Coronavirus latest: India begins vaccine exports to Bhutan and Maldives

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 96,215,324, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 2,058,551.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:


Wednesday, Jan. 20 (Tokyo time)

5:12 p.m. India begins export of COVID-19 vaccines to “neighboring and key partner countries” by dispatching the first consignments to Bhutan and the Maldives. It will also soon send supply to four more countries — Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles — the foreign ministry said, adding it is waiting for regulatory clearance confirmation from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius. “India is deeply honored to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted ahead of the vaccine dispatches.

5:09 p.m. Chinese coronavirus vaccine developers Sinovac, Sinopharm and Cansino Bio have submitted application to join COVAX, a global framework backed by the World Health Organization, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says.

5:03 p.m. Russia’s Industry Minister Denis Manturov says that foreign manufacturers, with which Russia has signed deals to produce its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, are capable of producing around 350 million doses per year.

4:57 p.m. As the U.K.’s COVID-19 death toll approaches 100,000, Home Secretary Priti Patel says that while the numbers are tragic, it is not the time to look back at the government’s possible mismanagement of the crisis. The country’s official death toll stands at 91,470 — Europe’s highest total and the world’s fifth worst after the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico.

4:50 p.m. China’s National Health Commission says that as of Wednesday a total of 15 million people have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines. The number is short of the 50 million target by the Lunar New Year holiday starting Feb.11 when throngs of people are expected to travel.

4:35 p.m. China’s National Health Commission says people who intend to return to their hometowns for Lunar New Year will be required to submit a negative coronavirus test result seven days prior to their travel date as part of tightened COVID-19 prevention measures.

3:06 p.m. Tokyo reports 1,274 new infections, up from 1,240 a day earlier, with the number of patients in serious condition rising by 5 to a record high of 160.

2:08 p.m. India reports 13,823 cases in the last 24 hours — up from 10,064 the previous day — bringing the country total to nearly 10.6 million. Deaths rose by 162 to 152,718.

1:37 p.m. Japan’s Skymark Airlines said it will temporarily stop accepting reservations on about 70 percent of its routes from Feb. 15 to 28, as it is considering suspending or reducing flights during those dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

1:05 p.m. South Korea may secure additional coronavirus vaccines for 20 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax, President Moon Jae-in said, according to a statement from the presidential office on Wednesday. Novavax entered into a development and supply agreement for its vaccine with South Korea’s SK bioscience Co last year, according to a statement in August.

12:17 p.m. Taiwan has canceled or postponed more large-scale events after a rare outbreak of domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases connected to a hospital, where the military has been sent to help with disinfection.

Taiwan, which has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention methods, has been rattled by new domestic transmissions, first in December and now in a hospital in the northern city of Taoyuan.

11:10 a.m. The Chinese capital Beijing says it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad since Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks. The measures come amid what has become China’s most severe infection outbreak since March 2020 ahead of the key Lunar New Year holiday season when hundreds of millions travel, raising fears of another major wave that could bring the country back to a debilitating standstill.

Commuters walk in a subway station during morning rush hour in Beijing on Jan. 20. The Chinese capital says it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad since Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks.

  © Reuters

10:58 a.m. The U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday led a national memorial observance on the eve of his inauguration to honor the 400,000 Americans who have perished from COVID-19 during the 11 months since the novel coronavirus claimed its first U.S. life.

9:41 a.m. Mainland China reports 103 new COVID-19 cases for Tuesday, down from 118 a day earlier. The National Health Commission says 88 of the new cases were locally transmitted. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 58 from 91 a day earlier.

9:56 a.m. South Korea reports 404 new cases, up from 385 a day ago. Total infections reach 73,518 with 1,300 deaths.

9:14 a.m. Walt Disney says it eliminated performance-based bonuses last year for top executives, including Executive Chairman Bob Iger, as the conglomerate looks to soften COVID-19 fallout. The pandemic dealt a major blow to the company’s theme parks and movie studios, though people sheltered at home signed up in droves for the new Disney+ streaming service.

7:58 a.m. Brazil is battling Chinese bureaucracy to free up exports of active ingredients for vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech, Reuters reports. Despite the wrangling, more Brazilian states administered their first shots on Tuesday after having received some 6 million doses from China’s Sinovac. However, red tape in China is holding back supplies needed to finish and distribute millions more doses, Reuters’ sources say.

7:41 a.m. Brazil’s military flew medical personnel and 1,000 doses of a Chinese vaccine deep into the Amazon rainforest on Tuesday to start inoculating indigenous people against the coronavirus, Reuters reports.

7:01 a.m. With fewer than 1,550 cases and only 35 deaths, Vietnam has been spared a year of lockdowns, horrific body counts, besieged hospitals and corrosive national bickering. Find out more in this week’s The Big Story.

6:30 a.m. As the first anniversary of the Wuhan lockdown approaches, questions persist over what China knew about COVID-19 — and when China knew it. Read it here.

5:30 a.m. The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpasses 400,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

While hospitalization rates and new cases are showing signs of easing, the U.S. leads the world by far in deaths from the disease, with around 190,000 more than the country with the next largest tally, Brazil.

Healthcare personnel surround a patient who died in a COVID-19 hospital unit in Houston on Dec. 12, 2020.

  © Reuters

5:10 a.m. Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica plans to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for export to other South American countries, Reuters reports.

The company’s international business director, Rogerio Rosso, tells Reuters: “We do not need to have the vaccine registered in Brazil to export it to other countries that have approved it.”

2:50 a.m. Australia’s city dwellers are fleeing to suburbs and rural towns that offer easier access to nature, a trend accelerated by the pandemic-induced shift to teleworking.

A four-bedroom house new on the market in Killcare, a roughly 90-minute drive from Sydney, is garnering strong interest despite an asking price of 1.7 million Australian dollars ($1.31 million). Its charms include a view of the beach from higher ground.

“Now that we know we can work from home, we’re looking for a house with a good view within walking distance of a beach,” says a 50-something officer at an information technology company who toured the property with her husband.

Local home prices have climbed 35% on an influx of buyers, chiefly those leaving Sydney for “value and lifestyle,” says Cathy Baker, principal of real estate company Belle Property Killcare.

2:00 a.m. India will provide domestically made coronavirus vaccine free of charge to six Asian nations starting Wednesday, the government says.

Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will receive exports of the vaccine, which India has already begun to distribute to its own population in the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccination program.

Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius are also poised to receive shipments once all regulatory conditions have been met.

India has approved two coronavirus vaccines so far: Covishield, which was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India; and Covaxin, developed by India’s Bharat Biotech in conjunction with a government-backed institute.

12:00 a.m. The chief executive of the London 2012 Olympics believes this year’s Tokyo Games are “unlikely” to take place, he tells the BBC.

“I think they’ll leave it to absolutely the last minute in case the situation improves dramatically, in case the vaccinations roll out faster than we all hoped,” Keith Mills says on Radio 5. “It’s a tough call.”

“If I was sitting in the shoes of the organizing committee in Tokyo, I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation,” Mills says.

The problem is not only the host city’s now rampant coronavirus spread, according to the entrepreneur.

“It’s not just the infections in Tokyo, it’s the infections in all the competing nations,” Mills says.

Tuesday, Jan. 19

11:30 p.m. Hong Kong’s public transportation operator MTR says it expects to report a net loss of around 4.8 billion Hong Kong dollars ($619 million) for 2020, which would mark the company’s first year in the red since it went public in 2000.

MTR blames the “significant adverse impact” of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the deterioration of the local economy for the record loss.

Hong Kong is mired in the so-called fourth wave of the coronavirus. The territory’s economy, which was already suffering from anti-government protests that began in the summer 2019, has shrunk for five consecutive quarters through the July-to-September period, sinking the value of MTR-owned properties.

10:13 p.m. Japan reports a one-day tally of 5,320 new COVID-19 cases as of 8:15 p.m.

The country’s coronavirus death toll rises by 104 people, the first daily increase over 100. Osaka continues to lead Tokyo in COVID-19 deaths, at 765 to 744.

A Russian consumer healthcare watchdog claims that a second vaccine developed in the country is 100% effective against COVID-19.

  © Reuters

7:55 p.m. Russia’s consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor says Tuesday the country’s second vaccine against COVID-19 is 100% effective based on the results of clinical trials, the TASS news agency reports.

Russia began mass trials of EpiVacCorona, which is being developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, in November.

7:29 p.m. Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, declares a state of emergency on Tuesday over the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Denny Tamaki says Okinawa’s emergency measures include asking restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. and residents to refrain from non-urgent outings after 8 p.m. The emergency is expected to last until Feb. 7.

6:05 p.m. Indonesia reports a record daily increase of 308 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, taking total deaths in the country to 26,590, data from the health ministry show. The nation also records 10,365 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total tally to 927,380.

6:01 p.m. Hong Kong says its unemployment rate soared to a 16-year high of 6.6% in the final quarter of 2020, as the city reeled from a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections. The jobless rate is expected to continue to climb this year, after the local government ended a job protection scheme that helps businesses pay up to half of employees’ salaries.

5:46 p.m. The Taiwan Lantern Festival, held to mark the end of Lunar New Year festivities, will be canceled this year because of COVID-19, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications says. The first day of Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 12 and the Taiwan Lantern Festival was meant to take place Feb. 26 to March 7 this year.

5:00 p.m. Taiwan has confirmed four local cases in a cluster. These cases were traced to a doctor who treated a COVID-19 patient in a local medical center in the city of Taoyuan. Taiwan has tightened its disease prevention measures and the health ministry has now asked the government to suspend big activities and events for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. The health ministry will start to evacuate the Taoyuan hospital, the source of the cluster.

4:30 p.m. Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture has issued its own emergency warning for the spread of COVID-19 after it was found that three residents with no record of traveling to the U.K. had contracted the highly transmissible U.K. COVID variant. Shizuoka calls for residents to refrain from taking trips outside prefectural borders unless urgent and having meals with non-family members. The prefecture in central Japan is not one of the 11 prefectures under a state of emergency the government declared this month.

3:20 p.m. Thailand’s cabinet has approved about 210 billion baht ($6.99 billion) in cash handouts to boost consumption and help alleviate the impact of a recent spike in coronavirus cases, a deputy government spokeswoman says. The government will offer 31.1 million people 3,500 baht per month for two months, according to Reuters.

3:05 p.m. Tokyo reports 1,240 new infections, up from 1,204 a day earlier, with the number of patients in serious condition rising by 12 to a record high of 155.

3:00 p.m. Israel leads the world in terms of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people, which is now over 29, according to figures from the Our World in Data website. What has been described as a “miracle” by some in the media is in fact the result of a strong public health system, comprehensive data, financial resources and, perhaps, an extra dose of political motivation as the virus continues to spread.

2:10 p.m. India reports 10,064 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 13,788 the previous day and the lowest single-day spike in infections in over seven months, bringing the cumulative total to 10.58 million. Fatalities rose by 137 to 152,556 in what was the lowest daily count in about eight months.

The Philippines says it will buy 20 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, pictured. The country had already arranged deals to buy a total of 72 million doses from AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sinovac.

  © Reuters

1:50 p.m. The Philippines will buy 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna, the country’s presidential spokesman says. Moderna’s vaccine adds to the Philippines’ deals to buy a total of 72 million doses from AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sinovac. The country has also approved Sinovac Biotech’s application for late-stage clinical trial for its vaccine CoronaVac.

11:30 a.m. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the government will extend social distancing measures due to expire this week as the city remains on heightened alert after daily infections climbed back into triple digits. On Monday, Hong Kong reported 107 new cases, the highest number in nearly a month.

11:15 a.m. Japan’s Taro Kono, who has been appointed to the newly created position of minister for COVID vaccination, says he is in charge of transporting and storing vaccines as well as setting up venues for vaccination. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that as many people as possible receive safe and effective vaccines as soon as possible,” he said. While countries such as the U.K. and the U.S. have begun vaccinations, Japan plans to launch its vaccination program by late February. Kono is also minister of regulatory reform.

Yandai Xiejie alley in an old quarter of Beijing on Saturday.

  © Reuters

10:30 a.m. China reports more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for a seventh day in the worst domestic outbreak since March. The country posted 118 new cases for Monday, up from 109 a day earlier. Of those, 106 were local infections, with 43 reported in Jilin — a new daily record for the northeastern province — and 35 in Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing.

10:00 a.m. Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump sets up a clash with his successor by rescinding entry bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most non-U. S. citizens arriving from Brazil and much of Europe effective Jan. 26. Incoming President Joe Biden plans to quickly extend the current travel restrictions barring travel by most people who have recently been in much of Europe and Brazil. Biden takes office on Wednesday.

9:48 a.m. South Korea reports 386 new cases, down from 389 a day ago. Total infections reach 73,115 with 1,283 deaths.

6:00 a.m. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asks Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla if the state could directly buy vaccine doses. The U.S. drugmaker, however, told Reuters that it would first need approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

5:39 a.m. Pakistan approves China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, two days after authorizing AstraZeneca’s vaccine developed with Oxford University. Pakistan is in the process of speaking with a number of vaccine manufacturers, according to Health Minister Faisal Sultan, but has not yet placed an order for any vaccine.

Experts from China and the World Health Organization joint team visit a hospital in Wuhan in February 2020.

  © Reuters

4:22 a.m. An independent panel reviewing the global handling of the pandemic says that Chinese officials could have done more last January to curb the initial outbreak and criticizes the World Health Organization for not declaring an international emergency sooner. The expert panel, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, calls for a “global reset” and reforms at the WHO.

2:14 a.m. Disneyland Paris pushes back reopening plans by nearly two months to April 2 in light of the pandemic’s resurgence in Europe. The amusement park had planned to resume operations on Feb. 13.

Monday, Jan. 18

11:35 p.m. The World Health Organization expects to have access to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine “very soon,” according to a senior WHO official. The inclusion of the drugmaker’s vaccine in the agency’s program to share doses with poorer countries is in advanced negotiations, Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser, tells WHO’s executive board.

9:21 p.m. China’s Sinovac Biotech says a clinical trial in Brazil shows its COVID-19 vaccine to be nearly 20 percentage points more effective in a small subgroup of patients receiving two doses longer apart. The protection rate for 1,394 participants who got doses of either CoronaVac or a placebo three weeks apart was nearly 70%, according to a Sinovac spokesman. Brazilian researchers said last week that the vaccine’s overall efficacy was 50.4% based on results from more than 9,000 volunteers, most of whom received doses two weeks apart, as outlined in the trial protocol.

A nurse prepares a dose of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Jan. 17.

  © Reuters

9:19 p.m. Japan has likely recorded community transmission of a COVID-19 variant spreading in the U.K., the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says, as it confirms for the first time multiple cases from people with no recent travel history abroad. The ministry found the strain in four people, both male and female. Three had no history of travel to the U.K. or contact with travelers from overseas.

8:03 p.m. Two private hospitals in Thailand have ordered millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines ahead of regulatory approval, Reuters reports. “We ordered 1 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine with an option to buy 9 million more,” says Boon Vanasin, chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group.

7:16 p.m. Uzbekistan plans to purchase 100,000 doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and set up domestic production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, says its health ministry, which also added in a statement that the Central Asian nation of 34 million people is working on the Pfizer-BioNTech deal together with vaccine alliance Gavi.

6:47 p.m. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that a new ministerial position has been created to ensure the smooth rollout of Japan’s vaccination program, and Taro Kono, currently administrative and regulatory reform minister, will take on the additional role of overseeing vaccine distribution.

6:00 p.m. Singapore will resume hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit this year after it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, organizers and the city-state’s government say. This year’s event is scheduled to be held June 4 to 6. A spokeswoman for organizer International Institute for Strategic Studies declined to comment on the expected format or number of attendees, according to Reuters.

Singapore will host the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit in June after it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

  © Reuters

5:30 p.m. Malaysia will introduce 15 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) worth of additional stimulus to support its pandemic-hit economy and fight COVID-19, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says.

4:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 1,204 cases — down from 1,592 a day earlier — as the capital tries to stem surging infections under a state of emergency, which will stay in effect until Feb. 7, at the earliest.

3:30 p.m. Swiss authorities put two hotels under quarantine and close ski schools in the posh resort of St. Moritz to try to curb an outbreak of a highly infectious coronavirus variant. The eastern canton of Grisons ordered everyone to wear masks in the town of 5,200 that prides itself as a birthplace of modern winter sports. “About a dozen cases are currently known in two hotels,” the canton said in a statement. Mass testing of residents will take place on Tuesday.

3:00 p.m. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledges to bring the pandemic under control in Japan “as soon as possible” and continue preparations to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

2:11 p.m. India reports 13,788 cases for the past 24 hours, down from 15,144 the previous day, bringing the country total to 10.57 million. Deaths increased by 145 to 152,419.

1:30 p.m. China reports more than 100 new cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast. Authorities report 109 new cases for Sunday, unchanged from a day earlier, with 93 local cases, 54 of which were in Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing, and another 30 in Jilin Province. Authorities are implementing aggressive measures, including a lockdown of more than 29 million people.

A resident scans a QR code held by a volunteer at the gate of a residential compound in Xinle, following a COVID outbreak in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.

  © Reuters

11:00 a.m. China’s gross domestic product in 2020 grew on the tailwind of investment and consumption, backed by a relatively rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that also fueled exports. Full-year growth came in at 2.3% year on year, the National Bureau of Statistics says, higher than the median 2.1% projected by 35 economists polled by Nikkei.

9:56 a.m. South Korea reports 389 new cases, down from 520 a day ago. Total infections reach 72,729 with 1,264 deaths. Easier social distancing rules begin today, letting cafes and fitness centers run their indoor businesses for limited numbers of customers.

7:30 a.m. England will launch the next phase of its vaccination program on Monday, offering shots to people aged 70 and above and those who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus. The program has focused on people 80 and older as well as frontline health and care staff.

2:53 a.m. Brazilian health regulator Anvisa approves vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and Britain’s AstraZeneca for emergency use. Brazil has lost more than 200,000 to COVID-19 — the worst death toll outside the U.S.

Sunday, Jan. 17

A nurse receives a dose of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine after Brazil health regulator Anvisa approved it for emergency use at Hospital das Clinicas in Sao Paulo on Jan. 17.

  © Reuters

9:36 p.m. Oman will close its land borders for one week from Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus, especially a more contagious variant, state news agency ONA said. The measure will come into effect from 6 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Monday and can be extended for longer than the initial one-week closure.

6:46 p.m. India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive hit a bump on the first day due to glitches in an app called Co-Win that is being used to coordinate the campaign, according to several officials involved in the immunization program. Co-Win, developed by the government, is supposed to help by alerting health care workers who are first in line to get shots, and by allowing officials to monitor and manage the entire drive. But many health workers, who were to receive the vaccines, did not get the message on Saturday, said a senior official with the health department of the western state of Maharashtra.

3:29 p.m. Tokyo reports 1,592 new coronavirus cases, its government says. Japan expanded a state of emergency in the capital area to seven more prefectures on Wednesday to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections.

1:56 p.m. Thailand reports 374 new coronavirus cases, taking its total infections to 12,054. No deaths were reported, while 10 of the new cases were imported from abroad, Thailand’s COVID-19 task force says at a briefing. Thailand has recorded 70 coronavirus-related deaths since a year ago.

10:05 a.m. Mexico reports 20,523 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,219 more fatalities on Saturday, according to the Health Ministry, bringing its total to 1,630,258 infections and 140,241 deaths.

10:04 a.m. Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said on Saturday it sent back documents submitted by pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica seeking approval for emergency use of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine because they did not meet the minimum required criteria. In a statement on the Health Ministry website, Anvisa said the company’s request failed to provide adequate assurances on its Phase III clinical trials and issues related to the manufacture of the vaccine.

Saturday, Jan. 16

10:30 p.m. Azerbaijan will begin vaccinating citizens on Monday, using a batch of 4 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech, the Health Ministry says.

First in line to receive the shot will be medical workers followed by people over 65, starting Feb. 1, presidential aide Shahmar Movsumov says. The doses will be transported first to Turkey, where they will be checked and packaged, before arriving in batches to Azerbaijan.

Elsewhere, Turkey has sent 20,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Thursday, with President Ersin Tatar receiving the first dose on Friday.

8:04 p.m. The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is granted approval for emergency use in Pakistan, the country’s health minister says, the first vaccine against the disease to be given the green light in the South Asian country.

7:46 p.m. Malaysia records 4,029 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily increase in the country since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total infections to 155,095. The Health Ministry also reports eight new deaths, taking the total to 594.

5:32 p.m. Indonesia reports a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases with 14,224 new infections, its coronavirus task force says, bringing the total to 896,642. It also reports 283 deaths, bringing the total to 25,767. Indonesia has reported the highest total infections and deaths in Southeast Asia.

2:51 p.m. China’s recent COVID-19 outbreaks in the northeast have come from travelers entering the country or contaminated frozen food imports, the National Health Commission (NHC) says. NHC Minister Ma Xiaowei made the comments at a government meeting, where he also said the virus was spreading to rural areas and that the handling of the recent situation had exposed how prevention and control measures had been relaxed.

2:14 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive, which is expected to inoculate around 300 million of the country’s 1.3 billion people over the next few months.

10:41 a.m. U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) imposes a shelter-in-place order on two of its largest bases — U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan and Camp Humphreys — until Tuesday after a cluster of coronavirus infections. It is not immediately clear how many cases have been reported at the two bases, but the USFK says six people tested positive on Friday. The command has been relatively successful in keeping infections down to a handful.

To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.

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