International update: Global Covid infections near 254 million
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International update: Global Covid infections near 254 million

16 Nov 2021

16 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,108,273 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections near 254 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 764,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Florida lawmakers will meet in a special legislative session, called by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis with the goal of thwarting coronavirus vaccine mandates.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements are prompting more Americans to get Covid shots, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

New York City encouraged health care providers to allow all adults to get the booster shot as the city grapples with a rise in virus cases. People age 18 and over who received a Moderna or Pfizer dose at least six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are eligible for the booster, city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said. More than 630,000 New Yorkers have already received a booster shot. The percentage of positive cases on a seven-day-average rose to 1.66% on Saturday, up from 1.36% on 31 October, according to city data.

American Express Co. will require all 22,000 US employees to be fully vaccinated before they can work from its offices in the country. The requirement will also apply to in-person, company-sponsored events, on- and off-site. The company isn’t planning a broad return to its offices until 24 January, at which point a large majority of its staff will split their time between an office and remote work.

Novavax Inc. was sued for allegedly overstating its vaccine manufacturing capabilities and playing down issues that led the company to delay seeking emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The shareholder complaint was filed 12 November in US federal court for the District of Maryland.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its travel advisory on Japan to Level 1, the agency’s lowest risk assessment. Travelers should be fully vaccinated, wear masks and maintain social distancing, the CDC said.

Amazon.com Inc. will step up efforts to inform warehouse workers in California about safety protocols and outbreaks under a deal reached with the state’s attorney general. The accord requires that the retailer notify workers within a day and local health agencies with 48 hours about new cases in the workplace. The state filed suit against Amazon in state court, along with a request that a judge approve the settlement.

Europe

EU: European Commission recognizes the Covid-19 certificates issued by Georgia, Moldova, New Zealand and Serbia. At the same time, the four countries agreed to accept the EU’s digital certificate for travel.

France: France has reported 1,257 people in intensive care units for Covid, a rise of 47 on the previous days figures. It reported 91,298 deaths now that have taken place in hospital, up by 70.

Italy: Italy reported 44 Coronavirus deaths on Monday, up from 36 on Sunday, the health ministry said. The country also reported 5,144 infection cases, down from 7,569 a day earlier.

The Italian police identified 17 anti-vaccine and anti-green pass extremists affiliated with the “Enough of the Dictatorship” Telegram chat. The protesters are under investigation for instigation to commit crimes against doctors, journalists, scientists and government officials in the country, including Prime Minister Mario Draghi, authorities said.

Netherlands: Dutch hospitals are feeling the strain from a surge in Covid-19 patients but the worst has yet to come, the head of the country’s hospital association said.

Spain: International travel to Spain will likely recover some two thirds of its pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of this year, the tourism minister Reyes Maroto said.

Russia: Russia reported 1,211 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, close to an all-time high of 1,241 reported last week, as well as 38,420 new cases.

Czech Republic: The Czech government is considering several options of stricter rules for people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19, ranging from harsh steps to only a mild tightening of measures, according to outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis. One of the alternatives is a similar regime to the one imposed in neighboring Austria, which limits the movement and activities of those who have refused inoculation, Babis told a televised news conference after a government meeting on Monday.

Austria: On the day its lockdown of unvaccinated people begins, Austria has become the first European country to take radical action in a bid to increase take-up of jabs as new cases surge.

Austrian police were ordered to stop individuals on the streets to enforce a lockdown on people who have refused a Covid-19 shot, with Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg condemning the country’s “shamefully low vaccination rate.”  Starting on Monday, people who can’t show proof of vaccination and are caught going into cinemas, gyms or retail stores face fines starting at 500 euros ($573). Business owners could be tapped for 3,600 euros, the Interior Ministry announced on Sunday.

Germany: The three German parties negotiating a government coalition – the Social Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens – are planning to tighten restrictions on unvaccinated people, according to Oliver Krischer, the deputy head of the Greens caucus in German parliament. People who have refused a Covid shot will have to expect curbs on contact, he said Monday on ZDF television. Current extraordinary measures to combat the spread of the virus will expire on 25 November, and the coalition parties are planning to present new legislation later this week.

Cyprus: Cyprus approved a booster for everyone above age 18, the country’s Health Ministry said. Some 67% of the population has been fully vaccinated and the extra shot will be administrated six months after the second one.

Ireland: Ireland’s government is set to recommend people go back to working from home where possible, the Irish Times reported. The country has seen the most new cases since January in recent days. Still, the government is unlikely to push through more severe restrictions for now, with hospitalizations about a third of what they were at the start of the year.

UK: Asked if there could be another lockdown this Christmas, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned: “Clearly, we cannot rule anything out.” While saying that current data show no need for more restrictions, “history shows we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said. Last month Johnson said there would be no curbs over the holidays.

England Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said large parts of the National Health Service are under “very significant pressure” and are likely to remain so over the winter.

Britain’s booster vaccine rollout is to be extended to people aged between 40 and 49, officials said, in a bid to boost waning immunity in the population ahead of the colder winter months.

Asia-Pacific

Singapore: Singapore recorded 2,069 new cases, up from 1,723 on Sunday. The Health Ministry reported that 1,533 patients were hospitalized, 255 of whom required oxygen supplementation. Eight people died from Covid-19 complications on 15 November.

Singapore will allow vaccinated arrivals from five more countries, including Indonesia and India, to access the country without quarantine via its travel lanes from 29 November, its transport minister said.

Japan: Japan will promote the establishment of production bases for semiconductors, Covid vaccines and drugs as part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s economic stimulus, a draft plan seen by Reuters showed.

New Zealand: New Zealand reduced the isolation period to 10 days from 14 for fully vaccinated people who get Covid-19 or are in close contact with someone who has it. The isolation period must include 72 hours symptom-free.

A Maori tribe that claims New Zealand’s most famous haka as its heritage told anti-vaccine protesters to stop using the traditional performance to promote their message.

China: China is battling the spread of its biggest outbreak, according to the latest numbers, with travellers from a city where infections have grown faster than elsewhere in the country subject to tough quarantine rules in nearby areas.

Indonesia: Indonesia reported 221 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the fewest since April last year, with 11 deaths. While the country has identified so-called delta subvariants among its active cases, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a press briefing that the government is confident there is now sufficient immunity, with about 40% of the targeted population fully vaccinated. More than 130 million Indonesians have received at least their first dose, nearly half of the total. The country is still monitoring the virus situation in other countries before reopening borders further, said Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto.

Middle-east and Africa

Egypt: A ban on public sector employees entering their offices if they are unvaccinated and untested for Covid-19 took effect in Egypt on Monday as the government pushes to accelerate vaccination rates in the final weeks of the year.

Israel: Israel’s economy is expected to grow 7.1% in 2021 and 4.7% in 2022, the finance ministry said following a rapid recovery. The country also said on Sunday children aged five to 11 would be eligible for vaccination.