First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

Fauci urges shots for teachers; South Africa registers...



Fauci urges shots for teachers; South Africa registers 6,590 new cases

Used syringes are disposed of during the vaccination against Covid-19 on 9 August 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Georgi Licovski)
By Bloomberg
10 Aug 2021 0

South Africa registered 6,590 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,546,762. A further 189 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 75,201. A total of 8,621,932 people have been vaccinated.

Hospitals across the US are parcelling out beds for Covid patients, hunting for doctors and nurses as the Delta variant sweeps from coast to coast.

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said state and local governments should require teachers to get vaccinated, highlighting a “critical situation.” Citigroup told employees returning to offices in the New York area and other big US cities that they’ll need to be vaccinated

The European Union decided not to reinstate restrictions on travel from the US despite new cases there exceeding the bloc’s threshold. The UK said more than 75% of adults are vaccinated.

The outbreak is also growing in China, with more than 100 symptomatic cases reported on Tuesday as the nation’s Covid-zero strategy risks leaving it isolated for years.

Key developments

DeSantis sees easing in Jacksonville area

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis predicted that the Covid-19 wave may begin easing in northeast Florida, one of the hardest-hit parts of the US.

In Duval County, home to Jacksonville, DeSantis noted that the seven-day average of new cases has begun to drop. He also said that emergency-room visits with Covid-like illness were down in the past week, and that the effective reproductive number was below one, which theoretically signals declining infections ahead.

“If those trends are durable, you will absolutely see the hospital census reflect that for sure,” DeSantis said. “And I think we’re seeing in other parts of the state as well a flattening.”

Kenya takes hard line on vaccines for workers

Kenya will require all government workers to receive at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine before August 23 or face disciplinary action, according to Joseph Kinyua, the head of the nation’s public service.

Some staff members have opted not to get inoculated so they can continue working from home, which is hurting service delivery, according to a letter sent by Kinyua to senior state officials and verified by Bloomberg News. There has been low uptake by security officers and teachers in particular, he said.

Crete outbreak fuels Greek surge

Greece recorded 4,181 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily increase in just over four months. The Heraklion area of the island of Crete saw the largest rise in new cases over the past 24 hours after central Athens. Greek authorities announced a nighttime curfew for the area from 1am to 6am starting on August 11 until August 17 as well as a ban on music at entertainment venues.

Citigroup requires vaccines for office workers

Citigroup told employees returning to offices in the New York area and other big US cities that they’ll need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, among the more restrictive moves by a US financial firm as companies contend with the deadly virus and its highly contagious Delta variant.

The decision also affects workers in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, DC, the bank told employees in a memo on Tuesday. Citigroup expects employees to return to offices starting on September 13.

Staffers at the company’s bank branches are encouraged but not required to get Covid-19 vaccines. Mask-wearing is required for all office and branch workers regardless of whether they’ve had shots, Citigroup said.

Moderna plans factory in Canada

Moderna reached a tentative agreement with Canada’s government to build a messenger RNA vaccine factory in the country, a move that could boost domestic supplies of shots for Covid and other viruses while expanding the shot-maker’s footprint.

UK fully vaccinates 75% of adults

More than three out of every four UK adults have now had two doses of coronavirus vaccine, the country’s Department for Health and Social Care said on Tuesday. Some 47,091,889 people have received at least one dose, while 39,688,566 have received two, it said.

Hong Kong extends pandemic regulations

Hong Kong extended regulations allowing it to implement measures to contain the pandemic, including rules on group gatherings, compulsory quarantine of visitors, compulsory testing and mask-wearing.

The legislation extended until March 31, 2022 is meant to maintain the legal framework needed to enact curbs, the government said.

US hospitals down to their last ICU beds

Hospitals across the US are parcelling out beds for Covid patients, hunting for doctors and nurses as the disease outstrips any mitigation measures.

In a few states, the unvaccinated are entering intensive care units at rates matching the winter wave. The vaccinated are coming to realise that a sweet summer of release may have been a fantasy, as they again calculate the risks of working, seeing relatives and circulating in society.

Portugal to vaccinate teenagers

Portugal began recommending the use of vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds on Tuesday as the southern European country accelerates its vaccination programme.

Vaccines for teens will become available around the time the school year begins in September. The government began easing restrictions last month as the latest surge shows signs of slowing. Portugal’s government expects 70% of the population to be fully vaccinated by early September.

Fauci says teachers need vaccine

Teachers should get vaccinated as the epidemic shows a “major surge”, White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci said on MSNBC.

While state governors could “absolutely” mandate vaccines for teachers, “you’re not going to get mandates centrally from the federal government”, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Once the current shots receive full Food and Drug Administration approval, more local institutions will probably institute vaccine mandates, he said.

UK’s coronavirus deaths climb

The UK said Covid accounted for 4% of all deaths in the last week of July, the highest weekly share of all deaths in three months.

These figures reflect a progressive loosening of lockdown rules starting in April that resulted in most restrictions being scrapped on July 19. Infections have been rising steadily since, but serious sickness and hospitalisations remain below peak levels last year because of a rapid takeup of vaccines.

EU won’t impose travel curbs on US

The European Union decided not to reinstate restrictions on non-essential travel from the US despite new cases there exceeding the bloc’s threshold.

The guidance from the bloc is a recommendation and any decision on who to let in, and what restrictions to impose, ultimately rests with the government of each member state.

The Biden administration has kept foreign travel restrictions in place despite pressure to allow visitors from places like the EU. US officials have cited rising Delta variant cases as one reason for that decision.

German investor confidence plunges

Investor confidence in Germany’s recovery dropped to the lowest level since late last year after a rise in infection rates stoked concerns over a possible tightening of pandemic curbs.

ZEW’s gauge of expectations declined to 40.4 in August from 63.3 the previous month. Although more than half of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated, coronavirus infections in Europe’s largest economy are on the rise. The government has already tightened some travel rules and is set to discuss additional steps during a summit on Tuesday.

Israel lockdown may cut growth by half point

A fourth coronavirus lockdown could cut Israel’s economic growth by half a percentage point, Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron told Bloomberg Television.

Sinovac booster for the elderly

Taking a third dose of the vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech can trigger a “rapid, strong immune response” among people 60 and over, with no severe adverse reactions found, according to a joint study conducted by Sinovac, Hebei province’s disease-control centre and Fudan University. The study provides scientific support for giving booster shots to the elderly, Sinovac said on its WeChat account.

Sinopharm also reported data saying its booster shot was well-tolerated by people above the age of three, according to its vaccine-developing unit China National Biotec Group.

Sri Lanka’s third Covid wave

Sri Lanka faces a rapidly escalating third wave of coronavirus infections fueled by the Delta variant, with hospitals and ICUs pushed to breaking point. The island nation on Monday reported the highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began, with 111 fatalities. The government has resisted reimposing a nationwide lockdown as it seeks to avoid putting a fledgling economic recovery at risk and further hurting dwindling foreign-exchange reserves. Instead, restrictions have been tightened on movement and gatherings. The country has so far fully inoculated 12.7% of its population, relying largely on shots from China.

Delta makes up 92% of Thai infections

The Delta variant will continue to spread and beat out other strains in Thailand, said Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the country’s Department of Medical Sciences. Of 1,632 coronavirus samples tested in Thailand during July 31 to August 6, Delta variant cases made up 91.9%, followed by Alpha at 7.9%. In Bangkok, Delta made up 95.4% of infections.

Earlier on Tuesday, government data showed 235 new fatalities from the coronavirus, the nation’s highest daily death toll. The worsening outbreak may scuttle plans to reopen borders to fully vaccinated tourists from mid-October and jump-start the tourism-reliant economy.

Laschet’s plan to counter Covid

Armin Laschet, the chairman of Germany’s Christian Democratic party, is pushing measures to slow a renewed spread of the coronavirus in the country and bolster his image as a crisis manager to succeed Angela Merkel. With less than seven weeks before a national election and his poll numbers slipping, Laschet will call for more obligatory tests for unvaccinated people at a meeting between Merkel and state leaders on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The plan – presented on Monday at a closed-door meeting of the Christian Democratic party – is aimed at protecting privileges for people who have been immunised while providing greater incentives to get the shots, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were confidential.

Philippines expects vaccines for all adults

The Philippines expects to have enough doses to vaccinate the country’s adult population by year end, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said. Some 22.7 million doses are expected to arrive this month from five manufacturers, he said. The Southeast Asian nation aims to speed up inoculations to slow the spread of the Delta variant, which has forced the capital Manila into a two-week lockdown.

China’s outbreak expands

China’s latest outbreak continues to expand, with more than 100 symptomatic cases reported on Tuesday. With 50 new confirmed infections found in the eastern province of Jiangsu, the latest resurgence has spread to around 1,000 people across more than half of the mainland’s provinces.

China is battling the Delta variant with some of the most aggressive measures in the world, even though the majority of the population is vaccinated. Mass testing and targeted lockdowns in some cities are key parts of its playbook, and the capital Beijing has banned residents from “high-risk” cities from returning.

Meanwhile, Hebei province’s biggest cold-chain market has suspended the movement of imported frozen food in and out of cold storage, according to the Hebei News Network, which is backed by the provincial government. DM

With assistance from Chester Yung, Siddharth Philip, Layan Odeh, Anuchit Nguyen, Jason Scott, Kevin Ding, Claire Che, Jasmine Ng, Andreo Calonzo, Arne Delfs, Randy Thanthong-Knight, Muneeza Naqvi, Daniel Avis, Samy Adghirni, Carolynn Look, Jennifer Jacobs, Henrique Almeida, Irina Anghel, Angelica LaVito, Jonathan Levin, Francesca Maglione and Kari Lindberg.


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted