China’s Experts 4 Possible Corona Routes to Pandemic, World Stats

Chinese officials said experts voted on four possible ways that the coronavirus got to Wuhan.

They are: a bat carrying the virus infected a human, a bat infected an intermediate mammal that spread it to a human, shipments of cold or frozen food, and a laboratory that researches viruses in Wuhan. The experts concluded one of the two animal routes or the cold chain was most likely how it was transmitted.

A lab leak was viewed as extremely unlikely, Feng Zijian, a Chinese team member and the deputy director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

AP reports: Chinese officials briefed diplomats Friday on the ongoing research into the origin of COVID-19, ahead of the expected release of a long-awaited report from the World Health Organization.

The briefing appeared to be an attempt by China to get out its view on the report, which has become enmeshed in a diplomatic spat. The U.S. and others have raised questions about Chinese influence and the independence of the findings, and China has accused critics of politicizing a scientific study.

“Our purpose is to show our openness and transparency,” said Yang Tao, a Foreign Ministry official. “China fought the epidemic in a transparent manner and has nothing to hide.”

The report, which has been delayed repeatedly, is based on a visit earlier this year by a WHO team of international experts to Wuhan.

The experts worked with Chinese counterparts, and both sides have to agree on the final report. It’s unclear when it will come out.

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Germany could see up to 100,000 new cases a day, warns expert

In Germany, the president of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases has warned that there could be as many as 100,000 new coronavirus infections a day in Germany if the spread of the coronavirus is not curbed, Reuters reports.

“Of course, it could be 100,000 per day,” Lothar Wieler told a weekly news conference.

This comes after reports that Germany will classify France as a high-risk zone for Covid-19, according to Angela Merkel, in a move that could see Berlin tighten border controls and require mandatory quarantine to enter the country.

The RKI warning also follows a government U-turn on a planned Easter shutdown that would have seen shops and churches closed over a five-day period.

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Morocco expects new batches of coronavirus vaccine to arrive soon from Russia, South Korea and China, allowing it to continue its rapid immunisation roll-out despite a pause in exports from India, a health ministry official said.

Reuters reports; Morocco has already received 8.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, made in India, and Sinopharm vaccine, made in China, allowing it to administer more jabs than any other African country.

It expects 4.2 million more doses soon, said Health Ministry scientific committee member Said Afif, keeping it on track to reach its target of herd immunity before the summer.

These include 2 million more Sinopharm doses, 1 million of Russia’s Sputnik V shot and another 1.2 million AstraZeneca doses made in South Korea and bought through the Covax vaccine-sharing scheme, Afif said.

The health ministry has approved use of the Sputnik and South Korean-made AstraZeneca vaccines.

“Morocco is adopting a strategy of anticipation to ensure the vaccination campaign continues steadily regardless of the delays announced by AstraZeneca manufacturer in India,” Afif said.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he had reminded China’s foreign minister that Turkey expects to receive 50m doses of vaccines from Sinovac Biotech following a deal between the two countries during talks in Ankara.

Reuters reports: Turkey has until now been using Covid-19 jabs developed by Sinovac, received as part of an agreement to procure a total of 100m doses, and has administered 14.6m shots, with 8.2 million people having received a first dose, since 14 January, when the nationwide rollout began.

On Thursday, Turkey said it has begun initial talks to procure Russia’s Sputnik-V shot.

Erdogan said he had told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Turkey had not received the 50 million doses by the end of February as pledged in the agreement and was therefore expecting them.

He said Wang told him he would bring the issue up with China’s president.

Iran expects to start domestic production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in April, the RIA news agency cited the Iranian ambassador to Moscow as saying.

Iran approved Sputnik V for domestic use in January, and says it has received more than 400,000 of the 2m doses it ordered from Russia, Reuters reports.

The German government has said it would be open to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine when approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), AFP reports.

“EMA approval – which Sputnik does not yet have – would provide the opportunity to use the vaccine in inoculation campaigns in Europe, and it would then also be worth considering for Germany,” said chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert. He refused to be drawn over France’s accusation against Moscow of using the jabs as a “propaganda” tool.

The Philippines reported 9,838 coronavirus cases on Friday, marking the highest daily jump since the pandemic began.

It comes as the World Bank warned that vaccinations needed to be a priority to limit further deaths and support the country’s health system. Reuters reports: A recent spike in infections has forced authorities to widen tighter restrictions in the capital Manila to surrounding provinces, but once-a-day religious services with up to 10% of a church’s capacity will be allowed in the week ahead of Easter.

The Philippines, which is facing the second worst outbreak in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, has seen record new cases in three of the past five days, while infections reported in the past 10 days accounted for a tenth of its total 702,856 cases.
Deaths have increased to 13,149, after 54 more casualties were recorded on Friday, the health ministry said. The capital region accounted for two-fifths of the Covid-19 cases

Norway is expected to decide by 15 April over the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.

The rollout was suspended after several younger inoculated people were hospitalised, some of whom later died.

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Highlighted in green

= all cases have recovered from the infection

Highlighted in grey

= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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March 26 (GMT)