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August 25, 2021

International update: US – Covid could cause Idaho hospitals to turn away patients and reduce services

By Paul Dennis

25 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,452,856 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 213 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 38 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 630,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US President Joe Biden received a classified report from intelligence services that was inconclusive about the origins of the virus, the Washington Post reported, citing two unidentified US officials. Agencies will seek to declassify parts of the report to the public within days, it said.

Idaho’s hospitals are “at or over capacity” and could soon be granted state authorization to turn away patients and reduce services as Covid-19 cases rise, a top official said Tuesday. “We are dangerously close to crisis standards of care,” said Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, noting that the number of intensive care patients across the state is the highest since the pandemic started.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is requiring employees to wear masks from Wednesday and prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter US workplaces. People who aren’t fully vaccinated by 7 September will be expected to work from home, a company spokeswoman said.

Deloitte will require vaccination against Covid-19 for employees to enter its office beginning 11 October. The requirement will go into effect seven weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the company said in a statement.

Massachusetts is set to mandate masks at its public schools as early as Wednesday, the New York Times reported, after its state education board voted to give the education commissioner power to require masks. Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, has been criticized for not backing a mask mandate, the newspaper said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she would institute a mask mandate for students at schools in the state and require staff to be vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly.

United Parcel Service Inc. is mandating vaccines by 1 October for office workers at some locations, including its Atlanta headquarters and large office in New Jersey, California and Maryland, according to an emailed statement. The mandate comes along with a requirement for employees to return to their offices on 7 September, although UPS also is offering more flexible work guidelines.

Australia: New South Wales announced 753 new local Covid cases, as chief health officer Kerry Chant said citizens could be wearing masks indoors for years and proof of vaccination may be required to enter high-risk venues, even when the state reaches 80% vaccination coverage. The state has now administered six million Covid vaccine doses.

Victoria recorded 50 new Covid cases, with anyone over the age of 16 eligible to book a Covid vaccine appointment from Wednesday, including Pfizer.

The Australian Capital Territory recorded 30 new Covid cases in its outbreak.

Greece: Greece reported 4,608 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day jump since the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier, the country’s health minister announced measures for the autumn/winter period that target unvaccinated people, including a ban on entering indoor areas of eateries and entertainment venues, as well as all sports fields or stadiums.

Taiwan: Taiwan reported no local Covid-19 cases for the first time since 9 May, according to Taipei-based United Daily News.

Thailand: Thailand reported 297 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours, taking its cumulative total past 10,000, official data showed Wednesday. Total fatalities reached 10,085, with more than 8,000 of those coming in the past two months alone.

Vietnam: The Covid outbreak in Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City may continue through late this year or into next year, according to a post on the city’s media center, citing Mayor Phan Van Mai.

Switzerland: The number of hospitalizations has surged 30-fold since the beginning of July, said Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health. Nine out of 10 hospitalizations could have been avoided with a vaccine, officials said. Switzerland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than 57% having received at least one shot.

Vaccine news

US: Anthony Fauci said a third vaccine dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine could lead to lasting levels of protection against the virus. Speaking on MSNBC, he said that “it’s entirely conceivable” that a third dose “very well may allow for a rather prolonged period of protection.” This means booster shots may not be needed “indefinitely,” he said.

The US will increase payments for health-care providers to deliver Covid-19 vaccines at home. Medicare will pay $75 per dose, up from $40, for at-home vaccinations, the agency said Tuesday. The policy is intended to boost vaccinations “including second and third doses” for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, including those in group homes, assisted living and other settings.

Vietnam: The US will offer Vietnam assistance in distributing vaccines during Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the country, according to a White House official familiar with the plans, as both countries seek to stem a rise in infections that has shuttered factories and led to lockdowns in the Southeast Asian country. Just 1.9% of Vietnam’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, among the lowest vaccination rates in Asia. Vietnam announced Tuesday that China would give it another 2 million vaccine doses.

Israel: Israel expanded its coronavirus booster drive, lowering the minimum age for the shot to 30 from 40 previously, the health ministry said. Israel started inoculations with a third vaccine dose at the beginning of the month, starting with people over the age of 60. It has now administered the booster to more than 1.5 million people.

Lockdown updates

US: Credit Suisse Group AG will only allow fully vaccinated staff into its US offices beginning 7 September, Insider reported, citing an internal memo and four people directly familiar with the matter. Vaccinated employees can voluntarily work from the office, according to the report, but full return is being pushed back to 18 October.

Indonesia: Indonesia will allow more cities, including greater Jakarta, to have dine-in services at restaurants with limited capacity and let export-oriented industries operate with a full workforce as it extends the curbs through 30 August. Three soccer matches will be allowed to go ahead this week with no spectators.  As the delta variant pushes Indonesia’s goal of reaching herd immunity out of reach, the government will maintain some form of virus curbs for as long as the pandemic is still happening, said Luhut Panjaitan, the coordinating minister in charge of the virus response.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to hold a news conference at 9 pm local time to discuss the expansion of a state of emergency to include eight more prefectures as the country battles record infection numbers. The formal decision is expected to come a few hours before the news conference. Kyodo News reported the prefectures to be added are Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima, which will be under a state of emergency from Friday that runs until 12 September. When the expansion takes effect, more than 20 areas in Japan will be under a state of emergency.

Mauritius: The tourism-dependent Indian Ocean island of Mauritius will ease travel restrictions starting 1 September as 56% of its population has been vaccinated. Inoculated visitors with a negative PCR test on arrival will have to spend seven days in a special resort bubble hotel, down from the current 14 days, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said. A full reopening of the borders is envisaged for 1 October.

Economy updates

China: The Meishan terminal at China’s second-busiest port is reopening following a two-week shutdown that further snarled already stressed shipping routes in Asia. The terminal was about a quarter of the Ningbo-Zhoushan port’s capacity and was shut from 11 August after a worker was found to be infected with Covid-19.

Japan: The Japanese government will tap about 1.4 trillion yen ($12.8 billion) in reserves earmarked in its 2021 fiscal-year budget for its coronavirus response, the Nikkei reported. More than 1 trillion yen will be spent on additional vaccine purchases and securing Covid drugs, with the spending to be approved as soon as Friday.

Murata Manufacturing halted all production at its plant in Japan’s Fukui prefecture after a coronavirus cluster emerged involving more than 100 people, FNN reported, citing an unidentified person.

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