Coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4.3 million people and infected over 207 million globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for August 16:

FILE PHOTO: A vial labelled with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 19, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: A vial labelled with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 19, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Monday, August 16:

Pfizer submits initial data for Covid-19 vaccine booster authorisation

Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE have submitted to US regulators the initial data from an early-stage trial toward seeking authorisation of a booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine, the drugmakers said.

They said the third dose showed significantly higher neutralising antibodies against the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus compared to the two doses as well as against the Beta and the highly infectious Delta variants.

Pfizer has said its vaccine's efficacy drops over time, citing a study that showed 84 percent effectiveness from a peak of 96 percent four months after a second dose. Some countries including Israel have already gone ahead with plans to give booster doses.

French shopping malls to require Covid-19 health pass

Shopping malls in Paris and large parts of France had to ask customers to show a health pass, as the government increased pressure on people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The requirement to show proof of vaccination or a negative test applies to all malls with a surface area of more than 20,000 square metres in regions where the COVID-19 incidence rate is higher than 200 cases per 100,000 citizens per week.

Turkey records 18,163 new cases

Turkey has registered 18,163 new infections and 165 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, while as many as 16,642 more patients recovered, according to official data.

The country has administered over 84.57 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, the Health Ministry said.

Turkey continues its intensive vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as everyone aged 16 and older is eligible for vaccine shots.

According to the ministry, over 44.37 million people have gotten their first doses, while more than 33.37 million are now fully vaccinated.

Serbia to offer Covid-19 booster shots

Serbia will offer a third "booster" Covid-19 shot to its population from Tuesday, as the country battles an uptick in cases, largely among unvaccinated citizens. 

The Balkan nation had a strong initial vaccine rollout, but rates dropped off after around 40 percent of the population was vaccinated, with many citing vaccine hesitancy.

Daily virus cases are on the rise in Serbia, which epidemiologists have blamed in part on the highly-infectious Delta variant, largely striking the unvaccinated.

France's Covid-19 hospitalisations above 10,000 for first time since end June

French health authorities said the total number of people hospitalised for the virus stood at 10,151, going over 10,000 for the first time since June 22.

There were also more patients treated in intensive care units for the disease, with an increase of 56 over 24 hours to 1,908 - more than twice as high than a July 21 low of 859. 

New York orders all healthcare workers to get vaccine

All healthcare workers in New York State must be vaccinated against virus unless they have a medical or religious exemption, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a new mandate issued.

They must have received at least one dose of a vaccine by Sept. 27, he said in a statement. 

Italy reports 24 deaths, 3,674 cases

Italy has reported 24 coronavirus-related deaths against 19 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections declined to 3,674 from 5,664.

Italy has registered 128,456 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.44 million cases to date.

UK records 28,438 new daily virus cases, 26 deaths

The United Kingdom has reported a further 28,438 daily cases of Covid-19, up from the 26,750 recorded on Sunday, and 26 deaths, official data showed.

Cases in the last seven days were up around 5 percent on the week before, the data showed. The weekly figure for fatalities, recorded within 28 days of a positive test, was up 1.6 percent.

Indonesia extends coronavirus restrictions, loosens some measures

Indonesia has extended its virus curbs though relaxed some measures in eight unspecified areas on the most populous islands of Java and Bali, as fewer infections have been reported in cities.

The easing of certain measures included allowing restaurant dine-in at 25 percent of capacity and increasing the number of shoppers allowed in malls, for regions where the strictest level of curbs are in place. 

Mumbai resumes rail services as part of wider easing

Authorities in India's financial capital Mumbai have almost fully resumed suburban rail services for the first time in more than a year, as part of a wider easing of virus restrictions, as the pace of infections declined.

Previously, only essential workers were allowed to use the trains, but those who are fully vaccinated were allowed on board trains from Sunday.

Parks, seafronts and playgrounds were also allowed to stay open for all until 10 pm local time (1630 GMT), from the previous closing hours of 4 pm, the city's civic body said.

Workers try to flee Vietnam's biggest city as coronavirus crisis worsens

Thousands of jobless workers in Vietnam's biggest city are trying to flee to their hometowns, many on motorcycles piled high with belongings, following an extension of restrictions in the epicentre of the country's worst coronavirus outbreak yet.

But authorities are anxious to prevent them leaving Ho Chi Minh City and potentially spreading the virus to other parts of the country. Waves of motorbikes could be seen being halted at roadblocks around the city since Sunday.

Television footage from nearby industrialised provinces showed factory workers dressed head-to-toe in protective clothing and rushing to board trains and buses in a similar attempt to flee the most affected areas.

UK review finds Covid-19 shots do not raise risk of miscarriage

The UK's health regulator said Covid-19 vaccines did not raise the risk of miscarriage, and that it had not found any link between the shots and changes to menstrual periods.

"There is no pattern from the reports to suggest that any of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK, or any reactions to these vaccines, increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth," the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement.

The MHRA's findings are in line with a similar review from Europe earlier this month, which showed no causal link between Covid-19 vaccines and menstrual disorders. 

Europe eyes arthritis drug for Covid-19 cases

 The European Medicines Agency has started an accelerated review process to determine if a common arthritis drug might help people hospitalised with severe Covid-19, months after the drug was granted an emergency use authorisation in the US.

In a statement, the EU drug regulator said it was assessing an application to extend the use of tocilizumab for adults suffering from severe coronavirus in the hospital, who were already being treated with other steroids or required extra oxygen, including via a ventilator. 

Tocilizumab is an anti-inflammatory drug currently used to treat adults and children with severe arthritis.

Paralympics follow lead of Olympics: No fans during pandemic

All fans will be barred from the Paralympics in Japan because of the coronavirus pandemic, just as they were from the recently completed Tokyo Olympics, organisers said.

There were a few exceptions made during the Olympics with some fans allowed in outlying areas away from Tokyo. 

This time, all fans will be barred except the possibility of some children attending a few unspecified events.

England eases self-isolation guidelines

People in England who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or are under 18 years of age, will no longer have to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The change, which came into effect on Monday, has been welcomed by businesses, many of which have suffered staff shortages as a result of the requirement for people to spend 10 days in quarantine if they have been a contact of a positive case.

Nearly 77 percent of people in the UK aged over 18 have received two jabs.

Iran sees record high number of deaths 

Iran has recorded a record-high number of deaths from virus for a second day in a row.

The official IRNA news agency said that 655 patients died in the previous 24 hours, and health workers found some 41,194 new cases over the same period. 

The report came as the country imposed a five-day lockdown starting Monday. It includes a travel ban on personal cars crossing between provinces.

Germany says all young people above 12 can vaccinate

Germany’s standing committee on vaccination, the Stiko, has given the go-ahead for all young people above the age of 12 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The country’s disease control agency said the Stiko found that especially data from the United States, where almost 10 million adolescents have been vaccinated, show that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks for children and teenagers.

Sri Lanka announces nightly curfew

Sri Lanka’s government has announced nightly curfew starting Monday to control a surge in the virus cases.

A government statement says curfew will be enforced from 10 pm to 4 am from Monday until further notice.

Travel for essential services will be allowed during the curfew.

North Macedonia reimposes restrictions as virus resurges

North Macedonia has reimposed restrictions on access to cafes, restaurants and public events in a bid to subdue a fresh spike in virus infections and nudge citizens to get vaccinated, prompting public anger and protests.

From Monday, those who want to go to restaurants, concerts or any public events will have to show a certificate of at least one Covid-19 vaccination or of recovery from the disease within the past 45 days.

Only open-air parts of restaurants and cafes will be open and customer numbers will be limited to 30, the government said, adding that owners would have to provide security guards to check compliance with the measures.

Vaccine hesitancy reaches Mexico's youth - along with Delta variant

As the Delta variant of the Covid virus sweeps through Mexico's cities, more adults in their 30s and 40s are ending up in the hospital with polls showing vaccine hesitancy is rising in younger age groups.

At the height of the pandemic in January, 10 percent of people hospitalised for Covid-19 were aged between 18 and 39, according to the Health Ministry. Cases have now surged again to near-record levels

Russia reports 806 virus deaths and 20,765 new cases

Russia has reported 806 coronavirus-related deaths, close to a record high amid a surge in cases that authorities blame on the infectious Delta variant.

The government coronavirus task force also reported 20,765 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 1,489 in Moscow, pushing the infection tally to 6,621,601 since the pandemic began. 

Hong Kong reclassifies 15 countries as 'high risk' for virus

Hong Kong's government has said that it would upgrade 15 overseas places including the United States, Spain and France to "high risk" from "medium risk" by August 20, meaning international arrivals from those countries will face lengthened quarantine due to a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The government said arrivals from Bangladesh, Cambodia, France, Greece, Iran, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States would all face the new restrictions, according to a statement released on Monday.

Hong Kong has some of the most stringent coronavirus entry requirements globally, with arrivals from countries considered "high risk" mandated to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days in a designated quarantine hotel, even those who are vaccinated.

Taiwan denies approval for UBI's virus vaccine candidate

Taiwan has rejected an application for the production and emergency use of UBI Pharma Inc's Covid-19 vaccine candidate, the government said, in a setback for the island's push to attain self-sufficiency.

Developing its own vaccine has been a major goal, although Taiwan has also ordered millions of shots from Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca PLC, and is due next week to start injecting its first domestically developed vaccine, made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp.

Japan to extend 'state of emergency' lockdown through mid-Sept - report

The Japanese government is set to extend its "state of emergency" soft lockdown in regions including Tokyo to the middle of September as well as adding several other regions, the Sankei Shimbun daily reported.

The current state of emergency is due to expire on August 31, but a continuing surge in coronavirus cases has spurred calls to extend it. 

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 2,126 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 2,126 to 3,823,139, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 4 to 91,871, the tally showed. 

Brazil registers 13,957 new cases

Brazil recorded 13,957 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 270 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Brazil has registered more than 20 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 569,058, according to ministry data.

Mexico records 9,295 more cases, 213 deaths

Mexico reported 9,295 more confirmed cases on Sunday and 213 additional fatalities, according to Health Ministry data, bringing the total number of cases to 3,101,266 and the overall death toll to 248,380.

Roadblocks erected in Sydney as Australia battles Delta outbreak

Hundreds of unarmed defence personnel joined thousands of extra police to set up roadblocks and enforce lockdown rules in parts of Sydney on Monday, while dozens of new venues were added to a list of exposure sites in Melbourne.

Australia is in the grip of a third wave with its largest cities — Sydney and Melbourne — in lockdown along with the capital Canberra amid a slow vaccination rollout that has inoculated only 26 percent of people above 16 years of age.

Tougher restrictions took effect in Sydney, the epicentre of Australia's outbreak, after seven weeks of stay-home orders failed to stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

With the virus spreading into towns outside Sydney, the capital of New South Wales state, lockdown restrictions were imposed statewide for a week until Saturday night.

In Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, authorities detected 21 new locally acquired cases, down from 25 on Sunday as virus-exposed venues in the city topped 500.

Turkey has given over 83.54M vaccine shots so far

Turkey has administered over 83.54 million doses of vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, according to official figures released on Sunday.

The country continues its intensive vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as everyone 18 and over is eligible for vaccine shots.

According to the Health Ministry, over 44 .02 million people have gotten their first doses, while more than 32.91 million are now fully vaccinated.

Turkey is also administering third vaccine booster shots and over 6.61 million such doses have been given.

A total of 7.35 million vaccines including, first, second and third doses, were also administered within the last week.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies