12 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5 million, with a figure of 5,080,019 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 251.9 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 46.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 759,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospitals in some parts of the US are already starting to see the impact of an autumn wave of Covid-19 infections, the latest sign that the health-care system still faces serious pressure from the virus, even in places that have achieved relatively high vaccination rates. Intensive-care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients are climbing in 12 states from two weeks earlier, with most of them in a contiguous strip running from Arizona and New Mexico, through the Great Plains and into Minnesota. In several Western states, many doctors and nurses haven’t caught their breath from the last round of infections.

Eastern Europe: Morgues are filling up in Romania and Bulgaria as the countries record the EU’s highest daily death rates from Covid-19, after superstition, misinformation and entrenched mistrust in governments and institutions combined to leave them the least vaccinated countries in the bloc.

Bulgaria, the EU’s least vaccinated country, has asked the bloc to activate a protection mechanism under which it can receive oxygen, respirators and beds from other countries “in case of a sudden worsening” of the pandemic, the health ministry said. While the spread of the disease has slowed down, the country has the world’s second-highest overall Covid death rate after Peru.

Ukraine’s health ministry proposed expanding the list of occupations for which Covid vaccinations will be compulsory to cover medical personnel and municipal employees. Ukraine, which has a vaccination rate among the lowest in Europe, already obliges teachers and employees of state institutions and local governments to receive vaccinations, without which they face being suspended from work. The new list of roles that will require vaccination will include medical staff, municipal workers and employees of municipal companies.

A fire at a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in the southern Romanian town of Ploiesti killed two people and injured a nurse. It’s the fourth deadly fire that takes place in Romania since the pandemic started. Despite seeing a slowdown in new cases in the past week, Romanian hospitals are still overwhelmed with Covid patients and the intensive-care units are running at full capacity.

Germany: Germany’s chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz has pushed ahead with a plan to phase out a state of national emergency by the end of the month, despite the country recording the highest coronavirus case numbers since the start of the pandemic.

The number of new cases in Germany jumped by more than 50,000 in a single day for the first time, and the southern state of Bavaria declared the latest wave of the pandemic a “disaster situation.”

Netherlands: The Netherlands on Thursday recorded more than 16,000 coronavirus infections in 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. Dutch health experts have called on the government to impose a partial lockdown to fight the increase in cases.

Austria: Austria will place millions of people not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in lockdown in a matter of days, as daily infections are at a record high and intensive-care units are increasingly strained, the chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, said. About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the lowest rate of any western European country apart from Liechtenstein.

Sweden: Sweden has seen a sharp decline in Covid testing this month after its health agency said vaccinated Swedes no longer need to get tested, even if they have symptoms.

UK: The UK reported another 42,408 Covid cases and a further 195 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The UK government’s vaccine mandate for care home workers came into effect as about 50,000 care home staff have not been fully vaccinated in England and will not be allowed to work from Thursday.

Brazil: Brazil reports 188 Covid deaths in past 24 hours and 15,300 new cases of the coronavirus.

Africa: Death rates from Covid infections are much higher in patients with diabetes in Africa, where the number of people with diabetes is growing rapidly, the World Health Organization said. A WHO analysis of data from 13 African countries found a 10.2% case fatality rate in patients with Covid and with diabetes, compared with 2.5% for patients with Covid overall. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said: “Covid-19 is delivering a clear message: fighting the diabetes epidemic in Africa is in many ways as critical as the battle against the current pandemic.”

South Africa: South Africa’s measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus may limit the severity of the next wave, the official running the national vaccination program said. Africa’s most-industrialized nation has fully vaccinated about a third of its 40 million adults, and has kept in place prevention measures including a curfew, limits on gathering and mandatory use of masks in public. The country has had the worst confirmed outbreak on the continent, with almost 3 million infections and about 90,000 deaths. “If we continue with social distancing, we will still get a fourth wave, but it will be mild,” Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director general of South Africa’s Department of Health , said in an interview, citing mathematical modeling.

Vaccine news

EU: Europe’s drug regulator has recommended two Covid antibody therapies, one from American-Swiss partners Regeneron-Roche and another from South Korea’s Celltrion, as the region builds up its defence against surging cases. Approval by the European Commission would mark the first for any Covid treatment on the continent since Gilead’s remdesivir last year.

Africa: Moderna Inc. is selling its Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union at $7 a dose, much less than the price other countries paid for the shot earlier this year. Moderna’s vaccine was seen as one of the more expensive shots, with the company’s chief executive officer having given a range of $25 to $37 per shot for the two-dose vaccine.

Lockdown updates

Mauritius: Mauritius is reimposing restrictions as cases and deaths rise again amid the spread of the delta variant. Starting Friday, bars and nightclubs will be closed, and sports activities, concerts and picnics will be banned, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said in a statement on national television. Fewer people can attend funerals and weddings. “People went to the beach, did shopping and attended parties without taking the necessary precautions,” the prime minister said. “With such carelessness, the situation has deteriorated … We must react.”

Myanmar: Myanmar announced lifting of the stay-at-home order imposed on 17 townships in seven provinces where Covid-19 cases sharply declined in the past two weeks, according to the Ministry of Health.

Economy updates

US: The head of the organization representing companies in labor relations at the US’s largest ports is worried that the federal vaccine mandate set to take effect in January could worsen the current supply-chain crisis. James McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates labor agreements for 70 companies at 29 West Coast ports, said he’s concerned that some workers who aren’t vaccinated won’t report for duty if there’s a mandate in place. McKenna estimates 30% to 40% of local dockworkers aren’t vaccinated. “Probably the worst thing that could happen to us is to have less bodies available to man these terminals,” McKenna said in an interview.