World

US sees 277,000 new infections in one day, a record high

The United States on Saturday saw its highest number yet of coronavirus cases recorded in one day, with more than 277,000 infections.

The hardest-hit country in the world by the pandemic, the US has marked 20.4 million cases overall and just under 350,000 deaths.

Infections have been surging in recent months, with top US government scientist Anthony Fauci warning just days after Christmas that the worst of the pandemic may be yet to come, driving the country to a "critical point" as holiday travel spreads the virus.

The country has floundered in its efforts to quell Covid-19, with its vaccination programme beset by logistical problems and overstretched hospitals.

More than 4.2 million people in the US have already received their first jabs, with 13 million doses distributed, but that falls well behind the 20 million inoculations that President Donald Trump's administration promised by the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the government is under growing pressure to abandon plans to reopen most primary schools in England, with one teachers' union demanding evidence that it is safe to open and another telling members they do not have to work in an unsafe environment.

Earlier this week, the government said most primary schools will open as planned today, while the start of term for secondary school children will be Jan 11 for those sitting exams and Jan 18 for the rest.

The National Association of Head Teachers, England's largest headteachers' union, said on Saturday they had instructed lawyers to write to the government demanding that it reveals the data behind its decision to reopen schools.

The National Education Union called on the government to move learning online in all primary schools in England for the first few weeks of the month.

It has also issued advice to its members reminding them of their legal right not to have to work in an unsafe environment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson doubled down yesterday, saying schools were safe, and advised parents to send their children in, in areas where rules allow it.

"There is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe, and that education is a priority," he told the BBC. - REUTERS, AFP

WORLD