Covid-19 has infected more than 254M people and killed over 5.1M worldwide. Here are coronavirus-related developments for November 15:

Protesters in Greece said they were underpaid, overworked and understaffed.
Protesters in Greece said they were underpaid, overworked and understaffed. (Reuters)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Greek health sector workers protest as hospitals struggle with Covid spike

Greek public health sector workers have protested in Athens over pay and conditions as hospitals struggled with a new surge in Covid-19 cases and authorities considered further restrictions.

The protesters said they were underpaid, overworked and understaffed. They called for more hirings, for the government to include them on a list of hazardous professions, which receive hazard pay benefits, and for private doctors to be ordered to help.

A decision by the government to suspend unvaccinated health sector workers has increased staff shortages, they said.

Hospitals, particularly in northern Greece, are scrambling to treat patients, as cases hit new record highs this month of more than 6,000 daily, and wards are running out of space.

Turkey reports 215 deaths

Turkey's Health Ministry has recorded 23,852 new coronavirus cases, 215 deaths and 25,258 recoveries.

Turkey has administered over 118.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January, according to official figures.

Spanish vaccine begins phase 2 clinical trial

Spanish regulators have given local pharmaceutical company HIPRA the green light to begin a phase 2 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine.

“This is extraordinary news for Spain and for science,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Phase 2 will aim to check whether the vaccine is safe as a booster and how long it prolongs the immunity of those already vaccinated.

Phase 1 of the trial found no serious side effects in any of the participants, and the vaccine appeared to create a successful immune response, according to the Spanish medicines agency.

UK PM Johnson: Get shots to avoid new restrictions

People in Britain must come forward for Covid-19 vaccines when they are eligible if new Covid restrictions this winter are to be avoided, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

"If we want to avoid new restrictions on our daily lives, we must all get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible," Johnson said at a news conference after the booster vaccination programme was expanded.

Johnson also warned of a “blizzard” of new coronavirus infections coming into the UK from continental Europe, as his government extended the vaccine booster program to younger people in an effort to bolster waning immunity levels during the winter months.

UK reported 39,705 more cases and a further 47 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Italy reports 44 coronavirus deaths

Italy has reported 44 coronavirus-related deaths against 36 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 5,144 from 7,569.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19, not including those in intensive care, stood at 3,808, up from 3,647 a day earlier.

Egypt introduces ban on unvaccinated public sector employees

A ban on public sector employees entering their offices if they are unvaccinated and untested for Covid-19 took effect in Egypt as the government pushes to accelerate vaccination rates in the final weeks of the year.

Public university students are also barred from campuses if not vaccinated, according to government rules. Those public employees who are unvaccinated need to submit a PCR test weekly.

Austrian unvaccinated lockdown starts as infections rise across Europe

Austria initiated a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the coronavirus as winter approaches and infections rise across Europe.

The move prohibits people 12 and older who haven't been vaccinated or recently recovered from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going for a walk or getting vaccinated.

The lockdown, which is being imposed until November 24, is believed to affect about 2 million people in the Alpine country of 8.9 million. 

There is widespread scepticism, including among conservatives and the police, about how the lockdown can be enforced.

The aim is to counter a surge in infections to record levels fuelled by a full vaccination rate of only around 65 percent of the population, one of the lowest in western Europe.

Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, prompting some countries to consider re-imposing restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame Covid-19.

India opens to vaccinated foreign tourists after 18 months

India began allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country on regular commercial flights.

Tourists entering India must be fully vaccinated, follow all Covid-19 protocols and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight, according to the health ministry.

Many will also need to undergo a post-arrival Covid-19 test at the airport, except travellers from countries which have agreements with India for mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, such as the US, UK and many European nations.

This is the first time India has allowed foreign tourists on commercial flights to enter the country since March 2020. 

Fully vaccinated tourists on chartered flights were allowed to enter starting last month.

Russia's daily deaths close to record high

Russia reported 1,211 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, close to an all-time high of 1,241 reported last week, as well as 38,420 new coronavirus cases.

Most of Russia's 80-plus regions lifted a week-long workplace shutdown at the beginning of last week that was designed to curb a surge in case numbers.

New Zealanders to receive booster shots

New Zealanders aged 18 or older will get their 3rd dose from November 29 according to Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins.

All citizens and people living in the country will get the booster dose, even if they received the earlier two doses of any vaccine overseas.

In New Zealand, over 7.2 million doses have been administered, and 3.4 million people, or nearly 67% of the country's population, are fully vaccinated.

The island nation has recorded 8,866 virus cases and 34 related deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

German coronavirus infections hit new high, tighter measures planned

Germany's coronavirus infection rate has risen to its highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The seven-day incidence rate, showing the number of people per 100,000 to be infected over the last week, rose to 303 from 289 the previous day, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute.

The number of deaths increased by 43 to a total of 97,715.

The three parties in talks to form a coalition plan to tighten proposed measures to tackle the spread of the new wave of infections, Greens co-leader Robert Habeck said.

The measures will include contact restrictions, an amendment seen by Reuters news agency showed.

New outbreak prompts China to lock down university campus

China has confined nearly 1,500 university students to their dormitories and hotels following an outbreak of Covid-19 in the northeastern city of Dalian.

The order was issued Sunday after several dozen cases were reported at Zhuanghe University City and hundreds of students were transferred to hotels for observation.

Students were attending class remotely and having their meals delivered to their rooms.

The lockdown is the latest example of China’s zero-tolerance approach to the outbreak, which has brought considerable disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Belgium expedites decision on measures to Wednesday

Belgium's government is bringing forward a meeting to decide on tighter measures to control the spread of Covid-19 amid a rapid increase in infections and hospital admissions in the nation.

The meeting was originally set for Friday, but was moved up to Wednesday so that any measure approved midweek could be operational by the weekend, the government said.

Hospital admissions are shooting up 30% on a weekly basis, and the number of patients in intensive care have risen to more than 500, putting ever more strain on hospitals in the nation of 11 million.

The government is expected to look into further areas where face mask wearing should be made mandatory, and consider turning its advice on working from home into a mandatory order.

UK is expected to give Covid-19 boosters to under 50s

The British government is expected to extend the Covid-19 booster programme to people under the age of 50 to drive down transmission rates as winter approaches.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to give its approval  to extending the rollout, The Times reported, adding the precise details of the age groups have not been confirmed.

Brazil reports lowest death toll

Brazil has reported 61 new deaths, the lowest death toll on in more than a year. 

The country's health ministry reported 4,129 new cases and the country reached a total of 21,957,967 cases.

China reports 52 new cases

China has reported 52 new cases, compared with 89 a day earlier.

Of the new infections, 32 were locally transmitted cases, according to a statement by the National Health Commission, compared with 70 a day earlier.

The city of Dalian in the northeastern province of Liaoning accounted for 25 of the new local cases.

China reported 14 new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, compared with 25 a day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Mexico records 58 new deaths

Mexico has reported 58 news fatalities, bringing the overall death toll to 291,147.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies