International update: US to revise guidance on mask wearing during pandemic
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International update: US to revise guidance on mask wearing during pandemic

28 Jul 2021

28 July

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,177,484 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 195 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 34.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 611,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US’s top health agency is expected to backpedal and recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the US where Covid is surging, according to reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to make an announcement later in the day revising guidance issued in May, which said vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in most indoor settings.

Ford Motor Co. is reinstating mask requirements for some workers to slow an aggressive new strain of the coronavirus, telling employees Tuesday that it’s mandating face coverings at facilities in Missouri and Florida. The company also is ordering US employees planning international business travel to be vaccinated against Covid-19, Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said in an emailed statement. The move comes after General Motors Co. reinstated a mask mandate at a Missouri factory last week and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reverted to tighter mask guidelines.

Texas posted its biggest daily jump in new cases and hospitalizations in almost five months. The Lone Star state detected 6,517 new virus cases, a level of infection not seen since the first week of March, state health department data showed.

Indonesia: Indonesia marked another grim record as 2,069 people died from Covid-19 over 24 hours. The Southeast Asian country has been reporting the highest number of deaths worldwide in recent days. The delta variant has crippled the country’s health-care system and depleted supply of oxygen tanks. Indonesia’s number of new confirmed cases reached a three-week low Monday before rebounding to 45,203 on Tuesday.

Iran: Iran’s Covid-19 cases hit a record high for the second time in as many days today, rising to almost 35,000, as the health minister warned there was little hope of improvement unless the public followed health precautions, state TV reported.

Italy: Almost 99% people who have died of Covid-19 in Italy since February this year were not fully vaccinated, the National Health Institute said. The study released by the public health body added that the few fully vaccinated people who died of Covid were also significantly older than those who died without full vaccination, at 88.6 years of age versus 80.

Japan: Tokyo’s 2,848 daily coronavirus infections on Tuesday were the Olympic host city’s highest since the pandemic began, officials said, but Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said it was “not a problem” for the Games and that Tokyo residents should focus on working from home to suppress the movement of people.

Philippines: The Philippine Health Department said the delta variant could drive cases in the capital to 11,000 by end-September if mask and social distancing directives aren’t strictly implemented. Infections are now growing in most cities in the economically-important Manila region after decreasing weeks ago. The Southeast Asian nation reported 7,186 cases Tuesday, the highest in over a month, as 4% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

China: State broadcaster CCTV said 48 of the local confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in eastern province of Jiangsu on 27 July. The southwestern province of Sichuan reported three local cases while Liaoning and Yunnan added two cases each.

South Korea: South Korea reported a record number of new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. Cases hit 1,896 versus 1,365 the previous day. About 35% of the population, or 17.9 million people, have received at least one vaccine dose, while 13.6% of the population completed vaccination.

Thailand: Thailand reported 16,533 new infections on Wednesday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, taking the nation’s cumulative cases to 543,361, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Netherlands: Weekly cases in the Netherlands fell almost 50%, while hospital admissions rose to 538, the highest since mid-June, the national health service reported. There were 37,343 cases in the week ending 27 July, down from 69,731. The government on Monday said a ban on multiday events such as music festivals will be extended until at least 1 September.

Singapore: Singaporean authorities found 136 locally-spread coronavirus cases, the government said Tuesday, marking over a week of daily tallies exceeding a hundred.

Vaccine news

Global: The UK and Germany “have protected Covid vaccine patents over human lives”, campaigners have said as the World Trade Organization is reportedly about to delay a decision on whether to waive patents on Covid vaccines. The two countries are expected to resist efforts to allow poorer countries to produce their own vaccines, thus speeding up the global rollout of the jabs.

EU: The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the EU has met the target of administering a Covid jab to 70% of adults by July, making good on the promise to “catch up” after a rocky start to the bloc’s vaccination rollout. The EU’s executive branch had been heavily criticised at the start of the year after promised vaccine doses did not materialise and national health systems failed to swiftly distribute those that did.

US: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced they would push for mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for City employees, beginning with a requirement that workers either submit proof of vaccination or a weekly negative test.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post will require employees to prove they are vaccinated, joining the ranks of companies that are mandating workers get inoculated against Covid-19 as caseloads rise.

Moderna Inc. said its Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing partners outside the US are “facing delays” due to laboratory testing issues that occurred in recent days.

Israel: Israel will allow vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 who are at high risk of falling seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. The Health Ministry didn’t issue a blanket recommendation for vaccine use in the age group, instead listing conditions such as obesity and chronic severe lung disease as prerequisites.

Ireland: Ireland is set to open its vaccination programme to those aged 12 to 15 after its national immunisation advisory committee made a favourable recommendation. Foreign minister Simon Coveney said the decision meant “the benefit of vaccination can be extended to this much younger cohort” but that parents would retain the right to decide how to proceed.

South Korea: South Korea and Moderna held an online meeting late Tuesday and Moderna agreed to resume delayed vaccine supply from next week, said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum.

Lockdown updates

Global: Schools closed due to the pandemic must reopen as soon as possible, the United Nations said, estimating that the education of more than 600 million children was at stake. A spokesman said it was a “terrible mistake” to reopen bars and pubs before schools, after reports that an estimated 40% of children in eastern and southern Africa are not attending school due to closures.

Germany: Germany is planning to introduce tighter controls on citizens returning from holiday in an attempt to control the growth in coronavirus cases. Jens Spahn, the health minister, is reported in German media to be gathering support for his plan for all returnees to have to test for the virus, regardless of whether they have been in a high-risk area or how they have travelled.

UK: Plans to significantly open up international travel are expected to be announced on Wednesday, with UK ministers poised to let people who have been fully vaccinated in the US and EU avoid quarantine if arriving from amber list countries.

Australia: Greater Sydney will remain locked down for a further four weeks but neighbouring Victoria will tentatively emerge from its fifth lockdown tomorrow, with the easing of restrictions accompanied by a tightening of the border with New South Wales.

Kuwait: Kuwait said it will allow only vaccinated citizens to travel abroad starting 1 August, the government communication office reported.

Economy updates

New Zealand: An additional 18,000 New Zealand children were pushed into poverty in the first year of the pandemic, according to research, despite child welfare being one of prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s main concerns. The Child Poverty Action Group – which focuses on eliminating poverty – put much of the increased poverty, inequity, homelessness and food insecurity down to government neglect as it created its policies during the pandemic, with indigenous children hardest hit.