Ivory Coast and Ghana begin vaccinating residents - Ivory Coast became one of the first areas to receive vaccines from the Covax distribution initiative, which is aimed at helping poorer countries have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Ghana is launching a vaccination drive this week, and the country’s president became the first person in the country to receive the vaccine on Monday. The country is expected to receive around 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
South Africa eases COVID restrictions - South Africa will lower its alert level from one to level three. Restrictions were put in place over the holidays as the country was averaging 90,000 coronavirus cases a week at the end of last year. Last week, South Africa recorded 10,000 new cases. Most restrictions on economic activities have been lifted in South Africa now.
Protesters gather in Hong Kong - On Monday, a large crowd of pro-democracy protesters gathered outside a court in Hong Kong. There are 47 activists who are facing charges of conspiracy to commit subversion. Beijing enforced a law that criminalizes “subversive” acts last year. The law went into effect in 2019 after large pro-democracy protests ensued. These activists are facing charges helped run an unofficial primary election last summer to pick opposition candidates for legislative elections. The legislative elections were postponed, and Chinese and Hong Kong officials said the primary was an attempt to overthrow the government.
Golden Globes awards first Asian woman as Best Director - Chloe Zhao became the first Asian woman to ever win the award for Best Director from the Golden Globes. She was born in China and is only the second woman to win the award. Her film “Nomadland” was also awarded best drama from the Golden Globes. Zhao also recently directed Marvels upcoming film, “The Eternals.”
Former France president sentenced - Nicolas Sarkozy, former France president, has been sentenced to three years in jail. Two of the years have been suspended as Sarkozy was convicted for trying to bribe a judge in 2014 after he left office. He is the first former French president to get a custodial sentence. Sarkozy plans to appeal the ruling and will be free throughout the appeal process, which could last for years.
German immunologist wants country to back Oxford - AstraZeneca vaccine Carsten Waltz, head of the German Society for Immunology, is asking law officials to back the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. The country’s vaccine commission is currently reviewing the vaccine, and Waltz recently urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take the vaccine on TV. Numerous EU states, including Germany have shown concern about how efficient the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is for older people.
Inmates escape Haiti prison - At least 200 prisoners escaped a Haiti prison near the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince. Around 25 people died when the prisoners escaped the Croix-des-Bouquets prison last Thursday. Among those who were killed include the prison director and Arnel Joseph, a powerful gang leader. He was Haiti’s most-wanted gang leader before he was arrested in 2019.
New Brazilian strain detected - Scientists believe a new coronavirus variant that was found in northern Brazil in January could be more contagious than others. Recently, three Scottish residents tested positive for the strain after flying from Brazil. Authorities are now in the process of contact tracing. Experts said there is no reason to believe the variant is circulating in Scotland.
Trump speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference - Former President Donald Trump gave his first speech since Democrat Joe Biden became president. Trump hinted at the idea of running for office again in 2024 and added that he has no plans to launch a new party. He spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a meeting that gives insight into what direction the Republican Party is heading. Trump has been living at his Mar-a-Lago Florida golf resort since he left office.
New York Governor faces sexual harassment claims - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing new sexual harassment accusations. At least two women have accused Cuomo of harassment. He has denied any inappropriate behavior and ordered an independent inquiry into the allegations. Cuomo has been under pressure recently for allegedly hiding how many COVID-related deaths there were in New York care homes.