28 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.9 million, with a figure of 4,972,731 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 245 million world wide.

Europe: A report out of the World Health Organization found the European region recorded an 18% increase in Covid cases over the last week — a fourth straight weekly increase for the area. Covid-19 infections continue to surge across Eastern Europe in particular, with reported cases rising in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 45.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 741,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

CDC says the seven day average of Covid cases in the US is down 16% to 765,900 per day.

Some of the biggest meatpackers say they shelled out millions to combat the pandemic while their workers were on the front lines, pushing back against Democrats and labor advocates who say they’re to blame for worker deaths. At least 59,000 meatpacking plant workers suffered infections during outbreaks at corporate plants — and 269 died between March 2020 and February 2021, a new report by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis details.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, who received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine in April, got Moderna Inc.’s shot as a booster Wednesday. He urged eligible residents to get boosters as soon as possible, warning of the prospects of a winter surge in virus cases. He pointed to data last year, when California had a relatively low case rate in October, only to see infections triple in November and again in December. “This is an incredibly important time,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday. “We know the ticket out of this pandemic is getting these booster shots and getting the unvaccinated vaccinated. And we still have more work to do.”

UK: The UK recorded 43,941 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday and 207 more people have died within 28 days of a positive test, official figures show.

Singapore: Singapore’s health ministry is stumped as to why the city-state reported 5,324 new cases of Covid on Wednesday, the most since the beginning of the pandemic.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s South Island records first Covid cases in major city in over a year.

Germany: Germany recorded more than 28,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the biggest daily increase since April, according to data from the RKI public-health institute. Deaths exceeded 100 for a third straight day, taking the total to 95,485. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that she’s concerned about the latest surge in cases, and its potential to overload the nation’s hospitals.

Vaccine news

Global: A landmark licensing deal between Merck and the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool could expand access to the company’s antiviral Covid-19 pill throughout the developing world.

US: New York is gearing up to vaccinate younger children as soon as federal guidance is available, Governor Kathy Hochul said. US Food and Drug Administration approval of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine for children could come this week. The state has ordered 380,100 pediatric doses for children ages 5 to 11, and has been working with pediatricians, pharmacies and schools to prepare for the vaccination effort, Hochul said on Wednesday. “This is really a breakthrough.” Nearly 350 school districts will hold vaccination events, and 390 districts have said they’ll send out vaccine communications, Hochul said. For the 900,994 children aged 12 to 15 years old who are already eligible, 63.6% have received at least one dose, according to state data. The overall first-dose vaccination level for New Yorkers age 18 and older is 86.8%.

Australia: Thousands of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses are going to waste in Australia despite near-record production and calls for increased donations to lower-income neighbouring countries. Almost 1,000 Covid vaccination providers are destroying expired AstraZeneca supplies, wasting 31,833 doses, data shows. About 7m doses of AstraZeneca remain unused.

Australia confirms Covid booster shots will be available from 8 November after Atagi approval.

UK: Novavax Inc. has filed for authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the UK.

Lockdown updates

Israel: Israel will welcome vaccinated tourists from 1 November.

Taiwan: Taiwan government decided to further ease some Covid controls from 2 November as the local situation has stabilized, Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said at a briefing in Taipei. The cap on the number of people allowed in gatherings will be removed, while masks will are be required at all times, with exceptions including exercise and singing. Dining will be allowed on trains, domestic flights and ships, as well as movie theaters.

Vietnam: Fully-vaccinated international travelers won’t be quarantined if they test negative for Covid-19 on arrival in Vietnam for packaged tours to some tourist cities from next month, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing guidance from ministry of culture, sports and tourism. Areas that will be allowed to recieve tourists include Phu Quoc, Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Danang, Quang Ninh.

New Zealand: New Zealand will begin scaling back one of its key Covid-19 defenses by easing border restrictions for fully vaccinated people arriving from overseas. The amount of time travellers will have to spend in government-run hotel quarantine facilities will be halved to 7 from 14 days from 14 November, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a news conference in Wellington on Thursday. Home isolation will be introduced in the first quarter of 2022, he said.

Myanmar: Myanmar announced its lifting a stay-at-home order imposed on 44 townships in eight provinces, including Yangon and Mandalay, according to the Ministry of Health .

Germany: The three parties negotiating to form Germany’s next government agreed to end emergency pandemic legislation that empowers regional authorities to close schools, limit travel or ban cultural events. The agreement means the legislation will expire at the end of next month. The SPD, Greens and FDP, who are aiming to have their coalition in place at the beginning of December, are counting on milder measures to keep the coronavirus under control, caucus officials said, “In short, there won’t be another lockdown,” the SPD said in a statement, adding that the goal is to get through the winter “responsibly” and “put the pandemic behind us in the spring.”

Economy updates

Global: The number of working hours lost due to the pandemic will be “significantly higher” than projected just a few months ago, according to the International Labor Organization. In what it termed a “dramatic revision,” the Geneva-based group now estimates that global hours worked this year will be 4.3% below their pre-pandemic level, the equivalent of 125 million full-time jobs. Africa, the Americas and Arab states were the regions that experienced the biggest declines.

Canada: Toronto-Dominion Bank is thanking employees for their pandemic-era resilience with a new reward: a one-time gift of five TD shares. The shares are worth about C$449 ($363), based on Wednesday’s closing price. A year ago, the lender gave 90,000 full- and part-time employees $500 cash bonuses to recognize their efforts during the crisis. This time, workers outside Canada, the US and the UK will receive a one-time cash award instead of shares.

US: A requirement for federal workers and contractors to be fully vaccinated – which would affect a number of transportation companies that work with the US government – won’t exacerbate a backlog of shipping and deliveries, according to the Biden administration. “The requirements for federal workers and contractors will not cause disruption,” Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a Wednesday briefing for reporters. Organizations that have instituted vaccine mandates have seen overwhelming compliance, and those who refuse will go through education and counseling before any enforcement, Zients added.