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New Year’s Day is the biggest holiday in Japan’s calendar, but this year’s festivities have been subdued following record highs in new coronavirus cases nationwide and calls from the government to stay home.
Japan’s emperor Naruhito appealed to the public to work together through the pandemic in a videotaped New Year’s Day address to the nation released on Friday.
“I am wishing from my heart that everyone can move forward during this hard time by supporting and helping one another,” he said in the address, which was released in place of an annual public appearance by the imperial family during the New Year holidays.
Prime minister Yoshihide Suga also released a written statement, vowing he would “protect the lives of the people” and promising to work on “virus countermeasures and economic recovery.”
“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held this summer,” he added, saying that preparations for the delayed events were under way.
On Wednesday however, Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, warned that the capital could face an “explosion” of cases, sparking fresh fears that the Olympics could be in jeopardy.
Only 24 hours later, Koike told the Kyodo news agency that Tokyo had 1,300 new infections, beating the previous one-day high of 949 from last Saturday.
About 3,480 people have died in Japan from around 235,700 cases during the pandemic so far.
New Year’s Day festivities in Japan involves spending time with family and praying at local temples, where hordes of people wish for good luck in the coming year.
But today at Meiji Jingu, a shrine in central Tokyo, masked visitors were queuing behind tape on the ground to stay socially distant from one another.
Mexico registered 12,159 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 910 additional fatalities on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,426,094 infections and 125,807 deaths, according to the health ministry’s official count.
The government says the real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the confirmed figures.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll in the world, behind India, Brazil and the US.
Chad has locked down its capital N’djamena for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and has declared a dusk to dawn curfew due to a rise in infections, a decree signed by president Idriss Deby showed on Friday.
The West African nation has until now reported a relatively low number of cases compared with other countries in the region, with 2,113 Covid-19 cases since March, and 104 deaths.
New daily cases fell into the single digits in early December, according to Reuters data. It has risen to double digits in recent days, mostly in the capital, including 36 on Friday, health ministry data showed.
Covid-19 infections are increasing in Chad, with 19 new infections reported on average each day. The highest daily average was reported on 10 May, as a second wave of infections hit the region.
The decree said the lockdown that starts on New Year’s Day will last for a week, and could be extended. The city’s borders will close. Chad’s airspace will also close, allowing only cargo flights.
Schools, universities, places of worship, bars, restaurants and non-essential public services will shut down. Gatherings of over 10 people are banned.
Africa has recorded 2.7 million coronavirus infections and 64,000 deaths as of Thursday.
China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases on 31 December, down from 25 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Friday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that 10 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.
The nine locally transmitted cases came from the northeastern province of Liaoning and the capital city of Beijing, Reuters reports.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 19 from eight a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,071, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
Hello, happy new year from London everyone, I’ll be at the helm of this blog for the next few hours and will bring you the latest updates on the pandemic.
As ever, feel free to contact me with updates and tips, you can reach me on Twitter @JedySays or via email.
New coronavirus variant may have been in US since October
A coronavirus variant carrying some of the same mutations as the highly contagious British variant may have been in the US since October and already be widespread, a re-analysis of more than 2m tests suggests.
Genome sequencing to confirm whether the variant observed in Americans is the same as the so-called B117 variant currently circulating in the UK is under way.
Results are expected within days but the revelations have prompted fresh questions about where the altered virus originated, including a small possibility that it began in the US, not the UK, or elsewhere altogether. The variant has also been found in at least 17 countries, including South Korea, Spain, Australia and Canada.
My colleagues Linda Geddes and Amanda Holpuch report.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus live news: new Covid variant may have been in US since October | World news