Covid-19 has infected more than 234M people and killed at least 4.7M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for September 30:

People wait to get Covid-19 vaccines in Sarajevo, Bosnia on September 25, 2021.
People wait to get Covid-19 vaccines in Sarajevo, Bosnia on September 25, 2021. (AP)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

EU extends Covid-19 vaccine export controls

The EU has said it will extend its export control mechanism for vaccines for another three months, until the end the year, and then replace it with a "monitoring" scheme.

The export control mechanism, introduced on January 29, means makers of vaccines produced in the EU need to get approval before shipping the doses outside the bloc.

It was brought in at the start of the EU's vaccination roll-out, which was extremely sluggish initially because of a big shortfall in the amount of doses UK-Swedish company AstraZeneca had promised.

South Africa's Ramaphosa eases restrictions to lowest level

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has eased restrictions aimed at combating the pandemic to the country's lowest alert, level 1, the second such loosening this month.

In a televised address, Ramaphosa announced the country would move down one level in a five-tier system of restrictions, where five is the highest, to an 'adjusted level 1' as SouthAfrica emerges from its third wave dominated by the Delta variant.

Nearly 109.5M vaccine jabs administered in Turkey to date

Turkey has administered nearly 109.5 million vaccine jabs since the country launched an immunisation drive in January, according to official figures released.

More than 53.8 million people have been given a first dose of a  vaccine, while around 44.5 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry recorded 29,104 new coronavirus cases, 216 fatalities, and 32,119 recoveries over the past 24 hours.

Greece imposes restrictions for its second largest city

Greece will impose a nighttime curfew and ban music at bars, cafes and restaurants in Thessaloniki, its second biggest city, following an increase in cases, the government has said.

Infections have stabilised across the country but cases have surged in northern Greece.

The civil protection ministry said Thessaloniki city and its wider region and the neighbouring region of Halkidiki, along with the central city of Larissa will be moved into tier 4 restrictions for a week on October1.

Egypt receives first 1.6M doses of Pfizer vaccine from US

Egypt has received 1.6 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer as a gift from the United States as part of the COVAX initiative, the first batch of a total of 5 million doses, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

Egypt has been quickly accumulating a stock of vaccines for its population of over 100 million, having already received vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sputnik, Johnson & Johnson, as well as Sinovac, which it is also producing locally.

Romania daily cases soar amid low vaccinations

Romania has recorded 12,032 cases, its highest daily infections since the start of the pandemic.

In the last month, Romania’s infections have risen from about 1,000 cases a day to the record of more than 12,000 reported Thursday. 

There are 1,364 patients in intensive care, close to the ICU capacity at a national level.

Romania has the European Union’s second-lowest vaccination rate, with just 34 percent of all adults fully vaccinated. Data published by health authorities indicated between September 20-26, nearly 75 percent of reported cases and 92 percent of deaths occurred among unvaccinated people.

WHO: Africa lags on vaccination, healthcare workers at risk

Only 15 of Africa's 54 nations have fully vaccinated 10 percent of their populations and many frontline health workers remain at risk, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Council of Nurses (ICN) said.

They called for speeding up distribution of doses to those at risk on the continent amid what the WHO called "opaque delivery plans" and "bottlenecks" in the rollout of vaccines in Africa.

Vaccine mandate for Slovenia public employees blocked

Slovenia's Constitutional Court has blocked a government plan to make vaccines mandatory for public employees, hours before it was due to come into force.

The government had planned to require around 31,000 people including civil servants, policemen and soldiers to either be vaccinated or to have recovered in order to continue working.

The mandate was due to come into effect on Friday but in response to a complaint against the measure brought by the police officers' union the court decided to block its implementation.

Singapore reports highest single-day rise in cases

Singapore's Health Ministry has reported 2,478 new cases, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country also reported two new deaths due to the coronavirus.

A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of some measures has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening. More than 80 percent of its population has been vaccinated against the virus.

From this week, Singapore tightened some curbs such as limiting social gatherings to two people and making work from home a default.

Italy reports over 3,800 new cases

Italy has reported 51 deaths against 63 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,804 from 3,212 .

Some 308,836 tests were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 295,452, the Health Ministry said.

UK records over 36,400 new cases

The United Kingdom has recorded a further 137 daily deaths and 36,480 new cases, with infections over the last week continuing to climb after pupils returned to school.

Cases in the last seven days were up 6.5 percent on the week before while daily fatalities of people who had tested positive within the last 28 days were down 14 percent.

Ukraine reports highest daily cases since April

Ukraine has reported its highest number of daily cases since April as authorities prepared to introduce compulsory vaccinations for teachers and government officials.

A government tally reported 11,757 new infections over the past 24 hours, while 194 fatalities and 2,556 hospitalisations were recorded over the same period.

Authorities in the post-Soviet country of around 40 million people initially struggled with a lack of vaccines and are now fighting an uphill battle to convince a vaccine-sceptic population to get inoculated.

Somalia opens first public oxygen plant to help treat patients

Somalia's first public oxygen plant has opened, in a ray of hope for a country where a lifesaving treatment for the virus has been largely unavailable to patients during the pandemic.

Global demand for medical oxygen has surged with the pandemic, and many countries have experienced desperate shortages.

This and a lack of other equipment mean Africans seriously ill are more likely to die than patients elsewhere, according to a study published in May by medical journal The Lancet, which cited data from 64 hospitals in 10 countries.

The new plant in Mogadishu was purchased for $240,700 (282,000 euros) from Turkey by the Hormuud Salaam Foundation, established by the country's largest telecoms company, Hormuud.

Unvaccinated Pakistanis face strict restrictions

Pakistani authorities have announced strict restrictions on non-vaccinated people in the country, including a ban on boarding domestic and international flights.

Non-vaccinated people will also not be allowed into educational institutions, shopping malls or restaurants as of Friday, said the National Command and Operation Center, Pakistan's anti-virus task force, urging people to get vaccinated before the Friday deadline.

Asad Umar, who heads the nation’s anti-virus strategy, said in a separate statement that the only way to overcome the coronavirus pandemic was to "get a high percentage of citizens vaccinated".

Umar also announced that children older than 12 would be eligible for vaccination and that an initiative would be launched to administer jabs in schools.

Pakistan has expedited its inoculation drive in recent weeks, with over 80 million vaccine doses given to date and nearly one million shots in the last 24 hours.

With 39 additional fatalities, the death toll also increased to 27,729 and 1.16 million people have recovered.

Russia reports record virus deaths for third day

Russia has reported 867 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, another new record amid a spike in infections.

The authorities reported 23,888 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, up from 22,430, the day before.

Vietnam to end virus lockdown in largest city after 3 months

Vietnam will lift the lockdown in its largest city on Friday, ending nearly three months of restrictions on movement to curb a coronavirus surge.

People in Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of 10 million, will be able to leave their homes, restaurants can serve take-away meals and other essential businesses can open, the city said on its website.

A social distancing order, however, will still be enforced. Schools are closed, public transport remains suspended, travel in and out of the city will be controlled and public gatherings of more than 10 people outside is banned.

People who wish to attend social activities will have to show proof of vaccination to be admitted to establishments, authorities said.

Algeria produces first home-grown vaccine

Algeria's first home-produced coronavirus vaccines came off the production line in the eastern city of Constantine.

Know-how and some of the vaccine's basic ingredients have come as part of a cooperation deal with the Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac.

The "CoronaVac" vaccines are being made at the Saidal factory in Constantine, 400 kilometres east of capital Algiers.

Authorities say the plant is aiming to produce more than five million doses per month.

Reopening of 'Aladdin' on Broadway halted by cases

The hit Broadway show “Aladdin” was canceled when breakthrough Covid-19 cases were reported within the musical's company, a day after the show reopened following some 18 months of being shuttered due to the pandemic. 

It was a worrying sign for Broadway's recovery.

Malaysia makes vaccines compulsory for government employees

Malaysia said it would now be mandatory for all federal government employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with exceptions only to be allowed on health grounds.

Malaysia has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in Southeast Asia, with 61 percent of its 32 million population already fully vaccinated.

In a statement, the Public Service Department said vaccination s would be made compulsory for federal staff in order to boost public confidence and ensure government services can be delivered smoothly.

Havana reopens its beaches, but masks are required

Beaches and pools in the Cuban capital Havana, as well as the famed Malecon seafront promenade, have been reopened, officials announced, after being shut for nine months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A formal notice in state media, citing Havana governor Reynaldo Garcia Zapata, said beaches and pools would be open at half-capacity for now, and that all virus prevention measures needed to be respected.

"In pools and in beach areas, wearing a mask is mandatory, except when swimming," the announcement said. Exercise in public places is also once again allowed.

Melbourne cases hit pandemic record even as lockdown nears two months

Covid-19 cases in Australia's Victoria state have surged to record levels despite Melbourne, the state capital, being stuck in a hard lockdown for nearly two months as officials race to vaccinate the population before easing curbs.

A total of 1,438 new infections were reported, the majority in Melbourne, eclipsing the previous daily high of 950 on Wednesday. 

Five new deaths were recorded in the state.

Australia's largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and the capital Canberra are in a weeks-long lockdown to combat the third wave of infections fuelled by the fast-moving Delta variant. Authorities have ditched a Covid-zero strategy and are looking at higher vaccination as their exit strategy from lockdowns.

The record cases in Victoria come as the federal government on Thursday decided to phase out its emergency financial support for businesses impacted by the lockdowns, in line with its plan to end support to virus-impacted employees.

Argentina players kicked out of Rugby Championship after virus rules breach

Six Argentina players and two staff have been kicked out of the Rugby Championship for breaching tournament health rules after taking an unauthorised trip to the New South Wales resort of Byron Bay, tournament organisers said.

The tournament, which also includes Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, has been operating under strict biosecurity protocols in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland due to Covid-19.

SANZAAR said the group had broken the tournament's rules when they travelled across the Queensland state border with New South Wales to visit Byron Bay, a popular tourist destination, on Wednesday.

"SANZAAR has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participate further in The Rugby Championship as they have breached tournament rules," SANZAAR said in a statement.

"SANZAAR is very disappointed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders."

UK food banks 'prepare for the worst' as virus aid comes to an end

Charity food banks in Britain are "preparing for the worst" as the government starts winding up emergency aid measures put in place to cushion the coronavirus pandemic's impact on millions of workers and low-income households.

An extra weekly payment of 20 pounds ($27) to support the country's poorest families will be cut next month, and more than a million workers face an uncertain future as Britain becomes the first big economy to halt its Covid-19 jobs support scheme.

Food banks, which hand out staple goods from dried pasta to baby food, are especially concerned about the loss of the top-up to the Universal Credit (UC) benefit, which is claimed by almost 6 million people, according to official statistics.

"You're going to have parents who are going without food so their kids can eat," said Garry Lemon, policy and research director at the Trussell Trust, which supports more than 1,200 food bank centres across Britain.

"I've been speaking to lots of food banks in recent weeks and they are absolutely preparing for the worst ... they are doing everything they can to ensure they have got enough food to be able to cope with the increase in need."

The British move comes as other countries start wrapping up state aid programmes announced last year as Covid-19 battered the global economy.

Pandemic has dire effects on Idaho state kids, babies

US state of Idaho's unchecked spread of the highly contagious delta variant is sending more kids and babies to hospitals with complications from Covid-19, health care professionals said.

Major hospitals and health care clinics in southwestern Idaho are seeing more premature babies born to Covid-19-positive mothers, more children requiring hospitalization, and more kids of all ages experiencing mental health problems because of the pandemic, several doctors from Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, St Luke's Health System, Primary Health Group and the Mountain States Neonatology said during a news conference.

Numbers from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare show weekly coronavirus case counts are increasing more rapidly in children than in adults. 

There were nearly 1,700 new Covid-19 cases reported in children in Idaho last week, deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner said Tuesday, double the rate the state saw in August. 

More than 200 children have had to be hospitalised for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, Turner said.

Idaho remains one of the nation's least-vaccinated states, with roughly 52 percent of eligible residents fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

Lately, Idaho doctors are also seeing an increase in stillbirths with no discernable medical reason other than the mother had Covid-19, said Dr Lauren Miller, the perinatal health director at St. Luke’s Health System. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies