A summary of today’s developments
- Russia recorded a fourth straight daily record of Covid deaths this morning, with 1,064 more people reported to have died from the virus.
- The UK Health Security Agency today announced the offshoot of Delta, known as AY.4.2 has been designated a variant under investigation due to it becoming increasingly common in the UK.
- Pfizer has said that child-size doses of its Covid vaccine are safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing infections in primary school children.
- Ukraine’s coronavirus infections and deaths reached all-time highs for a second straight day on Friday, Associated Press reports. Health authorities reported 23,785 new confirmed infections and 614 deaths in the past 24 hours.
- Tunisia is imposing Covid-19 vaccine passes on Tunisians and all foreign visitors, a presidential decree showed on Friday.Officials, employees and users are required to show a card proving inoculation against the coronavirus to access public and private administrations, according to the decree.
- Amnesty International has urged the Italian parliament to launch an independent inquiry into coronavirus deaths in care homes and reports of retaliation against nursing staff who criticised unsafe conditions.
- In the US, Biden administration officials have urged eligible Americans to get booster shots and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head said it may update its definition of what constitutes full vaccination.
- Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a vaccine against Covid until it has gathered more research, partly due to a rare side effect involving inflammation of the heart, health authorities said today.
- India seems unlikely to meet its goal of vaccinating 944 million adults by December.
- Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to avoid non-essential foreign travel, dropping a warning that was issued in March 2020 when the Covid pandemic erupted.
- The percentage of people testing positive for Covid is estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands.
- In Belarus, authorities abolished mask mandates, less than two weeks after their introduction for the first time during the pandemic, on Friday.
- England’s Covid weekly reproduction “R” number was estimated to have risen to between 1.0 and 1.2, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday, and the epidemic is estimated to be growing.
- Italy reported 39 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday compared to 36 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,882 from 3,794.
- Malaysia will reopen to foreign workers and allow fully vaccinated tourists to visit the northern resort island of Langkawi next month without quarantine.
- Belgium’s daily Covid cases have jumped to the highest level in almost a year, prompting health experts to say that a fourth wave of infections has begun.
- In Iran, mass Friday prayers resumed in Tehran after a 20-month hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, state TV reported.
- Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered frontline workers and tourism staff to be given a third booster shot of Covid vaccine by next month.
- Hong Kong authorities prevented a Royal Caribbean cruise ship from departing the city’s terminal late on Thursday as a crew member was suspected to have Covid-19 after routine testing.
Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to shun non-essential foreign travel, given its successful campaign to inoculate people against Covid-19, the country’s top medical officer said.
Hours later, Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, issued a timeline to lift all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, with the aim of removing all proof of vaccination and mask requirements by March 2022.
Ottawa removed the advice to avoid unnecessary travel late on Thursday, however it is still telling people to avoid cruise ship travel outside of the country, Reuters reports.
“The beginnings of the transition away from the more blanket approach really recognises vaccines are very effective at preventing severe outcome,” chief medical officer Theresa Tam told a briefing.
Tunisia is imposing Covid-19 vaccine passes on Tunisians and all foreign visitors, a presidential decree showed on Friday.
Officials, employees and users are required to show a card proving inoculation against the coronavirus to access public and private administrations, according to the decree.
The pass will also be required to enter cafes, restaurants, hotels and tourist establishments, it said.
The decree showed that the jobs of employees who did not receive vaccination in the public and private sectors will be suspended until the vaccine pass is presented.
The vaccine pass will also be a necessary document for travelling abroad, Reuters reports.
You can follow the latest Covid developments in Australia here:
The US administered 411,963,025 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Friday morning and distributed 501,613,665 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Those figures are up from the 411,010,650 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by Thursday out of 498,702,405 doses delivered.
The agency said 219,900,525 people had received at least one dose, while 190,179,553 people are fully vaccinated as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Friday, Reuters reports.
Brazil has had 14,502 new cases of coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 460 deaths, the country’s health ministry said on Friday.
The South American country has now registered 21,711,843 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 605,139, according to ministry data.
As vaccination advances, the rolling 14-day average of Covid deaths had fallen to 348 by Thursday, compared to the toll of almost 3,000 a day at the peak of the pandemic in April, Reuters reports.
The senior official credited with the early success of the Covid vaccine rollout in England is returning to the NHS to resume her role overseeing the programme, months after quitting to become the head of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street delivery unit.
Emily Lawson is ending her secondment at No 10 to return to NHS England amid concern that the rollout of booster jabs in England is flagging.
Earlier this week Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, told Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS England, that the rollout needed to be “turbocharged” because numbers were too low, especially with Covid infections rising sharply again.
In a statement first reported by the Health Service Journal, Pritchard said: “It is great news that Emily has agreed to return to lead the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme as our response to the pandemic enters another crucial phase.”
Lawson said: “The next phase of the vaccination programme is extremely important. We know that the vaccine is helping us to save lives and so we must focus all of our efforts on rolling out the booster campaign to everyone eligible, as well as ensuring that everyone who has not yet had their first jab, including young people, gets the chance to come forward.”
Briefings in newspapers attributed to government sources have criticised the NHS for not getting more jabs delivered fast enough. NHS England said this week that more than 4 million people have had a booster jab in just over a month.
The Australian music industry has had another difficult year, with the Covid-19 Delta variant and multiple lockdowns in Australia’s biggest population centres derailing the recovery that many had hoped for.
Although live performances have continued outside New South Wales and Victoria, the latest industry survey by ILostMyGig estimated a further $94m in lost income between July and August of this year.
UK-based Australian families planning trips home for Christmas will be made to quarantine because of a federal government decision on vaccines for children.
The Australian and UK governments currently have different requirements on the vaccination of children aged 12 to 15. While Australia requires two doses, the UK allows for only one in the vast majority of cases.
That has significant implications for the newly announced vaccine-contingent travel restrictions, which allow returning Australians, including children aged 12 and above, to skip hotel quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.
Qantas has also stated that passengers aged 12 or over “will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine”. Only limited services are expected to be available for unvaccinated travellers.
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) member Professor Jeremy Brown said he would not back the reduction of the time between the second coronavirus jab and the booster being reduced to five months rather than six.
He told Channel 4 News: “The six-month decision was based on the fact that the data shows a bit of waning occurring in the protection against Covid six months after the second jab.”
Brown added: “The prolonged benefits of the vaccination is likely to be better than if you give it shorter than that, a four-month or five-month gap, for example.”
Doctor Petruta Filip is working 100-hour weeks at a Bucharest hospital which, like hospitals throughout Romania, is struggling under an onslaught of Covid-19 patients in a country with worryingly low vaccination rates.
The European Union country of around 19 million has only 35% of its adults fully inoculated against COVID-19 compared to an EU average of 74%, and is the second-least vaccinated nation in the 27-nation bloc in front of Bulgaria.
In an attempt to curb the surge and relieve pressure on hospitals, authorities approved tighter restrictions set to take effect on Monday.
Vaccination certificates will be required for many day-to-day activities, such as going to the gym, the cinema, or a shopping mall.
For everyone, there will be a 10 p.m. curfew, shops will be shuttered at 9 p.m., bars and clubs will close for 30 days, and schools will close for an additional week over half-term starting Monday. Masks will be mandatory for everyone in public.
“I would bring people (who don’t believe in the virus or vaccines) here for a day, and maybe they’ll change their opinion,” Filip told The Associated Press.
Ukraine’s coronavirus infections and deaths reached all-time highs for a second straight day Friday, Associated Press reports.
Health authorities reported 23,785 new confirmed infections and 614 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Authorities in the capital, Kiev, shut schools for two weeks starting Friday, and similar measures were ordered in other areas with high contagion levels.