The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, posted a video of himself walking slowly through his offices on Friday and talking for about 13 minutes straight, saying he is recovering from Covid-19.
López Obrador has not been holding his famous hours-long daily press conferences for the first time since he took office on 1 December 2018, and he evidently misses the opportunity to talk.
The president, who has been in isolation since testing positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, said: “The doctors tell me I am getting through the critical stage. I am doing well.”
He has been receiving treatment at his apartment in the colonial-era National Palace, where he also has offices.
López Obrador said that Mexico will import the AstraZeneca vaccine from India and said that the government expects China’s CanSino vaccine to submit test results soon.
Virus fragments found in three more Victorian towns
Virus fragments have been found in wastewater at three more towns in Victoria, including the popular holiday destinations of Cowes and Castlemaine.
AAP has the story:
The fragments were found at Castlemaine, Cowes and Pakenham on 27 January.
The department of health is urging residents and anyone who has visited these areas from 25 to 27 January to get tested if they have symptoms of the virus.
It says the virus detections at each of the locations were weak, and could be due to people who have recovered from Covid-19 continuing to shed the virus.
Viral fragments were also recently detected in wastewater in Gisborne, Hamilton and Leongatha.
People who were in Gisborne from 24 to 26 January, in Hamilton from 25 to 27 January or in Leongatha from 17 to 19 January are also being urged to get tested.
We’re waiting on Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, who is due to speak at 2.30pm.
Mexico’s health ministry on Friday reported 16,374 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 1,434 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,841,893 cases and 156,579 deaths.
The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
It comes as the country plans to import about 870,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine from India in February, as well as producing it locally, the president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Friday.
Mexico and Argentina have a deal with AstraZeneca to produce its vaccine for distribution in Latin America, with financial support from the foundation of the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
In a video broadcast on social media, Lopez Obrador stressed that some percentage of their vaccines will be made locally:
We are also getting AstraZeneca vaccines, apart from the agreement we have with them – these vaccines are being made here in Mexico – we will bring AstraZeneca from India.
Meanwhile, deliveries of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to Mexico would “very probably” resume on 10 February, Lopez Obrador said, after global delivery delays by the US company.
Mexico was expecting about 1.5m doses from Pfizer, he noted. Mexico is trying to secure as much vaccine supply as possible amid delivery delays and a surge in cases.
Lopez Obrador, speaking publicly for the first time since revealing on Sunday he had Covid-19, said Mexico would also receive 870,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in February.
Still in Australia, the Australian Capital Territory has recorded another day of zero positive cases.
The ACT currently has no active cases, leaving its total at 118, and it recorded 267 tests in the past 24 hours.
The Australian Open has reported another day of zero positive cases, with the number of total primary close contacts remaining at 255.
As of 11pm yesterday, 383 of the AO cohort were still in quarantine, after 459 exited yesterday morning.
In total, there have been eight positive cases since the cohort arrived in Australia.
Victoria records no community cases but one in hotel quarantine
Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases, but recorded a new case in hotel quarantine.
A woman aged in her 20s tested positive overnight, and is a recently arrived international airline crew member, currently in quarantine.
This is the 24th consecutive day where Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases of coronavirus.
Vietnam has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Vietnam’s health ministry announced it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic inoculation, the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country, which is battling its biggest Covid outbreak yet.
The prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has said Vietnam must try to obtain the vaccine in the first quarter to ensure people’s health.
Vietnam has kept its tally to a low 1,739 infections and 35 deaths.
Western Australia reopens borders to Queensland and Victoria
From next week, Queenslanders and Victorians will be allowed into Western Australia quarantine-free.
People from those states currently in quarantine will be able to leave when their respective states of origin transition to the new levels.
New South Wales will remain low risk and travellers from that state will be permitted to enter subject to 14 days quarantine and Covid testing.
The WA premier, Mark McGowan, has thanked those who quarantined under the restrictions.
It’s definitely not how you would have wanted to spend your time in WA.
McGowan said “pending no further outbreaks”, WA’s controlled interstate border would reclassify Queensland as very low risk from 12.01am on Monday.
WHO expert team visits hospital in Wuhan
The World Health Organization-led team of experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 yesterday visited a hospital in Wuhan, which was the first to treat patients in the early days of the outbreak.
The hospital visit was the team’s first in the field after two weeks in quarantine, and a WHO spokeswoman said the group’s contacts in Wuhan would be limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts due to health restrictions.
A WHO spokeswoman told a briefing yesterday the team won’t be free to communicate with the community, doing only what was organised as part of the field trip.
The team will go out but they will be bussed to wherever, so they won’t have any contact with the community. They will only have contact with various individuals that are being organised as part of the study.
The team plans to visit labs, markets and hospitals during its remaining two weeks in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019.
Coachella music festival cancelled by local authorities
In some disappointing news, the Coachella music festival has been cancelled.
The festival was due to be held in southern California in April this year, but was cancelled by local authorities on Friday because of the pandemic.
The order was issued by the Riverside county public health officer, Dr Cameron Kaiser, “based on concerns of a fall resurgence of Covid-19 both within the county of Riverside and worldwide”:
If Covid-19 were detected at these festivals, the scope and number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk.
Coachella was also cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
European Union approves AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 18
European Union medical regulators have approved the AstraZeneca and Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine for people over the age of 18, making it the third approved vaccine by the EU.
The AstraZeneca vaccine demonstrated an efficacy of around 60% in the trials on which the decision was based, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
The EMA executive director, Emer Cooke, said the decision expanded the EU’s arsenal to combat the pandemic.
With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and EEA member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is administered via two injections into the arm, the second between four and 12 weeks after the first.
The EU last year agreed to buy up to 400m doses of the vaccine, and Australia has bought 53m doses.
Queensland reports another day of zero cases
Queensland has also gone another day with zero new cases, with the Australian state only having six active cases at the moment.
Australian government to hold talks with WHO about vaccine supplies
Australia’s government will hold talks with the World Health Organization to ensure the vaccine supply ordered from overseas companies is delivered on time.
The government frontbencher Darren Chester says his fellow ministers are working hard to ensure the shipments aren’t affected:
Our health minister, Greg Hunt, who I think has done a terrific job in managing the health response at a federal level to Covid-19, has had conversations today with our foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, who’s going to do representations to the World Health Organization to make sure we’re still on track.
It comes after the European Union imposed export controls on vaccines manufactured in Europe to protect its own supplies.
Australia has ordered 1.2m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Europe in March, before local production ramps up.
NSW records no new cases
New South Wales has recored zero new locally acquired cases to 8pm last night.
Two cases were recorded in overseas travellers, brining total positive cases to 4,912.
There were 10,504 tests performed in the state yesterday, a drop from the previous day’s 11,897.
Thanks Michael and good morning everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying your Saturday. There’s a fair amount of news making the rounds, so let’s get stuck in.
With that, I will hand you over to my colleague Mostafa Rachwani.
Irish prime minister Micheál Martin has welcomed the European Union’s decision not to invoke the safeguard clause in the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, having earlier expressed his concern to Brussels over initial plans to do so.
As I’ve already mentioned, the EU on Friday abruptly reversed course on a plan to use emergency Brexit measures to restrict exports of Covid-19 vaccines through the Irish border to the United Kingdom after it sent shockwaves through Belfast, London and Dublin.
Martin’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, also welcomed the move and said lessons should be learned. Here’s what he has said about the decision on Twitter: