Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.5 million people and infected over 217 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for August 29:

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from an Israeli child for the coronavirus disease test at a coronavirus testing station in Jerusalem, August 24, 2021.
A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from an Israeli child for the coronavirus disease test at a coronavirus testing station in Jerusalem, August 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Turkey reports 255 more fatalities

Turkey's Health Ministry has reported 17,332 new coronavirus cases, while as many as 255 more people have died of the virus.

Over 47.8 million people have gotten their first vaccine dose, while more than 36.64 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

Turkey has also given third booster shots to over 8.35 million people.

Israel offers Covid vaccine booster to ages 12 and up

Israel has widened access to a third coronavirus vaccine jab to anyone aged 12 and up, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett insisting it was an effective way to contain an infection surge.

Moves by several nations to offer third jabs have faced criticism including from the World Health Organization, which insists poorer countries should gain wider access to vaccines before wealthy ones offer booster shots.

But with Israel, a country of 9.3 million, approaching daily infection tallies that regularly exceed 8,000 and serious Covid cases, Bennett has pressed ahead with the booster scheme.

UK records 61 deaths and 33,196 cases

Britain has recorded a further 61 Covid deaths and 33,196 more cases, official data has shown.

Infections in the last seven days rose by 5.8 percent on the week before, and weekly deaths jumped by 16 percent. The Sunday figure for fatalities tends to be lower than weekdays due to a delay by some hospitals in reporting deaths.

Britain has recorded an average of 114 daily deaths in the last week.

Italy reports 37 deaths and 5,959 new cases

Italy reported 37 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 54 the previous day, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 5,959 from 6,860, the health ministry has said.

A total of 129,093 deaths linked to Covid-19 have been registered in Italy since its outbreak emerged in February last year. That is the second-highest tally in Europe behind Britain and the eighth-highest globally. Italy has reported 4.53 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 4,133, up from 4,111 a day earlier.

There were 44 new admissions to intensive care units, increasing from 42 on Saturday. The total number of intensive care patients rose to 525 from a previous 511.

Some 223,086 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 293,464, the health ministry said.

Thousands protest in Berlin against Covid curbs, vaccines

Several thousand people have marched through the streets of Berlin for a second day of unauthorised protest against coronavirus vaccinations and restrictions aimed at curbing a fourth wave of the pandemic.

Shouting "Hands off our children", the protesters waved signs decrying what they called "vaccination apartheid" as parts of Germany consider imposing tougher restrictions on people who are not vaccinated against coronavirus.

Dozens of police dressed in riot gear sought to control the march through residential streets in eastern Berlin.

Minister: Virus sets South Africa schools back 20 years 

At least 10,000 children in South Africa have dropped out of school since the pandemic started, with students learning half or less than average in 2020 due to coronavirus, the education ministry has said.

Face-to-face lessons have only partially resumed since South Africa's schools reopened in June last year, after more than two months of home-schooling to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Public schools have since been shut again over shorter periods – including a delayed start to the 2021 academic year – and most students still only physically attend class on a rotational basis to avoid crowding.

Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that as a result, children in 2020 learnt between 50 and 75 percent less than the previous year's average.

Coronavirus interruptions have also affected attendance, with 10,000 fewer children aged between seven and 14 enrolled in school in 2021, according to a preliminary analysis by the Department of Basic Education.

Enrolment was also 25,000 lower than expected for children aged between four and six, although less concerning for secondary school students.

Tehran thieves attack car, steal Covid-19 shots

The police chief for Iran’s capital says a gang of thieves has robbed scores of Covid-19 vaccines after attacking a hired car carrying the doses, media has reported.

The robbery comes as Iran, with over 106,000 virus-related deaths, has the highest death toll in the Mideast but only 8 percent of its people are fully vaccinated.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi said robbers attacked and seized 300 vaccines after a courier service left a Health Ministry medical storage facility south of the capital.

He did not say which vaccine was stolen. Iran generally uses Sinopharm, although it also has used some Sputnik-V, AstraZeneca and its own domestic CovBarekat vaccine.

German region plans tougher restrictions for unvaccinated

At least one region in Germany is planning to impose tougher restrictions on people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country faces a fourth wave of the pandemic, a state official has been quoted as saying.

The German government currently requires people to be vaccinated, test negative or have a recovery certificate to enter indoor restaurants, visit hospitals and nursing homes and attend events, parties or do sports inside.

The southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg's social ministry has proposed banning unvaccinated adults from restaurants and concerts altogether, and restricting their contacts.

Japan detects more Moderna vaccine contamination

Japan's Okinawa region has suspended the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine after another contamination was spotted, the local government said.

It comes a day after the Japanese health ministry said it was investigating the death of two men who received shots from tainted Moderna batches, though the cause of their death is unknown.

The Okinawa prefecture, in southern Japan, said Sunday's vaccination programme was partially postponed.

"We are suspending the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines as foreign substances were spotted in some of them," it said in a statement.

The lots affected by the contamination spotted in Okinawa on Saturday are different from the 1.63 million doses suspended after the two deaths, according to local media reports.

That suspension came after the health ministry said two men, aged 30 and 38, died in early August after getting their second Moderna doses.

Yemen gets first batch of J&J vaccines

Yemen has received its first shipment of vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, roughly 151,000 doses, the health ministry said.

The desperately poor country, where health infrastructure has been devastated by six years of war, received 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine in March through Covax.

This shipment is the first batch of a total of 504,000 doses it is set to receive from the United States.

The single-dose vaccines arrived as the United Nations warned early this month that Yemen, where only roughly 1 percent of the population is vaccinated, faces a third wave.

The disease has killed 1,450 people in areas controlled by the internationally-recognised government of Yemen based in Aden, out of a total 7,751 recorded infections.

Japan eyes mixed use of shots to speed vaccine rollout

Japan is looking into the possibility of mixing shots of AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine with those developed by other drug makers in a bid to speed up its vaccine rollout, the minister in charge of vaccinations said.

Japan, which has previously relied on the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc vaccines, approved AstraZeneca's vaccine in July and has secured two million doses.

"I have asked the health ministry to come up with an opinion about the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for the first dose and Pfizer's with the second, or the AstraZeneca's as the first shot and Moderna as second," vaccine programme chief Taro Kono said on the Fuji Television network.

India's new cases rise by 45,083

India has reported 45,083 new infections, according to data from the health ministry, driven by surging cases in the southern state of Kerala.

The country's cases stood at about 32.7 million, with deaths rising by 460 to 437,830 in the last 24 hours, data showed.

In Kerala, where cases have spiked in the wake of a major festival, the state government reported 31,265 new infections late on Saturday - comprising nearly 70 percent of the country's total new daily cases.

The state plans to lock down hard-hit areas and restrict public movement to mainly essential services and emergencies, according to an order issued on Saturday. 

Thailand to have 140 million doses of  vaccines this year

Thailand expects to have 140 million doses of vaccines this year as the country ramps up inoculation to fight its biggest wave of infections, which shows some signs of easing, a government spokesman said, as the country reports 16,536 new cases and 264 deaths.

The Southeast Asian country is struggling to tackle the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus, which has seen a record infections of over 23,000 earlier this month. 

Singapore fully vaccinates 80% of population

Singapore has fully inoculated 80 percent of its 5.7 million people against Covid-19, the health minister said, becoming the world's most vaccinated country and setting the stage for further easing of curbs.

"We have crossed another milestone, where 80 percent of our population has received their full regimen of two doses," Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post.

That gives the tiny city-state the world's highest rate of complete vaccinations, according to a Reuters tracker.

Authorities have said they will further ease Covid-19 restrictions after hitting the 80 percent milestone.

Brazil registers 684 new deaths

Brazil has registered 24,699 new coronavirus cases and 684 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Australia's New South Wales reports record 1,218 cases 

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reported a record 1,218 locally acquired Covid-19 infections, exceeding the previous day's record of 1,035.

Six more people have died in the current outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which began in the state in mid-June. There are 813 people now in hospital, 126 of them in intensive care, the New South Wales health ministry said on Twitter.

New Zealand reports 83 local cases 

New Zealand, in a nationwide lockdown battling an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant, has reported 83 local Covid-19 cases, health officials said.

Eighty-two cases were reported in Auckland, the epicentre of the outbreak and New Zealand's largest city, and the other was in the capital, Wellington.

Mexico records 17,546 cases, 756 additional fatalities

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 17,546 new cases of Covid-19 and 756 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country since the pandemic began to 3,328,863 and the death toll to 257,906.

Australia's Victoria reports 92 local cases

Australia's state Victoria, home to more than a quarter of the country's population, has reported 92 new locally acquired coronavirus cases in the 24-hour period, health officials said.

This is the highest number of new daily cases in nearly a year. Of the infections, 61 were linked to existing outbreaks, the health department said on Twitter.

African continent sees 33,385 new cases

The African continent has seen 33,385 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its daily update.

According to the update, the number of total infections on the continent rose to over 7.69 million on Saturday from the previous day’s 7.66 million.

The continent of 1.3 billion people also registered a total of 193,402 deaths after 759 patients were confirmed to have died of the virus over the past one day, said the centres, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The update said 6.81 million patients have recuperated.

The number of tests the continent has so far managed to conduct stands at nearly 65.76 million.

Broken down by region, Southern Africa recorded 3.7 million cases, North Africa 2.3 million, East Africa 897,900 cases, West Africa 594,400, and Central Africa 217,600 cases.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies