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UK plans to end physical distancing; South Africa regis...



UK plans to end physical distancing; South Africa registers 12,513 new cases

A paramedic takes a nasal swab sample from a man in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on 5 July 2021, to conduct his rapid antigen test for Covid-19. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Farooq Khan)
By Bloomberg
06 Jul 2021 0

South Africa registered 12,513 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,075,409. A further 331 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total deaths to 62,171. A total of 3,459,660 people have been vaccinated.

Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be less effective in halting the spread of the Delta strain, though it shields well against severe illness, Israeli government data show.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end physical distancing and capacity limits at venues in England in two weeks, saying people must learn to live with coronavirus. US President Joe Biden celebrated Independence Day by hailing what he called a “heroic” vaccination campaign. Brazil’s president saw his popularity sink amid a vaccine scandal.

The Duchess of Cambridge will self-isolate after coming into contact with a case. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha will also isolate at home for a week. Luxembourg’s premier remains hospitalised for a second day after testing positive more than a week ago, just days after attending a summit with European Union counterparts.

Key developments:

Bolsonaro hit by vaccine scandal

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s approval rating has fallen to 34%, the lowest since he assumed office, after being accused of turning a blind eye to an alleged kickback scheme in the purchase of vaccines. An MDA poll published on Monday showed his popularity falling from 44% in February.

Myanmar posts record rise in new cases

Myanmar reported 2,969 new infections Monday, the largest single-day increase in cases since it first detected the coronavirus in March 2020, according to the country’s Ministry of Health and Sports. The rate of positive tests was 26.9%, also a record, and there were 42 new deaths.

Pfizer shot curbs severe illness in Israel

Pfizer’s vaccine appears to be less effective in halting the spread of the Delta strain, though it remains highly effective at preventing severe illness, according to data from the Israeli government.

The shot protected 64% of people against Covid between 6 June and early July, down from 94% between 2 May and 5 June, the Ynet news website reported, citing Health Ministry numbers. At the same time, the vaccine’s efficacy at keeping people who get infected out of hospital in that period slipped only slightly, to 93% from 98%.

UK plans to end physical distancing

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end physical distancing and capacity limits at venues in England from 19 July, saying that people must learn to live with coronavirus.

Face masks will be made voluntary in all settings and the government will no longer instruct people to work from home in a decisive shift from legal requirements on personal responsibility. All remaining businesses will be allowed to open, including nightclubs, and none will be required to demand any proof of vaccination or testing before entry.

The final decision will still need to be confirmed on 12 July.

England’s mayors want masks on transport

Mayors from the biggest English cities up and down the country urged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop people on public transport from travelling without face masks. Johnson is expected to confirm on Monday that face coverings will no longer be required in many situations after 19 July.

“Many people are still anxious about travelling on public transport and we need to get people back to normal again; normal means taking public transport, which we know they haven’t been,” said Dan Norris, the Labour Mayor for the West of England, in an interview.

Luxembourg premier remains hospitalised

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will remain hospitalised for a second day after testing positive more than a week ago, just days after attending a summit with European Union counterparts.

Bettel’s condition “is serious, but stable,” his government said.

Delta present in Namibia

In Namibia, the Delta variant was detected in 17 out of 28 samples analysed, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula told reporters on Monday in the capital, Windhoek. The southwest African nation with a population of about 2.5 million recorded 4,795 cases per million people over the past week, the highest rate globally for that period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mauritius pushes ahead with inoculations

Tourism-reliant Mauritius is set to fully inoculate 70% of its population by the end of September, before the second phase of reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists, according to Finance Minister Renganaden Padayachy. The target is within reach after the country received a second consignment of 500,000 SinoPharm vaccines on Sunday.

Duchess of Cambridge self-isolates

The Duchess of Cambridge is self-isolating for 10 days after coming into contact with a person who had Covid-19, The Times of London reported, citing Kensington Palace. She hasn’t experienced any symptoms.

Scotland tops Europe’s covid hotspots

Scotland is recording the highest rates of coronavirus cases in Europe a little over a month before the government plans to lift most restrictions on society and the economy.

The regions covering the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh were top of the World Health Organization’s latest heat map, the BBC reported, as the Delta variant rips through the country. Scotland last week reported daily infections exceeding 4,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It’s counting on vaccinations to break the link between infection and serious illness. So far, the data appears to back up that approach, with hospitalisations rising at a much slower rate than new cases.

Bangladesh reports record infections, deaths

Bangladesh reported daily records of 9,964 new virus cases and 164 deaths on Monday. The capital city of Dhaka accounted for almost half the daily caseload, while Khulna, a southwestern administrative division, logged 55 fatalities in signs of transmission in rural areas.

About 50% of infections come from villages, the Directorate General of Health Services said on Monday. The agency had previously lowered the minimum age for vaccines to 35 years from 40 years, as the South Asian nation resumes mass inoculations.

Norway delays next stage of reopening

Norway decided to postpone the introduction of stage four in its reopening plan to at least the end of July because of the risks posed by the Delta variant, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference in Oslo. The government will, however, ease some restrictions, including a limit on the number of participants at outdoor events and some entry rules.

Iran sees most new cases since May

Iran had the highest number of new daily coronavirus cases since 12 May, with 16,025 infections and 157 deaths reported overnight. The Health Ministry has recorded more than 3.2 million infections and 84,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, with about 2.4% of the country’s population having received both vaccine doses so far.

Leaders urged to prevent pandemics

World leaders need to take personal responsibility for leading efforts to prevent a future global pandemic and manage the current Covid-19 crisis, said The Elders, a non-governmental organisation made up of former state leaders and public figures.

The Elders appealed to heads of state to implement the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response by agreeing to a Political Declaration at a special summit held during the United Nations General Assembly, in September. They should personally commit to establishing a Global Health Threats Council, which could coordinate international preparedness efforts and avoid the mistakes made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore probes cardiac arrest case

Singapore will investigate the case of a 16-year-old student who suffered from cardiac arrest to determine whether there was a link to his Covid-19 vaccination, the Ministry of Health said. The expert committee will monitor the outcome of the investigation.

South Korea denies talks for mRNA doses

South Korea denied a report that it’s in talks with mRNA vaccine makers, including Moderna and Pfizer, to make as many as one billion doses in the country. Earlier, Reuters reported that talks were under way, citing an interview with Lee Kang-ho, the director-general for the global vaccine hub committee under South Korea’s health ministry. The Health Ministry said in a statement that any vaccine deal is an issue pending negotiation between companies, and that Lee said in the interview that South Korea has the capacity to produce more than one billion doses of mRNA shots.

Thai prime minister to isolate at home

Prayuth Chan-Ocha will isolate at home for a week after he was exposed to a person who tested positive for coronavirus during reopening events in Phuket province on 1 July. The premier, who has received two AstraZeneca vaccine doses, will continue his work as usual, including closely following the coronavirus outbreak situation, according to Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesman.

Delta virus wave claims more deaths in India

Mortality “significantly” increased in the recent Covid-19 wave in India, according to a new study, pointing to the possibility that the Delta variant may also be more deadly. The higher incidence of deaths was seen in all age groups except those below 20, said a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research by researchers led by Gunjan Kumar.

Tokyo Olympics delay ticket lottery

Tokyo Olympic organisers have postponed the announcement of ticket lottery results by four days, awaiting a decision by the government on coronavirus measures that could affect the number of spectators allowed at venues. The government is expected to decide this week whether to extend the current strong virus measures beyond 11 July, when they are due to expire.

Sanofi’s vaccine to be available in December

Sanofi’s Covid-19 vaccine will be available in December, Olivier Bogillot, the drugmaker’s French chief, said in an interview with France Inter on Monday. Bogillot said there’s room for another vaccine as so many people still need to get the jabs.

Indonesia to import oxygen cylinders

Indonesia will start importing oxygen cylinders to meet surging demand from Covid-19 patients as the country battles an exponential rise in infections that overwhelms its hospitals. The government is urging those with mild symptoms to be treated at home because hospitals are full, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a media briefing on Monday.

Ho Chi Minh City urged to step up fight

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered Ho Chi Minh City and adjacent provinces to take more effective action to slow infections, warning that the nation’s commercial hub could see virus infections grow to uncontrollable levels.

Ho Chi Minh City, which extended social distancing measures indefinitely on 29 June, is now the nation’s worst virus-hit region with 6,206 local infections as of Monday morning since the latest outbreak began in late April.

Sydney outbreak may extend lockdown

Sydney’s outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus is raising concern that Australia’s most populous city may need to extend its two-week lockdown beyond Friday. The city of about six million people recorded 35 new cases in the community on Monday, raising the total infections since mid-June to 312.

Biden hails success in beating pandemic

A triumphant President Joe Biden all but announced an end to the pandemic in the US on Sunday, celebrating what he called a “heroic” vaccination campaign on the country’s Independence Day holiday.

Speaking at a party on the White House’s South Lawn, Biden declared that the US had achieved “independence” from the coronavirus. “It no longer controls our lives, it no longer paralyses our nation and it’s within our power to make sure it never does so again,” he said, appealing for Americans who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots. DM

— With assistance by Lars Klemming, Felix Tam, Arun Devnath, Stephen Treloar, Kamlesh Bhuckory, Carla Canivete, Gearoid Reidy, and Kaula Nhongo.


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