26 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.9 million, with a figure of 4,954,574 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 244 million world wide.

Covid-19 is more likely than vaccines to cause rare neurological conditions, according to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal. The study, led by the University of Oxford, analyzed the health records of 32 million people in England to identify the risks of developing rare brain conditions before and after testing positive, or receiving the first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc or Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE jabs. Rare cases of such complications led many countries to restrict the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to older age groups.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 45.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 737,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: UK reports 38 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 139,571.

Russia: Russia reports 37,930 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day case tally since the start of the pandemic.

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By GlobalData

Spain: Spain reached the grim milestone of 5 million Covid-19 cases during the pandemic.

Mexico: Mexico reports more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases, health ministry says.

India: India reported 12,428 new covid cases, the lowest addition in 238 days, according to a statement from the government. India’s confirmed virus cases stood at 34.2 million while deaths totaled 455,068.

China: China’s ongoing delta outbreak spread further with the virus found in a 12th province in eastern Shandong. The country reported 34 infections on Tuesday, slightly down from a day ago. Health authorities are expanding its booster campaign, giving out shot for practically all adults who have been fully vaccinated for six months.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long warned about the risks of another outbreak tied to large numbers of workers returning to rural provinces from southern virus-hit areas, according to a post on the health ministry’s website. Long instructed local officials to monitor returnees from Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding industrial provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An.

Australia: Australia’s Queensland has announced that international students will be allowed back into the state to study in 2022. They will be required to be fully vaccinated and to quarantine at a new government facility at Wellcamp, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. The state recorded two new Covid-19 cases in the community on Tuesday. Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, posted 282 cases and its second-most populous, Victoria, had 1,510.

Indonesia: Indonesia is bracing for a potential upsurge in infections with almost 20 million people estimated to travel in Java and Bali for the year-end holidays. The Southeast Asian nation is on alert as its previous Covid-19 spikes have been preceded by long holidays. New cases had spiked after millions of people traveled and gathered with families to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in May. Infections have since gone down sharply after the government expanded testing and reimposed stringent lockdown measures across the country. Indonesia added 460 cases on Monday, the lowest since May 26, 2020.

Vaccine news

African Union: The African Union (AU) has brokered a deal to buy up to 110 million vaccine doses from Moderna Inc, Reuters reports. Under the negotiations delivery of some doses intended for the United States will be deferred to facilitate the deal, officials told the news agency. The deal was brokered in part by the White House. The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter.

EU: European Medical Agency approves Moderna booster. The medical body approved doses for all adults, saying the Spikevax booster can be given out and administered, after it gave the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty jab earlier in October.

China: Children as young as three will start receiving Covid vaccines in China, where 76% of the population has been fully vaccinated. It comes as authorities continue to maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards outbreaks.

Taiwan: The 5 million doses Medigen vaccine ordered by the government are unlikely to be used up, Taipei-based United Daily News reported, citing Health Minister Chen Shih-chung’s comments to lawmakers. Taiwan’s government had earlier placed an order with Medigen for 5 million doses with an option for 5 million more. The government won’t order additional doses if the first batch isn’t used up.

Lockdown updates

US: US introduces new guidelines on non-US citizens’ entry into the country and testing for travellers. Foreign nationals will have to be fully vaccinated before entering the country, with some exemptions in place for under-18s. Those coming from countries with low vaccination rates will have to justify their visit.

Meanwhile, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s extending its pandemic-era rules for cruise ship operation until 15 January, after which it will move to a voluntary Covid-19 mitigation program. The rules – under the umbrella of the CDC’s so-called conditional sailing order – were set to expire on 1 November. The CDC said it decided to extend the protocols with a slight variation because of the spread of the more infectious Delta variant, the rise of breakthrough cases and other factors.

Japan: People in Tokyo can eat and drink in bars and restaurants later in the evening from today as Japan eases social distancing rules.

New Zealand: Vaccination will be required for all workers at businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 vaccination certificates, such as hospitality and close-contact businesses, Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood said. Non-vaccinated workers in roles requiring immunization will be given a four-week notice period to get vaccinated before employment can be terminated.

Australia: Australia is eager to start quarantine-free travel with Singapore as soon as possible, Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said.  Hopes of quarantine-free travel between the two nations were raised last week when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expected borders to open more quickly. Singapore allows fully-vaccinated visitors from a handful of countries including the US, the UK and Germany to enter quarantine-free via designated travel lanes. Transport Minister S. Iswaran said earlier this month the city-state is considering more vaccinated travel lanes with regional neighbors including New Zealand and Japan.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will soon end most of the quarantine exemptions for overseas and mainland travelers, with the city under pressure from officials in Beijing to tighten up what is already one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 containment regimes. The city will soon announce arrangements to remove exemptions that allow some people to skip mandatory hotel quarantine stays of as long as 21 days to improve the chance that China will allow easier cross-border travel, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday at a regular briefing.

Economy updates

China: China’s economy is showing signs of a further slowdown with car and housing sales dropping again this month even as exports continue their strong performance. That’s the outlook from Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for October. Economic growth was already lower last quarter, partly due to a higher base of comparison from a year ago, but also dragged down by power shortages, repeated Covid outbreaks, and turmoil in the housing sector.

South Korea: South Korea’s economic expansion cooled last quarter as a renewed virus outbreak prompted authorities to impose their toughest social distancing restrictions to date. The gross domestic product gained 0.3% in the July-to-September quarter, decelerating from 0.8% in the second quarter and slower than the 0.6% predicted by economists.