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October 11, 2021

International update: Air filters can take out Covid particles study finds

By Paul Dennis

11 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.8 million, with a figure of 4,852,089 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 237.8 million world wide.

Inexpensive, portable air filters can efficiently remove coronavirus particles and other pathogens from the air, Nature reported last week, citing a study by doctors in a working hospital. Vilas Navapurkar, an intensive-care unit physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK, and a co-author of the study, said filters might be more important to use in general wards than in ICUs.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 44.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 713,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Meanwhile, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says 187 million people in US are fully vaccinated. Dr Anthony Fauci warns the US must not ‘prematurely declare victory’ over Covid. As the holiday season approaches, the White House medical adviser urged caution in celebrating declining Covid cases.

New Zealand: New Zealand is on a ‘knife-edge’ as Covid cases are expected to rise further. The nation recorded 94 new infections over the weekend, as experts say an “exponential growth curve” will occur where new cases will quickly top 100 a day if the government stays its current course.

Australia: New South Wales state recorded 496 new locally-transmitted cases and eight deaths in the 24 hours to 8 pm Sunday. Neighboring Victoria, which remains under stricter stay-at-home orders as its vaccination rate lags behind New South Wales, reported 1,612 new local cases.

UK: One in six of England’s most critically ill patients are unvaccinated pregnant women, new figures reveal. Twenty of the 118 patients with Covid who received extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) between July and September were mothers-to-be, NHS England said. Of these, 19 had not had a jab and the other had only had one dose of a vaccine. The health service is urging pregnant women to get fully vaccinated amid new evidence that the virus can cause serious problems for the mother-to-be and her baby in the later stages of pregnancy.

UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries has warned that people who catch flu and Covid at the same time this winter are twice as likely to die than those who only have coronavirus. Harries also said that it’s hard to predict what the next chapter of the pandemic will look like in the UK, as immunity from vaccines wanes among older people.

Singapore: Singapore’s health ministry reported 3,703 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, while it recorded 11 new deaths.

Indonesia: Indonesia saw a continued slowdown in its virus spread on Sunday, an encouraging sign as it prepares to relax its borders and welcome foreign tourists back to Bali this week. The Southeast Asian nation added 894 cases and 39 deaths on Sunday, both the lowest since June 2020, as it benefits from an aggressive test-and-trace campaign to contain the delta outbreak.

Vaccine news

UK: Two million people in England have received a Covid booster jab, NHS England said. The health secretary, Sajid Javid, tweeted: “This is great progress which is helping to reinforce our wall of defence so we can keep the virus at bay.” Over-50s, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and care workers are eligible for a third shot.

New Zealand: Vaccinations will be mandatory for most healthcare and education workers, including doctors, pharmacists and midwives as well as teachers and support staff, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement Monday.

US: A majority of parents who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 say they won’t have their kids ages 5 to 11 get a shot, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. In contrast, 61% of parents with vaccinations said they’ll have their children inoculated – the same as the share of unvaccinated parents who said they wouldn’t. About a quarter on both sides signaled they were undecided. The poll, published Sunday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. Kids in the 5-11 age group could get a vaccine as soon as the first week of November. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said Thursday they’d finished submitting data to the Food and Drug Administration ahead of an advisory panel meeting set for26 October.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Millions of Australians have woken up today to new freedoms after 106 days of lockdown. Greater Sydney reopened at 12:01am on Monday as stay-at-home orders were lifted across the state of New South Wales after state reached its milestone of 70% of the over-16 population fully vaccinated last week. Gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians can now reopen, people can have 10 people over to their home, gather in groups of 30 people outdoors in public, and travel more than 5km from their home. The new freedoms are only available to the fully vaccinated and those who have a medical exemption.

New Zealand: New Zealand has extended Auckland’s lockdown after reporting 35 new Covid-19 cases in the nation’s biggest city. Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3, meaning people can’t leave the city and should stay at home where possible, for at least another week. Restrictions in Waikato and Northland were extended until midnight 14 October.

Italy: Police in Italy said on Sunday they had arrested 12 people including the leaders of the extreme right-wing party Forza Nuova, after clashes in Rome a day earlier over a government drive to make the Covid-19 “Green Pass” mandatory for all workers.

Malaysia: Malaysia on Sunday lifted interstate and international travel restrictions for residents fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as the country achieved its target of inoculating 90% of its adult population, Reuters reports.

Fiji: Fiji will reopen to fully vaccinated international travelers from 1 December, ending more than 20 months of isolation that smashed the nation’s tourism industry. US tourists will be the first to be able to travel to the popular South Pacific holiday destination. National carrier Fiji Airways will launch daily flights from Los Angeles to Nadi using new Airbus A350-900 aircraft, as well as five flights a week from San Francisco and two flights a week from Honolulu.

Economy updates

UK: The policymaker Michael Saunders has added to signs the Bank of England might become the first major central bank to raise rates since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

British ministers are concerned that a lack of pilots could impede a rebound in flights to pre-pandemic levels, the Telegraph newspaper reported. At least double the usual number of pilots retired during the time when most travel was banned, the newspaper said, citing sources in the aviation industry. Activity is now growing steadily, according to weekly seat capacity estimates from OAG Aviation. UK capacity surpassed Germany and France in August after lagging for many months though it’s still 45% less than two years ago. While the UK has recently eased entry rules for foreign travelers in a bid to boost tourism, post-Brexit labor shortages are threatening the nation’s economic recovery. A lack of truck drivers has contributed to a fuel crisis.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended Covid-19 travel restrictions that are frustrating global businesses, signaling the curbs will stay in place for the foreseeable future even as Singapore allows more quarantine-free travel.

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