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June 28, 2021

International update: Global Covid deaths near grim tally of 4 million

By Paul Dennis

28 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,923,855 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 181 million world wide.

Meanwhile, Danielle Anderson, the last foreign scientist to work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s BSL-4 lab, said she still believes the coronavirus most likely came from a natural source. While it would be theoretically possible for a scientist in the lab to unknowingly infect themselves and to then unintentionally infect others in the community, that likelihood was exceedingly slim. If presented with evidence that such an accident spawned Covid-19, Anderson “could foresee how things could maybe happen,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg News, the first in which she’s shared details about working at the lab. “I’m not naive enough to say I absolutely write this off.”

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 33.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 603,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

California’s test positivity rate rose to 1.2%, one of the highest levels in almost two months. The delta variant has become more prevalent in the state, making up 15% of cases based on the latest monthly statistics as of June 21, up from 4.7% a month earlier. Cases rose 2,251 to 3.7 million, while deaths climbed 45 to 62,990. Hospitalizations remained at one of the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. More than 41.3 million vaccinations have been administered.

Europe: The Delta variant is likely to spread across Europe, a British scientist suggested. Sir Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, said “stronger border measures” may have delayed its spread in the UK.

UK: The UK. reported the fewest daily coronavirus cases in five days and the number of deaths fell by half, a potential sign that the recent surge in cases linked to the delta variant may be nearing its peak. A total of 14,876 new cases were reported Sunday, down from 18,270 on Saturday, with deaths declining to 11 from 23 on Saturday. The success of the country’s vaccine campaign – more than 84% of adults have had at least one shot – has limited the impact of the latest outbreak with fewer people getting serious cases or requiring hospitalization than in the previous waves.

Denmark: Denmark’s review of an outbreak of a mink variation of virus among humans last fall revealed signs of antibody resistance among those with the variant, the country’s top virologists said Monday in a statement. Authorities also warned that all Covid-19 infections among animals should be monitored closely to prevent new dangerous variants. Denmark decided to cull its entire mink population in November to prevent a mass outbreak of the mink variant amid concerns it could reduce vaccine efficiency significantly.

Australia: Australia’s Covid response committee is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday as outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant across the country prompted a lockdown in Sydney and renewed restrictions elsewhere.

Taiwan: Taiwan has reported 60 new cases and three deaths, both new lows since the outbreak peaked, but is facing fresh concerns over an outbreak of the Delta variant in a southern province.

India: India’s confirmed daily deaths fell below 1,000 for the first time in more than two months as the government seeks to boost vaccinations. There were 979 new Covid-19 fatalities, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on its website. That’s the lowest since 879 death were recorded for 13 April. India has now administered 323.7 million doses but only a little over 4% of its 1.4 billion population is fully vaccinated.

Vaccine news

Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged teenagers to get vaccinated for the coronavirus as a new outbreak spreads, saying the country’s stock of Pfizer Inc.- Technion SE vaccine would expire soon.

UK: English health authorities said they expect to have jabbed half of the country’s under 30 by the end of the weekend. More than 4.2 million people aged between 18 and 29 years in the England have received a Covid vaccine in the three weeks since the programme was opened up to those in their 20s, the NHS has said.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will resume vaccinations after an earlier suspension caused by torrential rain that hit the financial hub. Hong Kong Observatory lowered its warning to red from black, its highest category for rainstorms. The disruption to inoculations came just days after 58,500 people were vaccinated on Saturday, the highest daily total since the program was rolled out in February.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s vaccination rate reached 1.3 million doses a day after the government deployed the military and police to help with effort.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Catarina Demony reports for Reuters from Lisbon on the decision by Portuguese authorities that unvaccinated British tourists will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival if they are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s health minister is leading a push for stricter controls as coronavirus cases surge to unprecedented levels, according to Reuters’ sources familiar with government discussions.

Italy: All of Italy became a mask-free, “low-risk” zone for coronavirus Monday, marking a dramatic milestone for the first European country to be hit by the global pandemic in February 2020, AFP reports.

South Africa: Authorities in South Africa have imposed new restrictions in a last ditch attempt to stem a sharp rise in Covid-19 that is ravaging the country’s economic heartland.

UAE: Abu Dhabi will use facial scanners to detect coronavirus infections at malls and airports after a trial of 20,000 people showed “a high degree of effectiveness.” The technology can detect infections by measuring electromagnetic waves, which change when the RNA particles of the virus are present in the body, state-run WAM reported. The results showed 93.5% sensitivity, reflecting the accuracy of identifying those infected. The United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is part, has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, but daily new cases have continued to hover around 2,000 since March.

New Zealand: New Zealand will consider making use of the Covid tracer app mandatory in high risk areas such as bars and restaurants, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Wellington Monday. The potential move comes amid declining scanning rates of QR codes that is making contact tracing more difficult. The government will also consider making mask wearing mandatory in high risk areas.

Economy updates

Thailand: Thailand plans to spend 7.5 billion baht ($235 million) compensating workers and businesses, especially construction companies and restaurants, during monthlong Covid-19 restrictions in Bangkok and nearby provinces. About 690,000 workers in the social security network will be compensated, along with some outside of the system, Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, said Monday.

UK: The UK tax authority has started almost 13,000 investigations into use of the government’s coronavirus business support efforts, including for possible fraud and other breaches of rules, the Financial Times reported. HM Revenue & Customs previously said that it expects to recover about 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) of fraudulently or mistakenly claimed furlough money over the next two years, the FT said.

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