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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People jog past a social distancing sign on the first day of New Zealand's new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety measure that mandates wearing of a mask on public transport, in Auckland, New Zealand, August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall/File Photo

Mexican president contracts COVID

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19 during the country’s deadliest week yet in the pandemic.

The 67-year-old leader said in a tweet that his symptoms were light and he was receiving treatment. “As always, I am optimistic,” said Lopez Obrador, who has resisted wearing a face mask in public since the virus reached Mexico over 10 months ago.

Critics have railed incessantly against his management of the health crisis, but despite a mounting toll of nearly 150,000 dead, his popularity has risen, according a daily tracking poll by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.

Japan likely to hit herd immunity some months after Olympics

Japan is likely to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19 through mass inoculations only months after the planned Tokyo Olympics, even though it has locked in the biggest quantity of vaccines in Asia, according to a London-based forecaster.

That would be a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga who has pledged to have enough shots for the populace by the middle of 2021, as Japan trails most major economies in starting inoculations.

“Japan looks to be quite late in the game,” Rasmus Bech Hansen, founder of British research firm Airfinity, told Reuters. “They’re dependent on importing many (vaccines) from the U.S. And at the moment, it doesn’t seem very likely they will get very large quantities of, for instance, the Pfizer vaccine.”

Dutch PM condemns lockdown riots

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday condemned riots across the country this weekend in which demonstrators attacked police and set fires to protest against a night-time curfew, calling them “criminal violence”.

The police said hundreds of people had been detained after incidents that began on Saturday evening and lasted until the early hours of Monday, including some in which rioters threw rocks and in one case knives at police and burned down a COVID-19 testing station.

U.S. to escalate tracking of COVID variants

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping up efforts to track coronavirus mutations and keep vaccines and treatments effective against new variants until collective immunity is reached, the agency’s chief said on Sunday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about the rapidly evolving virus during a Fox News Sunday interview as the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 25 million, with more than 417,000 dead.

Walensky, who took over as CDC director the day President Joe Biden was sworn in, also said the biggest immediate culprit for sluggish vaccine distribution was a supply crunch worsened by inventory confusion inherited from the Trump administration.

New Zealand confirms first case in months

New Zealand on Monday confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in the community in months in a 56-year-old woman, but said close contacts of the recently returned traveller had so far tested negative.

The woman, who returned to New Zealand on Dec. 30, had tested positive for the South African strain of the virus after leaving a two-week mandatory quarantine where she had twice tested negative.

Authorities said the source of the infection was probably a fellow returnee at the quarantine facility.

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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