Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Cumulative worldwide cases have reached 377,781,997, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll has reached 5,671,628.
For more information on the spread of COVID-19 and immunization progress around the world, see our interactive charts and maps.
Tuesday, February 1 (Tokyo time)
8:45 a.m Japan’s unemployment rate fell to 2.7% from 2.8% in the previous month, government data showed. For 2021 as a whole, the unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous year at 2.8%. The job availability ratio improved from 1.15 to 1.16 in December.
5:00 a.m Novavax says it has filed for an emergency use authorization in the US for its adult COVID-19 vaccine, a long-awaited move for the company after months of struggling with development and manufacturing issues. The filing is based on data provided to the Food and Drug Administration last month and results from two late-stage studies in the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom that showed the protein-based vaccine had an overall efficacy of about 90% , so the company says.
1:30 p.m The International Monetary Fund and World Bank announce that they will postpone plans to hold their 2022 Annual Meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco to October 2023 due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s annual meetings will take place in Washington in October instead. The two global institutions originally planned to hold the 2021 Annual Meetings in Morocco, but postponed those plans in November 2020 due to the pandemic.
1:22 a.m Moderna’s vaccine has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people ages 18 and older, the U.S. company and agency said separately. The shot, to be marketed as Spikevax, had received an emergency use authorization for that age group in December 2020. It is the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive full FDA approval, following Pfizer’s Comirnaty in August 2021.
Monday, January 31st
11:58 p.m Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has tested positive for COVID-19 but is feeling fine and will continue to work remotely while following public health guidelines. Trudeau went into isolation last week after one of his children tested positive, but at the time a rapid test came back negative for him, he told the Canadian press.
9:34 p.m Merck’s antiviral pill molnupiravir, once touted as a potential game changer for treating COVID-19, is the last choice of four options for at-risk patients given its relatively low efficacy and potential safety issues, US doctors, health systems and pharmacies tell Reuters.
Pfizer’s competing oral drug Paxlovid is in high demand, followed by intravenous antibody therapy from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology. Doctors are also turning to Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, an antiviral that needs to be given as three daily infusions to help high-risk COVID patients avoid hospitalization.
8:24 p.m Jimin, a singer and dancer with K-pop group BTS, has tested positive for coronavirus and is undergoing surgery for acute appendicitis, management agency Big Hit Music says.
Jimin, whose full name is Park Ji-min, went to a hospital on Sunday after suffering a sudden abdominal pain and a mild sore throat. He is recovering from surgery and is recovering “quickly” from his COVID-19 infection, says Big Hit Music.
5:10 p.m Indonesia’s resort island of Bali will be gradually opened to all international travelers from February 4, a senior minister says. The quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers to the Southeast Asian country has been reduced from seven to five days.
3:10 p.m A minister from Hong Kong resigns for attending a birthday party for a delegate from the Chinese legislature, sparking a storm of controversy over officials’ disregard for COVID-19 precautions. Interior Minister Caspar Tsui handed in his resignation, saying he had “failed to lead by example during the recent outbreak”.
11:30 a.m Japan is resuming the government-run vaccination center in central Tokyo for the first time in two months to stem the rise in infections caused by Omicron. The site is capable of handling 720 people per day through February 5, with capacity expected to exceed 2,000 per day. Eligible are persons aged 18 and over with a break of more than six months since the second admission. Only Moderna vaccines are used.
11:00 o’clock Taiwan’s donation of 150,000 doses of its native Medigen vaccine has arrived in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said. Taiwan has donated millions of face masks and other goods around the world as part of a campaign titled “Taiwan Can Help, Taiwan Helps,” which aims to portray the island as a responsible member of the global community, despite being recognized by most international bodies ruled out because of China’s objections.
10:30 am China reports 58 cases for Sunday, up from 81 the previous day. Of the new cases, 40 were local infections, with the remaining 18 from overseas. There were 24 local broadcasts in the east coast city of Hangzhou, 11 in northern Tianjin and three in Beijing. The number of new asymptomatic cases that China does not classify as confirmed cases stood at 52, up from 65 the day before.
9:00 am Japan’s industrial production fell 1.0% mom in December, government data showed. The result followed a downward revision that had forecast November growth of 7.0%. Based on a survey of manufacturers, the government expects production to increase by 5.2% in January and 2.2% in February. Separate data shows that retail sales rose 1.4% year-on-year in December — less than the initial average market forecast of a 2.7% increase.
8:35 a.m New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s COVID-19 test result is negative. However, she will remain in self-isolation until the end of Tuesday, in line with health guidelines. She took the test on Sunday after being exposed to an infected person on a flight from Kerikeri to Auckland.
6:27 a.m Qatar has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 at a third of the dose used for older age groups.
“Although children have been at lower risk of serious infection than older people since the start of the pandemic, more children have been infected and require medical care in the omicron wave” than in previous waves, the health ministry says. calls on the parents to defend themselves.
3:26 a.m “General comments and discussions” about Hong Kong’s “zero infection” goal are not illegal, the government says, while defending its so-called dynamic approach as “the most effective way to fight the epidemic and protect public health and safety.”
Legislative Council member Junius Ho recently suggested that experts advocating a Western strategy of living with COVID-19 should be considered a violation of national security law.
Sunday January 30th
4:55 p.m Tokyo is reporting 15,895 new cases daily, up from 17,433 the previous day but still above 10,000 for the sixth straight day.
1:56 p.m According to the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, 34 new cases have been detected among Olympic personnel, including short track speed skater Natalia Maliszewska of Poland.
9:01 a.m Britain’s National Health Service says it will start rolling out vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 this week, who are most at risk from COVID-19. A child living with someone who is immunocompromised is eligible, as are children with diabetes, immunosuppression, and certain other medical conditions.
1:49 p.m Turkey is seeing a record 94,783 cases, the pandemic’s highest daily number, Health Ministry data show, but Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says the worst of the pandemic is over. The country has been battling a record number of cases in recent weeks due to the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. “The increase we are seeing in case numbers should not be taken as discouraging. The virus is not in its old strength. The worrying part of the pandemic is over,” says Koca.
12:07 a.m The daily number of new coronavirus infections in Russia surges past 110,000 as the highly contagious Omicron variant races through the country. The state coronavirus task force reports 113,122 new infections in the past 24 hours, an all-time high and a sevenfold increase since the beginning of the month. The task force says 668 people have died over the past day, bringing Russia’s total death toll for the pandemic to 330,111, by far the deadliest number in Europe.
Saturday January 29th
11:49 p.m Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell will remove her music from Spotify to follow the lead of Neil Young protesting the popular streaming service giving a voice to misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Mitchell was acting following Spotify and Young’s announcement on Wednesday that the platform would remove his music after the singer-songwriter objected to his songs being played on the same service, which hosts a podcast by prominent vaccine skeptic Joe Rogan.
6:52 p.m New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has gone into self-isolation until Tuesday after she was believed to be a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the government says. The unveiling took place on January 22 during a flight from the city of Kerikeri to Auckland. Ardern, who is asymptomatic, is feeling fine, the government adds.
To catch up on earlier developments, cf the latest updates from the last week.