Covid-19 has infected more than 241M people and killed nearly 4.9M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 18.

A woman wearing a protective face mask is seen in a bus, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues, in Minsk, Belarus, April 28, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective face mask is seen in a bus, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues, in Minsk, Belarus, April 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Monday, October 18, 2021

Belarus orders a halt to routine medical care 

Belarus has ordered a halt to routine medical care at state clinics in order to devote more resources to patients.

The Health Ministry said the suspended services include medical examinations and screenings, physiotherapy and dentistry.

Belarus has been hit by a rising wave of infections, with around 2,000 new cases reported daily in the country of 9.3 million.

Survey: public support for prioritising virus fight falls

Nearly two years into the pandemic, growing numbers of people in several Western countries value protecting the economy over fighting the virus, even if it leads to more deaths, a poll has shown.

The survey of 6,000 people living in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan showed the tide turning against restrictions, Kekst CNC consultancy said.

"In every country, the proportion of those wanting their governments to prioritise limiting the spread of coronavirus over protecting the economy has decreased," the report said, adding that mass support for lockdowns "appears to be at an end".

UK reports highest number of cases since mid-July

Britain has reported the highest number of new cases in three months as the number of infections reached levels last seen when lockdown restrictions were in place in England during the summer.

The country reported 49,156 new cases and 45 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

The figures compared to 45,140 cases and 57 deaths reported a day earlier. 

Infection numbers in Britain are currently much higher than in other western European countries and have risen more 60 percent in the last month.

Over 114.2M vaccine jabs given in Turkey to date

Turkey has administered over 114.22 million doses of vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January, according to official figures released.

Nearly 55 million people have been given a first dose of a  vaccine, while around 47.45 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry also recorded 29,240 new cases, 214 fatalities and 26,539 recoveries in the past 24 hours.

Restaurants closed in parts of Slovakia amid surge

Slovakia has reimposed restrictions in the hardest-hit parts of the country amid the latest surge of infections.

Five counties all located in northern Slovakia are affected by the measures, which include the closures of restaurants with people only allowed to buy meals at takeout windows.

Algeria lifts curfew in 23 provinces - Ennahar TV

Algeria has lifted an overnight curfew that was imposed in parts of the country last month to help contain the spread of contagion, state-aligned Ennahar TV reported.

The curfew, running from 2200 - 0400 GMT (11 PM to 5 AM local), was in effect in 23 out of 58 provinces in the North African country.

Congo steps up vaccinations to contain third wave

The Republic of Congo has announced a 45-day programme to battle a third wave, including vaccinating at least 750,000 people.

The Central African country, also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from the far larger Democratic Republic of Congo, has seen deaths rise sharply this month, Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso said at a ceremony.

He noted 32 deaths were recorded in the first two weeks of this month, far greater than the monthly average since the start of the pandemic.

Burundi launches vaccination drive

Burundi has rolled out its first vaccines, months after most African countries, the latest step in the East African nation's shift towards a more active approach to containing the pandemic.

The vaccination campaign started in the commercial capital of Bujumbura without fanfare. Dozens of city residents queued quietly at a vaccination site, telling Reuters they heard about the drive through word of mouth.

Italy reports over 1,500 new cases

Italy has reported 44 deaths, up from 24 the previous day, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 1,597 from 2,437.

Italy has registered 131,585 deaths since the outbreak in February last year. It has the second highest toll in Europe behind Britain, and the ninth highest in the world. The country has reported 4.7 million cases to date.

South Africa rejects Russian Sputnik vaccine over HIV fears

South Africa's health products regulator have said it would not approve Russia's Sputnik V vaccine due to concerns it could increase the risk of HIV infection among men.

The decision was based on earlier studies testing the safety of a modified form of adenovirus — a type of virus that causes respiratory infections — known as the Ad5 and contained in the Russian jab.

"Use of the Sputnik V vaccine in South Africa, a setting of a high HIV prevalence and incidence, may increase the risk of vaccinated males acquiring HIV," the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said in a statement.

Italy's ex-Covid czar investigated for embezzlement

The official who led Italy's initial response to coronavirus has been under investigation for embezzlement and abuse of office related to the purchase of face masks from China, his spokesperson said.

The probe focuses on contracts Domenico Arcuri's office signed with three Chinese consortiums for the supply of more than 800 million masks for $1.45 billion (1.25 billion euros), at the outset of the pandemic in March and April 2020.

EU says exports of vaccines now top 1 billion mark

The European Union’s top official has said that the bloc has now exported over 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the rest of the world.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the vaccines have been sent to over 150 nations, making the 27-member bloc the largest exporter of the vaccines in the world.

The EU has said that ramping up Covid-19 vaccinations around the world is the bloc’s No. 1 priority right now and already last month made a commitment to send 200 million more vaccine doses to Africa and other low-income nations.

Valneva reports 'positive' Covid vaccine results

Franco-Austrian biotech lab Valneva has announced positive results from clinical trials of its Covid vaccine candidate, a month after the UK government terminated a supply deal with the company. 

Britain had ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine for 2021-2022 - the only order so far for Valneva, which has a production facility in Scotland. The French government has said that the European Union was still in negotiations to buy the vaccine. 

Valvena said its Phase 3 trial, conducted among 4,012 adults in Britain, showed "positive" results for the vaccine, providing more neutralising antibodies than the shot made by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Egypt to require virus vaccinations for civil servants

Egypt's government will soon require public servants to have a vaccination certificate or show a weekly negative Covid-19 test before entering their workplaces.

The government announced the new measures late Sunday. It said the requirements will be applied starting November 15. 

The measures also require public to show proof of vaccination to enter government buildings starting December 1, according to a government statement.

The idea is to encourage people to get vaccinations, as the country of over 100 million people suffers through a fourth wave of the pandemic .

Sydney eases more restrictions as vaccinations pass key milestone

Thousands of children returned to Sydney's schools after nearly four months of home learning as Australia's largest city eased more restrictions just a week after lifting its lockdown amid a surge in vaccination levels.

A faster-than-expected vaccine uptake brought forward further lifting of restrictions by several days as New South Wales (NSW), home to Sydney, topped the 80 percent double-dose immunisation rate over the weekend in people above 16. Authorities had pledged to begin easing curbs as rates reached 70 percent, 80 percent and 90 percent.

China reports 24 new  cases 

China reported 24 new confirmed cases, up from 20 a day earlier, its health authority said on Monday.

Two local cases were found in the northwestern city of Xian, while the rest of the infections were imported from abroad, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

China reported 9 new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, down from 13 in the day earlier.

Brazil registers 130 more deaths

Brazil recorded 5,738 new cases of virus in the past 24 hours, along with 130 deaths from the virus, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 21 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 603,282, according to ministry data.

Egypt will impose restrictions on public employees after Nov 15

Egypt will mandate that public sector employees must either be vaccinated against the virus or take a weekly virus test to be allowed to work in government buildings after November 15, a cabinet statement said.

A government meeting also agreed to allocate one billion pounds ($64 million) to address spending requirements related to the coronavirus crisis.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies