21 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,700,041 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 229 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed that of the devastating 1918-19 flu pandemic – more than 676,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A member of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation to the United Nations was put in isolation after testing Covid positive in New York, adding to concerns that the general assembly this week could trigger a spike in cases in the host city.

New York City will increase its frequency of student testing to once a week instead of its current two-week interval, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city’s powerful teachers union on Sunday called for weekly testing.

China: China’s northern Harbin city reported one local coronavirus infection and is telling citizens not to leave the city if not necessary, according to a statement on the municipal government’s website. Harbin is shutting mahjong places, bathhouses, cinemas, massage parlors, arcades, religious venues and indoor sporting venues, while public transport will operated at a limited frequency, the statement said.

China reported 42 local coronavirus cases for Monday, all of which were found in the southeastern province of Fujian, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

Thailand: Thailand reported 10,919 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest daily count since July 17, according to government data on Tuesday. Cumulative infections reached 1.5 million, the data showed.

Indonesia: Indonesia added 1,932 cases on Monday, the lowest since 24 August last year, and 166 new fatalities, according to health ministry data.

Vaccine news

India: India will restart exports of vaccines for the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative from the quarter beginning October, even as it races to inoculate its own massive adult population, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Monday. The country will also resume some vaccine donations, he added, but gave no details. Home to the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing industry, India had been expected to be a significant supplier to the equitable vaccine initiative on which most of the world’s poor countries rely. But the government halted exports in April after the Delta variant began sweeping through its major cities.

Thailand: Bangkok expects to complete at least two doses of vaccines for 70% of the residents by 22 October, a key threshold for allowing vaccinated international visitors to enter without quarantine, according to Governor Asawin Kwanmuang.

US: Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was safe and produced strong antibody responses in children ages 5 to 11 in a large-scale trial, findings that could pave the way to begin vaccinating grade-school kids within months. In a trial with 2,268 participants, two shots of a 10 microgram dose – one-third the adult shot – produced antibody levels comparable to those seen in a trial of 16-to-25-year-olds who got the adult dose, the companies said, with similar side effects.

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said that a vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will likely be available before Halloween. “There’s a really good chance it will be” available before the 31 October holiday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said during an interview on MSNBC. He also said he would be in favor of schools mandating shots for kids once the jabs are fully approved. Fauci’s comments came after Pfizer and BioNTech said their shot safely produced strong antibody responses in younger children.

The US capital will require vaccines for all adults who regularly enter schools and child-care facilities by 1 November, according to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. There will be no testing opt-out. Student athletes 12 and older will also required to get the shots to participate in school-based sports.

Lockdown updates

US: US President Joe Biden’s decision to lift travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers from the UK and most of the EU has been welcomed by the UK and airlines.

Australia: Melbourne’s construction industry is shutting down for at least two weeks amid concerns that extremist groups who have infiltrated the union movement are behind violent anti-vaccination protests in Australia’s second-largest city.

Japan: Japan will decide on 28 September whether to lift a state of emergency, broadcaster FNN reported, citing government officials. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will make the final decision, according to the report. The country’s fourth state of emergency was extended through September following a delta-variant-fueled surge in Covid-19 cases and is in effect in 19 of the country’s prefectures.

Thailand: Thailand’s key virus task force will discuss “the gradual reopening” of bars and cinemas on 27 September, according to Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Indonesia: Indonesia said it will allow workers in non-essential business sectors back in the office as it loosens mobility curbs further.