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August 3, 2021

International update: Mask mandates reinstated as US faces ‘very real’ fourth wave of Covid

By Paul Dennis

3 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,236,749 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections have passed 198.9 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 613,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Peter Marks, head of the US Food and Drug Administration division reviewing Pfizer Inc.’s application for full approval of its vaccine, said in an interview that the US is experiencing a “very real fourth wave” and also spoke about how the FDA will decide whether booster shots are needed.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards reinstated an indoor mask mandate for everyone in the state age 5 and older. “Louisiana is currently in the worst surge of the Covid-19 pandemic so far in terms of case growth rate, percent positivity and hospitalizations,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. The new mask mandate will stay in effect until at least 1 September.

San Francisco and its surrounding counties are reinstating mask requirements in indoor public spaces for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, after a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Seven counties in the Bay Area adopted the new orders, including Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara and San Mateo, along with the city of Berkeley. The mandate takes effect Tuesday at 12:01 am, health officials said in a statement Monday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is “strongly” recommending that even those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 wear masks indoors, stopping short of mandating such face coverings.

Senator Lindsey Graham said he tested positive for Covid-19 despite being vaccinated, becoming at least the third member of Congress to recently report an infection. The South Carolina Republican said in a statement that he began having “flu-like” symptoms on Saturday and that he will quarantine for ten days.

Brazil: Brazil had 15,143 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours and 389 deaths from Covid-19, the lowest death toll for a Monday since early December, according to Health Ministry data.

Mexico: The health ministry reported 6,506 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 245 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,861,498 infections and 241,279 deaths.

Iran: Health authorities in Iran have reported more than 37,000 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours for the first time, as the country also recorded its highest daily number of deaths from Covid for three months.

China: China reported 61 new domestic Covid-19 cases for 2 August, a day after logging its biggest number of local infections of the current outbreak. Infections were discovered in areas including Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Beijing and Shanghai, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

Nigeria: A jump in Covid-19 deaths over the past week in Lagos, Africa’s biggest city, is a “worrying trend” and steps need to be taken to reverse rising infection rates, said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Nigeria’s Lagos State. The positivity rate of those tested has risen eightfold to 8.9% over the past month and six people are dying on average every day at isolation centers in the city, he said in a statement on Monday. “The situation at hand should rightly alarm all of us,” he said.

Vaccine news

US: Some 70% of US adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a key milestone in the fight against the pandemic that the country hit nearly a month later than President Joe Biden had hoped. After falling dramatically since April, the pace of US vaccinations has recently accelerated due to the rapid spread of the delta variant of coronavirus. The US was averaging more than 72,000 new infections a day in a delta-fueled resurgence of the virus as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Peter Marks, head of the US Food and Drug Administration division reviewing Pfizer Inc.’s application for full approval of its vaccine, said in an interview that the agency is moving with urgency to reach a decision on the matter. “I hope not to disappoint the president,” Marks said when asked if he will meet President Joe Biden’s timeline for approval by September or October. “Everyone here understands the need to do this with the same care and rigor that we always do, and also with speed and urgency, given that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Kenya: Kenya approved the emergency use of Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines. The East African nation expects to receive 13 million J&J doses starting this month. Kenya’s plan to inoculate its entire adult population of 26 million people by end of 2022 is reliant on J&J vaccines. The country has so far inoculated less than 2.5% of its population of approximately 53 million people, using mostly doses from AstraZeneca .

Germany: Germany plans to offer booster shots to vulnerable people from September, as well as offer vaccinations to children over 12. Health ministers from the country’s states.

Poland: Poland is stepping up security at vaccination points following two arson incidents overnight in a single town and an attempt by anti-vaccine activists to break into another.

Lockdown updates

Philippines: The Philippines will extend a night curfew in the capital, Manila, amid a tightening of curbs in the south-east Asian country to combat a potential surge in cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, a government official said today.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s condensed risk designation system for overseas travel will take effect on 9 August, splitting countries into high, medium and low risk. The changes mean residents will be able to return from high-risk areas like the UK, India and the Philippines. The US and Singapore are among countries designated as medium risk, while Australia and New Zealand are the only ones classified as low-risk.

Pakistan: Pakistan plans to tighten rules in bigger cities this month to avert a likely fourth coronavirus wave as the delta variant spreads. Curbs include closing markets at 8 p.m. and halving in-office attendance, Planning Minister Asad Umar said at a news conference Monday. The new rules run 3 August to 31 August.

Economy update

Global: The International Monetary Fund approved the biggest resource injection in its history, with $650 billion meant to help nations deal with mounting debt and the fallout from the pandemic. The creation of the reserve assets — known as special drawing rights — is the first since the $250 billion issued just after global financial crisis in 2009, with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva billing it as “a shot in the arm for the world” that will help boost global economic stability.

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