3 November

Global: The global Covid death toll continues to climb past the grim milestone of 5 million, with a figure of 5,013,591 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 247.5 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 46 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 748,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

China: More provinces in China are fighting Covid-19 than at any time since the deadly pathogen first emerged in Wuhan in 2019. The highly-infectious Delta variant is hurtling across the country despite the increasingly aggressive measures that local officials have enacted in a bid to thwart it. Local infections have been found in 19 of 31 provinces in the world’s second-largest economy. China reported 93 new local cases on Wednesday, and 11 asymptomatic infections. Three more provinces detected cases, central Chongqing and Henan and Jiangsu on the eastern coast.

UK: The UK has had its highest number of daily Covid deaths reported since late February, as another 293 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

A scientist has quit the UK government’s pandemic advisery body Sage, saying that the Covid crisis is “a long way from over”. Sir Jeremy Farrar, quit the body at the end of October.

Romania: Romania broke its daily death toll record, after another 591 people died from Covid. It has lagged behind on vaccinations and is well below the average within the EU.

Ireland: Public health officials in Ireland say that its case numbers are at their highest point since January, as another 3,726 were registered – 70% higher than a week ago.

Netherlands: Weekly positive cases jumped by 39% on Tuesday and coronavirus hospital admissions rose by around 30% week-on-week.

Vaccine news

US: Children as young as 5 are one step closer to being vaccinated against Covid in the US, after the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unanimously voted in favour of the broad use of Pfizer and BioNTech jabs for them.

UK: The UK government is increasingly worried that hospitalisations and deaths among double-vaccinated people could rise due to waning immunity as an estimated 4.5 million people have failed to get their booster shots despite being eligible.

The UK government’s independent vaccine advisers recommended against Covid shots for healthy teenagers despite considering evidence that the jabs would reduce infections, hospitalisations and some deaths in the age group.

New Zealand: The New Zealand government signed a purchase agreement with Pfizer Inc. for 4.7 million additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for delivery in 2022, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in statement. The additional supply will be used for a potential booster program and if eligibility is extended to the 5- to 11-year-old age group. There were 100 new cases of Covid in the community, the Ministry of Health said.

Greece: Greece has announced new restrictions on non-vaccinated people and increased fines for non-compliance.

Lockdown updates

China: China urges citizens to stockpile daily necessities, prompting panic-buying, amid surging vegetable prices linked to recent extreme weather, fears of supply shortages and an ongoing Covid outbreak.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is in advanced discussions with Chinese officials about reopening their shared border, local media reports, a major breakthrough on reviving travel exchanges crucial to the Asian financial hub’s economy.

Separately, Hong Kong’s airport officials plan to segregate passengers on mainland China flights from other travelers to prevent cross-infection and build a case for the reopening of the border, South China Morning Post reported earlier, citing unidentified people.

Netherlands: The government has reintroduced face masks in an attempt to stop rising Covid-19 cases. Prime minister Mark Rutte said the use of Covid passports would also be broadened out to include museums, gyms and outdoor terraces.

From Saturday, people in the Netherlands are expected to work from home half of the time. The coronavirus entry pass will be required in more places such as sporting events and cinemas.

Singapore: Singapore’s health ministry signalled again that virus curbs won’t remain as they are through the month of November if the city-state reaches a key target for further easing. The Ministry of Health was responding to a parliamentary question Tuesday on the likelihood of people being able to dine out in groups of more than five. Current restrictions limit groups to just two. That means if a couple and their young children want to go out to dinner, they are forced to split up across multiple tables. The ministry reiterated that its key metric for easing is whether the city-state’s seven-day moving average of community cases declines week over week. Known as the weekly infection growth rate, that ratio currently sits at 1.09.

Japan: Japan is looking at restarting issuance of long-term business visas as part of a broader easing of Covid-era border controls, the Nikkei reported without citing how it obtained the information.

Meanwhile, the Yomiuri reported Wednesday that the government was looking at ways they could experiment with letting in tour groups, without citing sources.

Economy updates

Global: Covid-19 vaccination progress will help steady economic activity and stabilize global credit conditions in 2022, says Moody’s, as many pandemic-related uncertainties will start receding absent the emergence in vaccine-resistant strains.

China: A private gauge of China’s services sector activity climbed higher in October, defying expectations of softening momentum amid Covid outbreaks in the world’s second-largest economy.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s transition to living with Covid-19 could lead to changes in consumer behavior that damp economic growth, the central bank said. “Businesses will need to adapt, and some businesses that have stayed afloat to date may not be viable as support schemes wind down,” the Reserve Bank said in its semi-annual Financial Stability Report published Wednesday in Wellington. “These changes could drag on economic activity.”