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

Medical personnel prepare coronavirus disease vaccine shot at the Military Medical Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 23, 2021.
Medical personnel prepare coronavirus disease vaccine shot at the Military Medical Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 23, 2021. (Reuters)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bulgaria launches health pass as cases rise 

Bulgaria is introducing a Covid-19 “Green Certificate” as a mandatory requirement for access to restaurants, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, gyms, clubs and shopping malls as the country faces a surge in coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov explained that the new digital or paper health pass certifies that its holder has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or has tested negative.

The Balkan country of 7 million reported 4,979 new Covid-19 cases and 214 coronavirus-related deaths, furthering the rise in new infections since the start of September.

Turkey gives homegrown vaccine candidate as booster shot

As the Phase 3 human trials of Turkey’s vaccine candidate continue, health professionals are offering jabs of Turkovac as a third booster shot.

According to a written statement by Erciyes University in the central Kayseri province, Turkovac, a locally produced inactive vaccine candidate, is given to volunteers who have received two doses of Chinese vaccine Sinovac and have not caught the coronavirus yet.

The vaccine is given to people aged 18 to 59 years old.

Russia proposes week-long workplace shutdown

Russia has proposed to shut workplaces for a week at the start of November as its daily death toll hit a new record and a sharp rise in cases continued, leading to fresh calls from the Kremlin for people to get vaccinated.

Russia's virus task force reported 1,015 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day toll since the start of the pandemic, as well as 33,740 new infections, just shy of a record daily rise, with authorities blaming the surge on a slow vaccination campaign.

Ukraine sets new deaths record

Ukraine reported record coronavirus deaths as the country sees a surge in infections and struggles to roll out jabs to its vaccine-sceptic population.

A government tally in the ex-Soviet country whose public health service is under-resourced reported 538 deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic.

Officials registered 15,579 new infections in 24 hours and 2,852 hospitalisations.

Authorities in the country of around 40 million people initially struggled to source vaccines, but are now fighting to convince Ukrainians to get jabbed.

Children fuel UK case rise after slow vaccine start

The spread of Covid-19 among children in England has been fuelling a rise in cases nationally and causing concern among some scientists that vaccines are being rolled out in schools too slowly, risking the welfare of children and adults alike.

Cases in Britain as a whole are much higher than in other European countries and are rising. On Friday one survey suggested prevalence was at its highest level since January, with 8 percent of secondary school children infected.

Australia's cases remain subdued as vaccinations rise

Australia's Covid-19 cases remained subdued as its largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, gradually move towards normality amid a surge in vaccinations, after being rocked by a third wave of infections from the Delta variant.

The fast-moving Delta strain forced Sydney, Melbourne, and the national capital of Canberra to ditch their Covid-zero approach and officials now aim to ease the tough restrictions once double-dose vaccination rates passed 70 percent, 80 percent and 90 percent.

Sydney, Australia's largest city, and Canberra exited a months-long lockdown last week after racing through its inoculation targets while Melbourne is on track to lift its strict stay-home orders later this week.

Brazil eyes combining pandemic relief, 'Bolsa Familia' welfare in 2022

Brazil's government is considering combining pandemic relief payments and "Bolsa Familia" welfare programmes into a monthly stipend of 300 reais ($54.42) next year, according to an Economy Ministry official with direct knowledge of the matter.

The government is weighing that option due to budget constraints resistance in Congress to its proposed tax reform, said the source on Monday, requesting anonymity to discuss confidential policy debates.

Maintaining soon-to-expire pandemic relief is crucial for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro as he looks at his diminishing re-election chances in 2022 due to plummeting popularity over his handing of Covid-19, while a tight fiscal situation restricts his ability to spend.

Brazil reported 7,446 new cases of Covid-19 and 183 more deaths from coronavirus.

One in three UK music jobs wiped out by Covid – report

The Covid-19 pandemic has wiped out one in three jobs in the UK music industry, a trade body said, as it called for government support to help the sector recover.

The number of jobs fell 35 percent to 128,000 in 2020 from 197,000 in 2019 as the pandemic shut down live events and forced studios to close their doors, UK Music said in its annual report.

Some 69,000 jobs were lost in a sector where three-quarters of workers are self-employed and did not receive help from government support schemes, according to the "This Is Music 2021" report.

The music industry's contribution to the UK economy fell 46 percent to 3.1 billion pounds ($4.26 billion) in 2020 from 5.8 billion pounds in 2019, the report added. Exports fell 23 percent to 2.3 billion pounds.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies