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October 25, 2021

International update: UK NHS maternity services feared to be near breaking point due to Covid surge

By Paul Dennis

25 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.9 million, with a figure of 4,948,928 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 243.6 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 45.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 735,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

STI rates “at their highest numbers” in the US as Covid dominates health funding. Health officials are concerned about how to divert key resources to combatting a rise in sexually-transmitted infections (STI) that is now continuing despite the social restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic and is now in its sixth consecutive year of increase.

UK: NHS maternity services feared to be near breaking point, the UK’s most senior gynaecologist has warned. The health service could soon be unable to deliver “the care it needs to” for women giving birth if the surge in Covid cases continues, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said. As Covid cases rise the NHS battles a huge backlog of 5.7 million patients caused by the first and second waves of the virus.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce almost £6bn to tackle England’s record NHS waiting list. In an effort to get a grip on the crisis, the chancellor will unveil plans for investment in NHS capital funding this week to help deliver about 30% more elective activity by 2024-25 compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is equivalent to millions more checks, scans and procedures for non-emergency patients.

UK records nearly 40,000 positive Covid results.

Russia: Russia reports 1,000 daily Covid deaths. Russian coronavirus cases and deaths remained near record levels on Sunday ahead of the implementation of strict nationwide curbs to stem a surge in infections. There were 35,660 new cases and 1,072 deaths over the past day, slightly below records set Saturday, according to data from the national coronavirus headquarters.

Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea urgently needs help from the international community as a surge in Covid cases overwhelms the Pacific country’s health system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday, Reuters reported. Coronavirus cases in the nation of nine million have surged in recent weeks, with 385 new cases recorded on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing the latest available government data.

Malaysia: Malaysia recorded the fewest cases since the end of June. The Southeast Asian country added 5,666 new infections Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 2.43 million, according to a tweet by Health Malaysia Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah. Meanwhile, almost 95% of Malaysia’s adult population have received a complete dose of vaccines, according to the health ministry’s data.

Vaccine news

US: US chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci predicts Covid shots for kids five to 11 will be available by early November. A review panel of the US food and drug administration (FDA) found last week that the benefits of Pfizer-BioNTech shots for the younger age group outweighed the risks.

UK: In a move towards preparing the nation for winter and a potential surge in Covid cases, ministers in the UK say they want to ramp up the booster jab rollout. More than 5 million people had had a third jab since the vaccination programme began administering them last month, NHS England said on Sunday. About 7.5 million people have already been invited by text, email and letter, encouraging them to book through the national booking service. Two million more will receive invitations this week.

The UK is lagging behind other G7 countries in sharing surplus Covid vaccines with poorer countries, according to newly published figures. The advocacy organisation One, which is campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, described it as shaming for the UK government. The figures show that the UK is behind every member of the G7 – of which Britain is currently the chair – except for Japan.

Philippines: The Philippines’ Health Department has approved local experts’ recommendation to administer Covid-19 booster shots on health workers and adults 60 years and older starting this quarter.

Singapore: Singapore’s Ministry of Health has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue a Correction Direction to the “Truth Warriors” website for assertions related to the effectiveness of Covid vaccines, use of ivermectin as a treatment and more.

Lockdown updates

Taiwan: Taiwan’s government may gradually reopen border when full vaccination rate reaches 60% and at least 70% of the population have received at least one shot, the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported, citing Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. About 66% of the population has received at least one shot and about 26% of people are fully vaccinated as of 22 October, according to data from the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

Hong Kong: The finance industry is ratcheting up pressure on Hong Kong to ease its strict quarantine rules and abandon its zero-Covid policy after a survey found almost half of major international banks and asset managers are contemplating moving staff or functions out of the city.

China: China locked down a county that has seen the most Covid-19 cases in the country’s latest delta outbreak, as an initial flareup in the northwest quickly spirals into a nationwide surge. Ejin, a county in northwestern China’s Inner Mongolia, has asked its 35,700 residents to stay home from Monday and warned of civil and criminal liabilities should anyone disobey the order, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a local government statement. The small county bordering Mongolia is the current outbreak’s hotspot, home to nearly one-third of the more than 150 infections found over the past week in the mainland. The lockdown came a day after a warning from National Health Commission officials that the outbreak would continue to worsen after spreading to 11 provinces in about a week. China reported 38 Covid infections on Monday, half of which were found in Inner Mongolia. The current outbreak in China is caused by the delta variant, Wu Liangyou, an official at the National Health Commission, said at a briefing in Beijing on Sunday. The outbreak has expanded to 11 provinces in the week since 17 October, Mi Feng, a spokesman for the commission, said at the same briefing. Earlier on Sunday, Beijing authorities announced the city is halting cross-province tourism and closing card and majhong rooms. China’s capital will also cut the number of large events and increase supervision over small clinics and pharmacies, according to the official WeChat account of the Beijing Municipal Health Commission .

South Korea: South Korea will begin a “gradual return to normal life” in November as 70% of the population has been fully vaccinated, President Moon Jae-in said at the National Assembly. Schools will reopen and small businesses will be revived, he said. The country will announce details on easing social distancing rules for gradual return to normal life on 29 October.

Economy updates

Indonesia: Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo pushed for travel to reopen in Southeast Asia, saying this would help economic recovery in the region that has seen coronavirus cases recede. He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations needs to hit its vaccination target of 70% of the population of over 650 million people as soon as possible so that economies could reopen safely. Jokowi, as the president’s known, has been pushing for a regional travel corridor arrangement since late last year. Instead, each country has set up bilateral deals with nations around the world, with Singapore reopening to North America and Europe while Thailand scrapped quarantine rules for 46 countries while excluding Indonesia.

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