Sydney hospitals erect emergency tents as cases hit record

Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.4 million people and infected over 214 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for August 26:

People wait in line outside a vaccination clinic in the Bankstown suburb during a lockdown to curb an outbreak of cases in Sydney, Australia, on August 25, 2021.
People wait in line outside a vaccination clinic in the Bankstown suburb during a lockdown to curb an outbreak of cases in Sydney, Australia, on August 25, 2021. (Reuters)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

New infections hit record in epicentre Sydney

Australia’s new daily cases of Covid-19 have topped 1,000 for the first time since the global pandemic began, as two major hospitals in Sydney set up emergency outdoor tents to help deal with a rise in patients.

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Sydney, the country’s largest city and the epicentre of the current outbreak, is struggling to stamp out a surge in the fast-spreading Delta variant, with daily infections hitting record levels even after two months under lockdown.

New South Wales state, where Sydney is the capital, reported 1,029 new locally acquired cases, exceeding the previous record of 919 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 969 were detected in greater Sydney, up from 838.

The rapid rise in patients has forced Sydney’s Westmead and Blacktown hospitals, which service the city’s sprawling western suburbs, to erect tents to screen and swab patients to help manage capacity.

New Zealand says lockdown working to limit Delta spread

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the strict nationwide lockdown enforced to stamp out Covid-19 was helping limit the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, even as the number of new cases rose on Thursday.

New Zealand reported 68 new cases on Thursday taking the total number of people infected in the latest outbreak to 277. Of the total cases, 263 are in Auckland and 14 are in the capital Wellington.

The entire country of 5 million is under stay at home orders, with schools and most workplaces closed until at least the end of the month.

“Lockdown is having an impact but Delta is very tricky,” Ardern said at a news conference. “We do need to be incredibly vigilant.”

South Korea reports highest daily deaths for 2021

South Korea reported 20 Covid-19 deaths for Wednesday, the highest daily count this year, as the number of severe cases more than doubled since the current and worst wave of infections began in July.

While total case mortality rates remain low at below 1percent and no major strains on its healthcare system is reported yet, South Korean authorities have been trying to secure more ICU beds for severe patients which are on the rise along with record new infections.

The number of critical or severe cases jumped to 425 as of Wednesday from 155 as of July 7, around when the fourth wave of infections began.

The country has 833 intensive care beds for severe Covid-19 patients and 250 of them were available as of Tuesday, according to the Health Ministry.

On Thursday it kicked off vaccination for people aged 18 to 49, as it aims to give at least one dose to 70 percent of the population and fully vaccinate 50 percent by September.

1.6M Moderna doses withdrawn in Japan over contamination

Around 1.6 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine has been withdrawn from use in Japan due to contamination, the Nikkei said, citing a health ministry announcement.

Several vaccination centres reported vials contained “foreign matter,” the report said, adding that the ministry will look to minimise the impact of the withdrawal on Japan’s vaccination drive.

Moderna said it was investigating reports of cases of particulate matter being seen in drug product vials of its Covid-19 vaccine in one lot distributed in the country.

“No safety, or efficacy issues have been identified related to cases of particulate matter seen in drug product vials of Covid-19 vaccine in Japan,” the company said.

Takeda Pharmaceutical distributes the Moderna vaccine in Japan, Nikkei said.

Mexico’s coronavirus death toll rises to 255,452

Mexico’s health ministry reported 21,250 new cases of Covid-19 and 986 more deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country since the pandemic began to 3,271,128 and the death toll to 255,452

China criticises US ‘scapegoating’ over Covid origin report

China criticised the US “politicisation” of efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, demanding without any evidence that American labs be investigated, ahead of the release of a US intelligence report on the virus.

The US report is intended to resolve disputes among intelligence agencies considering different theories about how the coronavirus emerged, including a once-dismissed theory about a Chinese laboratory accident.

“Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the US,” Fu Cong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs arms control department, told a briefing.

US President Joe Biden received a copy and was briefed on the classified report, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Brazil reports 30,671 new cases, 903 deaths

Brazil registered 30,671 new coronavirus cases and 903 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Pfizer seeks US approval for Covid vaccine booster

Pfizer Inc said a booster dose of its two-shot Covid-19 vaccine spurs a more than threefold increase in antibodies against the coronavirus, as the company seeks US regulatory approval for a third injection.

The drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech SE aim to complete the submission for use of booster shots in people aged 16 and over by the end of this week.

US plans Covid booster shots at six months instead of eight

US health regulators could approve a third Covid-19 shot for adults beginning at least six months after full vaccination, instead of the previously announced eight-month gap, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Approval of boosters for all three Covid-19 shots being administered in the United States — those manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson — is expected in mid-September, the report said, citing a person familiar with the plans.

New York governor reveals 12,000 more Covid deaths than previously counted

New York Governor Kathy Hochul revealed 12,000 more people died of Covid-19 than was reported under her disgraced predecessor, making good on her promise for greater transparency on just her second day leading the state.

The state is now reporting a total of 55,400 people died in New York from coronavirus, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hochul said in a statement.

That’s an increase of 12,000 over the 43,400 reported by Andrew Cuomo as of his last day in office before resigning in disgrace amid a sexual harassment scandal.

“We’re using CDC numbers, which will be consistent. And so there’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers,” Hochul told National Public Radio.

WHO says no conclusive data yet on need for Covid booster shot

The World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the data on the benefits and safety of a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot is inconclusive.

“When some countries afford to have the booster and others are not even vaccinating the first and second round, it’s a moral issue,” he said during a media briefing.

YouTube says it removed 1M ‘dangerous’ videos on Covid-19

YouTube said it has removed more than one million videos with “dangerous coronavirus misinformation” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

YouTube said in a blog post it relies on “expert consensus from health organisations,” including the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, but noted that, in some cases, “misinformation is less clear-cut” as new facts emerge.

“Our policies center on the removal of any videos that can directly lead to egregious real world harm,” chief product officer Neal Mohan wrote.

“Since February of 2020, we’ve removed over one million videos related to dangerous coronavirus information, like false cures or claims of a hoax,” he said.

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