Latest coronavirus: Tokyo-area governors call for near-state of emergency

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Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the coronavirus which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in China.

Cumulative global cases have reached 327,509,303, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll has reached 5,538,591.

For more information on the spread of COVID-19 and immunization progress around the world, please see our interactive charts and maps.

— Global coronavirus tracking charts

— State of vaccinations in the world

Monday, January 17 (Tokyo time)

6:00 p.m. The governors of Tokyo and its three surrounding prefectures have agreed to jointly request the central government to put the region under a near state of emergency. The governors discussed the issue in an online meeting as the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increases in the capital region. If the central government agrees to the request, local governments will have the power to ask restaurants and bars to reduce opening hours and stop serving alcohol.

15:00 Japan will offer booster shots up to two months earlier than planned, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech to parliament amid the omicron surge. With an upper house election scheduled for later this year, containing the pandemic is critically important to Kishida. His predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, was forced to resign after public support plummeted in the face of rising infections. Less than 1% of Japanese people have received boosters – far behind 53% in the UK and 24% in the US – according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data project.

1:30 p.m. Japan plans to allow 87 government-sponsored foreign students into the country as exceptions to the COVID-19 entry ban, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has said. Students have less than a year left before they graduate or complete their education, he said. The government will review individual cases by making new exceptions, Matsuno added.

Under Australian immigration law, Novak Djokovic cannot get another visa for three years unless the immigration minister finds there are compelling or compassionate reasons. ©AP

11:50 a.m.. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to play at next year’s Australian Open despite the tennis superstar facing an automatic three-year ban from entering the country. Under immigration law, Djokovic cannot get another visa for three years unless the Australian immigration minister agrees there are compelling or compassionate reasons. “I’m not going to precondition anything or say anything that wouldn’t allow the minister to make the various calls that he has to make,” Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday as Djokovic was on his way to Dubai.

11:12 a.m. China’s central bank is cutting borrowing costs on its medium-term loans for the first time since April 2020, defying market expectations, to cushion any economic downturn. The People’s Bank of China announced it was lowering the interest rate on 700 billion yuan ($110.19 billion) of one-year medium-term loans to certain financial institutions by 10 basis points to 2, 85%, compared to 2.95% in previous operations.

11:00 China’s gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 slowed to 4% on the year, driving an annual result of 8.1%, as COVID-19 and a slowdown in real estate combined to slow down economic momentum. The figures, announced Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics, were above average forecasts of 3.3% for the quarter and 7.9% for the year in a Nikkei poll of economists released last month.

10:36 p.m. Credit Suisse Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio, who was under investigation by the bank’s board for breaching COVID-19 quarantine rules, has resigned with immediate effect. “I regret that a number of my personal actions have caused hardship for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” he said in a statement. Horta-Osorio’s resignation comes less than a year since he was hired to clean up a corporate culture tainted by the bank’s involvement with collapsed investment firm Archegos and the chain’s finance company insolvent supply company Greensill Capital.

09:00 Japan’s major machinery orders, a highly volatile data series seen as an indicator of capital spending over the next six to nine months, rose 3.4% in November from October, rising for the second consecutive month, according to Cabinet Office data. That beat economists’ median estimate of a 1.4% rise and followed a 3.8% jump the previous month.

The COVAX global vaccine sharing program has now delivered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine. © Reuters

5:10 a.m. The global COVAX vaccine sharing program has delivered 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine. COVAX was launched in 2020 with the goal of delivering 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, but supply to poorer countries has long been limited as wealthier states secured most of the doses initially available. starting in December 2020. But in the last quarter, shipments have increased exponentially, helping COVAX hit the milestone of one billion doses shipped to 144 countries, said vaccine alliance Gavi, which co-leads the program alongside the World Health Organization.

5:04 France’s National Assembly has passed a law requiring proof of vaccination for people aged 16 and over for restaurants and certain other public establishments, in a bid to avoid further lockdown measures.

2h32 With the omicron variant having reduced their traffic, Israeli airlines will receive up to $85 million in aid over three years via bonds redeemable without interest or converted into state-owned shares. The newly approved plan adds $41 million to the $44 million in aid approved last November.

Sunday January 16

9:00 p.m. Arrivals in Beijing will be required to take a nucleic acid test within 72 hours. The new requirement, effective from next Saturday until the end of March, aims to promote early detection amid the spread of the omicron variant, according to the government-run Beijing Daily newspaper. The announcement comes the day after the Chinese capital reported its first locally transmitted case of omicron – and the month before the Lunar New Year holiday period and the start of the Winter Olympics there.

7:42 p.m. Thailand has reported its first death from the omicron variant, an 86-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease from the southern province of Songkhla. The Southeast Asian country detected its first case of omicron in early December and decided to reinstate mandatory COVID-19 quarantines for foreign visitors that month.

4:00 p.m. The Federal Court of Australia has upheld the government’s decision to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa, dashing the unvaccinated tennis star’s hopes of playing at the Australian Open and possibly racking up a career record. 21 Grand Slam men’s titles. Djokovic later boards an Emirates flight to Dubai which departs shortly before 11 p.m. local time (9 p.m. Tokyo time).

4:36 The global COVAX vaccine-sharing program has delivered 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to one of the organizations running it.

4:15 Iran, the epicenter of the pandemic in the Middle East, reports the country’s first three deaths from the omicron variant. The number of COVID-19 patients with the omicron variant in the country reaches 1,162, a health ministry spokesperson said. Iran last week lifted restrictions on overland travel to and from neighboring countries and some European states, but maintained a ban on arrivals from the UK, France and eight southern African countries.

1h16 Israel’s finance minister tests positive for COVID-19 and will self-isolate but continue to work from home. “Feeling fine and going into self-isolation for the next few days,” Avigdor Lieberman said in a tweet. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tested positive on January 10.

Saturday January 15

10:24 p.m. Indonesia records 1,054 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase in three months, as the government braces for a new wave of infections driven by the spread of the omicron variant. The world’s fourth most populous country grappled with a devastating second wave of infections in July, driven by the spread of the delta variant. The number of daily cases fell to around 200 in December before rising this month amid reports of local transmission of the omicron variant.

7:09 p.m. India extends ban on political rallies and roadshows in five states due to major spike in cases. The election commission said the ban, which runs until Jan. 22, excludes indoor political party events of fewer than 300 people, or at 50% of a venue’s capacity. Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and a key battleground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will hold elections starting next month. The northern states of Punjab and Uttarakhand, the tourist hotspot of Goa and the northeastern state of Manipur will also hold elections in the coming months.

6:30 p.m. Confirmed daily coronavirus cases in Japan top 25,000 for the first time since Aug. 26, nearing record numbers, as the omicron variant spreads rapidly. The tally, based on data provided by local governments across the country, stands at 25,742. Some prefectures are reporting record numbers of infections, with Osaka and Okinawa confirming 3,692 and 1,829 cases respectively. Hiroshima reports more than 1,000 cases for the first time.

3:53 p.m. India is reporting 268,833 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 36.84 million, according to the health ministry. Deaths from COVID-19 increased by 402 to 485,752.

To keep up to date with previous developments, check out the latest updates from last week.

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