The Chinese government has pledged to make COVID-19 vaccination free of charge across the country, health officials in Beijing said on Saturday. The announcement was meant to clarify previous comments from National Health Commission official Zheng Zhongwei, saying it would be affordable.
”Ordinary people will not need to spend a penny,” Zheng Zhongwei later confirmed. The vaccine costs will be covered by a national medical insurance fund and government funds.
Denmark announced that starting on Saturday it would only allow flights into the country where every passenger tested negative before boarding. Passengers also have to show a negative test less than 24 hours before their flight.
Domestic flights, as well as flights from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as well as passengers under 12, are exempt from the rule.
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod warned citizens on Friday of stern travel warnings, “If you are considering traveling abroad, don’t.”
In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported 24,694 newly confirmed cases in the country in the past 24 hours on Saturday, with 1,083 deaths.
China tightened lockdown measures in the northern province of Hebei, one week after a new outbreak of COVID-19 appeared.
The Health Commission of Hebei Province reported 14 new cases in the previous 24 hours on Saturday, all of them in the largest city, Shijiazhuang. Including the new cases, there have been 137 confirmed cases in the province since January 2.
Health officials in Australia were concerned after they discovered the highly transmissible new variants of COVID-19, originally found in the UK and South Africa, made their way to Australia. Brisbane entered a three-day lockdown after the UK strain was found. The South African variant was discovered in Sydney during a hotel quarantine.
“So long as people are traveling, the risk of the virus seeping into the community is already there,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The United States saw newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reach a new high on Friday, notching nearly 290,000 in 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University. The university also reported 3,676 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The US has seen 21.8 million confirmed cases and more than 368,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
jcg, kbd/aw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Coronavirus digest: China to distribute COVID-19 vaccine for free The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.