Coronavirus Morning News Brief – May 12: North Korea Goes Into ‘Emergency’ Lockdown, Cases Jump in U.S., Covid Hits Major League Baseball

Met Police Issue Additional Fines for ‘Partygate’ Incidents at No. 10 Downing Street

By Jonathan Spira on 12 May 2022
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Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 763rd day of the pandemic.

North Korea confirmed its first coronavirus cases ever and the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, declared a “severe emergency incident.”

“There has been the biggest emergency incident in the country, with a hole in our emergency quarantine front, that has been kept safely over the past two years and three months since February 2020,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency said in reporting on the detection of the virus.

This is the first time Pyongyang publicly confirmed the existence of the virus in the country, although most health experts believe it’s unlikely that it’s seeing its first-ever case 27 months into a global pandemic, although the country did declare a “maximum emergency” after reporting a suspected coronavirus case in Kaesong City, which is close to the border with South Korea.

The good news is that, for the first time, North Korea is allowing the World Health Organization to send Covid19 medical supplies to the hermit nation.

Last October, a United Nations report warned that the country’s strict pandemic measures that saw it closing its borders to all visitors had caused it “severe economic hardship.”

In other news we cover today, the Biden administration commemorated the death of 1 million Americans from Covid, the WHO criticized China’s zero-Covid approach, and the Met Police issued additional fines relating to the so-called “partygate” incidents at the prime minister’s residence.

Here’s a look at what has taken place over the past 24 hours.

UNITED STATES

In Washington, D.C., President Joseph Biden marked the death of one million Americans from the coronavirus.  Official tallies have varied greatly regarding this figure.  The Coronavirus Morning News Brief, which uses figures from Worldometer, an independent website that tallies such information, noted that the country hit the threshold on March 24 of this year, while other reports placed the one-million mark in late April or early May.

Biden spoke during the White House’s latest virtual Global Covid-19 Summit, reflecting on the devastation the pandemic has wrought on the nation after more than two years.

“This pandemic isn’t over. Today, we mark a tragic milestone here in the United States – 1 million Covid deaths. One million empty chairs around the family dinner table. Each irreplaceable, irreplaceable losses. Each leaving behind a family, a community, forever changed because of this pandemic. Our hearts go out to all those who are struggling,” he said.

GLOBAL

The World Health Organization publicly criticized China’s zero-Covid strategy, a move that was promptly followed by censorship of the comment in the country.  Officials in Shanghai insisted that there would be no change to the current policy that has resulted in a lockdown of tens of millions of people in their homes for weeks at a time.

Meanwhile, the number of new asymptomatic infections, symptomatic cases, and hospitalizations continued to fall in China’s financial hub, the 19th day of decline. New Covid-19 infections fell by 2.6% to 1,449 cases Wednesday, while symptomatic cases dropped by 36.8% to 144.  There were five deaths in the past 24 hours attributed to Covid as well.

In the United Kingdom, London’s Metropolitan Police issued 50 more fixed penalty notices, or fines, these relating to a pre-Christmas party at No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence, at a time when Britons were barred from holding or attending such gatherings and even visiting dying relatives in hospital.

In April, the police said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be fined for what it had identified as at least 50 violations of the country’s lockdown laws in the course of its enquiry into the so-called “partygate” incidents at No. 10 and in Whitehall, .the complex of offices that is the seat of the British government.

Johnson was the first holder of his office in living memory to be cited by police in this manner.

In addition to Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak also received fixed penalty notices for breaking the law.

The Met Police is still investigating whether a total of 12 gatherings in Downing Street and other government buildings broke the law. Observers believe that Johnson will receive at least one more fixed penalty notice.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Major League Baseball saw its first Covid-related postponement of the season.

Officials postponed a game between the Cleveland Guardians, a team known for more than a century as the Cleveland Indians until a recent renaming, and the Chicago Red Socks after an outbreak within the Guardians.

Among those testing positive were Cleveland manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale and “other uniformed personnel,” which included much of the coaching staff.

The postponement was announced less than an hour before the game’s scheduled start time of 2:10 p.m. EDT.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Thursday, May 12.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 519.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.6 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and almost 6.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 474.2 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.7 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Thursday is 38,796,168, a decrease of 99,000 from the prior day. Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 38,757,005, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 39,163, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 161,535 new coronavirus infections on Thursday for the previous day, compared to 93,413 on Wednesday, 110,388 on Tuesday, and 11,793 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate continues to climb and is now 85,629.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 84,329, a 58% increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 327, a decrease of 4% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 19,694, a 20% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Thursday, recorded 83.9 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of over 1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, over 43.1 million, and a reported death toll of 524,181.

New data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed at the end of April that the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now over 803,000, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, after the United States.  Rosstat reported that 35,584 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in the month of March, compared to 43,543 in February.

Meanwhile, Brazil now has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 664,564, and has seen 30.6 million cases.

France continues to occupy the number four position in total cases with over 29 million cases, and Germany is in the number five slot with 25.6 million.  The United Kingdom, with 22.1 million cases, is now number six and is the only other country in the world with a total number of cases over the 20 million mark.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 258.3 million people in the United States – or 77.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 66.3%, or 220.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 580 million. Breaking this down further, 89.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 230.4 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 76.3% of the same group – or 196.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 49.6% of that population, or 97.7 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 65.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Thursday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 11.68 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 8.6 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 15.9% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

In addition, North Korea and Eritrea are now the only two countries in the world that have not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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