Novel coronavirus has infected more than 186 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest Covid-related developments for July 9:

A nurse prepares a dose of Cuba's Abdala vaccine at a vaccination centre in Caracas, Venezuela on July 1, 2021.
A nurse prepares a dose of Cuba's Abdala vaccine at a vaccination centre in Caracas, Venezuela on July 1, 2021. (Reuters)

Friday, July 9:

Cuba approves emergency use of home-grown vaccine Abdala

Cuba has approved its home-grown Abdala coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, the first for a Latin American country.

The CECMED health regulator gave the go-ahead after Abdala's makers last month announced the vaccine candidate was more than 92 percent efficacious at preventing Covid-19 after three doses.

Italy reports 25 deaths, 1,390 new cases

Italy has reported 25 coronavirus-related deaths against 13 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell marginally to 1,390 from 1,394.

Italy has registered 127,756 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eight-highest in the world. 

The country has reported 4.27 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 1,167 on Friday, down from 1,197 a day earlier.

There were 8 new admissions to intensive care units in line with those on Thursday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 169 from a previous 180.

Some 196,922 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 174,852, the ministry said.

UK records 35,707 new cases, 29 deaths

Britain has reported 35,707 new Covid-19 cases and 29 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, government data showed.

That compared with 32,551 cases and 35 deaths reported a day earlier.

Thailand sets curfew for capital to combat cases surge

Officials in Thailand have announced a seven-hour curfew and other restrictions for the capital and nine other provinces to try to slow a growing number of cases and deaths in a coronavirus surge that began in early April.

People living in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces along with four in the country’s far south, where the virus is also rampant, are required to remain at home from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., not hold gatherings of more than five people and avoid unnecessary travel. 

The restrictions take effect on Monday and will be reviewed after two weeks, Deputy Health Minister Satit Pitutacha said.

Health authorities on Friday announced 9,276 new cases, bringing the total to 317,506 since the pandemic began last year. 

Malta bans all visitors who aren't fully vaccinated

Malta will ban all visitors from entering the country from Wednesday unless they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

"We will be the first EU country to do so, but we need to protect our society," Fearne told a news conference.

To date, tourists could come to Malta if they were fully vaccinated or could produce a negative PCR test. The only exception being British tourists who already needed to be fully vaccinated because of the prevalence of the Delta variant there.

Fearne said the recent spike in new cases had been among visitors who, while having produced a negative test before boarding the plane, were unvaccinated.

Malta has fully vaccinated 79 percent of its adult population and is looking to raise that figure to 85 percent.

Malta had several days when it had no new Covid-19 cases in June, but numbers have risen sharply this week, hitting 96 on Friday.

Pfizer, AstraZeneca vaccines 'effective' in high-risk groups

Public Health England (PHE) has said that Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines were effective against symptomatic Covid-19 infection in high risk groups, citing a preprint study based on 1 million vulnerable people.

Overall vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease in risk groups was around 60 percent after one dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech with little difference by age, PHE said.

That rises to 81 percent for AstraZeneca following a second dose in people in risk groups aged 16 to 64, with no data available for Pfizer. Among those over 64, Pfizer was 89 percent effective and AstraZeneca 80% effective after the second dose, the health agency said.

"This real-world data shows for the first time that most people who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 still receive high levels of protection after 2 doses of vaccine," said Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE.

Pakistan said to be seeing 4th virus wave

Pakistan’s minister for planning and development said there are clear signs that the fourth wave of coronavirus infections is starting in the South Asian nation.

Asad Umar said that widespread disregard for social distancing rules and the emergence of the delta variant first identified in India were the two main causes.

His announcement came weeks after authorities said the country’s third wave had ended but that a fourth could start in July.

Pakistan reported 1,737 new cases and 25 more deaths on Friday.

Since last year, Pakistan has reported 969,476 confirmed cases and 22,520 virus-related deaths.

Russia's RDIF says gap between two Sputnik V shots could be widened to 180 days

A gap between injecting first and second Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine shots could be extended to 180 days, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Friday, citing the vaccine developer, and adding that the longer interval is securing a better immune response.

The Philippines Food and Drug Administration said this week that the Gamaleya Institute had requested the interval between the two doses be extended to 90 days from 21 days currently.

In a statement to Reuters, RDIF, which markets the Sputnik V vaccine, said the longer gap is securing a better immune response and has nothing to do with the vaccine's sales abroad.

Russia reports highest daily case rise since early January

Russia has reported 25,766 new cases, the most confirmed in a single day since January 2, as authorities struggled to suppress a surge in infections blamed on the more contagious Delta variant.

Officials have been trying to encourage or compel Russians to get vaccinated since infections began rising steeply last month. Demand for vaccination had been tepid, but authorities say it has now picked up significantly.

"Ideally, given vaccination is the only way to effectively fight the pandemic, we'd like everyone to be vaccinated one way or another," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "But in reality, this result is hard to achieve."

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said almost 30 million people had received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

There were 6,643 new cases in Moscow, where residents need to show a QR code that proves they have had a vaccine, a negative test or immunity to be able to sit inside at cafes or bars.

Dutch to reimpose some curbs due to rising infections -ANP News

The Dutch government is expected to re-impose restrictions on dance clubs and music festivals in response to a surge in infections among young adults, local media reported.

Question open on need for Covid booster shot, data awaited, WHO says

The World Health Organization has said that it was not clear whether booster vaccines will be needed to maintain protection, until further data is collected.

Pfizer Inc plans to ask US regulators to authorize a booster dose of its vaccine within the next month, the drugmaker's top scientist said on Thursday, based on evidence of greater risk of reinfection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

"We don’t know whether booster vaccines will be needed to maintain protection against until additional data is collected, but the question is under consideration by researchers," the WHO said in a reply to a Reuters query.

"There is limited data available on how long protection from current vaccine doses lasts and whether an additional booster dose would be beneficial and for whom," it said.

Indonesia to widen emergency curbs to 15 cities

Indonesia will impose emergency restrictions in some areas outside of Java and Bali islands, a senior minister said, to curb the spread of in the country.

The emergency measures will be similar to those in place on Bali and Java and will impact 15 cities in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua, chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto told a news conference.

Medical workers will also be given booster shots of the vaccine, he added. Indonesia reported 38,124 new cases and 871 new fatalities. 

Britain reports 54,268 new cases of Delta variant in latest week

Britain has said there had been 54,268 new cases of the Delta variant in the week to July 7, a slight rise on the 50,824 new cases reported the previous week.

The total number of cases of the variant reported was 216,249, a 32% increase from last week. 

N.Korea rejected AstraZeneca's vaccine over side effects, says think tank

North Korea has rejected planned shipments of AstraZeneca's vaccine that were being organised under the global COVAX distribution scheme due to concerns over side effects, a South Korean think thank said on Friday.

COVAX has said it would provide nearly 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's shots to North Korea. The first batch had been expected in late May but was delayed amid protracted consultations, South Korea said last month.

North Korea has not reported any cases, a position questioned by South Korean and US officials. The reclusive country has, however, imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.

According to the report by the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), which is affiliated with South Korea's spy agency, Pyongyang is now looking at other vaccine options.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization alliance, one of the organisations that co-leads COVAX, did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Philippines relaxes curbs to allow children outdoors

The Philippines has loosened restrictions to allow children out of their homes so they can return to parks, playgrounds, and hiking trails in the capital region and some other provinces after a slowdown in infections.

Children aged five and above, who were previously confined indoors, will also be permitted to go to outdoor tourist sites and dining establishments, and play non-contact sports outside, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The pandemic has battered the Philippine economy, triggering millions of jobs losses, prompting policy makers to call for the easing of lockdown measures to help boost domestic spending.

"Children must be supervised by adults and observe minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face masks and social distancing," Roque said in a statement.

Infection rates have fallen from a peak in March and April as more people become vaccinated, but officials have said some restrictions must be retained in and outside the capital region given the threat posed by new variants. 

Malaysia sees record 9,180 new cases

Malaysia has reported a new daily record of 9,180 new cases.

The Southeast Asian nation's previous record was on May 29 when it saw 9,020 cases. It has now reported a total of 817,838 cases.

China administered total of 1.354 bln doses of vaccines by July 8

China has administered about 11.85 million doses of vaccines on July 8, taking the total to 1.354 bln doses, data from the National Health Commission showed. 

Spain is a safe tourism destination, minister says

Spain is a safe destination for tourists even though cases are rising, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto has said, citing its vaccination programme and the number of hospitalised patients being kept under control.

"Governments must not raise alarms," she said in an interview with RNE radio station. "We cannot measure the epidemiological situation only based on cumulated incidence," she said.

Maroto's comments come after French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune advised French people on Thursday to avoid Spain and Portugal for their summer holidays. 

South Africa targets 300,000 vaccinations a day by end-Aug

South Africa is aiming to do at least 300,000 vaccinations a day by the end of August, senior health official Nicholas Crisp said on Friday.

He added that the country had around 3.6 million vaccine doses in stock, enough for around 18 days of vaccinations. 

Delta variant to account for most new French cases from this weekend - minister

The highly contagious Delta variant will probably account for most of the new coronavirus cases in France from this weekend, Health Minister Olivier Veran has said.

The Delta variant now represents nearly 50% of new infections, Veran told France Inter radio station. 

India reports 43,393 new cases in last 24 hours

India has reported 43,393 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to data from the health ministry, with active cases at 458,727.

Pfizer-BioNTech to seek authorisation for third shot

Pfizer and BioNTech have announced they would seek regulatory authorisation for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine.

It comes after initial data from an ongoing trial showed a third shot pushed antibody levels five to 10 times higher against the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant, first found in South Africa, compared to the first two doses alone, according to a statement.

"The companies expect to publish more definitive data soon as well as in a peer-reviewed journal and plan to submit the data to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), EMA (European Medicines Agency) and other regulatory authorities in the coming weeks," the statement said.

In addition,  Pfizer and BioNTech expect that a third dose will perform similarly well against the highly transmissible Delta strain, which is quickly becoming globally dominant.

Out of caution, the companies are also developing a Delta-specific vaccine, the first batch of which has been manufactured at BioNTech's facility in Mainz, Germany.

US regulators said that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster Covid-19 shot at this time.

"We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed", the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a joint statement.

South Korea to raise curbs

South Korea will raise coronavirus restrictions to the highest level in capital Seoul and some neighbouring regions from Monday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said.

The announcement comes after South Korea reported on Thursday its biggest daily rise in new cases, and a top health official warned the numbers may nearly double by the end of July.

Under the new curbs, people are advised to stay home as much as possible, schools are closed, public meetings are restricted to two people after 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) and rallies or other events are banned.

Nightclubs and bars would be shut, while restaurants and cafes would be allowed limited seating and only take-out services after 10:00 pm (1300 GMT).

Australia says Pfizer to expand vaccine supply

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Pfizer will increase vaccine delivery to about one million doses a week from July 19, more than tripling shipments, as Sydney battles its worst outbreak of this year.

As many as 4.5 million Pfizer Inc doses that were expected to arrive in September will become available next month, Morrison said.

Mexico reports over 9,400 new infections

Mexico has reported 9,452 new confirmed coronavirus infections, according to data from the health ministry, as case numbers continued to rise this week amid signs of a resurgence in the pandemic.

The ministry also registered 266 additional fatalities, bringing Mexico's total tally to 2,567,821 infections and 234,458 deaths, according to the data.

Greece gives all-clear for vaccinated fans to return

Greece will allow the return of spectators to professional sporting events providing they have been vaccinated for Covid-19 and must wear masks, the Sports Ministry revealed.

Fans have been absent for a year following health restrictions to combat coronavirus.

Adult spectators will be obliged to show a vaccination certificate when purchasing an electronic ticket while younger unvaccinated fans must show a negative PCR or rapid test result.

Open-air stadiums may seat up to 80 percent of full capacity, but not exceeding 25,000 spectators while closed facilities can seat up to 60 percent capacity or a maximum of 3,000 fans.

Chile relaxes restrictions

Chile, with over 73 percent of its population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, announced it would relax pandemic restrictions but keep its borders closed.

The country of 19 million people has since February vaccinated 73.1 percent of its target population – more than 11.1 million to date, according to official data.

The numbers of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been decreasing over the past month.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies