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October 4, 2021

International update: US Covid deaths exceed 700,000

By Paul Dennis

4 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.8 million, with a figure of 4,802,110 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 234.9 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 43.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 701,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s strategy of aiming to eliminate Covid-19 will be phased out. The policy has been controversial but prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that vaccines meant the country could transition away from it.

Australia: Australia’s Delta outbreak appears to have levelled off, with more than half the country in extended lockdowns and vaccination rates starting to approach national targets, ministers said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded its highest daily Covid cases since the pandemic began, with 1,488 new cases and two further deaths. The Victorian treasurer, Tim Pallas, announced a $196.6m support package for the state’s construction industry. New South Wales has reported 813 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths, bringing the death toll in the current outbreak to 362. The ACT recorded 52 new Covid cases, equalling its daily case record since the pandemic began. The NSW planning minister, Rob Stokes, confirmed that he will be contesting the NSW Liberal leadership following Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation.

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Two children in Queensland tested positive for Covid while in home quarantine, with the NRL grand final looking likely to go ahead on Sunday.

NSW residents have been warned against grand final gatherings in watching the all-Sydney game.

A Melbourne detention centre worker has tested positive for coronavirus, placing more than 200 refugees at risk of becoming infected.

India: The India death toll from Covid edged closer to 500,000 after another 180 deaths were recorded on Monday. The toll is now 448,997, with more than 33 million cases.

UK: Scientists in the UK have warned that the country may still have worse to come during the pandemic, as winter approaches. They fear that more people will begin socialising inside as the weather gets colder, which increases the chance of transmitting the virus, as workers also return to offices.

Indonesia: Indonesia said daily deaths from the virus fell to the lowest in more than a year, as the country reported improved testing and vaccination coverage. The nation added 58 fatalities in the past 24 hours, the fewest since 17 August last year. And it recorded 1,142 additional cases, the lowest since 29 June, 2020, suggesting deaths, which come on a lag, may be headed even lower.

Vaccine news

US: Daily vaccinations in the US topped 1 million on Saturday for the first time in several weeks, helped by vaccine requirements and people getting booster shots, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Twitter. The number includes 363,000 newly vaccinated people and 545,000 additional doses or boosters, according to Cyrus Shahpar, the White House director of Covid-19 data. More than 5 million boosters have been completed in the US, Klain said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed booster doses of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine for certain groups of adults, including everyone 65 and older and long-term care residents, on 24 September.

More people need to get vaccinated to keep infections on a declining trend, infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci said. He also said that while the full-vaccination rate has reached 55%, the key risk is the 70 million eligible people in the US who haven’t gotten a shot. “We certainly are turning the corner on this particular surge,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “The way to keep it down, to make that turnaround continue to go down, is to do what we mentioned: get vaccinated.”

UK: Doctors in the UK have urged all secondary school pupils to get vaccinated following the death last week of 15-year-old Jorja Halliday.

Japan: Japan’s Health Ministry is in talks to procure Merck’s antiviral pill molnupiravir with an aim to approving its use within this year, Nikkei reported without attribution. The ministry will consider fast-track approval of the treatment if Merck files for approval in Japan.

Lockdown updates

UK: New rules for international travel in and out of England have come into force on Monday morning. The much-criticised traffic light system has been be replaced with a single red list of countries and tresting requirements for travel will be overhauled.

New Zealand: New Zealand extended the lockdown in Auckland as community transmissions of coronavirus continued in the nation’s largest city. Residents cannot leave and are asked to remain at home when possible for at least another week. Some rules around outdoor activities were eased.

Singapore: Singapore is hopeful it can unveil new vaccinated travel lanes beyond Germany and Brunei by end of the year or even earlier, Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin on Monday. Gan spoke ahead of a working visit to the US this week.

Singapore authorities need to do a better job communicating the country’s virus strategy, a minister said, addressing residents’ frustrations over confusing signals on the financial hub’s reopening plan. The country has shifted its approach from Covid elimination to trying to live with the virus, yet authorities have tightened restrictions on gatherings, restaurants and businesses even after pledging more freedoms. Officials need to improve the messaging on how their actions relate to the country’s goals to avoid confusion, said Josephine Teo, the minister for communications and information.

Macau: Macau hit the pause button on plans to resume quarantine-free travel on Monday with Zhuhai, its neighbor to the west in China. It also suspended plans to resume in-person school. On Monday Macau it had confirmed a suspected case Covid-19 in a 46-year-old mainland Chinese citizen who is vaccinated and travels daily between Macau and Zhuhai.

Taiwan: Covid-19 controls for some recreational venues, religious activities, or dining should be further eased under conditions that they meet virus containment guidance, Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said in a text message statement, citing Premier Su Tseng-chang. Taiwan’s government will allow people to take off their masks on mountains or at the seaside from Oct. 5 after local cases drop, Taipei-based Central News Agency reported Sunday, citing health minister Chen Shih-chung. Agriculture, forestry or fishery workers are allowed to remove their masks when they are out in an open field without any people, the report said, citing Chen.

Malaysia: Malaysia is looking to reopen its borders to foreign travel in December once 90% of its adult population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told local media. An accelerated vaccine rollout has allowed the government to gradually ease restrictions. As of Saturday, 87.2% of the adult population had been fully vaccinated, officials said on Twitter on Sunday. Meanwhile, 94.3% of the adult population had received the first dose.

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