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June 23, 2021

International update: Global Covid infections pass 179 million as delta K417N spreads

By Paul Dennis

23 June

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 3,882,671 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 179 million world wide.

Cases of the Delta variant with an additional mutation called K417N have been found in multiple countries including the UK, the US, Canada, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, Japan and Nepal. It was briefly, and unofficially, described as the Nepal variant when it first came to light.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 602,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Three Democratic senators asked Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg how the company is fulfilling its pledge to remove Covid-19 vaccine misinformation from its platform and sought company data on the effort. Senators Bob Menendez, Mark Warner and Mazie Hirono sent a letter dated Monday asking Zuckerberg to detail how many users viewed vaccine-related misinformation. The lawmakers said that about 275,000 Facebook users are members of anti-vaccine groups. Facebook was told to respond by 5 July.

Nine months after the declaration of a national emergency due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, US births fell by 8% in a month. The December drop marked an acceleration in declines in the second part of the year. For the full year, the number of babies born in the country fell 4% to about 3.6 million, the largest decline since 1973, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report.

Russia: Russia reported 546 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since February, amid a surge in new cases that authorities blamed on the new Delta variant.

India: India has found 22 cases of a mutation of the delta variant in the states of Maharashtra – home to the financial capital, Mumbai – Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, federal Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

UK: A drug used to treat parasite infections in humans and livestock will be investigated as a possible treatment for Covid-19 in a large UK study at the University of Oxford. The medicine, known as ivermectin, has antiviral properties and initial preliminary studies have shown it can reduce viral load, the amount of virus in the respiratory tract, and the length of symptoms in those with a mild infection, the university said in a statement.

Argentina: Argentina reported 792 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, a daily record, as the total tally moved to 90,821. Confirmed cases came in at 21,387, authorities said.

Vaccine news

Cuba: Cuba’s government announced that its three-shot Abdala vaccine has proved to be 92% effective against the coronavirus, without immediately providing details of the clinical testing. President Miguel Diaz Canel denounced the crippling US blockade on the island and said Cuban scientists had “surpassed all obstacles and have given us two very effective vaccines”.

Singapore: The city-state said it will be receiving a batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines under a different category name as it accelerates supplies, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Wednesday. The incoming batch of vaccines is called Comirnaty.

Malaysia: Malaysia aims to vaccinate 60% of the country’s population by the end of September, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. The nation has ramped up the pace of inoculations in recent weeks, and 12.5% of the population have got at least one dose vaccine does, he said at a World Bank forum on Wednesday.

South Africa: At least two South African labor unions have vowed to support workers who are threatened with dismissal if they refuse to be vaccinated. That follows a directive by the Department of Employment and Labour earlier this month that made provision for employers to implement a mandatory vaccination policy.

Lockdown updates

US: The Biden administration is calling for a scaled-down, in-person gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly in September as New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US recovers. The US is recommending that the UN hold a socially distant event, with no more than two participants per delegation allowed in the General Assembly Hall during leaders’ speeches from the podium. The US. is also recommending that the delegations for each country remain small and that diplomats wear masks inside the building.

Morgan Stanley plans to bar employees who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 from entering its offices in the New York area, as a growing number of major Wall Street firms delay the return of staff who aren’t protected against the deadly virus.

Poland: Poland is introducing a mandatory seven-day quarantine for all travellers from Britain in a bid to curb the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.

China: China could keep its border restrictions to control the pandemic for another year amid variant fears and a desire to protect important events from any potential disruption, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Russia: Moscow authorities announced that residents will soon have to present an anti-Covid pass to enter restaurants.

Japan: Tokyo Olympics president Seiko Hashimoto defended the organisers’ decision to allow spectators into Olympic venues, with 30 days to go until the start of an Olympic Games dogged by the pandemic and by controversy.

New Zealand: New Zealand moved to contain a possible Covid-19 outbreak in the capital city Wellington, limiting the size of gatherings and imposing social distancing after a tourist tested positive for the virus upon their return to Australia.

Germany:    Berlin is making permanent the extra bike lanes it added during lockdowns as it seeks to support the cycling boom that started during the pandemic but campaigners say more needs to be done to protect cyclists, with five killed already this year.

Singapore: Singapore is reducing the duration of quarantines for people from high-risk regions to 14 days from 21 days. The government said it has found no evidence that virus variants of concern come with longer incubation periods.

Australia: Sydney will impose new restrictions, including compulsory mask-wearing at all indoor venues such as workplaces and shops, as an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads in Australia’s most populous city. From 4 pm Wednesday, households will be limited to hosting five guests, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. Residents in eastern and inner-west areas of the city won’t be allowed to travel outside metropolitan Sydney for non-essential reasons for at least a week.

Taiwan: The government plans to extend island-wide soft lockdown by another two weeks to July 12 from June 28, TVBS reported, citing a Central Epidemic Command Center meeting on Tuesday night. The resolution will be sent to Premier Su Tseng-chang on Wednesday morning for a final decision, the broadcaster said.

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