International update: Germany returns to 'work from home' as Covid cases soar
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International update: Germany returns to ‘work from home’ as Covid cases soar

15 Nov 2021

15 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,102,855 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 253 million world wide.

Germany: Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said the country faces a “bitter December” if immediate measures are not taken to try to control the spread of coronavirus.

Germany recorded another 33,498 coronavirus infections in the 24 hours through Sunday morning, taking the total since the start of the pandemic above 5 million, according to data from the RKI public-health institute. The number of deaths rose by 55 to 97,672, while the seven-day incidence rate climbed to 289.

Meanwhile, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute advised Germans to avoid large gatherings amid the record surge in coronavirus infections, saying: “It’s five minutes past midnight.”

Germany to return to work from home amid rising infections. The measure is being reintroduced under draft legislation seen by AFP on Sunday, after the home working restriction was lifted at the beginning of July.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 763,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: Elderly and vulnerable people must get their booster jabs if a rise in Covid cases in the UK is to be prevented, the British prime minister said, as he warned of “storm clouds” forming over parts of Europe where infections are surging.

UK officials have compiled a ‘Covid exit strategy’ from April called Operation Rampdown, leaked documents reveal. Under the plan, the government could wind down testing and people would no longer be forced to isolate if they are ill from April.

Czech Republic: The Czech republic recorded 9,161 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours through Saturday, up by 3,400 from a week ago, according to the health ministry data. The nation of 10.7 million people reported more than 10,000 daily cases for four consecutive days this week. The outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis plans to announce new measures to stem the spread on Monday but is seeking agreement on curbs with the future cabinet lead by the Civic Democrats.

Vaccine news

Global: AstraZeneca has started signing commercial contracts to supply its Covid-19 vaccine next year as the pandemic moves to an “endemic phase” – in a major shift away from the drugmaker’s not-for-profit pricing.

US: One in three Americans aged 65 and above has received a Covid-19 booster jab, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Friday.

Brazil: Brazil’s Supreme Court has suspended a government order that prevented companies from requiring employees to provide proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and stopped dismissals of those not immunised, Reuters reports.

China: China donated 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday to Syria, which has one of the world’s lowest inoculation rates and what the UN called an alarming rise in cases.

Norway: Norway will offer a third Covid vaccine dose to everyone aged 18 or older and will give municipalities the option of using digital “corona passes” as a way to beat back an ongoing surge in infections, the government said.

Switzerland: A third vaccination will have to be extended to the general population in the near future, Swiss President Guy Parmelin said in an interview with local paper NZZ am Sonntag. Switzerland currently recommends booster shots for people over 65 years old.

UK: Britain expected to extend Covid booster programme to under 50s.

In the UK more than two million people received their Covid-19 booster in the past week, with health officials describing the numbers as record-breaking. NHS England said 2.1 million boosters were delivered between November 6-12, an increase on the 1.7 million boosters given out during the previous seven days.

A UK firm is to trial T-cell Covid vaccine that could give longer immunity against Covid-19. An Oxfordshire-based company Emergex will soon start clinical trials of a second-generation vaccine against Covid-19, an easy-to-administer skin patch that uses T-cells to kill infected cells and could offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines.

Egypt: Egypt’s national research body said on Sunday that it will start clinical trials for a domestically made coronavirus vaccine.

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: The Netherlands will return to partial lockdown amid surging Covid cases – the first lockdown in western Europe this winter. Taking effect from Saturday evening for three weeks, restaurants and non-essential shops will close early and spectators will be barred from major sporting events.

Austria: Austria announced a lockdown for unvaccinated people for at least 10 days as coronavirus cases spike to record levels from Monday until at least Nov. 24. Only about 65% of Austrians are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Austria’s 7-day average of Covid cases has more than doubled this month to more than 10,000, and its recent rate of infection is among the highest in the world. A record 13,152 cases were reported on Saturday. The seven-day infection rate of 775 new cases per 100,000 people is well above 289 in neighboring Germany.

Russia: The Russian government has published a draft proposal to require QR codes as proof of immunity to Covid-19 from air and railway travellers up to 1 June.

Mauritius: Mauritius imposed a series of Covid-19 curbs today as it confronts a surge in cases despite a high vaccination rate.

Thailand: Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said he is satisfied with almost 40,000 foreign tourists entering Thailand between November 1-12 after the nation’s reopening. Bangkok will allow internet cafes and game centers to reopen from 16 November as daily new infections have fallen below 10,000 daily cases since late October, compared with the peak of 20,000 daily cases in August.

Economy updates

US: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said controlling Covid-19 in the US is the key to easing inflation. “It’s important to realize that the cause of this inflation is the pandemic,” Yellen said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “If we want to get inflation down, I think continuing to make progress against the pandemic is the most important thing we can do,” she said.

Getting Americans back to work depends on bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari said. “What’s keeping people on the sidelines – we think it’s fear of the virus, the delta wave and the continued spread,” Kashkari said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Getting the pandemic “really under control” will give people the confidence to return to work, helping the US economic recovery and bringing down inflation, he said.