Africa’s already thin vaccine supply to drop by 25%

Covid-19 has killed more than 4.6M people and infected over 22.53M globally. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for September 9:

A woman is inoculated with a dose of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Oltepesi Dispensary in Kajiado, Kenya, on September 9, 2021.
A woman is inoculated with a dose of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Oltepesi Dispensary in Kajiado, Kenya, on September 9, 2021. (Patrick Meinhardt / AFP)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Africa’s already thin vaccine supply to drop by 25%

Africa’s already thin supply of Covid-19 vaccines has taken another significant hit, with the World Health Organization’s Africa director saying that for various reasons, including the rollout of booster shots, “we will get 25 percent less doses than we were anticipating by the end of the year.”

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Matshidiso Moeti’s comments to reporters on Thursday came as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said just over 3 percent of people across the African continent have been fully vaccinated. That coverage drops to around 1.7 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the WHO.

African health officials are dismayed by Wednesday’s announcement that the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low-and middle-income countries is again cutting its delivery forecast.

That revision, Moeti told reporters, is “in part because of the prioritization of bilateral deals over international solidarity.”

Italy police raid virus passport protesters ‘planning violence’

Italian police have raided the homes and searched the computers of eight people suspected of planning violence during protests against the country’s virus passport.

The suspects are members of a group on messaging app Telegram called “The Warriors”, where the use of weapons and DIY explosives at “No Green Pass” demonstrations have been discussed, according to a police statement.

They were said to be planning to attend a protest this weekend in Rome but are also accused of “inciting the other members of the group to carry out violent actions” in their home regions against unspecified “institutional targets” or during visits by government ministers.

Sri Lanka asks women to delay pregnancy over virus risks

Sri Lankan women have been urged to delay getting pregnant after more than 40 expectant mothers died of the virus in four months.

The island nation, which recorded its first maternal coronavirus death in May, is battling a spike in Delta variant infections after travel restrictions were eased for local new year celebrations in mid-April.

Chitramali de Silva, the director of the government’s Health Promotion Bureau said about 5,500 expectant mothers had been infected. About 70 percent were fully vaccinated.

Thailand hopes to welcome tourists to Bangkok

Thailand plans to reopen Bangkok and other key destinations to foreign tourists next month, aiming to revive its battered travel industry after indications the number of new coronavirus infections may have peaked.

Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai will be added to a programme in which fully vaccinated visitors who commit to a series of tests can enter, under certain criteria, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchan.

The scheme is underway on the islands of Samui and Phuket where about 70 percent of the local population were required to be fully inoculated.

India cancel eve of Test training session amid new case report

India have cancelled a training session on the eve of the fifth Test against England in Manchester amid reports another member of their support staff has tested positive.

“It was an optional session,” said an India team spokesman on Thursday. “Won’t take place now.”

His comments followed media reports of a fresh Covid case within India’s backroom staff, with the latest case emerging after a fresh round of testing on Wednesday evening. The team had trained as scheduled on Wednesday morning.

India head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar had already been ruled out of being present at the series finale at Old Trafford after testing positive during India’s 157-run in the fourth Test at the Oval completed Monday that left them 2-1 up with one to play.

Japan extends virus emergency until end of September

Japan has announced it is extending a state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 other areas until the end of September as health care systems remain under severe strain, although new infections have slowed slightly.

The current state of emergency, which was to end on Sunday, was issued first in Okinawa in May and gradually expanded. Despite the prolonged emergency, the largely voluntary measures have become less effective as the exhausted public increasingly ignores them.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called on the people to continue to work remotely and other social distancing measures “so that we can return to safe and prosperous daily lives.”

The extension will cover a period when Japan’s government is in transition. Suga has announced that he will not run in a September 29 race for his party’s leadership, and his successor in that race will likely become the next prime minister.

Singapore to ease restrictions for migrant workers

Singapore has said it will start easing movement restrictions for migrant workers living in dormitories from next week, more than a year after the curbs were imposed due to a surge in infections in their often cramped quarters.

The announcement by the manpower ministry came after more than 90 percent of the workers in dormitories were fully vaccinated, higher than Singapore’s overall vaccination rate at 81 percent, which is one of the highest in the world.

Up to 500 vaccinated migrant workers will be allowed to visit pre-identified public locations for six hours each week.

They are required to take a rapid antigen test before and three days after, the ministry said in a statement, adding it would evaluate the pilot scheme after a month.

Meanwhile, all other migrant workers will be allowed to visit recreation centres up to twice a week, and organised excursions by non-governmental organisations for vaccinated migrant workers to local attractions will resume.

Currently, migrant workers are mostly confined to their living quarters, other than for work, nearby recreation or essential errands.

Biden to deliver six-step plan on pandemic

President Joe Biden will outline new approaches to control the pandemic in the United States, which rages on despite the wide availability of vaccines.

In a speech, Biden will focus on six areas, including new plans to get more people vaccinated, enhancing protection for those who already have had shots and keeping schools open, according to a White House official.

The speech would also cover increasing testing and mask-wearing, protecting an economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession and improving healthcare for people infected with the disease, the official said.

Just over 53 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, including almost two-thirds of the adult population, according to CDC data. The disease has killed more than 649,000 Americans.

Virus infects 99 kids at Philippine orphanage

As patients fill Philippine hospitals to the brim, officials say the virus has hit an orphanage and infected almost 100 children.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said the outbreak in the orphanage could have been prevented and “the children could have been saved from the life-threatening risks of Covid” had minimum health standards been followed strictly.

Of the 122 people infected, 99 are age 18 and younger while the rest are personnel of the Gentlehands Orphanage, the mayor said in a statement Thursday.

The virus apparently spread when an adult who was infected but didn’t have symptoms visited the orphanage in the city in metropolitan Manila.

The Philippines reported 12,751 new cases and 174 deaths on Wednesday and has now counted 2.1 million cases with 34,672 deaths.

New Zealand agrees vaccine deal with Spain

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her government has reached a deal with Spain to receive more than a quarter of a million additional doses of the Pfizer Inc vaccine.

The additional doses will arrive in Auckland on Friday to help the country’s vaccination programme, Ardern said in a news conference.

New Zealand reported 13 new cases of on Thursday, taking the total number of cases in the latest Delta variant outbreak to 868..

Sydney to set out roadmap for easing curbs even as cases rise

Authorities will announce plans on Thursday to bring Sydney out of an extended lockdown, with fully vaccinated residents to be freed from stay-home orders by the end of October, local media reported.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian had initially pursued a Covid-zero strategy to quell an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant that began in mid-June, but has since shifted to focusing on increasing inoculation rates.

Under the strategy to be announced on Thursday, Sydney residents will receive some freedom from movement restrictions when New South Wales reaches a 70 percent vaccinated rate, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

About 43% of the adult population of the state, Australia’s most populous, have been fully vaccinated, with around 76 percent having received at least one dose.

Some areas of the state will have curbs lifted within days, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Hawaii begins vaccination verification phone app

The US state of Hawaii is launching a programme that will allow people to use their smart phones to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The move comes shortly before Honolulu and Maui begin instituting vaccine requirements for patrons of restaurants and other businesses.

State officials say people who have been vaccinated in Hawaii will be able to upload a photo of their paper vaccination card to the Safe Travels Hawaii website to create a digital vaccination record. The website will crosscheck the information with data in the state’s vaccination database.

Diners may show the record to restaurants in lieu of their paper vaccination card.

Raikkonen to miss Italian GP

Kimi Raikkonen will miss the Italian GP after testing positive for the coronavirus, Formula 1 announced Wednesday.

“Following his positive Covid-19 test last week, Kimi Raikkonen will sit out this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, with Robert Kubica set to race in his place for Alfa Romeo,” F1 said in a statement.

Raikkonen, who is racing for Alfa Romeo, confirmed last week that he would retire from Formula 1 at the end of this season

The team said Raikkonen has not yet been cleared for a return to racing as the Finnish driver is still isolating at home.

Brazil registers 250 additional deaths

Brazil reported 250 Covid-19 deaths and 14,430 additional cases, according to data released by the nation’s Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 584,421 total coronavirus deaths and over 20 million total confirmed cases.

Argentina receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine

After more than a year of negotiations with Pfizer Laboratories, a first shipment of 100,620 COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Argentina as part of a deal with the US company for 20 million doses scheduled for 2021.

The vaccines will be distributed from Monday to “adolescents without comorbidities, from the age of 17”, a senior Argentinian official said.

The arrival of the vaccines comes after months of political controversy in Argentina and governmental disputes with Pfizer that were finally overcome after the government made changes to a legislation that the US company resisted.

Argentina’s health agency approved the use of Pfizer’s vaccine in December 2020 after Argentina hosted one of the largest phase 3 clinical trials to confirm its effectiveness.

Slovakia starts vaccinating children

Children between 5 and 11 years of age can be vaccinated for coronavirus in Slovakia beginning Thursday, the country’s health minister said Wednesday.

Vladimir Lengvarsky made the decision on advice from experts and doctors.

Noting vaccination for those older than 12 began months ago, Lengvarsky said children in the new age group can also be administered the vaccine upon the approval of parents and the child’s pediatrician.

He also noted that the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine will begin next week.

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