As COVID-19 surges continued in some hot spots, the world added about 1 million cases over the weekend, with Brazil yesterday reporting its highest daily total since early January.
Also, the virus sickened another world leader, though decreasing activity in some areas led to some countries loosening of restrictions.
Praise for women's role in response
At the World Health Organization's (WHO's) regular COVID-19 briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, used the International Women's Day observance to note that women have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, but have also been at the forefront of the response, including at the WHO and at vaccine developers.
During the briefing, two women who played key roles in vaccine development addressed reporters: Sarah Gilbert, PhD, with the University of Oxford, and Ozlem Tureci, MD, chief medical officer at BioNTech. Tureci said researchers continue to address manageable scientific challenges such as determining duration of protection and covering new variants.
But she said the next milestone is the global rollout of the vaccines. "No one is safe until all are safe," she said.
Brazil surge continues
Yesterday, Brazil—where the P1 variant is dominant—reported 80,508 cases yesterday, marking its biggest single-day rise since Jan 7, CNN reported. Among other metrics, the country last week reported record daily highs for deaths, and at Brazil's hospitals, about a third of intensive care units are at more than 90% capacity, putting them near collapse.
Elsewhere, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Reuters. They were tested after experiencing mild symptoms.
The country has experienced a steep rise in infections since February, but health officials don't have a clear picture of the country's COVID[-19 situation because of a lack of testing capacity and a fragile health system.
In other global headlines:
- Children in England returned to school today after about 2 months of distance learning that was part of strict lockdown measures.
- Israel yesterday eased most restrictions for people who have vaccinated; the development comes as the country has vaccinated more than half of its population, with about 90% of those age 50 years and older already immunized.
- A report today from the United Nations World Tourism Organization said one in three destinations are completely closed to international tourism, with many governments backtracking on plans to ease restrictions put in place because of the spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.
- The global total today climbed to 117,060,462 cases, with deaths at 2,597,318, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.