18 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,124,079 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections pass 255 million world wide.


Europe is the only region with increasing Covid deaths, the World Health Organization reports. Covid deaths rose 5% in the last week as deaths in all regions other than Europe remained stable or declined, and totalled 50,000 worldwide last week. Of the 3.3 million new infections reported, 2.1 million came from Europe.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia both reported record daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a day before the two European Union countries plan to approve new restrictions for unvaccinated people in response to rising infections.

Hungary: Hungary reported 10,265 new Covid-19 infections, its highest daily tally since the end of March.

Sweden: Sweden is introducing a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate for public gatherings and events with more than 100 people indoors, authorities said Wednesday.

Spain: Spain has approved the use of a Covid-19 booster shot for people between 60-69 years old and for health workers, as part of an effort to combat an uptick in infections.

Germany: A fourth Covid wave is hitting Germany with ‘full force’, Angela Merkel says. Germany reported 52,826 new infections on Wednesday – up by a third from a week ago and another daily record, while 294 people died.

Belgium: Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions, mandating wider use of masks in indoor settings and enforcing work from home, as cases rose in the country’s fourth Covid wave. The country has one of the highest cases per capita rates in the EU.

UK: The UK reported another 38,263 Covid infections and a further 201 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Mandatory vaccine passports are set to be introduced in Northern Ireland.


US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 767,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Covid deaths have decreased by 17% in the Americas over the past week, but the most populous countries like the US, Brazil and Colombia are seeing a levelling of new infections after weeks of declining trends, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

The US is set to boost vaccine manufacturing and produce at least a billion doses a year. The Biden administration is planning to dedicate billions of dollars to build up vaccine manufacturing in the US to produce at least a billion doses each year, in an effort to shore up global Covid-19 supply for poorer countries while also pre-empting future pandemics.

As many as 40% of US airport security screeners haven’t been vaccinated for Covid-19 as an immunization deadline for federal employees and the busy holiday travel season converge. Many Transportation Security Administration workers are resisting the requirement as the 22 November deadline approaches, said Hydrick Thomas, president of the American Federation of Government Employees ’ division representing front-line airport security officers.

Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature approved rules on Wednesday to punish companies that enforce strict Covid-19 vaccine mandates for employees. In a special session this week in Tallahassee, lawmakers agreed with Governor Ron DeSantis that companies must give employees the chance to opt out of mandates. If a worker is fired for noncompliance, companies with fewer than 100 employees could face $10,000 fines and larger ones could be hit with penalties of $50,000.

New York City will roughly double the size of its mobile testing fleet to 70 vans, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We want to emphasize testing is very, very important to this next phase as we try to put the Covid era behind us,” he said in a briefing. Cases are rising in the city as the weather cools and the holidays approach. Early in the week, the mayor opened up booster shots to all adults. About 42,000 New Yorkers received boosters on Monday and Tuesday, according to the city. Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi advised New Yorkers, including those who are vaccinated, to get tested before attending gatherings and traveling.


China: A foreign athlete attending the luge world cup in Beijing tested positive for Covid-19, China’s state TV network reported, citing the organizing committee for the Winter Olympics slated to begin in the city in February. The athlete is asymptomatic and in quarantine, according to the CCTV report. Two other foreign athletes tested positive earlier in Beijing and are in stable condition, CCTV said.

Indonesia: Indonesia will tighten movement restrictions during the year-end holiday period to avoid another surge in Covid-19 infections, Kompas newspaper reported, citing Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto. The government will impose “Level 3” curbs, just one level below the strictest measures, nationwide from 24 December until 1 January, he was quoted as saying during a briefing on Thursday. That would include full work-from-home order for non-essential sectors, 25% capacity limit for malls and no dine-in at restaurants without outdoor seating.

Hong Kong: The boss of HSBC Holdings Plc, the biggest bank in Hong Kong, said he won’t do anything that would put the city’s efforts to open up travel to mainland China at risk, even as criticism of the financial hub’s zero-Covid policy grows. In an interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn said he currently has no plans to visit the city, the lender’s biggest market.

Hong Kong Ocean Park staff and visitors who were at the amusement park on 7 November between 2 pm and 7 pm were ordered to get tested for Covid-19. Ocean Park was added to the so-called test list a day after Hong Kong Disneyland temporarily closed to comply with a similar order.

South Korea: South Korea reported 506 critical coronavirus cases, down from 522 a day earlier as the country’s vaccination rate increases. About 78.5% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 82% has received the first dose. New coronavirus cases rose to a record 3,292 following eased restrictions on social gatherings, according to Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Thailand: Thailand plans to allow more foreign workers into the country starting next month to fill a labor shortage that has hurt manufacturers and poses a risk to an economy that’s just starting to recover from the Covid-19 outbreak.