CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE
NY positive rate rises; SA registers 16,585 new cases
South Africa registered 16,585 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,062,896. A further 333 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total deaths to 61,840. A total of 3,314,278 people have been vaccinated.
New York’s statewide positive-test rate increased for the fifth day in a row, while a poll suggested that the share of people in the US who are unlikely to get vaccinated is bigger than in April.
A former US Food and Administration head said he expects the pandemic experience to change some workplace practices. Luxembourg’s prime minister, who tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a summit with other European Union leaders, was hospitalised for observation.
England’s rules to tackle the virus, including a mandatory face mask requirement, will become “matters of personal choice” when restrictions are lifted this month, UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said.
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France warns of Delta variant surge
A wave of infections may hit France by the end of July because of the delta variant, based on what’s happening in the UK, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Twitter.
He said cases in France have rebounded in the past five days and urged residents to get vaccinated to limit the wave.
NY State positive-test rate creeps up
New York’s statewide positive-test rate increased for the fifth consecutive day, according to official data. Governor Andrew Cuomo urged more residents to get vaccinated, saying “don’t delay”.
The seven-day rolling average of positive tests rose to 0.54% on Saturday, Cuomo said in a statement. That compares with a peak of almost 8% in January when daily new cases peaked at almost 20,000. The positive rate has increased steadily since 29 June, according to data provided in daily updates by Cuomo.
Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units across the state increased by six to 85, Cuomo said.
US poll shows vaccine holdout challenge
More than a quarter of people in the US say they’re unlikely to get a Covid-19 shot, with 20% saying they definitely won’t and 9% saying they probably won’t, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. That compares with a combined 24% in April in a poll by the same outlets.
The data illustrate the challenge for the Biden administration and state and local officials in expanding vaccination beyond the 67% who have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the poll, 35% said US officials are exaggerating the threat of the Delta variant of the virus, with more Republicans than Democrats holding that view. The survey found that 86% of Democrats have received at least one shot, compared with 45% of Republicans.
The 27-30 June poll of 907 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Ex-FDA head sees changes in the US workplace
Routine testing and voluntary mask-wearing are among workplace changes likely to be part of a “new normal” as businesses look to minimise the spread of illnesses, former US Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb said.
“Going to work with the sniffles is going to be frowned upon,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I think businesses are going to have access to routine testing.”
Voluntary mask usage, especially among people who are at higher risk from respiratory diseases, is going to become more normalised, as will symptom checks and the use of fever guns, despite the latter not being “that helpful”, he said.
“I don’t think we could be complacent about the risk of respiratory pathogens in the workplace, in schools anymore, so people are going to need to be more vigilant,” Gottlieb said.
Luxembourg’s prime minister hospitalised
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was hospitalised on Sunday, a week after testing positive for Covid-19. He had tested positive days after attending a June 24-25 summit meeting with fellow European Union leaders in Brussels.
Bettel, 48, will remain in hospital as a precaution for 24 hours for tests and observation, the Luxembourg government said in a statement on its website. He received his first vaccine dose on 6 May, the premier announced in a tweet at the time. Local media reported that he received the AstraZeneca shot.
Israel, Pfizer discuss expiring vaccines
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held talks with Pfizer over the possibility of swapping the country’s expiring doses of Covid-19 vaccine with other countries, Haaretz reported, citing a statement from the prime minister’s office.
In calls with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Bennett also discussed options for future vaccine shipments, Haaretz said. Israel is negotiating with at least two countries to offload expiring vaccines after a deal with the Palestinian Authority fell through.
Variant upends travel, says airports CEO
The spread in Europe of the Delta variant is dashing hopes of recovery in air travel, with the head of a major airports operator warning that it could cut short any rebound.
“The Delta variant is creating such uncertainty that we can’t be sure what’s going to happen in three weeks,” said Augustin de Romanet, chief executive officer of ADP, which also manages dozens of other hubs worldwide.
“It’s making us very, very cautious, especially for September and October when the pandemic could come back strongly once again,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of an annual economic conference in Aix-en-Provence this weekend.
Arkansas enlists employers on vaccinations
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson said his state is working with employers as a strategy to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
“The employers have an opportunity to make it accessible” for employees and give them paid time off, he said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. They can also “encourage them with the right level of education and information.”
Hutchinson said young adults in the state are now getting hit with the Delta variant, causing an increase in hospitalisations. In Arkansas, about 42% of the population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, lower than the nationwide total, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Indonesia tightens entry requirements
Indonesia tightened entry requirements for travellers and ordered a ramp-up in oxygen production, as the nation saw its worst day for Covid-19 deaths. Starting 6 July, foreign visitors arriving in the country will be required to show proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result. All incoming travellers must complete eight days of quarantine, instead of five, and be tested twice for the virus.
The government also told oxygen producers to shift all output to medical use. The change should yield 1,700 tons of oxygen per day nationwide, of which 1,400 tons will be for use on the main island of Java, according to Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who’s been appointed to lead Indonesia’s pandemic response.
The country is making “a full industrial oxygen conversion to pharmaceutical oxygen. Our shortfall can be fulfilled later,” Panjaitan said in a statement. Indonesia reported 27,233 new Covid-19 cases and a record 555 fatalities on Sunday.
J&J vaccine recipients seek mRNA booster
Some people who received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 shot in the US are seeking added doses of a messenger-RNA vaccine, fearing their initial inoculation won’t protect them from the virus.
Demand for the one-and-done J&J shot has suffered in part due to the perception that it’s inferior to the two-dose mRNA vaccines that showed higher efficacy in clinical trials. But it is unclear if mixing vaccines will safely increase protection, and there are fresh signs that J&J’s shot is a strong shield against variants.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people don’t mix vaccines until robust clinical data validates the benefit and quells concerns about risks.
England to enter ‘more permissive phase’
Trends in the fight against Covid-19 are “very positive,” even with case figures high, putting England on course for a “more permissive phase” as the mandatory face mask rule is dropped this month, according to UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
The government hopes to remove remaining legal restrictions on 19 July and measures in place to tackle the virus are set to become “matters of personal choice,” Jenrick said on Sunday on Sky News.
Separately, the Sunday Telegraph reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had approved a series of measures on how the country would live with coronavirus. Part of the plan will involve scrapping rules for social distancing in pubs and restaurants and dropping the legal requirement for customers to sign in to venues using QR codes or sharing contact details. DM
— With assistance by Antony Sguazzin, Tim Loh, Patricia Lara, Niluksi Koswanage, Matthew Brockett, Archana Chaudhary, Sophie Jackman, Adveith Nair, Youkyung Lee, Francois De Beaupuy, Farah Elbahrawy, Claire Jiao, Yueqi Yang, Tara Patel, Janice Kew, Aoife White, Ana Monteiro, and Sebastian Tong.
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