International update: Mexico Covid deaths exceed quarter million
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International update: Mexico Covid deaths exceed quarter million

19 Aug 2021

19 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,393,039 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 208 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.1 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 624,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Convalescent plasma didn’t stop Covid-19 from progressing in high-risk patients with milder forms of the disease, the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday. The use of plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients didn’t harm any patients, but it also didn’t help them very much, according to a study. The clinical trial tested whether convalescent plasma could lead to a 10% reduction in disease progression but the benefit was never higher than 2%. The results of the clinical trial are the latest of several studies showing that a potential treatment touted by former President Donald Trump does not appear to provide significant benefit.

Nearly all positive coronavirus cases in New York state are linked to the high transmissible delta variant, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The state is seeing a dramatic increase in cases, with 4,737 new positives reported on Wednesday, up from 823 cases one month ago, according to state data. There were 20 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,888 hospitalizations. Samples collected between 1 August and 14 August showed 95% of the recent positives in the state are linked to the variant, Cuomo said in a news release. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.5% of New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose.

President Joe Biden said authorities should ensure kids are wearing masks in schools and criticized governors who are trying to block mask mandates in school, threatening them with legal action.

Meanwhile, the President plans to announce that his administration will require nursing homes to vaccinate their staff against the coronavirus in order to receive federal funding, a person familiar with the matter said. The new requirement will apply to more than 15,000 facilities that currently participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the person who discussed the policy before the president’s remarks on condition of anonymity.

Mexico: Mexico reported a record daily rise in cases with 28,953, bringing the total to 3,152,205, the Health Ministry said in its daily report Wednesday. The ministry reported 940 new Covid-19 deaths, for a total of 250,469.

Australia: In NSW cases have again risen to new heights. The state recorded 681 new Covid cases and one more death, a man in his 80s from south-east Sydney. The death toll during the outbreak is now at 61.

The premier, Gladys Berejiklian, continues to insist the state’s lockdown measures are adequate even as cases rise in week nine of an extended lockdown. Berejiklian has again foreshadowed the potential of easing some restrictions once vaccination rates rise. She also sent a message to state premiers such as WA’s Mark McGowan who has continued to push for a zero Covid approach in Australia, saying “everyone will have to learn to live with Delta”.

Western NSW remains a concern, with 25 new cases in the region. The regional NSW lockdown has been extended until at least 28 August.

Victoria recorded 57 new cases of the virus, though 44 of those were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period. “That’s exactly what we want,” the premier, Daniel Andrews, said. “That is the system working exactly as it should work.”

The ACT recorded 16 new cases of the virus, a slight drop from yesterday. Eleven of those are linked to known outbreaks while the other five are still under investigation. “We either stop this virus now, or we live like Sydney for the rest of this year,” the chief minister, Andrew Barr, told reporters.

The Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, confirmed Darwin would exit lockdown after recording no new cases. The town of Katherine though will remain in lockdown until at least tomorrow.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials are confident they have discovered how the delta strain of the virus entered the country. Current positive cases are a close match to a recent returnee from Sydney who arrived on 7 August, Ardern told a press briefing Thursday in Wellington. This was a “significant development,” she said. Ardern put the country into a three-day lockdown this week after just one positive case was found in the community. Auckland and the nearby Coromandel region that the positive case visited were placed into lockdown for seven days. Case numbers have now grown to 21, will 11 new infections reported Thursday.

China: China’s latest Covid outbreak is almost contained as the daily number of infections continues to come down. The country reported five local confirmed cases and zero asymptomatic infections on Thursday. One case was found in a suburb of Shanghai, escalating the area “middle-risk” status. The world’s most populous country managed to deploy an even more intense approach to control the more contagious delta variant as the nation sticks to its Covid-zero strategy. Eastern Yangzhou city, the most hit region in this outbreak, has rolled out as many as 12 rounds of mass testing.

The city of Shenzhen on Wednesday eased quarantine rules for visitors from neighboring Hong Kong with a negative nucleic test done within 24 hours. Those with an accommodation in Shenzhen suitable for home quarantine can shorten their quarantine at a centralized facility to 7 days from 14 and then spending the following week in home quarantine followed by another seven for health monitoring at their residence.

Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman secured an exemption from strict Hong Kong quarantine rules that have faced criticism from the financial hub’s business community, local media reported. Kidman, 54, flew into the city in a private jet that took off from Sydney on Aug. 12, according to the Standard newspaper. The star arrived to shoot the “Expats” television series for Amazon.com Inc. and was spotted with her bodyguards in many places, including at a boutique shop, the report said.

South Africa: As many as four out of five South Africans may have contracted the coronavirus, indicating that the country may be one of the world’s hardest-hit nations, the chief actuary at Africa’s biggest health insurer said. Emile Stipp, the actuary at Discovery Health, based his calculations on the country’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths, a measure of the number of fatalities compared with an historical average. They are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of the pandemic than the official toll.

Vaccine news

China: Scientists from Institute of Microbiology under Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions are developing a new antibody that may be effective against coronavirus and variant strains. Stopped the virus from replicating and sickening laboratory animals, the study in the journal Nature showed. The antibody effectively prevented and treated infections from coronavirus and its variants, the institute says in a statement in WeChat account.

Mexico: Mexico had vaccinated 61% of adults as of Aug. 16 with at least one dose, a little more than half having received complete vaccination, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Twitter on Tuesday.

UK: Vaccines against Covid-19 are less effective against the delta variant, a large UK study showed in results that may fuel a push for booster shots for fully vaccinated people. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s messenger RNA vaccine lost effectiveness in the first 90 days after full vaccination, though that shot and the one made by AstraZeneca Plc still staved off a majority of Covid infections. When vaccinated people did get infected with delta, they had similar levels of virus in their bodies as those who hadn’t had their shots, backing up a recent assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lockdown updates

US: The California Supreme Court declined to take up the latest challenge to the state’s Covid-19 response Wednesday, rejecting a school board’s request that the justices strike down Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declared state of emergency. The Orange County Board of Education said Newsom’s suspension of rulemaking procedures has resulted in health directives to California schools without public debate or transparency. Newsom (D) first declared a state of emergency in March 2020. But while the state eased some coronavirus restrictions in June 2021, the governor has kept the state of emergency in place.

Department of Transportation issues order restricting four Chinese carriers flying to US to 40% capacity in response to an action against United Airlines on 6 August. Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen Airlines were affected by the order. China had acted against United after people who flew on the airline had tested positive for Covid-19.

Economy updates

Thailand: The country started a pilot program to test, vaccinate and isolate factory workers to limit Covid-related disruptions to its export-driven manufacturing industry, one of the few bright spots in an economy crushed by the virus. The “Factory Sandbox” initiative aims to protect 3 million jobs and support manufacturers who contribute about 700 billion baht ($21 billion) to gross domestic product, according to a government statement this week. Meanwhile, new cases stayed below 21,000 for the third straight day, while fatalities topped 300 for a second day, government data showed. Cumulative infections rose to 989,859 and total deaths reached 8,586.