7 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,575,144 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 221 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed the unwanted figure of 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 649,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The American state of Mississippi’s hospitals are being overwhelmed by a surge in cases, which has been driven by its low vaccination rate. Only about 38% of the state’s 3 million people are fully inoculated.

UK: Britain will set aside £5.4bn for the National Health Service to help it cover the costs and the patient backlog caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said acting on air pollution is a “matter of life and death” after a report found it increases the risk of Covid-19 hospital admission.

Australia: The delta surge in Australia’s biggest state is showing signs of slowing after New South Wales recorded 1,220 new infections overnight, falling a third day to the lowest daily number in almost a week. Still, health authorities expect the increase in new infections to peak in mid-September, straining the state’s hospital resources. Meantime, Victoria state recorded 246 new infections on Tuesday, equaling the previous day’s record as health authorities struggle to bring an outbreak of delta under control. Victoria’s seven-day case average has doubled since 2 September.

South Africa: South African scientists said the so-called C.1.2 variant spread at a slower rate in August than in the prior month, suggesting it’s unlikely to become a dominant strain. The new variant accounted for just 1.5% of all virus samples sequenced in the country last month compared with 2.2% in July, according to the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa. The variant, first identified in South Africa, has been found in a number of countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Philippines: The Philippines recorded a record high of 22,415 new infections. It also recorded 103 more deaths. Meanwhile, the government said it would replace a stay-at-home order in the capital Manila with localised lockdowns.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan could lose the majority of its Covid-19 isolation beds because foreign funding for its core health programme has been suspended since August, potentially forcing 2,000 health facilities to close. The WHO said it is hoping to get several planes of medical supplies into Kabul airport this week to support health facilities.

Thailand: Thailand reported the least number of new Covid-19 cases since22  July, with the total coming to 13,821. The government is considering ending a state of emergency as the outbreak eases and it reopens the economy for tourism.

Indonesia: The portion of Covid-19 tests that turn out positive in Indonesia has fallen to a record low, paving the way for the gradual lifting of movement restrictions. The positivity rate, an indicator of the prevalence of infection in a community, fell to 4.43% on Monday – the first time in the pandemic that the nation has met the World Health Organization’s recommendation of below 5%.

Vaccine news

EU: Europe’s medicines regulator said on Monday it was evaluating data on a booster dose for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

Japan: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said the Japanese government agreed to buy 150 million doses of Novavax Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine that it will manufacture in the nation subject to licensing and regulatory approval. The Japanese drugmaker aims to start distribution of the vaccine in early 2022. Separately, the company said it’s working with the health ministry to investigate deaths reported after administration of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, and that there’s no reason to believe that it poses a health hazard or safety risk.

Japan’s health ministry said that a man in his 40s died after receiving the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from production lots that are being recalled due to possible contamination, public broadcaster NHK reported. The cause of death hasn’t been determined and experts will examine whether there’s any link between the administration and the death.

Chile: The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s vaccine for use on children six years old and higher, as the country advances one of the most advanced vaccination programs in the world.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Vietnam’s capital Hanoi extended Covid-19 restrictions for a further two weeks, as authorities launched a plan to test up to 1.5 million people for coronavirus in higher-risk areas of the capital to contain a climb in infections.

Singapore: Singapore, one of the world’s most vaccinated countries, is taking new steps to slow a rampant increase in Covid-19 cases but can’t rule out returning to closing restaurants and restricting public life if serious infections continue to rise.

UK: Coronavirus rules are set to be renewed in England for another six months as No 10 admitted cases are likely to increase sharply because children are returning to school.

New Zealand: New Zealand will ease Covid curbs in all regions outside its biggest city of Auckland from midnight on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will start allowing visitors from China to skip the strict quarantine process required for most arrivals, a key first step toward reopening the border with the mainland and reviving a flow of visitors that’s long been crucial to the local economy.

Economy updates

Australia: Qantas Airways Ltd. is likely to fly to several new overseas destinations next year after pushing ahead with plans to resume international flights from December.“We’ll probably try a lot of new routes internationally as certain borders open up,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said at a virtual business conference on Tuesday, without giving any specific destinations.