US health system strained; South Africa registers 967 new cases

US health system strained; South Africa registers 967 new cases
Residents queue for their Covid-19 vaccine at the community health centre vaccination site in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday, 8 September 2021. (Photo: Dwayne Senior / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

South Africa registered 967 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,896,943. A further 51 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 87,052. A total of 16,827,790 people have been vaccinated.

Parts of the US health system “are in dire straits” as the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant forces some states to prepare for rationed medical care, said Rochelle Walensky, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pfizer will submit data to the US Food and Drug Administration on vaccines for children aged five to 11 within “days, not weeks,” said Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO.

France vowed to increase its vaccination donations to poorer countries to address what President Emmanuel Macron described as the “injustice” that has led to just 3% of Africa’s population being inoculated.

Key developments 

CDC head warns of healthcare strain

Parts of the US health system “are in dire straits” as the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant forces some states to prepare for rationed medical care, said Rochelle Walensky, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That means that we are talking about who is going to get a ventilator, who is going to get an ICU bed,” Walensky said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “Those are not easy discussions to have, and that is not a place we want our healthcare system to ever be.”

Idaho, among the US’s least-vaccinated states, and Alaska have said that hospitals can begin to ration medical care if needed. A major hospital in Montana also implemented “crisis of care standards” to prioritise who is treated. Health officials warned the measure could be widened across the state.

Pfizer to submit data on kids’ vaccine 

Pfizer will submit data to the US Food and Drug Administration on vaccines for children aged five to 11 within “days, not weeks”, Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO, said on ABC’s This Week.

“If they approve it, we will be ready with our manufacturing to provide this new formulation of the vaccine,” he said.

He said the dosage for young children is one third that of the vaccine for adults. Last week Pfizer and BioNTech said that formulation produced strong antibody responses in children in a large-scale trial. The companies also plan to share the data with regulators in Europe.

Violence in Norway after rules eased 

Norway suffered outbreaks of violence across many of its cities as revellers celebrated the lifting of Covid-related restrictions from Saturday afternoon, according to local media.

The police in Oslo registered about 50 fights and other disturbances, while several people were arrested for possession of machetes, knives and other weapons, public broadcaster NRK reported.

Indonesia cases drop to lowest in year 

Indonesia said its daily infection numbers dropped to the lowest level in more than a year. The country reported 1,760 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the least since August 2020, according to the Health Ministry.

Deaths also declined to the lowest level since March, with 86 people dying on 26 September. More than four million people in Southeast Asia’s largest economy have tested positive with the virus since the pandemic began.

South Africa, UK to discuss red list 

Officials from South Africa will meet British scientists on Monday seeking an explanation for the nation’s continued inclusion on the UK’s Covid-19 travel red list, according to the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times.

While nations such as Kenya, Egypt and Turkey were removed from Britain’s red list this week, South Africa remained on it.

The UK has cited the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa, where it was discovered in late 2020, as the reason. South African scientists say the Beta variant has been completely overtaken by the Delta variant.

France doubles vaccine pledge   

French President Emmanuel Macron said France will double the number of vaccine doses it donates to poorer countries to 120 million. “The injustice is that in other continents vaccination is far behind because of us, collectively,” Macron said in a message broadcast during the Global Citizen fundraising concert in Paris.

France will also commit to helping Unicef and health systems with vaccine distribution, Macron said, noting that only 3% of Africa’s population is vaccinated.

South Korea readies booster roll-out 

South Korea will start offering booster shots to “high-risk groups,” including people over 60 and medical workers, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during a Covid-19 response meeting, adding that the country also plans to expand vaccine eligibility to teenagers and pregnant women.

Three quarters of the population have received at least one vaccine dose, with less than half fully vaccinated, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website on Sunday. The Seoul metropolitan area remains under the government’s strictest physical distancing measures.

Australia PM calls on states to open borders  

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said state premiers must not keep borders closed once 80% of eligible Australians are vaccinated, a threshold he expects to reach by the end of the year.

“I can’t see any reason why Australians should be kept from each other,” the leader said on a Sunday television programme. “That puts a heavy, heavy responsibility on those who would seek to prevent that from happening.”

On Sunday, Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria, reported 779 new local cases of Covid-19, down from the pandemic high set a day earlier. New South Wales recorded 961 new infections. Other states, like Queensland and Western Australia, have recorded very few cases recently.

China adds cases in Harbin 

China reported three more infections in the northeastern city of Harbin, a new cluster, and nearby Suihua city recorded one more. Harbin raised risk levels to “mid-level” for five residential complexes and the province’s official Weibo account described the coronavirus situation as “severe and complex.”

A larger outbreak that started earlier this month in southeast China’s Fujian province is ebbing, with five cases reported from Xiamen in the province and none from Putian.

Judge halts New York City schools shot mandate 

New York City’s school system, the largest in the US, has been temporarily blocked from imposing a mandate forcing teachers and other staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a ruling from a federal judge. That mandate was scheduled to go into effect on Monday at midnight.

Late on Friday, a judge from the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit referred the case to a three-judge panel “on an expedited basis.” The hearing will take place on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Rwanda bars reopen 

Bars in Rwanda opened for the first time since the pandemic started in March 2020, with social distancing and other virus-control measures still in place, The New York Times reported.

The nation had one of the strictest lockdowns in Africa, but it has met a World Health Organization goal of vaccinating 10% of the population as positive test rates continue to fall. DM

– With assistance from William Horobin, Jeong-Ho Lee, Andrew Heathcote, Emma Dong and Rieka Rahadiana.


"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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