22 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.9 million, with a figure of 4,930,618 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 242.5 million world wide.

WHO estimates up to 180,000 health workers may have died from Covid in the period between January 2020 to May 2021, while calling for more health workers to be fully vaccinated.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 45.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 733,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

An estimated 1-in-10 inmates in Wyoming prisons are infected with Covid-19, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Thursday. Testing this week revealed a record 222 new infections, including some prison staff, the newspaper said.

Colorado will review plans for rationing hospital care as Covid-19 admissions rise and intensive care unit capacity reaches dangerous levels Governor Jared Polis said Thursday. Health care facilities report just 120 ICU beds available statewide. Crisis standards of care are “ready to be implemented if needed, potentially tweaked or improved, if necessary,” Polis said at a news conference in Denver. Health department data show 1,130 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 across the state, the highest since last December, and 893 of these are unvaccinated, Polis said.

UK: UK prime minister Boris Johnson resists calls to activate ‘plan B’ as daily Covid cases top 50,000. “The numbers of infections are high but we are within the parameters of what the predictions were, what Spi-M [modelling group] and the others said we would be at this stage given the steps we are taking. We are sticking with our plan,” Johnson told reporters.

Infections in UK at highest level since July with 52,009 new coronavirus cases. That is the highest daily total on this measure, and the first time the daily tally has topped 50,000, for more than three months. Hospitalizations crossed 8,000, an increase of more than a thousand from a week earlier. A strong vaccine rollout means daily deaths still remain relatively low compared to more than 1,800 recorded at the beginning of this year.

Jeremy Hunt has called for the government to cut the time required between Covid vaccine doses to allow more booster jabs to be given. Relaxing six-month gap between second and third doses would speed up rollout, the former health secretary said.

New Zealand: New Zealand Covid daily cases passed 100 for first time since pandemic began. The nation’s director general of health says the country is following a similar trajectory to the UK, with vast majority of hospital cases being unvaccinated.

China: Covid infections doubled in China from a day earlier as the country’s ongoing delta outbreak worsens, with a total of 35 cases were reported on Friday, mostly in the northwestern provinces. Infections spread among tourists and those who crossed paths with them, and the virus was further relayed across the mainland as people travelled home. So far at least eight provinces have reported cases in less than a week, underscoring how quickly delta spreads – and the challenges of controlling it. Beijing reported four more infections, fuelling concerns that more tough measures could be introduced to prevent Covid from further penetrating into the tightly guarded Chinese capital.

Vaccine news

Global: High- and upper-middle-income countries have now distributed almost half as many booster shots as the total number of vaccines administered in low-income countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Thursday. G-20 countries have pledged to donate 1.2 billion vaccine doses to Covax, the global program set up to equitably distribute vaccines, and 150 million have been delivered. “For most donations, there’s no timeline – we don’t know what’s coming and when,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We can’t have equity without transparency.” Roughly 500 million vaccine doses will be produced between now and the G-20 meeting at the end of the month, he said. That’s the amount of additional doses needed to achieve the WHO’s target of inoculating 40% of the population of every country by the end of the year.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’s recommendation for booster shots from Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. There are now booster recommendations for all three available Covid vaccines in the US. The CDC also said those eligible people will be able to choose a different booster from the vaccine they originally received, allowing greater flexibility for patients and doctors as the US tries to stave off another wave of infections.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he’ll be calling back the Republican-dominated state legislature to take action against employer Covid-19 vaccine mandates. The goal is to block employers from firing workers over vaccination status, he said Thursday. “We want to make sure that individuals in Florida have their livelihoods and their jobs protected,” DeSantis said in Clearwater, Florida. DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are the most prominent Republican state leaders seeking to buck President Joe Biden and blunt employer vaccine mandates in the US.

New Zealand: New Zealand sets new 90% vaccination target as prime minister Jacinda Ardern vows to only lift most restrictions when country reaches the milestone.

Czech Republic: Only 14% of promised Covid vaccine doses reach poorest nations, a report has revealed. Of 1.8bn doses pledged by wealthy nations, just 261m (14%) have arrived in low-income countries, according to the analysis by the People’s Vaccine alliance, a coalition of groups that includes Oxfam, ActionAid and Amnesty International.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Once deemed the world’s most liveable city seven times in a row, Melbourne, Australia, found itself in what many believe to be the world’s longest lockdown. After six separate stretches totalling 262 days of stay-at-home orders, the city has finally surged back to life after restrictions were lifted today and bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants opened their doors once again.

Australia’s Victoria state, home of Melbourne, will drop quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November, Premier Daniel Andrews said. The arrivals will need to demonstrate their vaccination status with a shot approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Russia: Moscow announces a one-week nationwide lockdown as Russia Covid deaths rise. The country registered its highest daily number of coronavirus deaths and infections since the start of the pandemic.

South Korea: South Korea is considering lifting restrictions on operating hours at restaurants and coffee shops from early Nov., a health ministry official told a daily briefing.