UAE approves Sinopharm’s Covid vaccine for ages 3 to 17

Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.2 million people and infected over 199 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for August 2:

FILE PHOTO: Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group vaccine boxes for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are pictured at a vaccination site in Shanghai, China on January 19, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group vaccine boxes for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are pictured at a vaccination site in Shanghai, China on January 19, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Monday, August 2:

UAE approves Sinopharm vaccine for ages 3 to 17

The United Arab Emirates will start providing China’s Sinopharm vaccine to children aged 3-17, the UAE government said on Twitter.

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It cited the health ministry as saying the decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations, without providing any details. Authorities said in June the trial would monitor the immune response of 900 children.

The Gulf Arab state, which has among the world’s highest immunisation rates, was already providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15.

The health ministry said on Sunday that 78.95% of the UAE population of roughly 9 million had received one vaccine dose while 70.57% had been fully vaccinated.

The UAE, the region’s tourism and trade hub, registered 1,519 new coronavirus infections on Sunday to take its total to 682,377 cases and 1,951 deaths. It does not provide a breakdown for each of its seven emirates.

Hong Kong announces compulsory vaccines for key sectors

Hong Kong civil servants, teachers and healthcare workers must get vaccinated against the virus or pay for regular testing, the city’s leader announced, as her administration adopted a push into mandatory inoculations.

The finance hub is one of the few places in the world to have secured ample supplies of the coronavirus vaccine, but public take up has been lacklustre.

After six months, only 36 percent of the city’s 7.5 million residents are fully vaccinated with two jabs while 48 percent have received one dose.

But infections have remained low as Hong Kong has been all but closed to non-residents for most of the last 18 months and all arrivals must undergo lengthy quarantine in designated hotels.

On Monday, chief executive Carrie Lam announced a new push to raise the city’s vaccination rate by making jabs compulsory for four sectors: civil servants, healthcare workers, care home staff and school teachers.

Vaccination rates vary between those sectors, from 70 percent among civil servants to just 47 percent among teachers.

Philippines to extend night curfew in Manila amid virus surge

The Philippines will extend a night curfew in the capital, Manila, amid a tightening of curbs in the Southeast Asian country to combat a potential surge in cases of the Delta variant, a government official said.

Metropolitan Manila, already subject to an six hour curfew from 10:00 pm (1400 GMT), will bring forward that curfew by two hours to 8:00 pm (1200 GMT), said Benjamin Abalos, chair of the region’s governing body:

“We are only asking for two weeks. This will stop the virus for the meantime. What’s important is our hospitals don’t get full,” Abalos told a briefing.

Authorities have deployed police personnel to quarantine checkpoints in Metropolitan Manila, where inbound and outbound travel will be restricted.

The region, home to more than 13 million people, will be placed under strict lockdown from August 6 to 20, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Friday.

Russia reports 23,508 new cases, 785 deaths

Russia reported 23,508 new cases, including 3,330 in Moscow, taking the total number of cases to 6,312,185 since the pandemic began.

The government coronavirus also confirmed 785 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Tokyo’s new cases total 2,195 on Monday

Newly-reported cases in Tokyo totalled 2,195 on Monday, the metropolitan government announced, as infections spread in the Olympics host city.

It was the highest Monday figure yet, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Japanese students get vaccinated at university

Students at a university in the Japanese capital of Tokyo began receiving their vaccines against the coronavirus as the country steps up its immunisation program amid high levels of cases.

Aoyama University has started to roll out jabs to younger people as part of a government scheme, which aims to speed up the return to in-person classes.

According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases the number of new cases of infection in Japan, mainly in young people, is increasing.

The increase is affecting mainly those in the 20-40 age group.

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo last Friday following record spikes in infections as the capital hosts the Olympics.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared an emergency in Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, near Tokyo, as well as in the western city of Osaka, effective Monday until August 31.

Emergency measures already in place in Tokyo and the southern island of Okinawa will be extended until the end of August, after the Olympics and well into the Paralympics which start August 24.

Cases India surge past 31.7M

India reported another 40,134 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to a staggering 31.7 million, a government statement said.

Deaths rose by 422 in the same period, according to the federal health ministry, taking the total to over 424,000.

Army deployed to enforce lockdown in Sydney as Brisbane extends curbs

Troops were set to hit the streets of Sydney on Monday to enforce its prolonged lockdown, as stay-at-home orders in Australia’s third-largest city Brisbane were extended to curb a worsening outbreak.

About 300 Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed in Sydney after New South Wales state police requested military help to enforce Covid-19 rules.

Authorities have been struggling to stop the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant in Sydney, and ensure that residents follow containment rules, with more than 3,600 cases recorded since mid-June.

More than five million people in Australia’s biggest city and surrounding areas are entering their sixth week of a lockdown set to run until the end of August.

Meanwhile, millions of people in Brisbane and several surrounding regions will remain under lockdown until Sunday after an “escalating” outbreak there grew to 29 cases.

Those stay-at-home orders had been scheduled to lift on Tuesday.

The outbreak was linked to a Brisbane school student, with pupils and teachers at several schools subsequently placed into isolation.

With about 14 percent of Australia’s 25 million people fully vaccinated, authorities are still relying on lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus.

US Republican report says leaked from Chinese lab; scientists still probing origins

A preponderance of evidence proves the virus that caused the pandemic leaked from a Chinese research facility, said a report by US Republicans released on Monday, a conclusion that US intelligence agencies have not reached.

The report also cited “ample evidence” that Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) scientists – aided by US experts and Chinese and US government funds – were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.

Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the report by the panel’s Republican staff. It urged a bipartisan investigation into the origins of the pandemic that has killed 4.4 million people worldwide.

China denies a genetically modified coronavirus leaked from the facility in Wuhan – where the first cases were detected in 2019 – a leading but unproven theory among some experts. Beijing also denies allegations of a cover-up.

Other experts suspect the pandemic was caused by an animal virus likely transmitted to humans at a seafood market near the WIV.

Refugees pushed to back of the line amid vaccine shortages

Although some refugees in India have begun getting vaccines, no one in his camp has received shots.

Just over 7% of India’s population is fully vaccinated and vaccine shortages have plagued the nation of almost 1.4 billion.

For months the World Health Organization urged countries to prioritise immunising refugees, placing them in the second priority group for at-risk people, alongside those with serious health conditions.

That’s because refugees inevitably live in crowded conditions where the virus can spread more easily, with little access to the most basic health care or even clean water, said Sajjad Malik director of the UN refugee agency’s division of resilience and solutions.

“They are really living in difficult situations,” he said.

Over 160 countries included refugees in their plans, but these have been upended by supply shortages. According to the WHO, some 85% of vaccines have been administered by rich countries. In contrast, 85% of the world’s 26 million refugees live in developing countries struggling to vaccinate even the most vulnerable, according to the UN refugee agency.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 847 – RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 847 to 3,772,109, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 1 to 91,660, the tally showed.

Britain to offer vaccine booster shots for 32M next month

Britain will offer Covid-19 booster vaccines to 32 million Britons starting early next month with up to 2,000 pharmacies set to deliver the programme, The Telegraph reported.

The campaign could start as soon as Sept. 6, which would see the rollout completed by early December if it goes to plan, the report added.

Olympics-Organisers report 17 more Games-related Covid-19 cases

Tokyo Olympics organisers have reported 17 new Games-related Covid-19 cases including one athlete, bringing the total number since July 1 to 276.

China reports 98 new cases for Aug 1 vs 75 a day earlier

China has reported 98 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 1, compared with 75 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.

Of the new infections, 55 were locally transmitted, the health authority said. That compares with 53 local cases a day earlier.

China reported 60 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 37 a day earlier.

No new deaths were reported.

As of August 1, mainland China had recorded 93,103 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Australia extends lockdown in Brisbane to Sunday

A snap three-day lockdown in Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane, and some neighbouring regions will be extended until Sunday as officials asked for more time to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant.

Queensland state, of which Brisbane is the capital, detected13 new locally acquired cases, up from nine a day earlier. The lockdown was due to end on Tuesday evening but is now scheduled to run until August 8.

Mexico posts 6,740 new cases, 128 more deaths

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 6,740 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 128 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,854,992 infections and 241,034 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Brazil approaches 20 million cases, deaths decrease

Brazil has had 20,503 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 464 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 19,938,358cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 556,834, according to ministry data, in the world’s third worst outbreak outside the United States and India and its second-deadliest.

As vaccination advances in Brazil, the rolling 7-day average of Covid deaths has dropped to 932 fatalities in the past week, down from almost 3,000 a week at the peak of the pandemic in early April, according to a Reuters tally.

Tunisia receives 1.5M vaccines from Italy

Crisis-hit Tunisia, which has one of the world’s highest coronavirus death rates, has received 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Italy, the president’s office announced.

President Kais Saied, who a week ago dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament, was on hand to receive the consignment and launched a stinging attack on the performance of the ousted government.

“More than a year has gone by, meeting after meeting has been held, and yet people are being hospitalised and dying by the hundreds each day,” he said.

Apart from political and economic crises, the North African country of almost 12 million inhabitants has suffered close to 20,000 Covid-related deaths.

European and Gulf nations, Tunisians abroad and ordinary citizens have organised equipment and vaccine donations that are now helping to battle the country’s outbreak.

Tunisia also received one million Moderna vaccine doses from the United States on Friday.

Saied this week announced the establishment of a coronavirus crisis unit, supervised by a high-level military official.

Florida breaks record for Covid hospitalisations

A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida has broken a previous record for current hospitalisations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available.

The Sunshine State had 10,207 people hospitalised with confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to data reported to the US Department of Health & Human Services.

The previous record was from July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread, when Florida had 10,170 hospitalisations, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalisations for Covid-19, as hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.

Malawi runs out of vaccines, again

Barely a week after Malawi resumed its Covid-19 vaccination drive, district and urban hospitals have run out of doses, the Health Ministry has said.

The government resumed its vaccination program on July 26 after the arrival of 192,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the WHO-led COVAX facility.

Since then, Malawians nationwide had been queuing in their thousands to get vaccinated amid a spike in cases.

But most vaccination centers are now shut due to shortages.

So far, nearly 455,000 people in Malawi have received their first dose, while over 139,000 are fully vaccinated. The country has cumulatively registered 52,631 cases and 1,661 related deaths.

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