8 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5 million, with a figure of 5,049,340 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . However, new analysis puts the pandemic’s death toll between 10m and 19m people. Meanwhile, infections exceed 249 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 46.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 754,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Los Angeles County is set on Monday to impose one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the US, requiring proof for most indoor public places. Proof of full vaccination must be presented for entrance to restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, shopping centers, concerts and some government buildings. Enforcement doesn’t begin until Nov. 29. Establishments that don’t enforce the mandate will be subject to fines starting at $1,000 for the second violation and rising to $5,000.

Germany: Germany reports 15,513 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, a decrease from yesterday’s 23,543 reported cases, the Robert Koch Institute reports.

India: India’s daily Covid cases rose by 11,451 to reach a total of 34.37m and deaths rose by 266 for a total death toll of 461,057 the health ministry reports.

Australia: NSW recorded 244 new Covid-19 cases as the state prepared for further easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated people from Monday

Victoria recorded 1,173 Covid-19 cases and the state government announced a $44m package to revitalise Melbourne’s CBD, including a plan to allow diners to claim 30% off their bills between Monday and Thursday each week

The ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction to fully vaccinate 95% of its population

The Northern Territory government announced the lockdown of Katherine would end at 3pm NT time and switch to a lockout for people who are not fully vaccinated. The Darwin lockout was extended to midnight tomorrow night, when the Katherine lockout is also scheduled to end.

Thailand: Thailand reported 39 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest single-day tally since 29 June, after the government accelerated vaccinations to facilitate a wider border reopening. Thailand also reported 7,592 new daily infections.

Singapore: Singapore’s infection rate fell to 0.81, the lowest level in the latest viral wave and matching the level last reached Friday, Ministry of Health data showed. The intensive-care utilization rate dipped to 69.9% Sunday from 72.8% the day before, when it touched the highest in more than a week. The city-state added 2,553 new cases and 17 deaths.

Vaccine news

Australia: Australia will begin administering booster shots of Pfizer ’s Covid vaccine from Monday amid an accelerating immunisation drive against the coronavirus.

UK: More than 10 million people have had Covid booster jabs in the UK, according to new figures, as people were told to get their top-up to help prevent restrictions this Christmas. The UK government could restrict travel for people who refuse Covid boosters as government sources confirmed they are looking at plans for travel restrictions on people who do not take up the booster offer.

The UK will start to roll out Merck’s molnupiravir Covid-19 antiviral pill through a drug trial later this month, Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday. Last week the UK became the first country in the world to approve the potentially game-changing Covid-19 antiviral pill, jointly developed by US based Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics .

US: US president Joe Biden is pushing forward with an ambitious plan to require millions of private sector employees to get vaccinated by early next year, while simultaneously battling to convince workers in his own federal government to get the shot.

New treatments under development for Covid-19 show promise but vaccination remains the surest way to end the pandemic, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.  “There is a 100% effective strategy to avoid hospitalization and death, and that’s not getting Covid in the first place,” Murthy said on ABC’s “This Week.” “A therapeutic, a pill is not a substitute for getting vaccinated.” Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. have presented data showing their new antiviral drugs can significantly reduce the risk of serious infection. Both must go before US regulators for approval.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry said the US has donated 2.5 million additional doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine. That brings the total doses sent from the US to Vietnam to more than 14.6 million, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Lockdown updates

US: Flights for fully-vaccinated travelers from Europe to US begin Monday, though the lucrative market will be very different from the one before the pandemic. Demand compared with before the pandemic will be lower. The corporate road warriors who were once the North Atlantic’s lifeblood are still largely grounded as firms avoid unnecessary travel, putting the onus on attracting leisure passengers. The US is letting in Europeans just as virus infections surge again across the continent. The US is lifting entry restrictions for more than 30 countries, including China, Brazil and India.

UK: Professor Anne Johnson, president of Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of SAGE, told LBC radio that she understood a “Plan B” for lowdown restrictions is still on the cards, according to the Guardian. “If we want to avoid any restrictions in the future, or indeed reduce the damage, we need to think about all the things that we can do, which include not just vaccinating, which is very important, but also going to isolate when we’re sick, get tested,” the Guardian quoted her as saying.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern further eased Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland and said the country’s largest city is on track to exit lockdown by the end of the month.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong should reopen its borders to the rest of the world if six months of being Covid free isn’t enough to enable authorities’ sought-after travel bubble with China, a top epidemiologist in the city said.

Japan: Japan reported zero Covid-19 deaths for the first time in 15 months on Sunday, a day before the country eases border control measures. The country reported 157 new infections on Sunday, down from a peak of about 25,000 during the summer.  With Japan’s outbreak easing and a vaccination campaign that’s inoculated more than 70% of the population, the government is seeking to reopen the economy. Effective Monday, Japan will shorten quarantine for short-term business travelers and Japanese nationals or foreign residents returning from abroad if they have received an approved vaccine. Japan will also decide whether to change the way it categorizes the severity of the Covid situation based on the burden on its health-care system in five different stages, the NHK reported.

Economy updates

Asia: Makers of vaccines and treatments slumped in Asia, while global travel and tourism shares rose, after Pfizer Inc. announced its pill reduced Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths substantially. Investors are betting that the drug, the second promising pill for treating Covid-19 patients, will help tame the pandemic and speed up the comeback of travel. The news lifted shares of airlines and cruise companies, while casino and hotel operators also rose along with luggage makers and tour operators.