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15 September, 2021 COVID-19 Information and Updates

COVID-19 Update: September 15, 2021

COVID-19 Update: September 15, 2021


The new cases reported globally in the past week have declined after more than two months. All regions reported decreases in new cases and in the number of deaths –except Africa where the number of weekly deaths increased by 7%. The cumulative number of cases reported globally is now over 225 million and the cumulative number of deaths is just over 4.6 million.


To date (September 15), more than 5.79 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of about 34.9 million jabs given each day. World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom stated that although over 5.7 billion doses have been distributed globally, only 2% were given to Africa. The United Nations agency is urging every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population by the end of this year.
 
In the West, roughly nine months after vaccination rollouts began, there has been a slowdown in some national and state-wide immunization drives. Therefore, in some countries, large sections of the population are still unvaccinated and vaccination rates have decreased sharply.  

WHO

No one is safe until everyone is safeemphasizes the WHO. COVAX, the multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to COVID-19 vaccines, expects to have access to 1.4 billion doses of vaccine in 2021. COVAX milestone of two billion doses is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022.
 
WHO experts warn that the Delta variant remains the top concern globally, appearing to “outcompete” others because of the increased transmissibility. Currently Delta “tends to outcompete other variants”, Dr. Michael Ryan, Head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme explained. The WHO is also closely monitoring the Mu variant, firstly identified in Colombia in January 2021, since it is now among the five “variants of interest” the agency is tracking at the global level.

IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved US$567.25 million in emergency support to Tanzania to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency disbursement is expected to help finance the interventions needed to mitigate the severe socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and help catalyze support from development partners.

Australia

From September 10, some restrictions changed for Metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton to slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people leaving their homes and moving around Victoria. For regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton) restrictions are easing, i.e. people can leave home but must not travel to metropolitan Melbourne or Greater Shepparton, other than for permitted reasons.
 
From September 11, parts of regional New South Wales (NSW) deemed low risk and with zero COVID cases for at least 14 days emerged from lockdown, but continue to operate under restrictions to ensure the safety of regional communities.
 
According to ABC NEWS, the NSW government is planning to reopen most sectors of the economy to vaccinated people, probably as early as mid-October. As reported by Reuters, Sydney’s bars, eateries and gyms across the city would be able to reopen at reduced capacity within days once NSW reached a 70% double-vaccination target, expected around mid-October.
 
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is currently in lockdown and Canberrans are being asked to stay at home. The lockdown started on August 12, 2021, and will continue until September 17, 2021.

China

The South China Morning Post reported that China’s travel market is showing signs of recovery as Mid-Autumn Festival bookings surge. As restrictions on interprovincial movement begin to be lifted following containment of recent coronavirus outbreaks, the domestic travel market is expected to grow over the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.
 
COVID-19 cases doubled in China's southeastern province of Fujian, according to Reuters. In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in three Fujian cities. The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on October 1, a major tourist season.

European Union

The European Union is one of the regions at the forefront of the vaccination campaign with more than 70% of the EU’s adult population fully vaccinated. However, vaccination rates in Eastern and Central Europe are below the bloc’s average, for example, the figure fully vaccination population drops to roughly 20% in Bulgaria and around 32% in Romania.
 
It is not clear if a third dose of mRNA vaccine will improve immunity for healthy adults. At the beginning of September, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that there is no urgent need to administer booster shots to fully vaccinated individuals and additional doses should be considered for people with severely weakened immune systems. To shed light on this, EMA is assessing data on additional doses. The results are expected to be ready within the next few weeks, reported Deutsche Welle.
 
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, together with the imbalance in the delivery of vaccines, the EU will make available additional humanitarian funding of €41 million to assist low and middle-income countries. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the EU has contributed close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility and is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa.
 
On September 9, the European Council updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Uruguay was added to the list and Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei Darussalam, Japan and Serbia were removed from the list in Annex I. To recall, non-essential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed in Annex I is subject to temporary travel restriction.

Germany

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is urging people to receive their COVID jabs to prevent health care services from being overwhelmed this fall and winter. Currently, just over 60% of people living in Germany have been fully vaccinated, and 66% partially. "If we do not drastically increase the current vaccination rates, the current fourth wave could take a highly severe course in fall", warned the head of Germany's RKI public health agency, Lothar Wieler. In addition, the German president of the World Medical Association has spoken out in favor of tough restrictions on the unvaccinated citizens: “To break the fourth wave before it becomes dramatic, we should now introduce a ‘2G’ rule nationwide wherever possible”. The so-called 2G rule specifies that only vaccinated and recently recovered people are able to access certain events, businesses and services. However, when the 2G rule cannot exclude unvaccinated, then the ‘3G’ rule should apply –unvaccinated people would then have to show an up-to-date PCR test.

India

India is expecting a third wave, but according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, the country is now better prepared to stop new COVID-19 waves. Dr. Swaminathan also said India could potentially be able to vaccinate most of its adult population by December if the current pace and supply of vaccines continue. Currently, 13.2% of India’s population is fully vaccinated.

Italy

On September 9, Italy approved a decree making mandatory the COVID-19 ‘green pass’ for those who enter school or university grounds, with the exception of underage students. All employees at nursing and retirement homes will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as is already the case for doctors and nurses. As reported by Euractiv last week, Health Minister Roberto Speranza affirmed that mandatory vaccination is an option on the table.

Japan

On September 9, Japan extended emergency COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and other regions until September 30 to curb infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The government plans to relax COVID-19 curbs on travel, large-scale events and the serving of alcohol around November, provided that most of the population is vaccinated by then. The eased restrictions are expected to focus on people who have been vaccinated and have tested negative PCR tests.

Spain

On September 6, Spain updated the list of EU and Schengen Area countries travel from where is considered a risk for the public health in Spain. France and Italy, as well as Romania’s regions of Nord-Vest and Vest, have been added. It means that travelers reaching Spain from these areas have to present a document that proves they have been vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by the Spanish authorities, proof of previous infection with COVID-19, or a negative COVID-19 test result.
 
Based on the recommendations made by a group of experts advising the government as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), around 100,000 people with weakened immune systems are about to be administered a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This third injection is not considered a booster, but rather an additional shot to complete the vaccination process, reports Spanish newspaper El País.

Turkey

Turkey has administered over 103 million doses since the beginning of the inoculation program against COVID-19 in mid-January. Currently, about 49.2% of the population is fully vaccinated.

UK

The use of Pfizer and AstraZeneca as COVID booster vaccines has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), the UK vaccine advisory body, will advise on whether booster jabs will be given and if so, which vaccines should be used.
 
On September 14, the UK Department of Health and Social Care announced that millions of vulnerable people are to be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine from next week after accepting the final recommendation from the JCVI.

USA

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have generally increased throughout most of the US since the beginning of summer, fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. In many communities, low vaccination coverage is driving these increases.
 
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that adults who had COVID-19 may experience ongoing health problems that can last four or more weeks after COVID-19 infection. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headache, fast-beating or pounding heart, cough, joint or muscle pain, dizziness/lightheadedness, or mood changes, among others.
 
Joe Biden’s plan, announced on September 9, states that all employers with more than 100 workers must require them COVID vaccine or show a negative test at least once a week. A separate provision requires vaccines for workers in Head Start programs and at schools operated by the federal government.
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