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August 5, 2021

International update: Global Covid infections pass 200 million

By Paul Dennis

5 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,257,056 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 200 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 614,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Florida hospitals are struggling to get oxygen due to a rise in Covid-19 cases attributable to the delta variant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision not to declare another state of emergency.

Florida now has a record 11,906 adults patients hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19, up from 11,515 a day earlier, further surpassing the peak from the previous summer’s wave, according US Department of Health & Human Services data.

Europe: Mental health services suffered across the whole of Europe because of pandemic restrictions. New pan-European research shows that psychiatric services were reduced to emergency care only in many countries.

China: In just two weeks, confirmed cases  – people infected and sickened by the virus  – have grown to more than 500. The infections can be traced back to three cluster areas in China: an outbreak among airport cleaning staff in eastern city Nanjing, another found at a hospital treating Covid patients in Zhengzhou and sporadic cases detected in Yunnan, the province bordering Myanmar.

Japan: The Tokyo Olympics added a record 31 Covid-19 cases, one of which is an athlete, according to its positive case list. The athlete is a Greek artistic swimmer, bringing total infections on the team to six. As of yesterday, the team previously had five of 12 competitors and officials test positive.

Australia: Sydney reported a record number of new daily delta variant cases on Thursday, with authorities to enforce stay-at-home orders beyond Australia’s largest city as Covid-19 spreads north into other regions. New South Wales state recorded 262 new cases, the vast majority in Sydney, which has been in lockdown for almost six weeks. Five more people died, and four of them weren’t vaccinated, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. “Every jurisdiction around the world is finding delta challenging,” Berejiklian said. “We can try and eliminate it but we know the vaccine is critical to stopping the spread.”

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots to enable poorer countries to catch up in vaccination rates. The halt on third doses should be in place until at least the end of September, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Wednesday. That would help achieve the WHO’s goal to vaccinate at least 10% of the population in every country by that date, protecting health-care workers and vulnerable people.

Europe: The European Commission approved a contract with Novavax Inc. for up to 200 million doses of the US company’s Covid vaccine, according to statement. The Novavax vaccine is under rolling review by the European Union’s drug regulator in view of a potential market authorization.

UK: Vaccinating older teenagers has been welcomed by many scientists as the “logical next step” in the rollout of the vaccine. But some experts believe more research is needed before extending the programme further. Prof Russell Viner, professor of child and adolescent health at UCL, said more safety data is needed “before we consider vaccinating younger teenagers”.

These comments followed the news earlier today that the UK will be offering 16 and 17 year olds a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said its decision had been made after ‘large changes’ in the way that Covid has been spreading in the UK, “particularly in younger age groups”.

US: Massachusetts will require that all staffers at nursing homes and other long-term care venues get a Covid vaccine by 1 September and be fully vaccinated by 10 October, state officials announced Wednesday. The mandate includes exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

Lockdown updates

US: Future travellers to the US will have to be fully vaccinated a White House official has said. The new requirement is being discussed as part of a phased approach to easing restrictions for foreign visitors.

UK: Millions of Britons have been given the green light to travel to Europe’s holiday hotspots, avoiding quarantine on return from France and Spain where concerns have been raised about Covid variants. The announcement was part of wider changes to travel rules for people travelling in and out of the UK.

The UK also eased rules for arrivals from India, Bahrain, and travel hubs the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Those countries will move from the UK’s highest-risk “red” list to its medium-risk “amber” list, meaning arrivals will no longer need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

Six other European nations, including Germany, were added to the lowest-risk “green” list, meaning all visitors can avoid quarantine whether or not they are fully vaccinated. All changes will come into effect from 4 am on Sunday, 8 August.

The boss of one of the UK’s largest insurance firms has suggested that employers in London’s financial district may be struggling more than those in other cities to persuade office workers to return to their desks as coronavirus restrictions ease. Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal & General, said there were “a lot fewer people working in the City” compared with urban centres across the UK, Europe and the US.

China: China imposed new travel and movement restrictions across the nation, including in its highly protected capital of Beijing, as a delta-driven outbreak grew to over 500 symptomatic cases scattered across 15 provinces and municipalities. Public transport and taxi services were curtailed in 144 of the worst-hit areas nationwide, while officials curbed train service and subway usage in Beijing, where three new cases were reported Wednesday. Hong Kong re-imposed quarantine on travelers from the mainland, though an exception remained for the southern Guangdong province which neighbors the financial city.

Economy update

US: Organizers of the 2021 New York International Automobile Show have canceled the event for the second year in a row, citing concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant. The annual event was to be held in its traditional venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. This marks the second-consecutive year that the 121-year-old New York Auto Show was canceled. The organizers expressed confidence the show will return to its regular spring schedule in April 2022.

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