South Korea, Japan, Indonesia Record Highest Daily Increases in COVID Cases

South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia recorded the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases Friday as a third wave of COVID-19 hit the countries.

In South Korea 70% of the more than 1,200 new cases were in the greater Seoul area, where?half?the country's 52 million people live.

In Japan, with 884 cases reported Friday nationwide, Tokyo had the largest number of infections.

Indonesia reported its biggest daily rise in deaths, with 258 fatalities and 7,259 infections, bringing the country’s total numbers to 20,847 and 700,097, respectively.

Mexico on Thursday became the first Latin American country to launch a COVID-19 vaccination initiative, offering hope to a nation that has lost more than 120,000 people to the pandemic.

A 59-year-old head nurse at the intensive care unit at Mexico City’s Ruben Lenero hospital was the first to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, in keeping with the country’s strategy to focus first on health care workers.

“This is the best gift that I could have received in 2020,” Ramirez said after being inoculated in a ceremony broadcast by national media.

Chile will immediately start inoculations of health care workers after receiving the first 10,000 doses of a 10 million-dose order of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine Thursday, officials said.

Also Thursday, Costa Rica was preparing to vaccinate two senior citizens in a home near San Jose, while Argentina received about 300,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

The United States is about to complete its second week of vaccinations with about 1 million inoculations, mainly among health care workers and elderly residents of nursing homes. The numbers, however, are far short of the goal set by Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to mass produce millions of doses of vaccines, to inoculate 20 million Americans by the end of the year.

U.S. Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui has warned that it would take longer to administer the doses.

The Trump administration has reached a deal worth $2 billion to secure an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which would boost the nation’s supply to 200 million doses by mid-July.

With surges throughout the U.S. leading to 327,000 COVID-19 deaths and 18.5 million coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins University, the speed with which immunizations can be administered becomes increasingly important.

California became the first U.S. state Thursday to record 2 million coronavirus cases.

Iran said it has U.S. approval to transfer funds to pay for coronavirus vaccines, Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said Thursday.

The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control gave permission for the transfer of $244 million to a Swiss bank to pay for initial imports of 16.8 million doses of vaccines from COVAX, the multiagency group set up to assure fair access to vaccines for all countries.

U.S. authorities announced on Thursday that passengers arriving from Britain should test negative for COVID-19 before departure, after the discovery of a new and more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus.

China on Thursday became the latest country to suspend all travel with Britain.

Source: Voice of America