Covid-19 wrap | New Zealand bans travellers from India, Brazil detects first case of SA variant

  • New Zealand on Thursday temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens.
  • Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.
  • Two Mexican men in their 30s managed to get the coronavirus vaccine in the capital by disguising themselves as senior citizens before they were caught.

New Zealand suspends entry for travellers from India due to
high Covid-19 cases

New Zealand on Thursday temporarily suspended entry
for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks
following a high number of positive coronavirus cases arriving from the South
Asian country.

“We are temporarily suspending entry into New
Zealand for travellers from India,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in
a news conference in Auckland.

The suspension will start from 16:00 local time on
11 April and will be in place until 28 April. During this time the government
will look at risk management measures to resume travel.

The suspension applies to anyone who has been in
India during the past 14 days. It is the first time that New Zealand has
extended any bar on entry to its own citizens and residents.

Ardern said:

I want to emphasise that while arrivals of Covid from India has prompted this measure, we are looking at how we manage high risk points of departure generally. This is not a country specific risk assessment…

Pre-departure testing requirements reduced the
number of positive cases coming from other countries but that’s not been the
case with India, Ardern said.

“We have looked into whether or not we have
issues with accuracy of the pre-departure tests. That has not demonstrated that
that’s where the problem lies. So this suspension gives us the time to look at
the problem more generally,” she said.

Reuters


Brazil detects first case of South African variant,
grave shortage looms as death toll soars

Brazil has recorded its first
confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South
Africa, a fresh danger sign for a country already ravaged by the world’s worst
daily death toll and scrambling to make space for burials.

The Federal University of Minas
Gerais said in a statement that two samples taken in the city included a
previously unseen set of 18 mutations, including some in the same genes
modified by the South African variant and Brazil’s already prevalent variant,
known as P.1.

Sao Paulo, the country’s biggest
city, on Wednesday said it would begin opening some 600 new graves per day,
well beyond the record of 426 burials in a day on 30 March. The city is also
preparing plans for a “vertical cemetery,” a crypt with 26 000
drawer-like graves that can be built in 90 days once approved.

The woman in Sao Paulo state now
confirmed as infected by the South African virus variant was first identified
by the Butantan biomedical institute as a possible case of a new local variant.
Further analysis confirmed it as the first known local case of the variant
widely circulating in South Africa and elsewhere.

Scientists fear a showdown
between the South African variant and Brazil’s P.1 variant, both of which are
more contagious and possibly more deadly than the original version of the
coronavirus, worsening Covid-19 surges.

Maria Carolina Sabbaga, one of
Butantan’s coordinators for studying new variants, said:

It could be a huge duel. I think P.1 has already taken over. I’m not sure if the South African will overtake P.1, let’s see.

Reuters


EU regulator says AZ clot risk ‘very rare’ as nations
battle virus surges

The EU’s medicines regulator said on Wednesday that
blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab but
the benefits continue to outweigh risks, as several countries battle fresh
virus surges amid vaccine shortfalls.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Wednesday
that blood clots should be listed as a “very rare” side effect,
encouraging countries to continue its use.

The announcement came after the EMA examined 86
blood clotting cases, 18 of which were fatal, out of around 25 million people
in Europe who received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of the cases were in women
aged under 60.

But EMA chief Emer Cooke said no particular risk
factor had been identified and the clots may be linked to an immune response to
the vaccine.

She told a news conference:

The benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risk of side effects. It is saving lives.

AFP


Mexican tricksters use elderly disguise to get Covid vaccine

Two Mexican men in their 30s managed to get the
coronavirus vaccine in the capital by disguising themselves as senior citizens,
but were later caught, the authorities said on Wednesday.

With their hair and eyebrows coloured white, the
men visited a vaccination centre for over 60s wearing masks and plastic face
shields, the city mayor’s office said.

Both presented false identity documents and
received the vaccine, but their plan fell apart when they had to speak with a
worker at the centre afterward.

Mexico City official Cristina Cruz was quoted by
the UNOTV news site as saying:

A colleague realised the voice was not that (of an
old man), and that was when she called the authorities.

The imposters face charges of identity theft, she
said.

The country of 126 million, whose official Covid-19
death toll of 205 000 is the world’s third highest, has doled out nearly 10
million vaccine doses to medical workers and the elderly.

AFP


Argentina announces curfew as coronavirus cases
rise

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez on
Wednesday announced a three-week nighttime curfew after a second consecutive
day of record coronavirus infections.

The curfew will enter into force on Friday and
apply from midnight to 06:00 every day until April 30, he said in a message
recorded at his official residence, where he is self-isolating after being
infected with the virus himself.

It will be in force in the country’s highest risk
areas, mainly the urban centres, the president said.

Bars and restaurants will close at 23:00.

Dance halls and gyms are also closed.

AFP


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