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21 July, 2021 COVID-19 Information and Updates

COVID-19 Update: July 21, 2021

COVID-19 Update: July 21, 2021


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds 188.6 million (12% of increase as compared to the previous week) and the number of deaths has surpassed 4 million, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures. A total of about 3.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered. 


The latest WHO COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update estimates that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks. Last week, Western Pacific Region recorded the largest increase in case incidence as compared to the previous week, followed by the European Region (30% and 21%, respectively). The number of deaths increased in the South-East Asia and the Western Pacific Regions by 12% and 10%, respectively.

After a sustained decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the WHO is alerting that the Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and inconsistent use of public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths. Delta is present in more than 124 countries (13 new countries) and WHO expects it to be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide very soon.
 
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated his concern that inequity has created a two-track pandemic. The WHO goal is to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of 2021, and at least 70% by mid-2022.
 
Deaths in Africa have risen steeply for the past weeks. Hospital admissions are increasing rapidly while countries face shortages in oxygen and intensive care beds. “This is a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most impacted countries are reaching a breaking point,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. With less than 2% of the population vaccinated, Africa is experiencing its worst surge of cases since the pandemic began.
 
Asian countries are also battling their worse surge of COVID-19 infections. Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea have all imposed new lockdown restrictions. Only a small part of the population is vaccinated due to the shortage of vaccines. In Thailand, only about 15% of people have had at least one shot, and in Vietnam only about 4% have. In Indonesia, about 14% of its population has at least one dose. Indonesia has become the new COVID-19 epicenter in Asia, surpassing India and Brazil in daily case numbers as the Delta variant drives up infections. 
 
The effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the Delta variant has been reported by the company. Although the vaccine showed a small drop in potency against the Delta variant, it is more effective than against the Beta variant.

UN

The COVID pandemic has had a negative impact on health and well-being; employment, businesses, incomes, education; and human rights. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, said that the pandemic has reversed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. She remarked that there can be no pandemic recovery without “international solidarity and cooperation”.
 
On July 14, the WHO and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reported that the pandemic has caused a major backsliding in childhood vaccinations, with South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean most affected. As a consequence, the number of children not receiving vital first vaccine doses has increased.

Australia

The Australian state of Victoria entered snap lockdown from July 15 until July 20, after detecting 18 positive cases. This is its fifth lockdown since the pandemic began. However, the lockdown was extended beyond July 20 despite a slight drop in new infections. New South Wales is also in a five-week lockdown, which will last until the end of the month. Only around 10% of Australia's adult population is fully vaccinated.

China

Dr. Adhanom urged China to be more cooperative with the WHO's second phase of the investigation into the origins of COVID-19. The first phase of WHO's investigation ended in February.
 
China has administered more than 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The government has increased COVID-19 controls on the border with Myanmar, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, amid Delta variant fears.

EU

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control predicts a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, with nearly five times last week's level by August 1. The number of hospitalizations and deaths is expected to increase at a much slower pace.
 
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is available for European citizens with the aim of facilitating safe and free movement in the EU during the pandemic as it exempts holders from restrictions such as quarantine. In addition, the European Commission (EC) updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted: Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list and Ukraine was added to the list.
 
The EC continues to support the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences with financing. In the last days, the EC has adopted a positive assessment of the recovery and resilience plan (under the Recovery and Resilience Facility) for Slovenia (€2.5 billion), Lithuania (€2.2 billion), Cyprus (€1.2 billion) and Czechia (€7 billion). In addition, under the State aid, Italy will receive financing to support self-employed and healthcare professionals in the context of coronavirus outbreak, Germany to reimburse travelers in case of insolvency of package travel organizers, and Spain to support companies affected. Alitalia, a major network airline operating in Italy, will be also compensated for the damages suffered with €39.7 million.
 
Team Europe, one of the leading donors of the COVAX Facility, and the Republic of Senegal have agreed to build a manufacturing plant to produce vaccines against COVID-19 and other endemic diseases. The new manufacturing plant should reduce Africa's 99% dependence on vaccine imports and strengthen future pandemic resilience on the continent. Construction of the new plant is expected to start later this year, with 25 million vaccine doses being produced each month by the end of 2022. 

Belgium

Belgium set new rules for travelers returning from “high-risk” areas who are not fully vaccinated. They will be required to take a PCR test on the first and seventh day after arrival. However, the day-one test is not necessary if the person took a PCR test in the 72 hours preceding their arrival. If the result is positive, they will be required to quarantine for 10 days.

France

On July 12, France announced that health workers must get COVID-19 jabs. In September, those workers not vaccinated could be sanctioned for non-compliance. Furthermore, anyone wanting access to the most public places (cinemas, theaters, museums, long-distance trains, shopping centers, hospitals…) will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. These measures aim to boost vaccination rates and fight against the new Delta variant.

Germany

Germany reclassified the Netherlands and Greece, two of the most popular vacation destinations, as coronavirus risk areas. People returning from these spots are expected to provide a negative test if they are not vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19.

Italy

With more than 62 million doses administered, over half of Italy is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Spain

Amid an explosion of new COVID-19 cases, especially among young people, a new nightly curfew has been imposed in some areas. In addition, the Balearic and Canary Islands are no longer classed as safe travel areas for UK tourists. The Netherlands also moved Spain to its amber list of destinations.

India

According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 86% of vaccinated Indians (among 677 participants) who got COVID-19 were infected by the Delta variant. However, the death rate among vaccinated individuals was found to be very low. Out of these 677 positive participants, 71 were vaccinated with Covaxin, 604 with Covishield, and two with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. 

Japan

Five days before the start of the Olympic Games, two positive cases for coronavirus have been detected in the athletes’ village. The two South African footballers, as well as 21 close contacts (players and officials) are confined to their rooms. In addition, a US gymnast also tested positive and a team member has been identified as a close contact. Both athletes have been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. In addition, six athletes and two staff members from Team GB's athletics team are self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive after they arrived in Tokyo on July 16. 

In Japan, just over 29% of the country's population has been vaccinated with at least one dose and about 18% is fully vaccinated.

South Africa

Amid the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant, South Africa has reported records in new daily infections surpassing the highest in previous waves. In addition, some hospitals are at full capacity and have had to cancel elective surgeries to free up beds. Vaccinations are facing delays after pharmacy lootings. Only over 4.2 million of the country’s 59 million people have been immunized. The government is targeting administering a quarter of million jabs per day.

Turkey

Turkey started a new normalization phase on July 1, eliminating practically all virus-related restrictions, owing to a national decline in infections and an expedited vaccination effort –over 62.74% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose. The country continues its intensive vaccination campaign as all residents 18 and over are eligible for vaccine shots.

UK

The UK tightened rules for travelers from France who will have to quarantine for 10 days even if they have been fully vaccinated. This new rule, announced on July 16, entered into force on Monday, July 19. The restriction comes amid UK fears that the Beta variant, firstly identified in South Africa, could spread from France.
 
The UK is not yet recognizing EU COVID vaccine certificates. According to EUROACTIV, there are talks ongoing at a technical level with the UK, which are ”progressing well and going in the right direction”, a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.
 
On July 19, England removed most of its COVID-19 restrictions. Among others, the use of face masks is no longer compulsory and there are no limits on how many people can meet or attend events. As more than 68% of UK adults are fully vaccinated, it is expected that serious illness and deaths from COVID-19 will be at a lower level than in earlier peaks.
 
In Scotland, although the restrictions will be eased, the mandatory use of face coverings will remain in place for "some time", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

USA

COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising again after months of decline, driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55.8% of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 shot. About 48.3% of the total population has been fully vaccinated. The latest report highlights differences in the COVID-19 cumulative death rate and vaccination between urban and rural areas. The cumulative death rate in rural areas is higher than in urban areas, whereas vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties compared to urban counties.
 
The United States is reviewing whether it can lift restrictions that ban most-non US citizens from traveling to the US from much of Europe. The ban was imposed in March 2020.
 
 
The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article.
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