Coronavirus live news: Venezuelan president’s Facebook page frozen over cure claim; UK deaths pass 150,000 milestone, analysis shows | World news
Mexico reported 4,922 new cases of Covid-19 and 567 more fatalities, Reuters reports. It brings the country’s total to 2,224,767 infections and 201,429 deaths, according to health ministry data.
Here is more on the rock concert in Barcelona where spectators had rapid Covid-19 tests.
About 5,000 people will attend the sold-out concert for Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian, and will not be required to observe social distancing. Attendees will have to wear face masks throughout the concert in the Palau Sant Jordi arena.
“(This concert) is about the excitement of going out, consuming culture, and dancing in a more or less safe environment,” said Sebastian, 47, a teacher getting tested ahead of the concert. “We’re going to dance and have a great time.”
The pilot concert, which has been approved by health authorities, will serve as a test for whether similar events will be able to start up again.
“It will be safer to be in the Palau Sant Jordi than walking down the street,” concert co-organiser Jordi Herreruela told Reuters.
Pre-concert testing was offered at three locations in Barcelona, and carried out by 80 nurses wearing full personal protective equipment. Some people winced as nurses swabbed their noses.
France has recorded 42,619 new cases on Saturday compared with 41,869 cases on Friday, Reuters reports. The total number has surpassed 4.5 million.
A World Health Organization-backed programme to supply coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries expects that the Serum Institute of India (SII) will resume full deliveries of the AstraZeneca shot to it in May, Unicef said. Reuters reports:
Deliveries of SII/AZ vaccine are expected to begin fully again by May, with catch-up deliveries to reach every participant’s full allocation up to May, accelerating thereafter,” a Unicef spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman added that the programme, known as Covax, was in talks with New Delhi to secure “some supply” in April too. Covax was expecting a total of 90m doses from SII in March and April, of which it has received about 28m.
Unicef is the distributing partner of the programme, run with the Gavi vaccine alliance.
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, said on Friday it would make domestic Covid-19 inoculations a priority as infections surge, and had told international buyers of its decision.
Facebook freezes Venezuelan president’s page for promoting unfounded Covid remedy
Facebook has frozen Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s page for violating policies against spreading misinformation about Covid-19 by promoting a remedy he claims, without evidence, can cure the disease, a company spokesman said.
Maduro in January described Carvativir, an oral solution derived from thyme, as a “miracle” medication that neutralises coronavirus with no side effects, a claim doctors say is not backed by science.
Facebook has taken down a video in which Maduro promotes the medication because it violates a policy against false claims “that something can guarantee prevention from getting Covid-19 or can guarantee recovery from Covid-19”.
“We follow guidance from the WHO (World Health Organization) that says there is currently no medication to cure the virus,” the spokesman told Reuters. “Due to repeated violations of our rules, we are also freezing the page for 30 days, during which it will be read-only.”
Maduro in the video says Carvativir, which he calls “miracle drops” of 19th-century Venezuelan doctor Jose Gregorio Hernandez who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, can be used preventively and therapeutically against the coronavirus.
The administrators of the page were notified of the policy violation, the Facebook spokesman said.
More than 150,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, according to Guardian analysis.
The latest figures from statistical agencies show there have been 149,207 deaths where Covid-19 was noted on the death certificate across the UK and an additional 804 deaths which took place since those records were updated, based on the government 28-day measure.
How deaths are calculated and communicated has been fraught throughout the pandemic. In the first months of 2020 the government settled on a metric counting any death where the individual had tested positive for the virus at any time in the past as a coronavirus death. However, after concerns were raised about this approach, the current method was settled on, where only people who have died within 28 days of a positive test are included in the headline government death toll. That figure now stands at 126,573.
However, figures on the cause of death are usually based on what is recorded on the death certificate, which are published by the UK’s three statistical agencies. The Guardian’s figure collates data on coronavirus deaths from the Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency by date of the occurrence of death. The figure is then brought up to date by adding the latest government coronavirus death figures which have occurred since the previous statistical release.
France recorded 4,791 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units on Saturday, an unprecedented high for this year, health ministry data showed. The figure is up from 4,766 the previous day, Reuters reports.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that the number of critical Covid-19 patients was rising across war-wracked Yemen, urging assistance from donor countries and specialised groups.
Medecins Sans Frontieres is seeing a dramatic influx of critically ill Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalisation in Aden, Yemen, and many other parts of the country,” MSF said on Twitter.
“We are urging all medical humanitarian organisations already present in Yemen to rapidly scale up their Covid-19 emergency response,” said Raphael Veicht, MSF head of mission in the country.
The southern port city of Aden is Yemen’s de facto capital, where the internationally recognised government is based after being routed from Sanaa in the north by Huthi rebels.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to shore up the government, and since then the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and displaced millions.
UK records further 58 deaths
The UK has recorded 4,715 new cases on Saturday compared with 6,187 on Friday. It brings the total to 4,329,180.
There were 58 further deaths bringing the total to 126,573, according to government figures.
Meanwhile, the number of first vaccine doses administered edged closer to 30m – the figure now stands at 29,727,435. Some 3,293,517 have also had a second vaccine dose.
The deaths of two further people who previously tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland have been reported by the Department of Health. Another 138 confirmed cases of the virus were also recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period. On Saturday morning, there were 130 Covid-positive confirmed inpatients in hospital, of whom 14 were in ICUs.
Thousands of vaccine-seekers from countries neighbouring Serbia flocked to Belgrade on Saturday after Serbian authorities offered foreigners free coronavirus jabs if they showed up over the weekend. Associated Press reports:
Long lines of Bosnians, Montenegrins and North Macedonians – often entire families – formed in front of the main vaccination centre in the Serbian capital as police kept watch.
“We don’t have vaccines. I came here to get vaccinated,” said Zivko Trajkovski, who is from North Macedonia. “We are very grateful because we can vaccinate quicker than in Macedonia.”
Zoran Dedic of Bosnia noted that his country and Serbia were part of a joint federation before Yugoslavia disintegrated in a war during the 1990s. “It does not make any difference, Bosnia or Serbia. It does not matter,” he said.
Most of Serbia’s Balkan neighbours have been struggling with shortages and have barely started mass vaccination drives, while Serbia boasts of having ample supplies and one of Europe’s highest per capita vaccination rates.
The Serbian government has donated vaccine doses to North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia.
Italy reported 380 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday compared with 457 the day before, the health ministry said.
The daily tally of infections fell slightly to 23,839 from 23,987 the day before, Reuters reports.
Some 357,154 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the space of 24 hours, compared with the previous day’s total of 354,982.
Italy has registered 107,636 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year. It has reported 3.5 million cases to date.
Turkey sees highest number of daily cases this year
Turkey has recorded 30,021 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the highest number this year, Reuters reports.
Health ministry data showed the cumulative number of cases stood at 3,179,115 and the latest daily death toll was 151, bringing the cumulative toll to 30,923.
Measures to curb the pandemic in Turkey were eased earlier this month.