Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 72,221,634, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 1,612,014.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

Monday, Dec. 14 (Tokyo time)

11:24 p.m. A New York hospital administers the state’s first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose. The state’s website live streams the event, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo watches and applauds.

Intensive Care Unit nurse Sandra Lindsay received the first shot at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in Queens, New York. A majority of the first injections are expected to be given on Monday to high-risk health care workers.

8:14 p.m. Germany expects to receive 11 million doses of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine by March, the health ministry says. In January alone, 3 million to 4 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be provided for inoculations in the country.

7:29 p.m. The European Union could donate 5% of the COVID-19 vaccines it has secured to poorer nations, an internal document seen by Reuters shows, in a move that risks undercutting a distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.

6:58 p.m. Singapore approves Pfizer-BioNTech’s novel coronavirus vaccine and expects to receive shots by year-end, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says, adding that he plans to be among the early vaccine recipients. The city-state of 5.7 million people expects to have enough vaccines for everyone by the third quarter of 2021 and will make it free for citizens and long-term residents, Lee, says.

6:40 p.m. The Japanese government decides to suspend a travel subsidy program dubbed “Go To Travel” from Dec. 28 to Jan. 11 nationwide, responding to concerns about its impact on the spread of the coronavirus.

6:34 p.m. The Philippines aims to finalize negotiations with Sinovac Biotech this week to acquire 25 million doses of the Chinese company’s COVID-19 vaccine for delivery by March, a coronavirus taskforce official says. President Rodrigo Duterte plans to inoculate all of his country’s 108 million people, preferably by buying vaccines from Russia or China.

Coronavirus latest: Japan eyes excluding Tokyo from travel campaign Chief Buddhist priest Seihan Mori of the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto on Monday writes a kanji that means “dense,” a Chinese character picked to best describe this year’s mood in Japan.    © Kyodo

6:20 p.m. Japan selects a kanji character used to encourage social distancing as its defining symbol for 2020, highlighting a catchphrase used extensively during the country’s battle against the pandemic.

The Chinese character for “mitsu,” which means “congested” or “dense,” was derived from the phrase “san-mitsu.” Translated as “three Cs,” the phrase is a reference to closed spaces, crowds and close contacts that Japanese are encouraged to avoid.

4:30 p.m. South Korea has ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak of novel coronavirus since the pandemic began.

4:00 p.m. All Nippon Airways launched a flight Monday between Narita airport, near Tokyo, and Shenzhen, southern China — the first international route it has opened since March, when the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. The round trip will be made once a week. The airline began operating the route after Tokyo and Beijing restarted reciprocal business travel last month. ANA already operates flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou and Qingdao in mainland China.

Coronavirus latest: Japan eyes excluding Tokyo from travel campaign ANA will make the round trip between Narita airport, near Tokyo, and Shenzhen, southern China, once a week.   © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Germany’s CureVac announces that it has enrolled the first participant in the Phase 2b/3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The trial will assess the safety and efficacy in adults and is expected to include more than 35,000 participants in Europe and Latin America.

3:08 p.m. Tokyo reports 305 new infections, down from 480 a day earlier. The number of patients in serious condition rises by three to 73.

1:55 p.m. India reports 27,071 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from 30,254 the previous day, bringing the country total to 9.88 million. Fatalities jumped by 336 to 143,355.

12:35 p.m. New home prices in China grew at a slower monthly pace in November, official data shows, with tightening policies continuing to cool the market in larger cities while some smaller towns saw prices fall as demand waned. Average new home prices in 70 major cities rose 0.1% in November from the previous month, the slowest pace since March when the market was battered by coronavirus-induced lockdown measures, according to Reuters.

12:30 p.m. Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura says the prefecture will expand the coverage area for its request that restaurants shorten their hours in an attempt to hold off the recent acceleration in transmissions. The request, which now covers the entire city of Osaka, had been limited to a few areas. Also, the request will be extended by two weeks, to Dec. 29.

12:10 a.m. New Zealand agrees to allow quarantine-free travel with Australia in the first quarter of 2021, nearly a year after it closed its borders to protect its population from the pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the cabinet has agreed in principle on a trans-Tasman, quarantine-free travel bubble. The program is pending confirmation from the Australian cabinet and no significant changes in the countries’ circumstances.

Coronavirus latest: Japan eyes excluding Tokyo from travel campaign The hot tourist draw of Asakusa, as well as the rest of Tokyo, is on the verge of being excluded from a program of government subsidies for domestic travelers. 

11:50 a.m. Australia will bring forward by six months a payment to support the country’s three remaining oil refineries to help tide over the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, Energy Minister Angus Taylor says. The refineries are reeling from a slump in demand due to COVID-19, racking up losses they say threaten their plants’ futures. Taylor said the support, announced as part of a A$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) comprehensive fuel security package in September, will begin on Jan. 1.

11:00 a.m. The first COVID-19 vaccines land on Canadian soil, Prime Minister says, with some Canadians expected to roll up their sleeves for a shot as soon as Monday. Canada and the United States this week are set to become the second and third Western nations, after the U.K., to begin inoculations with the vaccine.

10:12 a.m. South Korea confirms 718 new cases, down from 1,030 a day ago. Total infections reach 43,484 with 587 deaths. President Moon Jae-in apologizes after new daily cases hit a record high over the weekend and asks his cabinet to consider a lockdown if such a trend continues.

9:40 a.m. China reports 16 new cases for Sunday, down from 24 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 14 were imported infections originating from overseas. Two new locally transmitted cases were reported in Heilongjiang Province.

8:53 a.m. Business sentiment among Japan’s largest manufacturers remains depressed despite a second straight quarterly economic uptick, according to the Bank of Japan’s latest Tankan quarterly survey.

8:00 a.m. The Japanese government is considering temporarily excluding Tokyo from its domestic travel subsidy program as the average number of new transmissions escalates, sources say. A final decision on whether to suspend the Go To Travel campaign for trips to Tokyo, as well as Nagoya, is expected later in the day.

7:40 a.m. Eswatini Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, who tested positive for COVID-19 four weeks ago, has died at age 52 after being hospitalized in neighboring South Africa, Reuters reports.

1:30 a.m. The first U.S. shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine leave on trucks and planes, kicking off a historic effort to stop a surging pandemic that is claiming more than 2,400 lives a day in the country. Mask-wearing workers at a Pfizer factory in Michigan had packed the vaccine, developed with German partner BioNTech, in dry ice.

Coronavirus latest: Japan eyes excluding Tokyo from travel campaign Potential relief from the massive COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is on the way as Phizer puts the first American shipments of its vaccine on airplanes.   © Reuters

1:16 a.m. The official in charge of Canada’s vaccine rollout team told the CBC on Sunday that the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were set to arrive later in the day, with more of the initial batch of 30,000 coming on Monday.

Sunday, Dec. 13

8:00 p.m. Germany will close most stores from Wednesday until at least Jan. 10, Chancellor said on Sunday. “I would have wished for lighter measures. But due to Christmas shopping the number of social contacts has risen considerably,” Merkel told journalists. Only essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as banks, are to remain open from Dec. 16.

2:24 p.m. China reported 24 new cases on Sunday, up from 13 cases a day earlier, while the authorities were monitoring possible contacts in the domestic tourism hot spot of Hainan.

Two tourists visiting Sanya in Hainan, China’s southernmost island province, were found to be in close contact with an asymptomatic case in Xian in northwest China, after they had lunch with this person on Wednesday. Hainan, known as the “Hawaii of China,” has been free of coronavirus for six months, drawing eager shoppers. The two tourists and 43 other people who were in close contact are being quarantined in Sanya, according to a statement on the city’s official WeChat account.

9:41 a.m. South Korea reports a record daily increase in novel coronavirus cases for a second straight day, with 1,030 new infections, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Sunday. Of the new cases, 1,002 were locally transmitted, which brought the total tally to 42,766 infections, with 580 deaths.

3:24 a.m. The share of Brazilians unwilling to take any COVID-19 vaccine grew to 22% last week, from 9% in August, and most say they would not accept one made in China, a new poll shows as President Jair Bolsonaro’s comments stoked wider skepticism. The survey by pollster Datafolha found 73% of respondents plan to take a shot and 5% do not know if they will, compared with 89% and 3% in August.

Late last month, Bolsonaro said he would not take any coronavirus vaccine that becomes available. One of the world’s most prominent coronavirus skeptics, Bolsonaro said refusal was his “right” and expressed skepticism specifically about the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac and produced in conjunction with the Sao Paulo state government’s Butantan Institute.

3:03 a.m. Indonesian police arrest firebrand Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab on suspicion of breaching coronavirus restrictions by staging several mass gatherings since his return from self-exile last month. The controversial and politically influential cleric has called for a “moral revolution” since returning on Nov. 10, fueling tension with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

His arrest comes after six members of his Islamic Defender’s Front were killed on Monday in a shootout with police investigating the violation of coronavirus protocols amid rising infections and deaths.

Saturday, Dec. 12

8:07 p.m. A Vietnamese court sentences the head of the Hanoi Center for Disease Control and Prevention to 10 years in prison after finding him guilty of wrongdoing linked to the procurement of equipment intended to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nguyen Nhat Cam, 57, was accused of overstating the cost of COVID-19 testing systems during a transaction, causing a loss of 5.4 billion dong ($233,483) to the state budget, the Ministry of Public Security says. Cam and his accomplices’ activities would negatively affect the image of doctors and the anti-COVID-19 agency, angering the public and undermining confidence in the health care sector, the ministry says.

The court also sentences nine other people to between three and 6-1/2 years in prison for their involvement in the matter.

3:30 p.m. South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the country is facing an “emergency situation” as the daily coronavirus count exceeds the late February peak. “We plan to extensively expand drive-through and walk-through coronavirus testing methods … as preemptive measures to track down infected people and block the spread,” Moon said on Facebook. South Korea reports 950 new cases as of Friday midnight, the highest daily count since the peak of 909 cases reported on Feb. 29.

3:18 p.m. Tokyo confirms a record 621 cases of daily coronavirus infections as Japan struggles to cope with a resurgence of cases. The figure surpassed the previous record of 602 cases marked on Thursday.

12:00 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump posts a video message from the White House, calling the authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine a “medical miracle.”

11:26 a.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has authorized the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the first inoculations expected within days, marking a turning point in the United States where the pandemic has killed more than 292,000 people.

5:40 a.m. A running count of global COVID-19 cases has topped 70 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, amid hopes that emerging vaccines will turn the tide against the coronavirus.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week’s latest updates.

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