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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Japan to start inoculation drive
Japan will begin its COVID-19 inoculation drive on Wednesday, starting with 40,000 medical workers, Japan's vaccination programme chief Taro Kono said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The government officially approved Pfizer's vaccine on Sunday, the first such approval in the country grappling a third wave of infections.

Japan will be the last member of the Group of Seven industrialised nations to launch a vaccination drive.

South Africa plans to share AstraZeneca shots
South Africa plans to share the 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses it received from the Serum Institute of India with other African countries via the African Union, a senior health official said on Tuesday.

The country paused the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine this month, after preliminary trial data showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the country's dominant coronavirus variant.

It plans to start inoculating healthcare workers with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine as soon as this week in a research study.

Cuomo acknowledges withholding nursing home death toll
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged on Monday that his office should not have withheld data on Covid-19 nursing home deaths from state lawmakers, the public and press - falling short of an apology a senior aide made to lawmakers last week.

Cuomo said at a press conference that "lessons were learned" in not releasing the data and that things "should have been done differently."

More than 15,000 people have died in New York state's nursing homes and long-term care facilities from Covid-19, but as recently as last month, the state reported only 8,500 deaths.

Court orders Dutch government to scrap curfew
A Dutch court ordered the government on Tuesday to immediately scrap the night-time curfew imposed to help limit the spread of the virus, ruling that it lacks any proper legal basis.

The curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War Two, sparked several days of riots by anti-lockdown protesters when it was initially introduced on Jan. 23.

"The curfew is based on a law for emergency situations, where there is no time for debate with parliament," the court in The Hague said.

Palestinians accuse Israel of preventing vaccine transfer
The Palestinian Authority (PA) accused Israel on Monday of holding up the delivery of vaccines into Gaza, where Palestinians have yet to receive any doses.

A Palestinian official told Reuters that the PA tried to send 2,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine from the occupied West Bank to Gaza on Monday, but that Israel stopped the shipment at a West Bank checkpoint "and informed the Palestinians there was no approval to continue to Gaza."

An Israeli security official said the PA's request to send the 2,000 doses was "still being examined" and that "an approval hasn't yet been given".
(Reuters)

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