Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Global cases have reached 100,213,452, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 2,154,921.
To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:
Wednesday, Jan. 27 (Tokyo time)
10:01 a.m. South Korea reports 554 cases from 354 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 76,429 with 1,378 deaths. A dormitory at a religious institution in the city of Gwangju emerged as a COVID-19 epicenter.
9:26 a.m. China reports 75 cases on Jan. 26, down from 82 a day earlier. The National Health Commission said in a statement that 55 of the cases were local infections, down from 69 a day earlier. New asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, hit 61 on the day from 57 the previous day.
5:46 a.m. Florida offers to replace Tokyo as host of the Summer Olympics, asking the International Olympic Committee to consider the option. A coronavirus outbreak in Japan has raised speculation that Tokyo organizers may back out.
5:34 a.m. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Tuesday the British drugmaker is working with Oxford University on a vaccine that will target the South African variant of COVID-19, according to a media report quoted by Reuters.
4:54 a.m. Pfizer said on Tuesday that it and partner BioNTech were developing a booster shot targeting COVID-19 variants, Reuters reports. “We are already laying the groundwork to respond quickly if a variant of SARS-CoV-2 shows evidence of escaping immunity by our vaccine,” Pfizer said in an email to Reuters. However, the company added that studies needed to evaluate the booster shot are yet to be determined with regulators.
4:44 a.m. The coronavirus pandemic reaches another grim milestone, infecting more than 100 million people worldwide — or roughly 1.3% of the global population — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Global infections have doubled in the two-and-a-half months since November 2020.
3:15 a.m. Delays in Chinese exports of COVID-19 vaccine ingredients to Brazil result from technical obstacles, not political, according to China’s ambassador to the South American country. Yang Wanming says China is committed to helping Brazil, where a vaccine developed by Sinovac was late-stage tested in the state of Sao Paulo.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been at odds with China over the years, leading to speculation that the export delays were political retribution. Brazil needs ingredients from China to produce two vaccines locally — one from Sinovac and another from AstraZeneca.
2:27 a.m. The UK.’s COVID-19 death toll passes 100,000. “It’s hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference. Taking full responsibility for the government response, he said that “we truly did everything we could.”
Tuesday, Jan. 26
9:30 p.m. Israel’s health minister says there have been no serious COVID-19 cases among the roughly 6% of the population who have received the full set of two Pfizer shots, Reuters notes, suggesting the vaccine is working as advertised. He told a parliamentary panel that just 0.014% had contracted milder infections.
9:00 p.m. Iran has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use. Reuters reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif informed his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a meeting on Tuesday.
8:30 p.m. The World Health Organization has updated its clinical advice for treating COVID-19 patients, including the use of low-dose anti-coagulants to prevent blood clots, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris says independent experts visiting the Chinese city of Wuhan are due to leave quarantine in the next two days to start looking into the origins of the virus.
8:15 p.m. In other news out of Malaysia, the Health Ministry says it has signed deals to procure 6.4 million vaccine doses made by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and 12 million produced by China’s Sinovac through two domestic companies, according to Reuters. The Russian shots are due to be released in stages starting in March, while the Chinese ones would be rolled out from April.
7:45 p.m. Malaysia logs another 3,585 new coronavirus cases, despite renewed lockdown measures, along with 11 new deaths, Reuters reports. This brings the total number of infections to 190,434, with a death toll of 700.
6:30 p.m. Saudi Arabia’s finance minister tells the World Economic Forum being hosted online this year in Davos, Switzerland, that his country is talking to manufacturers to provide COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries, including Yemen and African states. Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi group in Yemen since early 2015, in a war that has pushed Yemen into a humanitarian crisis.
6:20 p.m. An expert with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that if China’s COVID-19 inactivated vaccines need upgrading for mutated virus variants, the upgrade could be completed in about two months, according to Reuters, citing Global Times reports on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
6:00 p.m. Indonesia surpasses one million coronavirus cases as it reports 13,094 new infections. The total number of cases found in the country was 1,012,350. The country also reported 336 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 28,468.
4:30 p.m. Britain’s unemployment rate rose to 5.0%, its highest since early 2016, in the three months to November as the pandemic continued to take its toll on the economy, official figures show. Separate data shows the number of employees on company payrolls in December was down 2.7% from a year earlier and 828,000 lower than at the start of the pandemic in February.
4:00 p.m. Japanese drugmaker Shionogi sells development and marketing rights of a COVID-19 drug to U.S.-based BioAge Labs. The drug was originally meant to treat allergic rhinitis. BioAge will hold exclusive rights for its use in treating COVID-19 in the U.S. and Europe in exchange for cash as well as milestones and royalties. The company plans to start a Phase 2 trial in the first half of the year.
3:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 1,026 new infections with the daily count exceeding 1,000 for the first time in three days. Concern over the strain on the medical system persists, with the number of serious cases hovering around 150 and a notable increase in cases of people dying at home.
2:30 p.m. Thailand reports a daily record of 959 cases due to what authorities say was increased testing at the center of its most recent outbreak. The new infections — the highest daily rise since 745 cases on Jan. 7 — bring the country total to 14,646 with deaths remaining at 75.
2:10 p.m. New Zealand will keep its border closed for most of the year, but will pursue travel arrangements with Australia and other Pacific nations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Authorities, meanwhile, may approve a vaccine as early as next week, she added.
1:00 p.m. China’s customs offices should prioritize exports of COVID-19 vaccines and ease clearance procedures, the country’s transport ministry said in a document. Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine is being shipped to Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil, while Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other countries have received doses from China National Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm. The document also said that local transport authorities should set up channels to prioritize vaccine shipments.
12:00 p.m. Chocolatier Godiva will close all 128 of its brick-and-mortar locations in North America by the end of March as demand for in-person shopping dropped sharply during the pandemic. Godiva sweets will still be available online and inside partnering retail and grocery stores.
10:30 a.m. Japanese airline ANA Holdings says it will suspend 16 international routes and reduce service on three other routes during summer as the pandemic restricts travel. Routes to be suspended include Narita/New York and Narita/Jakarta. ANA’s new flight schedule runs from March 28 to Oct. 30. ANA added it would adjust schedules as needed on a monthly basis.
9:50 a.m. China reports 82 cases for Monday, down from 124 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 69 were local infections. The number of asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 57 from 45 a day earlier.
9:30 a.m. Tests by the Minnesota Department of Health have confirmed the first known COVID-19 case in the U.S. associated with a more contagious variant originally seen in Brazil, the agency says. The announcement came as President Joe Biden signed an order extending a ban barring nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been to Brazil, South Africa, the UK., Ireland and 26 other European countries from entering the United States.
9:00 a.m. South Korea’s GDP grew at a faster-than-expected pace — a seasonally adjusted 1.1% — in the December quarter from the third quarter thanks to surging exports, the Bank of Korea says.
5:10 a.m. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro thanks China on Twitter for quickly approving the export of 5,400 liters of inputs for local production of the Sinovac vaccine. Shipments of supplies for the AstraZeneca vaccine are being fast-tracked as well, he says.
1:58 a.m. China vaccinates delegates to the National People’s Congress so that they will be protected from the virus in time for the country’s annual parliamentary session in early March. The country’s vaccination program is ramping up, with about 15 million doses distributed nationwide as of last Wednesday, according to Chinese media.
12:31 a.m. Moderna prepares an altered COVID-19 vaccine booster for the South African variant of the virus, with plans to start clinical trials. The company says its two-dose regimen is expected to protect against the variants detected so far, but tests indicate that the vaccine may produce a diminished antibody response to the South African strain.
Monday, Jan. 25
9:33 p.m. The EU will require pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines inside the bloc to register in advance any exports of doses to third countries, an EU official says. The move comes after AstraZeneca on Friday unexpectedly announced a large cut in vaccine supplies to the bloc for the first quarter of the year.
8:50 p.m. Thailand says it will start inoculations next month by administering 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca‘s vaccine to people in high-risk groups. “We will start with medical personnel and high-risk individuals and areas,” senior health official Sopon Mekton says.
Meanwhile, the country welcomed 6,556 foreign tourists in December, a 99.8% drop from the 3.95 million arrivals for December 2019, the last month before headlines of the coronavirus began rocking the world.
8:45 p.m. Drugmaker Merck & Co says it will end development of its two COVID-19 vaccines and focus its pandemic research on treatments, with initial efficacy data on an experimental oral antiviral expected by the end of March. In early trials, its vaccines generated immune responses that were inferior to those seen in people who had recovered from COVID-19 as well as those reported for other COVID-19 vaccines.
7:26 p.m. Malaysian health authorities report 3,048 new cases for Monday, raising the country total to 186,849. It also recorded 11 new fatalities, bringing the cumulative death toll to 689.
5:30 p.m. Drugmaker Pfizer has submitted an application seeking approval for its coronavirus vaccines to be used in South Korea, authorities say. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety says it aims to reach a decision within 40 days after cutting its previous deliberation period of up to 180 days to fast-track the approval and speed up the vaccination process.
3:38 p.m. Japanese motor maker Nidec reports a 24% year-on-year increase in operating profit for the nine months through December on the back of strong demand for home appliances and personal computers as well as a global shift to electric vehicles. Amid the pandemic, the company’s nine-month operating profit came to 115.5 billion yen ($1.1 billion) as sales rose 2.2% to 1.18 trillion yen.
3:20 p.m. Japan is not likely to reach 75% inoculation, a benchmark for herd immunity to COVID-19 through mass immunization, until around October, about two months after the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to close, according to London-based forecaster Airfinity, Reuters reports. “Japan looks to be quite late,” Rasmus Bech Hansen, the founder of the British research firm, said. “America needs 100 million more Pfizer vaccines to be on the safe side to reach their goals, and a lot of those 100 million would come from the Japan pile.”
3:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 618 new infections, down from 986 a day earlier, as Japan’s capital battles the pandemic under a state of emergency. The daily tally marks the first time for Tokyo to come in under 700 since Dec. 28.
2:18 p.m. India reports 13,203 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 14,849 the previous day, bringing the country total to 10.67 million. Deaths jumped by 131 to 153,417.
1:50 p.m. Turkey receives an additional 6.5 million doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine, according to media reports. The shipment, part of a second consignment that will total 10 million doses, arrived in Istanbul early this morning, according to state broadcaster TRT Haber. An initial 3 million doses previously arrived in Turkey, and the country has so far vaccinated about 1.25 million people, mostly health workers and the elderly.
1:45 p.m. Thailand reports 187 cases and two deaths, bringing the country total to 13,687 cases and 75 deaths. The latest cases include 10 imported infections.
12:30 p.m. Tata Medical & Diagnostics is said to be discussing with Moderna the co-launch of the U.S. company’s vaccine in India, the Economic Times reports. Tata could team up with India’s Council of Scientific & Industrial Research to carry out clinical trials of Moderna‘s vaccine candidate.
12:00 p.m. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he has tested positive for COVID-19 amid an intense second wave of the pandemic that has nearly overwhelmed the country’s health care system. The 67-year-old president, who has resisted wearing a face mask, said in a tweet that his symptoms were light and he was receiving treatment.
10:10 a.m. Hong Kong lifted a lockdown in the Kowloon district early Monday morning after testing about 7,000 people to curb an outbreak in the densely populated area. The government set up 51 temporary testing stations on Saturday and found 13 confirmed cases in the restricted area, which contains many old, subdivided flats in which the disease could spread quickly.
10:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 437 new cases, up from 392 a day ago. Total infections reach 75,521 with 1,360 deaths.
9:40 a.m. China reports 124 cases for Sunday, up from 80 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 117 were local infections. Jilin Province in the northeast accounted for 67 cases, all but three of which were previously asymptomatic but were later reclassified as confirmed. Heilongjiang Province reported 35 cases and Hebei Province 11. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 45 from 92 a day earlier.
9:30 a.m. New Zealand confirms it is investigating one case reported on Sunday, the first domestic case in months. The infection in a 56-year-old woman who returned to New Zealand on Dec. 30 was of the South African variant, according to Chris Hipkins, the country’s COVID-19 response minister.
8:40 a.m. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country’s medical regulator has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The vaccine had been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s for Australians aged 16 years and over, Morrison told reporters. He noted it has been a year since the first coronavirus case was detected in the country. Vaccination of priority groups is expected to begin in late February, at 80,000 doses per week, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
6:05 a.m. Greece detects 32 cases of the British variant of COVID-19, health authorities said Sunday, with 17 of the positive samples coming from Athens. The country reports 334 new COVID-19 cases overall and 24 related deaths Sunday, bringing Greece’s cumulative totals to 151,980 infections and 5,646 fatalities.
5:43 a.m. President Joe Biden will reimpose an entry ban Monday on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the UK., Ireland and 26 European countries that allow travel across open borders. South Africa was added to the restricted list Saturday to contain the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, a senior U.S. health official told Reuters.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will sign a separate order Monday requiring masks on all airplanes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-share vehicles for travelers 2 and older. New CDC rules take effect Tuesday requiring all international air travelers 2 and older to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the U.S.
5:40 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has administered 21,848,655 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Sunday morning. The tally covers both Moderna‘s shot and one by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech. The agency says 18.5 million people have received at least one dose, while 3.2 million have gotten the second dose.
Sunday, Jan. 24
9:26 p.m. Taiwan will more than double the number of people who must quarantine at home to over 5,000 as it seeks to contain a rare domestic cluster of COVID-19 connected to a hospital, the health minister says. The island has kept the pandemic under control thanks to early and effective prevention, with the large majority of its 890 infections being imported cases. But since Jan. 12, Taiwan has dealt with a small number of domestic transmissions at a hospital.
2:24 p.m. Australia reports no new local coronavirus cases on Sunday. The country’s first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is due to arrive in February.
“We have the virus under control here in Australia, but we want to roll out the vaccine,” federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tells reporters. Residents can apply to get the vaccine starting Monday.
1:41 p.m. Thailand reports 198 new coronavirus cases Sunday, taking total confirmed infections to 13,500.
10:30 a.m. Mainland China reports 80 new COVID-19 cases for Saturday, down from 107 a day earlier, the National Health Commission says Sunday. The commission says 65 of the new cases are local infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, falls to 92, from 99 a day earlier.
9:52 a.m. New Zealand health officials investigate a probable community coronavirus case. The country last recorded a community transmission Nov. 18. New Zealand has had only a total of 1,927 confirmed cases so far. On Sunday, there were eight new infections, all returning travelers who are being quarantined at the border.
4:19 a.m. Egypt starts coronavirus vaccinations Sunday, beginning with medical staff, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says in recorded comments. On Friday, Egypt recorded 748 new cases and 52 deaths. But health officials say the real numbers are likely far higher because of the relatively low rate of coronavirus testing and the exclusion of private test results.
Egypt received its first shipment of vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm in December. Egypt will get 40 million vials via the Gavi vaccine alliance for 20 million people, or 20% of its 100 million population, the health minister said last week.
3:44 a.m. COVID-19 vaccinations in Iran will begin in the coming weeks, President Hassan Rouhani says. “Foreign vaccines are a necessity until local vaccines are available,” he says in televised remarks, without giving details of what foreign vaccines would be used.
Cuba said this month that it signed an accord with Tehran to transfer the technology for its most advanced vaccine candidate and carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in Iran. Iran is also participating in the COVAX scheme, which aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries.
Iran has recorded nearly 1.37 million cases and about 57,300 deaths.
Saturday, Jan. 23
7:23 p.m. Malaysian health authorities report 4,275 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total so far, raising the total number of confirmed infections to 180,455. Seven new fatalities are reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 667.
4:24 p.m. The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Japan surpasses 5,000 as the country struggles to curb a third wave of infections, health authorities say.
11:08 a.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden plan to meet next month, the prime minister’s office said on Friday, following a call between the two leaders in which they agreed to join forces to combat coronavirus in North America.
10:36 a.m. Hong Kong’s government locked down an area of the Kowloon peninsula on Saturday, saying people there must stay home until all residents have been tested for the new coronavirus and results largely determined.
9:00 a.m. More than 50 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in over 50 countries and regions, according to an independent tally by Nikkei and the Financial Times. Find out more from the charts here.
6:00 a.m. The World Health Organization says it has reached a deal with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for 40 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine, much of which will go to low-income countries. Vaccinations under the WHO’s COVAX program are expected to begin by the end of February, according to the health body. Rich countries’ direct deals with drugmakers have been blamed for delaying the flow of COVID-19 vaccines to poor nations.
2:30 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces findings that the so-called UK. variant of the coronavirus may lead to higher deaths from COVID-19 compared with the main form.
To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.