International update: Covid deaths across Europe to exceed 2 million by March next year - WHO
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International update: Covid deaths across Europe to exceed 2 million by March next year – WHO

24 Nov 2021

24 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,166,818 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections pass 258.8 million world wide.

Europe

Total Covid-19 deaths across Europe are likely to exceed 2 million by March next year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, adding that the pandemic had become the number one cause of death in the region.

Nordic countries have been among the most resilient against the coronavirus, based on a review of 12 months of Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, which uses data ranging from outbreak control to death tolls, and from vaccination campaigns to progress on restarting travel.

In Finland, Helsinki and its surrounding cities are set to recommend a return to remote working as well as extended mask use as cases mount. When remote work isn’t possible, employers should require mask use at workplaces even if social distancing is possible, a group that drafts recommendations for municipal authorities said in an emailed statement. Mask use will be recommended in all public indoor spaces and public transport, including schools starting at the age of 12.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved its travel advisory for Denmark and Germany to the highest level in response to recent surges in infections across Europe. Both Denmark and Germany are ranked as level 4, or “very high,” which means Americans should avoid all travel there, and make sure they are fully vaccinated if they do visit.

France: France announced that there were more than 30,000 Covid infections in the past 24 hours. On Monday, France reported 5,266 new cases.

Germany: Germany had a record 66,884 new Covid-19 cases, up from 45,362 a day earlier, according to the country’s public health authority RKI. There were 309 reported deaths associated with Covid-19, bringing the total toll to 99,768. The national seven-day incidence rate rose to 404.5 per 100,000 people.

Germany’s sluggish vaccine campaign is rattling back to life, with many snapping up online appointments for shots and others enduring hours of lines in the cold to receive more protection against the coronavirus. Some are taking to Twitter to voice frustration, elation or both at the surge in demand for shots. Comments thanked those hardy enough to brave the elements for a shot, while others criticized authorities for not better organizing the latest inoculation push.

Spain: Government researchers have signed a licensing agreement for their coronavirus antibody test to allow other manufacturers to make it. It is hoped that the move, which marks the first time a manufacturer has allowed its Covid test to be included in a World Health Organization technology pool, will boost testing in poor countries.

Netherlands: The Netherlands hit a new weekly record on Tuesday – with Covid cases rising by 39% – and intensive care unit admissions rising sharply. The figures show a 19% rise in hospital admissions over the last week and a 26% rise in intensive care unit admissions. Maintaining a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) will once again become mandatory in the Netherlands starting Wednesday as cases continue to rise. People were already encouraged to maintain social distancing, but the caretaker Dutch cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday that the rule is now mandatory and can be enforced by police. Weekly coronavirus cases rose by 39% on Tuesday from 110,558 infections in the week prior to 153,957 infections.

The Netherlands has started transporting coronavirus patients to Germany in a bid to ease pressure on hospitals struggling to cope with a surge in cases.

UK: Delays to England’s vaccination rollout may mean some 12- to 15-year-olds may not get their Covid jab until February next year – 15 weeks after the government’s original target for offering the jab to all eligible teenagers, according to Labour.

According to an analysis of the Covid case rates across the UK, 75% of local authorities experienced a week-on-week rise in the seven days to 19 November.

The UK reported a further 42,484 Covid-19 cases and 165 additional deaths, official data shows. The weekly tally was up by 9% to reach 297,658 who have tested positive.

AstraZeneca Plc will open labs for its Covid-19 products at a new UK research and development site this year as the drugmaker faces questions about the future of its vaccine in its home country. The labs, which will be based at the R&D hub in Cambridge, England, opened Tuesday, will house a unit for vaccines and will also focus on the company’s antibody cocktail, which is expected to receive US and UK authorization in the coming months.

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 773,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, all highly vaccinated, are suffering from surges that are taxing hospitals beset by staff shortages and sicker-than-usual patients. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu told reporters Tuesday that the state is seeing its highest level of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, averaging about 1,000 new infections per day. He issued an executive order to help hospitals use their space more flexibly to add capacity.

Canada: Justin Trudeau has said that his top priority for his new government is to get Covid-19 in Canada under control and get more people vaccinated. In a speech outlining his legislative agenda for a new session of parliament after September’s election, the Canadian prime minster pledged support to Canadian industries, which he said were still struggling due to the pandemic.

Asia-pacific

South Korea: South Korea reported a record 4,116 new coronavirus cases, mostly local infections, with 586 critical cases, also an all-time high. The death toll rose by 35 to 3,363. The virus situation is “more serious than expected,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said. An emergency plan may be needed for the greater Seoul area, Yonhap News quoted Kim as saying. About 82.4% of the population have received at least one vaccine dose, while 79.1% of the population have completed their vaccination.

Indonesia: Indonesia ordered its governors to stop all workers from taking leave during the upcoming holiday season in a bid to prevent a potential spike in Covid-19 infections. Civil servants and private-sector employees are banned from taking leave from 24 December to 2 January, according to an instruction from the home affairs ministry. The restriction also applies to the police and military forces, while schools are urged to cancel year-end holidays.

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the government to “use all available resources” in its drive to vaccinate 15 million people from 29 November to 1 December, telling soldiers and police to help deliver shots and asking local officials to give fast-food treats to those who will get inoculated. “I am authorizing all governors and mayors, just spend money. I will replace that some day,” Duterte said in remarks late Tuesday.

China: China’s Kintor Pharmaceutical Ltd., which is working on a pill to help treat Covid, said such treatments will be more needed in places like China, where the virus has yet to gain a sustained foothold, than in pandemic hotspots. “China is a virgin land for the virus, with so few people exposed,” Chief Executive Officer Tong Youzhi said in an interview. “The urgency for effective Covid drugs is no less in China than elsewhere if we want to regain our pre-pandemic life.”

Thailand: Thailand reported 5,126 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, the lowest single-day tally since June 30, ahead of a scheduled review of a further easing of virus curbs. The country had 53 Covid deaths over the prior 24-hour period, and the cabinet approved the purchase of a further 30 million doses of Pfizer vaccines.  Separately, there were 20,272 foreign travelers to Thailand in October, the highest monthly tally since March last year when the Southeast Asian closed its borders. There were 12,237 visitors in September.

India: Covaxin, one of the main vaccines used in India’s coronavirus immunization drive, provides only 50% protection against symptomatic Covid-19, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The findings suggest that Covaxin, a shot co-developed by India’s state-funded health research agency and local company Bharat Biotech International Ltd., is less effective than initially thought. While studies show almost all Covid vaccines have reduced effectiveness against the highly infectious delta variant, the new research on Covaxin may dent its appeal at a time when Bharat Biotech is scaling up manufacturing and as India restarts overseas vaccine shipments.

New Zealand: Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers can enter New Zealand from Australia without staying in managed isolation from 17 January, and they can travel from all other countries from 14 February, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. All fully vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to New Zealand from April 30 onwards, with the re-opening staged over time, he said.