2 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 5 million, with a figure of 5,008,694 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 247 million world wide.

The World Health Organization reopened a search for experts to join a committee to study Covid-19’s origins, in order to add more specialists in areas such as biosecurity. Applicants have until Wednesday to express interest. The WHO said Monday it’s looking for experts in social science, anthropology, ethics, political science and biosafety.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 46 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 747,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

In Tennessee in the United States the state’s general assembly has passed laws that will make it harder for bodies like schools to bring in measures to restrict the spread of Covid – including masks for children.

Although 80% of Colorado residents have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination, Governor Jared Polis announced Monday, while warning surging infections among the unvaccinated are bringing the state closer to rationing hospital care “in the next few days.” “It’s the 20% who haven’t been vaccinated that are filling up our hospital wards,” Polis said at a news briefing in Denver. Nearby Idaho, a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US, is actively rationing hospital care.

UK: Of the 377 local areas in the UK, 64 have seen a week-on-week rise in rates while the majority – 313 – have seen a fall.

Thailand: Thailand reported 7,574 new cases, the lowest single-day tally since 8 July, as Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy this week reopened its border to foreign tourists.

Australia: Cases continued to fall in Australia’s two most-populous states, as the country starts to reopen following more than 19 months of harsh restrictions. Victoria state on Tuesday reported 989 new cases, the first time below 1,000 since 29 September. New South Wales state recorded 173 new cases and the lowest seven-day average since 5 August.

Romania: Romania, a European nation suffering one of the worst death tolls per capita in the world over the past two weeks, transferred six critically ill patients to Germany on Monday, as its Covid intensive-care unit wards were full, the country’s health ministry said in a statement on its website. A total of 18 patients will be transferred to Germany by Wednesday. The nation is battling its worst virus outbreak since the pandemic started, with more than 1,800 severely ill patients occupying all available Covid ICU beds in hospitals and field units for a few weeks already. The second-least vaccinated European Union nation asked for international assistance last month and received medical supplies and staff from the World Health Organization and several nations, including Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Moldova.

Vaccine news

Global: Novavax Inc.’s top executive said the company’s Covid-19 vaccine could be a good booster option for people who have received other shots, as the drugmaker looks to ramp up output and gain approvals around the world.

US: The United States is rolling out Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 this week, but most of the 15 million shots being shipped initially are unlikely to be available before next week.

In the United States, as deadlines for jabs approach, military leaders are wrestling with the decision of how to treat soldiers who choose not to be vaccinated.

UK: A total of 49,987,325 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered in the UK by 31 October, a rise of 27,402 on the previous day, government figures show.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, declared the country open and ready for a new way of life after hitting vaccination targets that made it one of the most vaccinated countries in south Asia.

Greece: In Greece, officials alarmed by the steep rise in Covid-19 infections are poised to implement a new round of restrictive measures for those who remain unvaccinated.

China: The Chinese capital suspended classes at 18 primary and middle schools in Chaoyang district after a school teacher became infected with Covid-19, according to a local government briefing. A key Communist Party meeting, a central committee plenary session, will be held next week in Beijing. The city reported four new local coronavirus cases on Tuesday morning.

New Zealand: New Zealand put the north of its Northland region back into lockdown as the source of two new cases in the area remains unknown. The area moves back to Level 3 lockdown at midnight, initially through midnight Nov. 8. The rest of Northland stays at Level 2. Northland’s vaccination rate is lower than the rest of the country at just 79% for first doses, increasing the risk for 11,000 unvaccinated Maori in the region, said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

Australia: Australia’s New South Wales state pushed back the date when Covid-19 restrictions will be eased for unvaccinated people. Instead of 1 December, those curbs will be eased on 15 December or whenever the state reaches 95% double-dose coverage for people aged 16 and above, Premier Dominic Perrottet said Tuesday.

Economy updates

Vietnam: Vietnam’s planning and investment ministry is considering a post-pandemic economic recovery package worth 800 trillion dong ($35.2 billion) in 2022-2023, Thanh Nien newspaper reported, citing a proposal submitted to the government.