Covid-19 has killed more than 4.6M people and infected over 222M globally. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for September 8:

A woman who was inoculated with Sinovac vaccine, gets a third dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech shot in Montevideo, Uruguay on August 16, 2021.
A woman who was inoculated with Sinovac vaccine, gets a third dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech shot in Montevideo, Uruguay on August 16, 2021. (Reuters)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ireland to give Covid-19 vaccine booster shot to over-80s

Ireland will give Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to elderly people who were fully vaccinated at least six months ago, the Health Ministry said.

People over the age of 80 and those over 65 living in long-term residential care facilities will receive a booster dose of a vaccine such as those made by Pfizer or Moderna, irrespective of what vaccine they received initially, the ministry said in a statement. 

WHO calls for a moratorium on booster shots for rest of year

The head of the World Health Organization is calling on rich countries with large supplies of coronavirus vaccines to refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year, expanding an earlier request that has largely fallen on deaf ears.

“A month ago, I called for a global moratorium on booster doses, at least until the end of September to prioritise vaccinating the most at risk people around the world who are yet to receive their first dose,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva. 

“There has been little change in the global situation since then.”

“So today, I’m calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population,” he said.

Africa sees rise in Covid-19 fatalities, cases

Daily Covid-19 deaths and infections in Africa slightly swelled, according to an update by the Africa CDC.

With 605 more deaths, the death toll reached 200,741, while 17,441 new infections pushed the number of total cases to 7.95 million.

Nearly 7.2 million patients have recovered on the continent, where close to 68 million tests have been conducted so far, the data showed.

Of the five geographical regions in Africa, Southern Africa has recorded more than 3.8 million cases, North Africa 2.4 million, East Africa 927,900, West Africa 617,300, and Central Africa 222,100 cases.

At least 104,700 people died from the virus in Southern Africa, 64,700 in North Africa, 19,100 in East Africa, 9,000 in West Africa, and 3,200 in Central Africa.

Just about 2.93 percent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 so far, the data showed.

UK records 191 deaths and 38,975 cases

The United Kingdom recorded a further 191 daily deaths from Covid-19 and 38,975 new cases, official data showed.

Infection numbers in the last seven days are up 15.3 percent on the week before, and the weekly death count is up 26.1 percent.

EU lists rare nerve disorder as possible side-effect of AstraZeneca vaccine

Europe's medicines regulator has added an extremely rare nerve-damaging disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome, as a possible side-effect of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, regular safety updates from the watchdog showed.

The European Medicines Agency said a causal relationship between GBS and the AstraZeneca shot, known as Vaxzevria, was a "at least a reasonable possibility" after 833 cases of GBS were reported out of 592 million doses of the vaccine given worldwide by July 31.

The EMA categorised the side-effect as "very rare", the lowest frequency of side-effect category it has, and has emphasised that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.

COVAX vaccine 2021 delivery target cut to 1.425B doses

The global programme providing Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries is on course to fall nearly 30 percent short of its previous goal of 2 billion shots this year, the international organisations running it said.

The head of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, which sponsors the COVAX programme along with the World Health Organization, Unicef and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), pleaded with rich countries to share more doses.

Italy reports 69 deaths, 5,923 new cases

Italy reported 69 coronavirus-related deaths against 71 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 5,923 from 4,720.

Swiss will need certificates to go to bars, restaurants

People will need to show a Covid-status certificate to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centres in Switzerland from Monday, the government ordered, in a move to relieve pressure on hospitals that are struggling to cope with a fourth wave of infections.

"The situation remains unstable with more than 3,500 cases today," Health Minister Alain Berset told a news conference in Bern. "The alternative is to close everything, and we will do our utmost to avoid that."

The Swiss Covid certificate provides proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test result.

EU takes Japan off Covid-safe travel list

European Union ambassadors agreed to remove six countries, including Japan, from the bloc's Covid safe travel list, meaning tourists entering could face restrictions, diplomats said.

The move targeting non-essential travel from Japan, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, and Brunei – set to be formalised this week – is the latest step by Brussels to tighten up on arrivals as concern mounts over rising infection numbers.

India restricts religious festivals over surge fears

Indian authorities are restricting major religious festivals that start this week and attract huge crowds, warning that a new wave had already begun in the financial capital Mumbai.

State governments across the country of 1.3 billion people, which saw a devastating coronavirus surge in April-May, are clamping down on mass gatherings.

"The third wave is not coming, it is already here," Mumbai's mayor Kishori Pednekar told reporters on Tuesday.

"We can celebrate festivals later. Let us first prioritise the lives and health of our citizens," added Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.

He was speaking ahead of the 11-day Hindu Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which starts Friday.

The last wave overwhelmed India's hospitals and was known to have killed more than 200,000 people.

It struck after one of the world's biggest religious gatherings, the Kumbh Mela, which attracted some 25 million Hindu pilgrims.

South Korea concerned about eroding vigilance

South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new cases, approaching a one-day record set last month, as officials expressed concern about erosion in citizen vigilance amid prolonged pandemic restrictions.

The 2,050 cases reported on Wednesday was the sixth time the daily increase came over 2,000 in a span of a month, including a record 2,221 on August 11.

The capital Seoul and the nearby metropolitan area have had the country’s toughest social distancing rules short of a lockdown for nine consecutive weeks. The measures force nightclubs and churches to close and prohibit private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 pm unless the participants are fully vaccinated.

The Health Ministry said people’s exhaustion and frustration with virus restrictions are becoming an increasing challenge. 

Highway traffic, credit card usage and other indicators of activity and movement are all rising, said Park Hyang, a senior ministry official, during a briefing.

There’s concern that transmissions would worsen during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving that comes in two weeks.

China administered total of 2.11B doses of vaccines

China administered about 5.9 million doses of vaccines on September 7, bringing the total number of doses administered to 2.119 billion, data from the National Health Commission showed.

Czech Republic's daily cases highest since May

The Czech Republic on Wednesday recorded 588 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally since May 25, as government officials predict a continued rise in infections.

The country, which was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in earlier waves, has seen low infection rates since the summer months. In the past two weeks, it has reported 25 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 137 in Germany, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The rise in cases reported for Tuesday was still well below peaks in daily infections seen during the waves between October 2020 and March 2021 when they reached into the thousands, hitting a peak of above 17,000 at one point.

Australia's NSW reports rise in cases; vaccinations accelerate

Three-quarters of people over the age of 16 in Australia's New South Wales (NSW) have now had at least their first vaccination dose, the state reported on Wednesday, along with the first rise in new infections in three days.

Australia has locked down Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, after outbreaks from the highly infectious Delta variant in June ended months of little or no community transmission.

The country now aims to live with, rather than eliminate, the virus once it achieves broad vaccine coverage of about 70% of its adult population of 20.6 million, a goal it is expected to reach by early November based on current rates.

New South Wales reported 1,480 locally acquired cases, up from 1,220 a day earlier, while cases in neighbouring Victoria dipped to 221 from 246.

Nine new deaths were recorded but rising vaccination levels among the most vulnerable mean the mortality rate of the current outbreak is 0.41%, data shows, below previous outbreaks.

New Zealand marks downward trend in new cases

New Zealand reported a further fall in locally acquired cases on Wednesday, as the largely coronavirus-free nation looks to eradicate an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

New Zealand reported 15 new locally acquired cases, down from 21 a day earlier, on the first day of an easing of tough restrictions in all regions outside its largest city Auckland.

Daily infections hit a peak of 85 on August 29. All of the latest cases were in Auckland.

Officials earlier this week said schools, offices and businesses can reopen outside Auckland from Wednesday after near-zero cases in the rest of the country, but there will be a cap on gatherings and masks will remain mandatory in public venues.

Covid slows fight against HIV, TB, malaria

The Covid-19 pandemic had a "devastating" impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

"For the first time in the history of the global fund, key programmatic results have gone backwards," said Peter Sands, the Global Fund's executive director. 

Compared with 2019, the number of people reached with HIV prevention and treatment dropped by 11 percent last year, while HIV testing dropped by 22 percent, holding back new treatment in most countries.

The number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by "a staggering" 19 percent, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering an even bigger drop of 37 percent, it said. 

The fund calculated that around 4.7 million people were treated for TB in 2020, around one million fewer than in 2019.

Interventions to combat malaria "appear to have been less badly affected by Covid-19 than the other two diseases," the report found. 

IMF approves $567 million in emergency support for Tanzania

The International Monetary Fund approved $567 million in emergency support for Tanzania to help it finance a COVID-19 vaccination campaign and meet the health and social costs of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 outbreak and associated travel restrictions have led to the collapse of the tourism sector in the East African country, which had denied the existence of the pandemic under the late president, John Magufuli.

Idaho hospitals begin rationing health care amid Covid surge

Public health leaders in Idaho, US, announced that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state's northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle. 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has warned  residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalised.

The move came as the state's confirmed coronavirus cases skyrocketed in recent weeks.

Mexico reports 1,071 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry reported 15,784 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 1,071 more deaths, bringing the total number of official infections since the pandemic began to 3.4 million and the death toll to 264,541.

Health ministry officials have previously said that the real numbers are likely significantly higher.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies