International update: US Covid outbreak on the rise again - Midwest worst hit
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International update: US Covid outbreak on the rise again – Midwest worst hit

19 Nov 2021

19 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,133,242 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections pass 256 million world wide.

Covid origins: The first known Covid case originated with a vendor at a Wuhan wet market, a leading virus expert has claimed in a report published on Thursday.

AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail offered 83% protection against Covid over six months, the pharmaceutical firm said. Evusheld has shown promise in preventing severe disease when given early as a treatment to those infected with Covid-19.

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 768,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The American Medical Association and more than 60 other US health organizations endorsed the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees. They said the requirement is “reasonable and essential to protect workers.” “When employers require workers to get vaccinated, vaccination rates increase to over 90%,” a public letter read. “Courts have repeatedly supported the legality of employer mandates.” More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against the requirement, which also allows for regular testing. The deadline is 4 January.

The US state of Florida has banned schools and businesses from requiring vaccination against Covid. Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed the new laws.

The US outbreak, on the rise again, is shifting to the Midwest, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indiana recorded the largest increase of infections in the week ending 16 November, with Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin among the states with the biggest weekly jumps, the data show. Parts of the Northeast, the most vaccinated region of the country, are also recording a spike, with infections in New York state up 27%. The seven-day average of new hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 cases is rising in 28 states and the nation’s capital from a week earlier, with visible clusters in the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Chicago is facing a surge of infections ahead of the holiday season, Allison Arwady, the city’s public health commissioner, said Thursday. “In terms of our outbreak, the numbers are not good,” Arwady said during a livestream broadcast. “We are absolutely in the middle of this Covid increase. Right now is the time to get vaccinated for the holidays.” The nation’s third-largest city is seeing an average of 501 cases per day, up about 18% from the previous week, giving Chicago a high transmission risk for new cases, she said. Deaths also are rising, with four reported each day. Chicago’s positivity rate is about 2.7%.

Apple Inc. has chosen 1 February as the deadline for corporate employees to start their return to offices, a slight delay from its previous goal of January, marking a key step toward getting its operations back to normal after the pandemic. Starting at the beginning of February, the company will adopt a phased return, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told staff via email on Thursday. For the first month, some teams will be required to come into the office one or two days a week. After that “transitional period,” staff will be required to come in at least three days per week.

Brazil:   Brazil has recorded 12,301 new cases of coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 293 deaths from Covid, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Canada: Canada will announce on Friday it is authorising the use of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine in children aged between 5 and 11, a government source said on Thursday.

Europe

France: France will not impose Covid lockdowns on unvaccinated people because of the success of its health pass in curbing the virus’s spread, president Emmanuel Macron said.

Spain: Spain has approved the use of a Covid-19 booster shot for people between 60-69 years old and for health workers, as part of an effort to combat an uptick in infections.

Germany: Germany will limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming dangerously full of coronavirus patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

Saxony, the German region hardest hit by the country’s fourth wave of coronavirus, is considering a partial lockdown.

Austria: Austria may impose a full Covid lockdown as infections are still rising despite the current lockdown for the unvaccinated.

UK: The UK reported another 46,807 Covid cases and a further 199 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

A more infectious new version of Covid-19’s delta variant is spreading fast in the UK, accounting for about 12% of the samples gathered in the most recent government survey. That represents a 2.8% daily growth rate for sub-variant AY.4.2 over the course of the REACT survey, from 19 October to 5 November, the researchers said. Still, the new sub-variant seemed less likely to cause symptomatic Covid.

As Covid-19 makes a comeback in Europe, one study offers a reminder that simple measures like mask-wearing and hand-washing help to ward off the disease. Donning a face mask more than halves the risk of getting Covid, according to a review of eight studies published in the British Medical Journal. So does hand-washing. Physical distancing, meanwhile, cuts the risk by a quarter.

Greece: Greece expands restrictions for the unvaccinated, prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned during a televised address urging citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Hungary: Hungary will make a booster shot mandatory for all healthcare workers and will require protective mask wearing in most enclosed places from Saturday, Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff said.

Slovakia: Slovakia will impose stricter measures for people who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus amid a surge in infections and hospital admissions, prime minister Eduard Heger said.

Poland: Poland’s sanitary services quarantined 503,400 people, the most since October last year, as Covid-19 rips through the European Union’s fifth most populous state in a growing headache for the ruling nationalists.

Portugal: The Portuguese island of Madeira will impose new restrictions on unvaccinated residents and visitors amid a surge in cases across Europe. People who have not been vaccinated will be banned from attending public events such as concerts from Saturday, Miguel Albuquerque, the president of Madeira’s regional government, said on Thursday. Unvaccinated people are allowed to attend mass or go to the supermarket as long as they show a negative Covid-19 test.

Asia-pacific

India: India has approved the export of 20m doses of the Novavax Covid vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to Indonesia, according to a government document seen by Reuters and a government source.

Australia: Almost all eligible citizens in Australia’s “Bush Capital” have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and it is expected to reach full inoculation next month, a milestone that shows just how fast the nation has overcome a slow start to its vaccination rollout. Canberra, one of a number of highly vaccinated cities in the Asia-Pacific region, achieved the feat by relying on education and access to get its citizens to embrace the rollout, according to Andrew Barr, the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory which oversees the city.  Data show the city’s vaccination rate is at 96.8% for eligible people aged 12 and over.