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August 23, 2021

International update: Australia Covid cases hit record daily high

By Paul Dennis

23 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,431,554 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 211 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 628,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US average daily fatalities ticked over 1,000 on Saturday, apparently for the first time since March, at the tail of last winter’s surge, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Deaths are a lagging indicator, growing weeks after a surge in Covid-19 cases. While fatalities are accelerating as the US is battered by the delta variant, they remain a fraction of the peak last winter. Average daily fatalities rose to more than 3,400 in January, the data show. Now 60% of those eligible in the US are fully vaccinated.

The US is diagnosing “just a small fraction” of children with Covid-19, and schools now reopening around the nation could become centers for broader transmission, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration. Tens of thousands of students are already in quarantine in states including Florida and Mississippi. “It’s proving to be hard to control in schools,” Gottlieb, a Pfizer Inc. board member, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think that this is a harbinger of the challenges that we’re going to face nationally as schools reopen. The schools could become focal points of community transmission and can become environments that aren’t safe for children.”

Australia: Today was a record day for positive cases of coronavirus declared in Australia across the entire pandemic. There were 894 locally transmitted cases. New South Wales recorded a record high 825 new cases for any day across the pandemic. Victoria announced 77 cases and the ACT had eight. Queensland and Western Australia both had zero cases. NSW health authorities said three people had died with coronavirus – a woman in her 80s and two men in their 90s. Some 16 cases in NSW have been linked to a party held in Maroubra last weekend. The Indigenous community in Wilcannia is on edge after 12 new cases were recorded and issues like housing overcrowding are putting people at greater risk. There are 554 people in hospital across Australia with coronavirus – including 94 in intensive care and 36 on ventilators. About 80 people, including Australian citizens and permit holders, arrived on an Australian air force flight from Kabul.

New Zealand: New Zealand earlier on Monday reported 35 new infections, with 33 of those in Auckland.

UK: People in the UK will be able to receive Covid-19 antibody tests for the first time next week as part of a new government programme. Up to 8,000 adults will be able to take part in the scheme.

Meanwhile, nearly one-fifth of companies advertising Covid tests for travellers coming back to the UK from abroad face removal from the government’s list of providers over misleading prices. More than 80 private travel testing companies will be issued a two-strike warning and could be removed, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said Monday. The new action marks a clamp-down on “cowboy” practices, he added.

Iran: Iran has reported an all-time record daily coronavirus death toll, with 684 further fatalities recorded. Sunday’s figure passes the 655 deaths recorded in 24 hours on 16 August.

Russia: Russia reported 20,564 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the national tally to 6,747,087. Of this total, 1,661 were recorded in Moscow and 1,481 in St. Petersburg.

Israel: Israel has launched an antibody testing programme for children aged three and above as it seeks to monitor how much protection from the virus unvaccinated children have developed.

Japan: Japan’s top coronavirus adviser has asked the government to call on doctors who have not been treating Covid patients to help tackle the wave of rapidly rising infections.

Thailand: Thailand added the fewest number of new Covid cases in more than three weeks after quasi-lockdowns in the capital Bangkok and other virus hotspots entered its second month. The Southeast Asian nation, battling its most severe outbreak since the pandemic began reported 17,491 new cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest single-day increase since July 30, official data showed Monday. It also reported 242 deaths, taking the cumulative fatalities to 9,562.

China: China had zero locally transmitted cases and 21 imported coronavirus infections on 22 August, the National Health Commission said in a statement, as the country has worked to control a wave of delta variant cases. It also reported 16 imported asymptomatic infections.

Vaccine news

US: The expected full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of Covid-19 vaccines could help businesses and institutions impose more vaccine requirements, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. “For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” full approval “will actually help them to move forward.” The FDA is expected to give full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as early as Monday. Murthy also said that people who’ve been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot will “likely” need a booster. But, he said, “We are waiting on some data from the company about a second dose of J&J, so the FDA can fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of that dose.”

Philippines: The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the single-dose version of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. Some 10 million individuals can be administered with Sputnik Light, Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said. The Southeast Asian nation is also in talks with at least four vaccine-makers for booster shots.

Taiwan: Taiwan will begin administering its first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccines as it seeks to rely more on local options after struggling to secure sufficient supply of the major international shots. President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday got the vaccine developed by Taipei-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation. The company is yet to complete phase-3 trials for its vaccine but has been granted an emergency use authorization to begin inoculations.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is preparing to enter lockdown as cases in the southeast Asian country’s most populous city surge. Residents will be under stay at home orders from Monday, with the army and police deployed.

Australia: Prime minister Scott Morrison has said Australia’s stringent lockdown strategy will remain in place until at least 70% of country is fully vaccinated as the country sees record numbers of cases.

Melbourne’s lockdown was extended across the entire state from 1pm, with the premier, Dan Andrews, giving regional Victoria less than two hours notice of the restrictions.

More than 4,000 anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Melbourne, where demonstrators clashed with police officers. Police made 218 arrests and six officers were hospitalised. Protests also took place in Sydney and Brisbane.

New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a nationwide lockdown for several more days, through midnight on 27 August 27, as the country battles an outbreak of delta variant cases. All of New Zealand will remain at Level 4 restrictions, the highest level of lockdown, she told a briefing in Wellington. That means the lockdown, initially put in place for three days, will now be in force for at least 10. Auckland – the epicenter of the outbreak, will remain in lockdown until midnight on 31 August.

Hong Kong: Vaccinated Filipino workers will be allowed to enter Hong Kong from 30 August, Manila’s labour minister has said.

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