New York health provider may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccine was then given to members of the public not yet eligible.

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 80.2 million people worldwide and killed over 1.7 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

NYC clinic under probe for misappropriating vaccine will return vials

The New York City health care provider under investigation for allegedly misappropriating the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, told ABC News it will return its vials to the state Health Department.

The New York State Department of Health is currently probing ParCare, which has offices in Brooklyn, to determine if it misused what was an approved allocation toward members of the public not yet prioritized under current New York guidelines.

Under the current state rules, only medical workers, first responders and nursing home staff members are allowed to receive any coronavirus vaccine. Other groups will follow in future rounds.

ParCare touted the vaccine on its social media pages with a flyer that claimed the vaccines would be available on a "first come, first serve basis."

"We have set up a special system where you can reserve your slot. This will enable you to receive the vaccine as soon as it arrives to the center," the flyer said.

The flyer also claimed that the vaccines were only for people who were "elderly," "high risk" or "underlying conditions."

New York state police and other investigators were at the ParCare location in Borough Park on Saturday night.

A spokesman for ParCare told ABC News Sunday evening that it is cooperating with the state investigation and will return its unused vials.

ParCare received 2,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and 869 of those doses have already been administered, according to the spokesperson.

"ParCare followed all NYS DOH procedures for obtaining the Moderna vaccine and was approved by NYS DOH for distribution and by CDC as a network site. As a result, we have properly received the vaccines and have provided the documentation regarding the proper receipt of the vaccines to the NYS DOH," the spokesperson told ABC News.

With regards to the patients who received their first shot, ParCare said it will be "working with the state to ensure that we provide the second dose for our patients."

-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik and Aaron Katersky contributed to this report

South Africa tops 1 million cases

South African health officials announced Sunday the country recorded 9,502 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation's total case number to 1,004,413.

South Africa's Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize also reported 214 new coronavirus fatalities, which brings the total death toll to 26,735.

The positivity rate was 32.2% Sunday, according to the health data.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that they discovered a new variant of the virus that "may be associated with increased transmissibility and a higher viral load than the previously circulating variants."

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou contributed to this report

NY hospitalization rate reaches 7-month high

New York state's coronavirus hospitalization numbers have jumped to a level not seen since the middle of May, according to data released Sunday by the state Health Department.

About 7,183 New Yorkers are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms statewide, the health data showed. New York's hospitalization numbers have been below 7,000 since May 11, according to the health data.

Statewide hospitalizations peaked at 18,825 on April 12, when New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., the health data showed.

Although hospitalizations went down during the rest of the spring and summer, the state's hospitalization rate has been steadily increasing since Oct. 1, when there were 648 people hospitalized, the Health Department data showed.

There were 1,187 coronavirus patients in Intensive Care Units and 687 of them were intubated, the Health Department said.

The state peaked with 5,225 patients in ICUs on April 13, data showed.

New cases force Beijing into 'emergency response' mode

Beijing government officials are tightening epidemic prevention measures after the first local COVID-19 infection in over five months was reported on Dec. 18. and the numbers continue to increase. on Sunday, China's National Health Commission reported 22 newly diagnosed cases, eight of which were in Beijing.

“There have been many sporadic outbreaks. The epidemic control situation is very severe,” a Beijing government spokesperson said on Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post. “All districts, all agencies and units must enter a state of emergency response and fight … with more resolution and stricter rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” the spokesperson said.

Mass testing is in progress in two Beijing districts where new cases have been detected. By Saturday, at least 1,072,683 samples had been collected, according to the South China Morning Post.

Beijing government officials have imposed several control measures:

-Residents have been advised not to leave Beijing during the upcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays.

-The city is imposing restrictions on entertainment venues and tourism to avoid gatherings during the holidays.

-Districts where new cases were identified were closed off, strict access controls are in place.

-Beijing travel agencies are banned from offering vacation packages to other cities in China where new COVID-19 cases have been reported.

-International travel has been banned.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou