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Despite growing vaccine access, January looks gloomy around the world as the coronavirus It resurfaces and reconfigures itself from Britain to Japan to California, filling hospitals and threatening livelihoods again as governments go out of business and compete for solutions.

Hospitals in Mexico City house more patients with the virus than ever. Germany reported one of its highest daily death numbers to date on Tuesday, and South African funeral homes are struggling to keep up with virus deaths. Even a pandemic success story Thailand is battling an unexpected wave of infections.

And as doctors grapple with or prepare for a growing number of COVID-19 patients after year-end holiday gatherings, more and more countries are reporting cases of a new, more contagious variant of the virus that has already spread. all over the UK.

A worker at a coffin-making company waits for customers inside the company’s premises in Harare on January 5, 2021, when Zimbabwe began a 30-day lockdown in an attempt to stem the rise in COVID-infections. 19 that threaten to overwhelm health services. (AP)

January will be “a difficult one,” World Health Organization spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris told The Associated Press.

“This idea that seems to be ‘Ah, we’re all sick of it. We want to see something else. Oh, this doesn’t apply to me’ … That has to go away. It really is all hands on deck.”

While Britain launched a second vaccine this week and some US States are beginning to administer booster injections from the country’s first vaccine, access to vaccines globally is markedly uneven. The supply is also not even remotely close to meeting the massive demand needed to fight a microscopic enemy that has already killed more than 1.85 million people.

“We are in an intense pandemic in Europe, an intense pandemic in the United States,” Harris said.

“The more you can reduce transmission, the more likely your vaccination strategy will work.”

England’s third national blockade

Roxana Alicia Wong, 45, poses for photography at the Mesa Redonda market in Lima, Peru. (AP)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict new stay-at-home order for England that goes into effect at midnight Tuesday and includes the closure of schools, restaurants, and all non-essential shops, and will not be reviewed until at least midnight. February. Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon imposed a lockdown that began on Tuesday.

The two leaders said the restrictions were necessary to protect the National Health Service amid the emergence of a new, more contagious variant of the virus that has triggered infections, hospitalizations and daily deaths.

The NHS “is probably going through the most difficult time in living memory,” said Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund think tank. Said something UK Emergency rooms have 12-hour wait times and doctors were treating people in ambulances outside.

Tough new measures on both sides of the Atlantic

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy extended its Christmas blockade, Spain is restricting travel and Germany’s chancellor met with state governors on Tuesday to decide how long to extend the latest blockade. Cyprus and France are likely to announce tougher measures on Thursday, and Ukraine will close schools and restaurants starting Friday.

Brian Pinker, 82, receives the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from Nurse Sam Foster at Churchill Hospital in Oxford as the NHS ramps up its vaccination schedule with 530,000 doses of the recently approved vaccine available for his deployment across the UK. (AP)

In Latin America, some warn that the worst is yet to come.

Mexico’s capital has more patients with the virus than at any other time in the pandemic and receives doctors from the least affected states. Its beach resorts are bracing for more cases after thousands of American and European tourists visited them on vacation.

“Probably in the third week of January we will see the system more stressed, that there will be more outpatient cases and cases that require hospitalization,” said Dr. Mauricio Rodríguez of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He blamed the increase on fatigue with social distancing, mixed messages from public figures and Mexicans who let their guard down during the holidays.

Beach parties were blamed for the increase in cases in Argentina, especially among young people, and the government is considering further restrictions.

Curfew and alcohol bans in the epicenter of Africa

In South Africa, the continent’s worst hit nation, the authorities reimposed the curfew, banned the sale of liquor and closed most of the beaches. Zimbabwe reintroduced the curfew, banned public gatherings and indefinitely suspended the opening of schools.

South African Undertakers are struggling to cope with rising deaths, South African National Association of Funeral Practitioners President Muzi Hlengwa told state broadcaster SABC.

Members of the public walk through the city center as the new Covid19 rules take effect on January 5, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Getty)

“It is something that has never been seen before … We have run out of coffins, we have run out of room in the morgue,” he said. “Normally we have cremations during the day, but now we have cremations even at night.”

The pandemic is even reaching countries that seemed to have the virus under control.

Can you lock yourself up?

Thailand faces an unexpected surge that has infected thousands in a few weeks, attributed to complacency and poor planning. The government is blocking much of the country, including the capital Bangkok, and is considering tougher measures.

“We don’t want to lock up the whole country because we know what the problems are, so can all of you lock yourself up?” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pleaded with his nation.

Japan is preparing to declare a state of emergency this week, tightening border controls and speeding up approval of the vaccine after a surge in cases on New Year’s Eve.

Italy has been trying to control its latest increase with local measures. After two months of restrictions, infections have stalled, but hospitals are still under pressure, hundreds of people continue to die every day, and officials fear cases will spike again due to holiday gatherings.

Magda Maldonado, owner of Continental Funeral Home in Los Angeles, poses at her morgue on December 30, 2020. Funeral homes in Southern California are turning away bereaved families because they are running out of space for all the bodies to be piling up during a relentless coronavirus surge that has pushed COVID-19 death rates to new highs. (AP)

And the Christmas worries are not over now that 2021 has arrived.

Pope Francis abandoned an annual ritual of baptizing babies in the Sistine Chapel related to the feast of Epiphany on Wednesday. Orthodox Christian countries like Russia and Greece could face more infections after celebrating Christmas on Thursday. And China is closing schools early before the Lunar New Year holidays next month, telling migrant workers not to go home and tourists to avoid Beijing.

Exit in sight, but go slow

Vaccines offer a way out, but they are starting slowly in many places. Some states in the US are struggling to secure enough vaccines and organize vaccines. The Netherlands has come under heavy criticism for being the last nation in the European Union to start vaccines, which it will do on Wednesday. Australia does not plan to do so until March. And most of the poorest countries lag further behind.

Opposition politician Geert Wilders called the Dutch government “the idiot of the people of Europe.”

Technical Petty Officer Lukasz Najdrowski unpacks doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmacist AstraZeneca when they arrive at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, England. (AP)

Yet India offers a glimmer of hope. Its infection rate has dropped significantly since the September peak, and the country is launching one of the largest inoculation programs in the world, with the goal of vaccinating 300 million people by August.

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