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April 8, 2021

International update: Brazil daily Covid death rate hits record levels as Bolsonaro rules out national lockdown

By Paul Dennis

8 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.88 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 133 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid -19 infections are nearing 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 559,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

The B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus, first found in the UK, has overtaken the initial form of the virus in the US and is now the country’s most common strain, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

South America: South America is now the most worrying region for Covid-19 infections, as cases mount in nearly every country, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Brazil: Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has insisted there would be “no national lockdown,” ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours since the pandemic began. Brazil has also recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.

France: The French health ministry reported on Wednesday that the number of people in intensive care units with Covid-19 increased by 103 to a new 2021 record of 5,729 people.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh discovered a “dramatic change” in the distribution of coronavirus variants after a new South African strain appeared, Dhaka-based health research organization Icddr,b said in a report. It became the country’s most prevalent strain in the third week of March, according to the report. Researchers tested 16,265 specimens between January 1 and March 24, of which 2,751 were positive. The South African variant accounted for 81% of the positive cases, Icddr,b said. Bangladesh on Wednesday reported 7,626 new coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 659,278.

India: India’s battle to curtail a renewed wave of Covid-19 is beset by vaccine shortages in several states and cities – including Mumbai. Its worst-hit state, Maharashtra, only has three days’ worth of vaccines in stock. The steep jump in infections from early February has forced Indian states to reinstate restrictions including movement curbs. Maharashtra has stopped all non-essential services and ordered private companies to work from home, along with closing malls and restaurants through April.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc’s chief medical officer Tal Zaks said the company should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants of the coronavirus by the end of this year, Reuters reports.

EU: The EU drug regulator will begin an investigation next week on whether clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine followed global clinical and scientific guidelines, the Financial Times reported. But the official twitter handle for Sputnik V called the FT report “fake” and “incorrect”.

The European Union failed to form a united response to links between AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine and a rare type of blood clots. At a meeting that ran until late Wednesday, EU health ministers promised in a statement to continue discussions on vaccination planning. The EU’s immunization program has been bogged down by poor planning, supply delays and increasingly a lack of solidarity.

US: Eleven people suffered adverse effects such as nausea and dizziness Wednesday after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in a Denver suburb, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said. Two of the people were transported to a hospital for observation “out of an abundance of caution” and the others received first aid at the site in Commerce City, the department said.

US President Joe Biden will offer Covid-19 vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centers, adding 2,500 delivery sites in a program aimed at closing the racial gap in inoculations. The White House will announce Wednesday that 520 more such centers will be eligible to receive vaccine shipments, increasing the total to about 1,470 across the US, an official familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

Mexico: Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will soon travel to the US to press for more vaccines from its northern neighbor to help get through a supply crunch during the next three months, Ebrad’s deputy said Wednesday. Delgado said Mexico had a “permanent petition” for any available vaccines from the US, such as the AstraZeneca shot that has yet to be approved by regulators there.

Belgium: The Belgian government has said it will restrict access to the AstraZeneca vaccine to just those people over 55 in light of the European medicines agency’s advice that blood clots are a potential side-effect of the jab.

Italy: Italy is recommending the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for people over 60 years of age, government health adviser Franco Locatelli said during a press conference in Rome. France and Germany made similar recommendations.

UK: Adults under 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca jab if there is one available in their area and they are healthy and not at high risk of Covid, the UK government’s vaccination advisory body said.

Uruguay: Uruguay could start to see the benefits of its vaccination program as soon as late April or early May, President Luis Lacalle Pou said. Some 860,000 people will have received two Coronavac doses by the end of May, and the government is seeking more vaccines in case it decides to inoculate people under age 18 – or give adults a third dose.

Lockdown updates

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of tightening virus restrictions for a short period to stem rising case numbers, her spokeswoman said. AFP reports that Merkel backs calls for a “short national lockdown”, Ulrike Demmer said, noting that the country’s health system was under growing pressure.

Canada: Ontario – home to more than 14.7 million people – declared a state of emergency, forcing most retail stores to operate under new restrictions. It said it would change its inoculation strategy as it battles a new, more dangerous Covid wave. Ontario issued a stay-at-home order starting 8 April at 12:01 am Toronto time, in place for four weeks. Most categories of stores will be required to shut their doors, serving customers only through delivery or outdoor pickup.

Japan: Tokyo plans to seek a return to stricter Covid measures as infections in the city hit a two-month high less than three weeks after the lifting of a state of emergency. The Japanese capital recorded 555 cases on Wednesday – the most since early February – as officials feared a “rebound” in cases had begun hitting earlier than expected amid an increase in virus variants.

Qatar: Qatar re-imposed strict restrictions on group activities and businesses after recording three consecutive days of more than 900 new cases – the highest official counts since June. According to state-run QNA, restaurants will close to in-person dining starting Friday, while cinemas and salons will close completely. Offices will be limited to 50% capacity, and gatherings in open spaces will be limited to five vaccinated people. The steeper restrictions come days before the month-long Muslim holiday Ramadan.

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