A Black doctor who died are contracting Covid-19 described racist medical care in widely shared social media posts days before her death, prompting a hospital system in the US to promise a “full external review” into her treatment.
In the past year, public health experts nationwide have acknowledged the role racism plays in healthcare with dozens of cities, counties and states declaring racism a public health threat. While public health experts have called it a first step, many are skeptical.
City centres were deserted in parts of the UK on Boxing Day as millions more people adjusted to strict new coronavirus restrictions and tens of thousands more cases were recorded.
Boxing Day sales looked to have suffered a sharp decline after tier 4 measures came into effect on Saturday in large parts of England, with people ordered to “stay at home”.
New lockdown measures also came into effect in Scotland and Northern Ireland, forcing non-essential shops to shut, while restrictions were reimposed in Wales on Saturday after they were eased for Christmas Day.
By midday, footfall was down 60% across the UK compared with last year, according to retail experts Springboard, and shoppers are expected to spend £1bn less.
However, shoppers in lower tier zones queued for bargains in the early hours of the morning, with about 200 people waiting in a sociallydistanced queue by 5.50am outside Next in Leicester, which is under tier 3 restrictions.
Meanwhile, congestion continued to ease at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel on Boxing Day after thousands of drivers spent spent Christmas Day stuck in nearly week-long queues.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said 15,000 lorry drivers had been tested for coronavirus by midday on Saturday, and the backlog at the testing site at Manston Airport had cleared.
Tier 4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors, and force the closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.
France records a further 146 deaths
France has reported a further 146 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 62,573.
It also reported 3,093 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, sharply down from the 20,000-plus figure recorded over the two days before Christmas Day.
But the number of people hospitalised for the disease increased by 85, at 24,477, the first increase in six days.
France will launch its vaccination campaign on Sunday along with most other EU countries.
Its Covid-19 death toll increased by 146 versus Friday, to 62,573, the seventh-highest globally.
Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Tenerife
Slovakia has started administering coronavirus vaccinations, its health minister said.
Vladimir Krcmery, a member of the government’s Pandemic Commission, was the first person in the country inoculated by the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Hungary also began vaccinating its people on Saturday, a day ahead of rollouts in several other countries including France, Germany and Spain.
Arsenal footballer Gabriel Magalhaes will miss their next three games because he is self-isolating after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19, the Premier League club.
The Brazilian defender was not named in Saturday’s squad for their game at home against London rivals Chelsea.
“Gabriel was in touch with someone. It is what it is – it comes at a bad time for us ahead of such a big game,” manager Mikel Arteta said.
Arsenal added defender David Luiz and winger Willian had both tested negative for coronavirus but were unwell to play against Chelsea.
As unemployment benefits were due to expire for millions of Americans on Saturday, Donald Trump, who spent Christmas playing golf in Florida, continued to block a $900bn pandemic relief bill that would extend them.
The package, which Congress passed with bipartisan support on Monday after months of negotiations, would keep unemployment benefits in place until March and expand state benefits by $300 a week – as well as extending an evictions moratorium, providing federal loans to small businesses and $600 direct payments to many Americans.
BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin said his company would be open to cooperating with others as it looks to increase production capacity for its Covid-19 vaccine developed with Pfizer and was considering opening an office in Turkey.
Sahin repeated BioNTech aimed to distribute 1.3bn doses of its vaccine by the end of 2021 and that 70% of the world needed to be vaccinated by next winter to go back to “normal life”, according to an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
We want to produce more than 1bn doses with Pfizer next year. We need to distribute them to over 80 countries,” he was cited as saying. “This is not easy. Vaccines are made in a complex manner. We will start cooperating with other companies again,” he added.
If we can carry out our plans on how to increase capacity, we can disclose it in January or February. I believe we can increase it. We don’t have a guaranteed plan yet.”
Ankara has agreed to buy 4.5bn doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with an option to procure 30m more doses later.
Italy records further 261 deaths
Italy reported 261 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 459 the day before, the health ministry said.
The daily tally of new infections increased by 10,407 from 19,037 the day before, taking the total number of cases since Italy’s epidemic began to 2,010,037.
Italy on Thursday became the eighth country in the world to exceed 2 million officially recorded cases.
The number of swab tests carried out in the past day was 81,285 from a previous 152,334, the health ministry said.
The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has reported 70,909 deaths since its outbreak came to light on 21 February, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.
Patients in hospital with Covid-19 stood at 23,304, down by 98 from the day before.
The current number of intensive care patients decreased by 2 to 2,582, reflecting those who died or were discharged after recovery.
Turkey’s coronavirus death toll rose by 253 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday, bringing its total deaths to 19,624.
The number of cases fell for a third consecutive day, to 15,118, bringing total cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 2,133,373.
Ankara has imposed full weekend lockdowns and weekday curfews to curb infections.
The UK recorded 210 Covid-19 deaths on Saturday, down from 570 the day before, while new cases rose by 1,968 to 34,693, the government said, citing partial data.
The latest R number is estimated at 1.1 to 1.3, the government said.
The UK has recorded a death toll of 70,405, defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. Under that measure, it has the world’s sixth largest toll, after the US, Brazil, India, Mexico and India.
A broader measure of those with Covid-19 on their death certificates puts the UK’s death toll at 79,349.
Health officials in Thailand say two new clusters of coronavirus cases have been found that appear to be linked to a major outbreak discovered a week earlier among migrant workers in an industrial province near Bangkok.
The new cases were found in 19 members of a motorcycling club who held a holiday gathering on Lanta island, in the southern province of Krabi, and in nine people who were in a gambling den in the eastern province of Rayong, said the disease control department.
The first of the motorcyclists to be diagnosed with the virus came from Samut Sakhon province, where the outbreak among migrant workers occurred.
On Saturday morning, 110 new coronavirus cases were reported, bringing Thailand’s total to 6,020. Sixty of the 110 were linked to the Samut Sakhon outbreak.
At the beginning of December Thailand had 4,008 cases. The death toll has remained at 60 since early November. Until recently, almost all new cases had been found among people who were quarantined upon arrival from abroad.