number of billions we need to ensure ourselves that this never happens again", Gates said.

Though the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Gates, is a "triumph," there are still ongoing issues that need to be addressed globally.

"The inequity is still quite dramatic", the billionaire stressed.

15:46 GMT 19.02.2021

Canadian health officials project up to 41,353 additional COVID-19 cases and more than 922 coronavirus-related deaths in the next ten days, an updated epidemiology and modeling report revealed on Friday.

The number of Canadians who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus will range between 841,650 to 878,850, while the number of deaths is expected to fall in the 21,510 to 22,420 range by February 28, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

Canadian health officials report a steady decline in daily new case averages, with an average of 3,000 new infections during the last seven days, down from a high of 8,500 cases on average in mid-January.

As of Friday, the agency has reported more than 837,500 coronavirus cases and more than 21,500 coronavirus-related fatalities.

15:34 GMT 19.02.2021

MOSCOW, February 19 (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday held a phone conversation with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, and the sides focused on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kremlin said.

"Topical issues of the development of Russian-Venezuelan strategic partnership were discussed in a constructive and friendly manner. Particular attention was paid to cooperation in the fight against the spread of coronavirus," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Maduro also thanked Putin for deliveries of Sputnik V, the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, to Venezuela. Moreover, the Venezuelan leader informed the Russian president about the COVID-19 situation in his country.

"He [Maduro] also informed about the situation in the Republic [of Venezuela], including in the context of external pressure exerted on Venezuela. The Russian president expressed support for the efforts of the Venezuelan authorities to strengthen the country's sovereignty," the Kremlin said.

The presidents also confirmed their mutual preparedness to strengthen Russia-Venezuela ties in various fields.

14:33 GMT 19.02.2021
A volunteer and a retired healthcare worker holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, at Sant Pau hospital, in Barcelona, Spain January 28, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
S. African COVID-19 Variant May Reduce Efficiency of Antibodies Elicited by Pfizer Vaccine
14:18 GMT 19.02.2021

"Over the past 24 hours we have confirmed 2,333 new positive PCR test results. Currently 3,900 people are hospitalized. This is the highest number since the start of the pandemic," the ministry stated.

13:41 GMT 19.02.2021

BERLIN (Sputnik) - German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday that the country may see a deficit of rapid COVID-19 tests beginning on 1 March, which is when free distribution among the population starts, but that high demand is a positive sign of public engagement.

On Tuesday, Spahn announced that Germany would start distributing COVID-19 express tests for free in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

"I want to say today that, as always, when something is delivered for free to everyone, queues are possible in the beginning. A deficit is possible at the local level. I want to prepare everyone for this, which is primarily a good sign that shows that the request has been accepted. But when we distribute something, whether it is protective masks or vaccines against the flu, demand is especially high in the beginning”, Spahn said at a news conference in Berlin.

The minister noted that the vaccination campaign in Germany has gained momentum and the country would receive 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next week.

"The volume of supplies is always increasing. By the end of the next week, Germany will receive 10 million doses of the vaccine. At the moment, five million doses have already been used in Germany”, Spahn said.

The minister stressed that it was too early to lift COVID-19 related restrictions, despite the decreasing rate of new infections, given that Germany has a high number of new coronavirus strains in circulation.

"The virus does not give up, we clearly see it … [there is] a growing number of infections with virus mutations in Germany … The need to remove the lockdown is great but it is necessary to act carefully not to lose what has been achieved”, the health minister said.

13:34 GMT 19.02.2021
A medical worker holds a tube with Russian Gam-COVID-VAK (trademark Sputnik V) coronavirus vaccine at a Donetsk clinic, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Eastern Ukraine.  - Sputnik International, 1920
San Marino Expects 1st Batch of Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine in Coming Days
11:49 GMT 19.02.2021
11:31 GMT 19.02.2021
Production of anti-coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V - Sputnik International, 1920
Russia May Start Delivering Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine to African Union in May, RDIF Says
10:11 GMT 19.02.2021
 World's first coronavirus vaccine - Sputnik International, 1920
San Marino Becomes 30th Country to Register Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine, RDIF Confirms
09:39 GMT 19.02.2021
Microscope - Sputnik International, 1920
Finnish Nasal Vaccine Meant to Stop Coronavirus 'Completely' to Start Human Tests This Summer
08:57 GMT 19.02.2021
Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the city hospital Leninskaya CRH in the city of Leninsk. - Sputnik International, 1920
Spanish Embassy in Russia Says Some Staffers Inoculated Against COVID-19 With Sputnik V
08:48 GMT 19.02.2021
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Russia's coronavirus vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V, at a coronavirus vaccination center at a shopping mall, in Moscow, Russia. - Sputnik International, 1920
Mongolian Ambassador to Russia, Embassy Staffers Receive Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine
08:08 GMT 19.02.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia registered 13,433 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, slightly down from 13,447 the day before, taking the overall tally to 4,139,031, the coronavirus response centre said on Friday.

"Over the past day, 13,433 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 regions, including 1,462 cases (10.9 percent) that were detected among people showing no clinical symptoms", the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 4,139,031, with the rate of increase at 0.33 percent.

07:46 GMT 19.02.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed that all the foreign embassies accredited in the country had been invited to vaccinate staffers against COVID-19.

"Inviting the diplomatic corps to be vaccinated against the coronavirus infection is a practice that is widespread in many countries, which is quite understandable, since the efficient fight against the epidemic requires the widest possible coverage of all the people staying in the country ... The Russian Foreign Ministry is no exception. As the disease spreads rapidly and poses a threat to all categories of citizens, all the embassies and international organisations' representative offices that are accredited in the Russian Federation were invited to participate in the vaccination campaign", the ministry said in a statement.

07:38 GMT 19.02.2021
Travellers stand at Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain February 14, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
US May Be Placed on UK's COVID-19 Quarantine 'Red List', Report Says
07:20 GMT 19.02.2021
White rabbit  - Sputnik International, 1920
WHO Believes Ferret-Badgers and Rabbits Could Have Spread COVID-19 to Humans, Reports Say
06:36 GMT 19.02.2021
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04:44 GMT 19.02.2021
Actors and  film crew workers, some wearing face masks or coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work on the movie set of a Batman film being shot at George's Hall in Liverpool, north west England on October 12, 2020, as new local lockdown measures are set to be imposed to help stem a second wave of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. - Sputnik International, 1920
COVID-19 Once Again Delays 'The Batman' as Robert Pattinson's Stuntman Tests Positive for Virus
04:28 GMT 19.02.2021
A medical worker walks with a pack of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus disease extracted from a refrigerator at a clinic in the city of Blida, about 45 kilometres southwest of the Algerian capital, on January 30, 2021, where the North African country is symbolically starting its vaccination drive at the same place to have registered the first novel coronavirus case in 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920
Algeria to Launch Production of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine in 6 Months, President Says
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