UK health minister tests positive for Covid-19

Covid-19 has infected over 190 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for July 17:

FILE PHOTO: Britain's new Health Secretary Sajid Javid holds a face mask, as he leaves the Downing Street in London, Britain, on June 30, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s new Health Secretary Sajid Javid holds a face mask, as he leaves the Downing Street in London, Britain, on June 30, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Saturday, July 17:

UK health minister Javid tests positive for Covid-19

British health minister Sajid Javid has said that he had tested positive for Covid-19, but that his symptoms were mild and he had had two doses of vaccine against the disease.

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“This morning I tested positive for Covid,” he said in a tweet, adding he had taken a rapid lateral flow test, and was awaiting confirmation from a PCR test, which needs processing in a laboratory.

“I’m waiting for my PCR result, but thankfully I have had my jabs and symptoms are mild.”

Turkey registers 7,666 new cases

Turkey has reported 7,666 new cases of Covid-19 and 38 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

The country has administered over half a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the last 24 hours, according to figures released on Saturday.

Turkey continues its vaccination campaign, which began in January, to curb the spread of the virus, as all residents aged 18 and over are eligible for vaccine shots.

According to Health Ministry data, to date more than 38.86 million people in Turkey have received their first vaccine dose, while over 20.37 million have been administered their second dose.

Italy reports new 13 deaths, 3,121 cases

Italy has reported 13 coronavirus-related deaths against 11 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,121 from 2,898.

Italy has registered 127,864 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.28 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 1,111 on Saturday, edging up from1,088 a day earlier.

There were nine new admissions to intensive care units, down from 13 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients rose to 162 from a previous 161.

Some 244,797 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 205,602, the health ministry said

Music banned on Greece’s Mykonos

Greece has banned music in restaurants and bars and imposed a nighttime curfew on its popular holiday island of Mykonos after a rise in new coronavirus infections there.

Known as the party island of the super-rich, Mykonos is one of Greece’s most popular destinations, attracting more than a million visitors each summer, among them Hollywood stars, models and world-famous athletes.

Following a “worrying” local outbreak, the Civil Protection Ministry said it was banning music on the island around the clock, including in shops, cafes and beach bars.

It also said it would restrict movement between 1 a.m to 6 a.m except for those going to and from work or to hospital.

The restrictions on Mykonos will be in place until July 26.

First resident of Olympic Village tests positive for Covid

The first resident of the Olympic Village has tested positive for Covid-19, Tokyo Olympic organizers said.

Officials said it was not an athlete with the Games opening in just under a week on July 23.

Tokyo officials including Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, confirmed the case and said the positive test was Friday.

Organizers say for confidentiality purposes they can only offer a vague description and few details.

“In the current situation, that positive cases arise is something we must assume is possible,” said Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee.

The person is identified simply as a “games-concerned personnel.” The person is also listed as a non-resident of Japan. Tokyo officials said the person was placed in a 14-day quarantine.

The Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will house about 11,000 athletes during the Olympics and thousands of other staff.

IOC President Thomas Bach said this week there was “zero” risk of athletes in the village passing on the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village.

Organizers say since July 1 and as of Saturday, 45 people under their “jurisdiction” have tested positive.

Europe uses carrot-and-stick method to boost vaccine drive

European nations are scrambling to ramp up vaccination drives, using a carrot-and-stick approach to persuade the reluctant to get their shots as the more transmissible delta variant drives a surge in infections.

Greece became the latest to enact new restrictions, requiring proof of vaccination or recent recovery from the virus for access to indoor restaurants, cafes, bars and movie theaters.

Children can enter with negative tests.

Desperate for vaccines amid surge, Iranians flock to Armenia

In Iran, the urgency of getting vaccinated is growing by the day.

A crush of new cases fuelled by the fast-spreading delta variant has threatened to overwhelm Iranian hospitals with breathless patients too numerous to handle.

But as deaths mount, and the sense swells that protection for most citizens remains far-off, thousands of desperate Iranians are taking matters into their own hands: They’re flocking to neighbouring Armenia.

France to require 24-hour negative Covid test for some European arrivals

France said it would require people not fully vaccinated and arriving from some European countries to show a negative test taken within the previous 24 hours.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands will be subject to the new rule, which comes into effect at midnight Saturday into Sunday, Prime Minsiter Jean Castex said in a statement.

France will also allow international travellers who have had AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine into the country starting Sunday.

Russia reports 25,116 new Covid-19 cases, 787 deaths

Russia reported 25,116 new cases, including 4,561 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,933,115.

Russia is in the grip of a surge in cases that authorities have blamed on the contagious Delta variant and the slow rate of vaccinations.

The government virus task force said 787 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 147,655.

China administered 1.437B doses by July 16

China administered about 11 million doses of vaccines on July 16, taking the total to 1.437 billion doses, data from the National Health Commission showed.

Study: Zhifei shot largely retains effect against Delta variant

A vaccine developed by a unit of China’s Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products largely retained its neutralising effect against the Delta variant but there was a slight reduction, Chinese researchers found in a laboratory study.

Scientists and regulators are watching closely to see whether the Delta variant, which is significantly more contagious than the original variant of the new coronavirus, will render available vaccines and treatments insufficient.

South Korea sees 11th straight day over 1,000 cases

South Korea has reported another new 1,455 cases, its 11th straight day over 1,000, as officials push to tighten pandemic restrictions nationwide.

The numbers reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national caseload to 176,500, including 2,055 deaths.

The record-breaking surge has been mostly driven by transmissions in the greater Seoul region, home to half of the country’s population of more than 51 million.

First case found at Tokyo Olympics Village

A person has tested positive at the Tokyo Olympics athletes’ village, organisers said, in the first such case that adds to concerns about infections at the Games which begin next week.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games had tested positive.

He would not reveal the person’s nationality, citing privacy concerns.

India’s daily infections rise by 38,079

India reported 38,079 new cases over the last 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 31.06 million, health ministry data showed.

The number of deaths rose by 560, taking the total to 413,091, according to ministry data.

Sydney tightens lockdown as Australia’s virus cases rise

The Australian city of Sydney ordered a shutdown of building sites, banned non-essential retail and threatened fines for employers who make staff come into the office as new cases kept rising three weeks into a citywide lockdown.

Authorities in New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, also banned hundreds of thousands of people in the city’s western suburbs – the worst affected area – from leaving their immediate neighbourhoods for work, as they recorded 111 new cases in the prior 24 hours, up from 97 the day before.

Meanwhile, the state of Victoria reported a jump in daily cases, raising fears it may extend a short lockdown that was scheduled to end on Tuesday as the country struggles to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 1,608 – RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 1,608 to 3,743,389, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 22 to 91,359, the tally showed.

China reports 30 new cases

China reported 30 new confirmed cases in the mainland on July 16, compared with 36 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said.

Twenty eight of the new cases were imported and two were locally transmitted, data from the National Health Commission showed.

Thailand reports daily record of 10,082 new cases

Thailand reported a new daily record of 10,082 new cases and 141 new deaths, as authorities are considering bringing in tighter restrictions to contain soaring infections in the latest outbreak that started in April.

The new cases bring the total number of infections to 391,989 cases and 3,240 fatalities since the pandemic started, the country’s virus task force said.

Fake vaccination certificates for sale in Mexico

First there were fake vaccines. Now bogus immunisation certificates are being offered for sale in the Mexican capital, aimed at people traveling to countries that require proof of inoculation.

In an area of the historic district known for its printers and counterfeiters, a new service has appeared alongside documents purporting to be birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports.

Customers for the fake vaccination certificates are usually people who want to travel but have not been fully immunised, or who received vaccines not recognised in the country they plan to visit, a vendor said.

Biden says social media misinformation is ‘killing people’

President Joe Biden said that social media misinformation about the virus and vaccinations is “killing people” and the White House said Facebook needs to clean up its act.

“They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden told reporters at the White House, as he left for a weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Facebook and others are not doing enough to push back.

Facebook rejected criticism by Biden that social media misinformation is killing people, saying its efforts to get facts out are actually saving lives.

“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” Facebook said of Biden’s barb.

US vaccine doses going to Ukraine, Bangladesh

The US sent 2 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine to Ukraine via the Covax international vaccine-sharing programme, a White House official said, and plans to send 3.5 million Moderna doses to Bangladesh over the weekend.

The doses for Bangladesh will arrive on Monday, the official said.

Tunisia reports daily record 205 deaths

Tunisia has recorded 205 deaths in the last 24 hours, a daily record since the start of the pandemic, the health ministry said.

The ministry reported 6,787 new cases, raising new concerns about the country’s ability to fight the pandemic, with intensive care departments completely filled and a lack of oxygen supplies. The vaccination campaign is very slow.

Oman lifts entry ban on Singapore and Brunei

Oman’s civil aviation authority said in a tweet that it has removed Singapore and Brunei from its entry-ban list of countries.

The United Kingdom, Tunisia, India, Iran and Pakistan are among those to stay on the banned countries list.

The authority added that exceptions for citizens, diplomatic personas and health workers and their families are still in place.

Brazil registers 1,456 deaths

Brazil has registered 1,456 Covid-19 deaths and 45,591 additional cases, according to data released by the nation’s Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered a total of 540,398 coronavirus deaths and 19,308,109 total confirmed cases.

Barcelona reimposes curfew

Barcelona and other cities in northeastern Spain will reimpose a night-time curfew starting this weekend to fight a surge in virus cases after the measure won court approval.

The curfew is aimed at discouraging social gatherings on beaches and in parks to curb a spike in cases of the highly-contagious Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated young people.

Catalonia’s regional government asked the courts this week for permission to restore a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am (0000 GMT and 0500 GMT) in areas where infection rates surpass 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period.

The top court in the northeastern region on Friday approved the move, which will affect 161 municipalities, including popular beach resorts like Sitges, Salou and Lloret de Mar.

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