Coronavirus: Latest global developments

·2-min read
Maria Arriola, a health worker of the Isidoro Iriarte Quilmes Hospital, receives the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Quilmes, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, on December 29, 2020.

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- 'Not necessarily the big one' -

The World Health Organization warns that pandemics far more deadly than Covid-19 may lie ahead and urges the world to get serious about preparedness.

"This is a wakeup call," WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan tells reporters at a briefing marking a year since the UN agency first learned of the new virus spreading in China.

"This pandemic... has spread around the world extremely quickly and it has affected every corner of this planet, but this is not necessarily the big one," Ryan adds.

- Eye of the storm -

England is "back in the eye" of the coronavirus storm, health chiefs warn, with as many patients in hospital as during the initial peak in April, and the new strain of the virus appearing to be behind the recent upsurge in cases.

National Health Service England figures showed there were 20,426 Covid patients in the country's hospitals on Monday, compared to the 18,974 peak recorded during the first wave.

- South Africa surge -

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces a ban on selling alcohol and says face masks will be compulsory in public after his nation becomes the first in Africa to record one million cases.

Ramaphosa blames "super-spreader" social events and an "extreme lack of vigilance over the holiday period" for the spike.

- Virus strain in Germany -

The new virus strain sweeping Britain has been in Germany since November, health officials say, after detecting the variant in a patient who died in the north of the country.

- Vaccines roll out -

Argentina and Belarus launch their vaccination campaigns, both using the Sputnik V shots developed by Russia.

- Troops get vaccine -

The United States begins a vaccination campaign for its troops stationed in South Korea as a third virus wave sees the host country record its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.

- 1.77 million dead -

The coronavirus has killed at least 1,775,272 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally on Tuesday based on official sources.

At least 81 million cases have been registered.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 334,967 deaths, followed by Brazil with 191,570.

The tallies are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and excludes later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain.