Covid-19 wrap: US House to take up $1.9tn bill as daily toll drops, Latin America deaths pass 700 000

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US House will take up Senate's $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill by Wednesday - Pelosi

WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives will take up by Wednesday the Senate version of the sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package backed by President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday.

Closing in on final approval of one of the biggest US anti-poverty measures since the 1960s, Democrats aim to enact the massive legislation by Sunday, when enhanced federal unemployment benefits are set to expire.

The Senate passed its version of the bill after a marathon overnight vote on Saturday. The Senate version eliminated or pared back some provisions included in the House bill, which had increased the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and extended expanded jobless assistance through 29 August.

Now that it has passed the Senate, it must be approved again by the House before it can make its way to Biden's desk and be signed into law.

Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol that the timing of a vote on the House floor "depends on when we get the paper from the Senate".

"We'd take it up Wednesday morning at the latest," she said.

Like the Senate, Democrats hold a very narrow majority in the chamber, meaning they cannot withstand many votes against the bill.


US daily virus toll below 1 000 for first time in months

Washington – For the first time in nearly three and a half months, the United States recorded fewer than 1 000 deaths in a day from Covid-19 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In 24 hours, 749 people died from the coronavirus, far below the peak of 4 473 deaths recorded on 12 January.

The daily US death toll has not been below the thousand mark since 29 November, when 822 people died in a 24-hour period.

That indicates that the slowdown in the epidemic is continuing in the United States, where infection rates and deaths have fallen to similar levels as before Halloween, Thanksgiving and other end-of-year holidays that were marked by travel and larger gatherings that boosted the spread of the virus.

The slowdown is good news for President Joe Biden, whose colossal $1.9 trillion aid plan successfully passed the Senate on Saturday, and will bolster his large-scale vaccination strategy.

 - AFP

More than 700 000 Covid-19 deaths in Latin America - AFP tally

Montevideo – More than 700 000 lives have been lost to Covid-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean since the pandemic began, according to an AFP tally on Monday evening from official sources.

The region, which encompasses 34 countries and territories in South and Central America and the Caribbean plus Mexico, recorded 700 022 deaths – the second-highest number of virus fatalities after Europe.

Brazil and Mexico account for two-thirds of the region's coronavirus deaths, which hit the grim figure of over 500 000 by the end of December and steadily increased since, reaching 600 000 on 2 February.

Brazil, the country second-hardest hit after the United States, has registered more than 266 000 deaths from 11 million reported infections.

Globally, nearly 117 million people have been reported infected with the coronavirus, and almost 2.26 million have died since the outbreak started in December 2019.

 - AFP

Indonesia approves AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

JAKARTA – Indonesia has approved AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, Penny K. Lukito, the chief of the country's food and drug agency, told a news conference on Tuesday.

More than one million doses of the vaccine arrived late on Monday via the COVAX global vaccine-alliance scheme.

About 38 million doses of a vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech have arrived in the Southeast Asian country so far, some of which have been used in a mass inoculation drive starting in January.


Brazil company requests emergency authorisation to use India's Covaxin

SAO PAULO – Brazilian company Precisa Medicamentos, representing India's Bharat Biotech, on Monday said it requested that the country's health regulator, Anvisa, grant emergency authorisation to use the Covaxin Covid-19 vaccine.

In addition, it said Covaxin would be trialled in a Phase Three study in Brazil, carried out in partnership with Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein hospital.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 4 252 - RKI

BERLIN – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 4 252 to 2 509 445, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.

The reported death toll rose by 255 to 72 189, the tally showed.


Mexico's coronavirus death toll rises to 190 923

MEXICO CITY – Mexico's Health Ministry on Monday reported 1 877 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 319 additional fatalities, bringing the total tally of infections to 2 130 477 and 190 923 deaths.

Health officials have said the actual number of infected people and deaths in Mexico is likely significantly higher than the official count because of a lack of wide-scale testing.


Brazil reports 987 new coronavirus deaths on Monday

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil on Monday reported 987 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total to 266 398 deaths, the health ministry said.

The country also reported 32 321 new cases of the virus, bringing the total infected to 11 051 665, the ministry said.


China reports 8 new Covid-19 cases vs 19 a day earlier

SHANGHAI – China reported eight new Covid-19 cases on 8 March, down from 19 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Tuesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to nine from 17 a day earlier.

Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stand at 90 002. The death toll remains unchanged at 4 636.


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