Covid-19 wrap: Britain’s situation ‘stable’, Palau hits 99% vaccination, Bali opens to select tourists

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the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

FOLLOW LIVE | Covid-19 in SA: Cases rise by 942 as death toll hits 88 466

Coronavirus toll at 10:00 (GMT) Thursday

Paris – The novel coronavirus has killed at least 4
870 405 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according
to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 10:00 (GMT) on Thursday.

At least 239 058 470 cases of coronavirus have been
registered. The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to
experience symptoms weeks or even months later.

The figures are based on daily reports provided by
health authorities in each country. They exclude revisions made by other
statistical organisations, which show that the number of deaths is much higher.

The World Health Organisation estimates that the
pandemic’s overall toll could be two to three times higher than official
records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to

A large number of the less severe or asymptomatic
cases also remain undetected, despite intensified testing in many countries.

On Wednesday, 8 666 new deaths and 459 785 new
cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the
most new deaths were United States with 3 108 new deaths, followed by Russia
with 986 and Mexico with 420.

The United States is the worst-affected country
with 719 530 deaths from 44 683 145 cases.


Britain’s Covid-19 situation stable – health minister

– Britain’s defences against Covid-19 are working and the pandemic situation is
currently stable, health minister Sajid Javid said on Thursday.

things feel quite stable at this point. The numbers are a bit up, a bit down
over the last few weeks,” he told Times Radio.

primary defences against this virus are working.”

reported 42 776 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number since
mid-July, and 136 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data


England school return spurred Covid-19 in children, but cases fell
in adults – study

LONDON – Covid-19 infections in children in England
rose in September after schools returned from summer holidays, helping to keep
cases high even as there was a fall among adults, a large prevalence study
showed on Thursday.

The REACT-1 study, led by Imperial College London,
is the latest to find that more children are getting infected with Covid-19
following the reopening of schools at the start of September.

Infection numbers in Britain are currently much
higher than in other western European countries, with more than 30 000 new
cases reported every day this month, but have not risen above summer levels
following the return of schools in England despite the higher infection rates
in children.

The study found that prevalence in 13 to
17-year-olds was 2.55% between 9-27 September, with prevalence in those aged 5
to 12 at 2.32%. Prevalence for every adult age group was estimated below 1%.

The study found that the epidemic was growing among
those under 17, with an estimated reproduction “R” number of 1.18. An
R number above 1 implies exponential growth, while a number below 1 implies the
epidemic is shrinking.


Tiny Pacific nation beats the world with 99% Covid-19 vaccination,
says Red Cross

SYDNEY – The tiny Pacific nation of Palau has the
world’s highest percentage of people vaccinated against Covid-19, the Red Cross
said on Thursday, urging the country’s laggard neighbours to follow its example
and step up inoculation efforts.

Fully 99% of Palau’s population over 12 has had
both shots of vaccine for the new coronavirus, the International Federation of
Red Cross (IFRC) said, citing government figures which also show that this
amounts to 16 152 people.

That puts Palau, an archipelago of 500 islands in
the western Pacific Ocean, in the “top spot”, the IFRC said in a statement,
ahead of countries like Portugal which was named one of the world’s most
vaccinated countries when 80% of its 10 million people were fully immunised
last month.

It also presents a stark contrast with other small
nations in the region that have had sluggish vaccine rollouts due to supply
constraints and population hesitancy. Less than 10% of the Solomon Islands
(population 650 000) and Kiribati (population 119 000) are vaccinated, the IFRC

In Papua New Guinea, 150km north of Australia, less
than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated, it added, citing Our World in
Data figures.


Ireland may not drop all Covid-19 restrictions next week,
ministers say

DUBLIN – Ireland raised doubts over its plans to
drop almost all Covid-19 restrictions next week due to a rise in cases, with
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe saying a full return of office workers was now

Ireland has one of the highest vaccination rates in
the world with 92% of adults fully protected, but also one of the highest
infection rates in Europe with around 400 cases per 100 000 people in the past
14 days.

With hospitalisations ticking up, though still far
below peaks this year and last, ministers will discuss at a cabinet meeting on
Tuesday whether this will push up critical care needs ahead of the busy winter

After one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns, the
government had planned to let nightclubs open for the first time in 20 months
from 22 October, with other venues back at full capacity, and a requirement for
vaccine certificates in bars and restaurants dropped.


Bali reopens to international flights but no tourists in sight

Bali reopened to international flights from select
countries on Thursday, including China, Japan and France, as the
pandemic-struck Indonesian holiday island took a step toward welcoming back

But authorities in Bali, which lost its primary source
of income as tourism dried up, said there were no international flights
expected on Thursday.

Foreign visitors must be vaccinated, quarantine in
a hotel for five days and follow strict visa requirements under new entry rules
for travellers.

“We’re ready and waiting for international
flights,” said airport spokesperson Taufan Yudhistira. “But so far
there’s nothing scheduled today.”

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport was open to
travellers from 19 countries including South Korea, China, Japan, France, the
United Arab Emirates, Dubai and New Zealand, authorities said.

The partial reopening, however, does not include
Australians – a key source of the millions of tourists who flocked to the
palm-fringed island before the pandemic.


New Zealand reports biggest rise in Covid-19 cases in six weeks

New Zealand reported on Thursday its biggest rise
in Covid-19 infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in Auckland,
raising prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions in the
country’s largest city beyond next week.

Some 1.7 million people in Auckland are under
strict stay-home orders until Monday as officials look to stamp out the highly
infectious Delta outbreak, the first major spate of community cases in the
country since early in the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the
surge in case numbers in Auckland was not unexpected “but they are rising
more quickly”, and blamed illegal home gatherings for the spike.

“Now is not the time for complacency,”
Robertson said during a media conference in Wellington, urging residents in
Auckland to strictly follow the level-three rules, under which most people are
required to stay at home unless they have urgent reasons to go out.

A total of 71 new local cases were reported in the
country, all detected in Auckland, up from 55 a day earlier.


Melbourne set for Covid-19 lockdown exit despite record cases as
vaccinations spike

SYDNEY – Melbourne will exit months of Covid-19
lockdown next week, helped by a faster-than-expected vaccine uptake, Victoria
state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday, ahead of schedule even though
daily infections hit a record the same day.

In the worst day of an outbreak of the Delta
variant coronavirus that began in early August, Victoria logged 2 297 new cases
on Thursday, up from 1 571 the day before and the highest for any Australian
state or territory since the pandemic began. Eleven people died, bringing the
total toll in the latest outbreak to 125.

But the surge comes as Victoria also nears the 70%
threshold for double-dose vaccination among eligible adults – the level at
which authorities have promised to end strict stay-home restrictions. That
target was originally expected to be met on 26 October, and the vaccination
level was 62% as of Thursday.

Most new cases were detected in Melbourne, but the
city’s night curfew will also be lifted, while businesses can reopen with
strict social distancing rules, according to the roadmap. More curbs will be
relaxed when vaccination levels reach 80% and 90%.


Moderna or Pfizer booster works better for people vaccinated with
J&J – study

Washington – People who received Johnson & Johnson’s
Covid-19 vaccine may benefit from a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna,
preliminary results of a US study published on Wednesday showed.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), was eagerly awaited in the United States because it looked at the
possibility of “mixing” vaccines – using a different vaccine than the
initial doses for the booster shot – which is not currently allowed in the

The study was conducted on 458 adults who had been
vaccinated with one of three US-approved brands (Pfizer, Moderna or J&J)
for at least 12 weeks.

These three groups were each divided into three new
groups to receive one of the available vaccines as a booster. The nine groups
consisted of about 50 people each.

Researchers then analysed antibody levels 15 days
after the booster shot.

For people originally inoculated with J&J,
antibody levels were four times higher after a J&J booster, 35 times higher
after a Pfizer booster and 76 times higher after a Moderna booster.

And antibody levels for those who had originally
received Moderna shots were higher “irrespective of the booster vaccine
administered”, when compared with those who had initially received Pfizer
or J&J, the study said.


Russia’s daily Covid-19 cases, deaths surge to record highs

MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday reported a record 986
coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours and 31 299 new cases, its
highest one-day infection tally since the pandemic began.

The Kremlin has blamed the rising death toll on
Russia’s slow vaccination campaign and has appealed to people to get the shot.
Take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities
and fear of new medical products.

Thursday’s case tally marked the first time Russia
has officially reported more than 30 000 cases in a single day.

Around a third of the population – 43 million – has
been inoculated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday.

Russia was fast to develop and launch its Sputnik
vaccine when the pandemic struck last year and has since approved four vaccines
for use.


Hungary’s daily Covid-19 cases rise above 1 000 for first time
during fourth wave of pandemic

BUDAPEST – Hungary reported 1 141 new Covid-19
infections on Thursday, with the number rising above 1 000 for the first time
during the fourth wave of the pandemic, the government said.

The virus has infected 831 866 people in the
country of 10 million so far and killed 30 341. Nearly 5.7 million people have
been fully vaccinated in Hungary and 948 000 people have already received a
third, booster shot as well.


Mexico reports 6 320 new Covid-19 cases, 420 more deaths

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s health ministry on Wednesday
reported 6 320 new cases of Covid-19 in the country and 420 more deaths,
bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3 738 749
and the death toll to 283 193.

It has previously said that these numbers are
likely significantly higher than those reported.


Brazil sees 7 852 new coronavirus cases, 176 deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil registered 7 852 new coronavirus
cases and 176 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on


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