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New York public transport to crack down on maskless com...

Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE

New York public transport to crack down on maskless commuters; South Africa registers 2,967 new cases

(Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)
By Bloomberg
23 Sep 2021 0

South Africa registered 2,967 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,889,298. A further 124 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 86,500. A total of 16,560,718 people have been vaccinated.

President Joe Biden called on other nations to help vastly expand production of coronavirus vaccines and treatments in order to end the pandemic. He said the US will buy an additional 500 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for donation abroad.

The UK will accept vaccination certificates from the United Arab Emirates starting next month, easing travel between two of the world’s busiest hubs. Mask-wearing rules in the UAE, meantime, are being eased after a sustained decline in Covid-19 cases.

Pregnant women who get mRNA vaccines pass high levels of antibodies to their babies, according to a study published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Maternal Fetal Medicine on Wednesday. Another trial found that early treatment with Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir kept high-risk patients out of the hospital.

Key developments 

Mormons make masks mandatory in temples 

The top leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday ordered mandatory use of face masks in its temples around the globe and again called for members to get vaccinated, citing the Mormon church’s history in prior pandemics.

Biden calls on wealthy nations to step up 

President Joe Biden called on other nations to help vastly expand production of coronavirus vaccines and treatments in order to end the Covid-19 pandemic in a virtual summit he hosted on Wednesday.

Biden said the US will buy another 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for donation abroad, pushing the total US donation pledge above 1.1 billion doses.

The summit’s attendees include the leaders of the UK, Canada, South Africa and Indonesia, private-sector figures and representatives of non-governmental organisations. Biden led one of four sessions, on vaccinating the world, while Vice-President Kamala Harris will lead another.

New York to step up enforcement of subway masks 

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will increase enforcement of its mask-wearing policy as new data show compliance is waning on subway, buses and commuter trains, WABC-TV reported.

Compliance was nearly universal in the early days of the pandemic but has fallen to about 87% on the city’s subways, MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren said, according to the television station.

Riders will get one warning from MTA Police to wear a mask, and if they don’t, they will get a summons, Warren said.

Vaccinated pregnant women pass on protection 

Pregnant women who get mRNA vaccines pass high levels of antibodies to their babies, according to a study published in American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Maternal Fetal Medicine on Wednesday.

The study one of the first to measure antibody levels in umbilical cord blood to distinguish whether immunity is from infection or vaccines found that 36 newborns tested at birth all had antibodies to protect against Covid-19 after their mothers were vaccinated with shots from Pfizer-BioNTech  or Moderna.

Romania approves booster shots 

Romania approved booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna for those who were fully vaccinated at least six months earlier, Prime Minister Florin Citu said on Wednesday. Shots will begin on September 28. 

The eastern European nation, one of the least vaccinated states in the EU, recently had more than 700,000 doses expire, even though it’s in the midst of the biggest wave of cases and hospitalisations since December.

China Covid shot effective against Delta 

A vaccine developed by Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals was found to prevent 79% of cases of any severity caused by the Delta variant in late-stage trials, making it the first Chinese shot to offer clear efficacy data against the strain causing resurgent waves of infections around the world.

Remdesivir averts hospitalisation in study 

Early treatment with Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir kept high-risk patients out of the hospital in a late-stage international trial that supports administering the medicine to individuals recovering at home. 

A three-day course of the injectable antiviral, also known as Veklury, was associated with an 87% reduction in hospitalisations in a randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving 562 patients, Gilead said on Wednesday. The data are slated for release at a virtual medical meeting on September 29. 

Malaysia sets vaccine threshold for travel 

Malaysia will resume interstate travel to help revive domestic tourism once 90% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement on Wednesday. The announcement comes a day after the country met its target of fully inoculating 80% of adults. 

Moscow reopens wards as cases soar 

Moscow reopened Covid-19 wards as new cases rose 24% over the last week, Ria Novosti reported on Wednesday, citing Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova. Hospitalisations were up 15%, she said. The spike comes after President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party claimed a resounding victory in parliamentary elections last weekend that opponents said was tainted with widespread fraud.

Singapore restricts hospital visits 

Singapore will curb hospital ward visits for a month, among several measures put in place in order to preserve hospital capacity as cases rise, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Afghanistan health system on brink: WHO 

Afghanistan’s health system is on the “brink of collapse” and the country’s Covid response has worsened, the World Health Organization said after a mission to Kabul. In a statement, the WHO said that only 17% of health facilities linked to the Sehatmandi health project, which provides health services in several provinces, were operational.

Nine of the 37 Covid hospitals had closed, and virus response including surveillance, testing and vaccination had dropped, the WHO said. About 2.2 million people had been vaccinated prior to August, but rates have slowed in recent weeks with 1.8 million doses remaining unused, the health body said.

“Swift action is needed to use these doses in the coming weeks and work towards reaching the goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population by the end of the year based on national targets,” the WHO said.

Biden to host vaccine summit 

President Joe Biden called for 70% of the world to be vaccinated by this time next year during a virtual vaccine summit he hosted on Wednesday that’s intended to spur countries, businesses and organisations to set firm targets to defeat the pandemic.

Biden pledged a US order of 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for donation abroad, pushing the total US pledge above 1.1 billion doses. The Pfizer shots will be produced in the US and shipped through Covax, the global vaccine sharing system, to low and lower-middle-income countries, beginning in January and running through next September.

Summit attendees will include foreign leaders, private sector figures and representatives of non-governmental organisations, and include a mix of speeches and recorded statements. Biden will lead one of four sessions, on vaccinating the world, while Vice-President Kamala Harris will lead another.

UK to accept UAE vaccination certificates 

The UK will accept vaccination certificates from the United Arab Emirates next month, in a boost to travel between two of the world’s busiest hubs. 

Dubai is preparing to host millions of people for one of the world’s biggest in-person events since the pandemic started. The Dubai Expo 2020 global trade fair begins on October 1 and the city hopes to attract 25 million visitors to the six-month event.

At the same time, the UAE eased rules on face masks amid a sustained decline in coronavirus cases. The Gulf nation will no longer require them on beaches and pools, as well as in beauty salons and medical centres during treatment. No masks will be required while exercising outdoors, or alone in closed spaces.

The UAE has rolled out one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world. Infections have been dropping steadily, with daily cases falling below 400 on Sunday for the first time in more than a year.  

Czech Republic orders shots for kids 

The Czech Republic pre-ordered 700,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children aged five to 11, Health Minister Vojtech Adam told CTK news agency. The country will start offering the shots to kids only after it’s been approved by the European medical regulator, unlike neighbouring Slovakia, which began allowing child vaccinations this month. The Czech Republic had 599 new infections on Tuesday, the highest number since the end of May, according to the health ministry data.

UK adds Covidshield vaccine 

The UK included Covidshield, the Indian-manufactured version of the shot developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, in its updated list of approved vaccines. Under the new rules, which take effect on October 4, those who were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travelling to England will no longer have to quarantine after arriving.

UK, South Korea to swap vaccines 

The UK and South Korea will share more than one million vaccine doses with each other to enhance the roll-out of jabs, the UK’s Department for Health says in an emailed statement. 

The UK is sending over one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the first batch expected to arrive in coming weeks. By the end of 2021, South Korea will return the same volume of doses to the UK, as the government continues with its vaccine roll-out and booster programme over the winter months.

Australian state unveils vaccine passport 

New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state, unveiled a digital app to show the vaccination status of adults, as it prepares to scale back stay-at-home measures next month for people who are fully vaccinated.

Singapore scaling up Covid operations 

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country is doing its best to expand its Covid-19 management operations to cope with the growing number of infections. 

The group, which administers the process for Covid patients from detection to recovery, has a “very demanding task,” Lee said in a Facebook post on Wednesday, acknowledging strains in the system where authorities have taken a long time to contact people after they test positive. 

Lee’s comments come amid a spike in cases in the country, where there have been 1,000 new cases in three out of the past four days.

India to let kids get shots 

India will open Covid-19 vaccinations for kids ages 12 and older in October when Cadila Healthcare launches its ZyCov-D product, Reuters reported, citing two unidentified people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The DNA-based vaccine got emergency authorisation from Indian regulators last month and is the only one approved for children in the country. DM

– With assistance from Matthew Brockett, Jing Jin, Dong Lyu, Sybilla Gross, Cindy Wang, Li Liu, Mai Ngoc Chau, Ainslie Chandler, Antony Sguazzin, Iain Rogers, Joyce Koh, Max Zimmerman, Julius Domoney and Vincent Del Giudice.

Gallery

"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]"

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