Coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4.5 million people and infected over 216 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for August 28:

Tourists wait in a queue to enter the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, August 6, 2021
Tourists wait in a queue to enter the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, August 6, 2021 (AP)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Italy to eliminate quarantine for vaccinated and negative UK travellers

Italy will eliminate on August 31 a five-day mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for travellers from the United Kingdom who have completed the vaccination cycle and can show a negative test, a health ministry statement said.

Existing restrictions for travellers from other countries will remain in place, the statement added.

Turkey reports 245 more deaths

Turkey's health ministry has reported 17,912 new coronavirus cases, while as many as 245 more people have died of the disease.

Over 47.67 million people have received their first vaccine dose, while more than 36.52 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

Italy reports 54 more deaths

Italy has reported 54 coronavirus-related deaths, compared with 45 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 6,860 from 7,826.

Italy has registered 129,056 deaths linked to the virus since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.52 million cases to date.

UK records 32,406 new cases

Britain has recorded 32,406 new cases of Covid-19, down from 38,046 on Friday, and reported a further 133 deaths from the disease that took place within 28 days of a positive test, government figures showed.

Vietnam reports 356 more fatalities

Vietnam's health ministry has reported 12,103 new coronavirus infections and 356 deaths, most of which were in epicentres Ho Chi Minh City and its neighbouring industrial province of Binh Duong.

The Southeast Asian country has recorded over 422,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 10,405 deaths overall, the health ministry said.

India's new cases jump to two-month high

India reported 46,759 new infections, the most in nearly two months.

The South Asian country's total cases reached nearly 32.7 million and deaths rose by 509 to 437,370 in the last 24 hours, government data showed.

Two die in Japan after shots from suspended Moderna vaccines 

Two people died after receiving Moderna Inc Covid-19 vaccine shots that were among lots later suspended following the discovery of contaminants, Japan's health ministry said on Saturday.

The men in their 30s died this month within days of receiving their second Moderna doses, the ministry said in a release. Each had a shot from one of three manufacturing lots suspended on Thursday. The causes of death are being investigated.

Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

"At this time, we do not have any evidence that these deaths are caused by the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine," Moderna and Takeda said in a statement on Saturday. 

"It is important to conduct a formal investigation to determine whether there is any connection."

China administered 2.02B doses of vaccines as of Aug 27

China administered about 15.6 million doses of vaccines on August 27, bringing the total number of doses administered to 2.02 billion, data from the National Health Commission showed on Saturday.

Germany takes Spain off high-risk list from Sunday

Germany is removing Spain from its list of high-risk areas from Sunday, meaning that incoming travellers who are not fully vaccinated will not longer have to quarantine, the Foreign Ministry said.

Spain has been a high-risk area since the end of July.

In neighbouring Portugal, Lisbon is also being downgraded and no longer classified as a high-risk area. However, the Algarve region will remain a high-risk area.

Popular Buddhist temple in India reopens after months of coronavirus shutdown

Mahabodhi Temple in India's eastern Buddhist pilgrimage centre of Bodh Gaya reopened after being shut down for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Devotees, including tourists, were happy with the reopening of the temple as they visited the holy site to offer prayers to Lord Buddha after being shut down in April to curb the spread of the virus.

The reopening of the temple will allow tourists to visit the site and help people dependent on the temple for earnings earn a livelihood, said a devotee, Anurag Kumar.

The Mahabodhi temple complex is revered by the Buddhists since Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment here.

In the year 2002, UNESCO declared Mahabodhi Temple as a World Heritage Site.

Philippines' Duterte extends curbs in capital region, provinces

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has lengthened the second-highest level of coronavirus restrictions in the capital region and some provinces until September 7, his spokesperson said on Saturday.

The Philippines, which has among the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, is battling a renewed surge in cases driven by community transmission of the more infectious Delta variant.

Although some businesses can operate at up to 50% on-site capacity, restaurant dine-in, personal care services and religious activities are still prohibited in the capital region, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

The capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to more than 13 million people, is the country's coronavirus epicentre, accounting for a third of the 1.91 million confirmed infections and a quarter of the 32,841 total deaths.

Nine provinces and six cities facing a surge in cases and high healthcare utilisation were also placed under the second-tightest coronavirus curbs.

The Philippine health ministry reported a record 19,441 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

In a bulletin, it said confirmed cases rose to more than 1.93 million, while deaths rose by 167 to 33,008.

US intelligence still divided on Covid-19 origin

The US intelligence community has failed to resolve a sharp debate within the Biden administration over whether a Chinese laboratory incident was the source of Covid-19, US officials said in a declassified summary.

The report, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in response to President Joe Biden's request for an investigation, said a satisfying answer remains out of reach to the question of how exactly a virus that has killed 4.6 million people worldwide started.

"Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People's Republic of China, yet from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it," Biden said in a statement after the intelligence summary was released.

Organisations within the sprawling US intelligence community disagreed about the origins of the novel coronavirus. Several thought it emerged from "natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus," according to the summary.

But they only had "low confidence" in that conclusion, the summary said. Other groups were not able to come to any firm opinion on the origins of the virus.

One intelligence community segment, however, developed "moderate confidence" that the first human infection with Covid was likely due to a "laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology" in China.

The report concluded that analysts would not be able to provide "a more definitive explanation" without new information from China, such as clinical samples and epidemiological data about the earliest cases.

For its part, China has ridiculed a theory that Covid-19 escaped from the state virology lab in Wuhan and pushed fringe theories including that the virus slipped out of a lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 2019. 

China says US report on Covid origins 'not scientifically credible'

A US intelligence community report on the origins of Covid-19 "is not scientifically credible" and wrongly claims China is hindering a global investigation of the pandemic, the Chinese Embassy in Washington has said.

New Zealand reports 82 local cases
New Zealand has reported 82 local Covid-19 cases, all in the epicentre Auckland, as the nation remains under a strict lockdown to quell an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

This brings the number of cases of the community outbreak to429. There are 415 active cases in Auckland and the remaining 14in the capital city Wellington. Twenty-five of the patients are in hospital, two in intensive care, the health ministry said in a statement.

Australia's New South Wales reports record 1,035 cases

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, has reported a record 1,035 locally acquired Covid-19 infections, exceeding the previous record of 1,029 seen on Thursday.

Two more people have died in the current outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which began in the state in mid-June. There are 778 people now admitted to hospital, 125 of them in the intensive care unit, the New South Wales health ministry said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, reported 64 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in the 24-hour period, health officials said.

Still, with some 48,800 cases and 991 deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic, Australia has kept its Covid-19 numbers relatively low. 

Mexico's death toll rises to 257,150

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 19,556 new cases of Covid-19 and 863 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country since the pandemic began to 3,311,317 and the death toll to 257,150.

Brazil sees 27,345 new cases, 761 deaths

Brazil has registered 27,345 new coronavirus cases and 761 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Over 50,000 deaths in Russia last month

Russia's Federal Statistics Agency Rosstat has said that the country saw 50,421 coronavirus deaths in July – more than double the official government figure.

Russia – the fourth worst-hit country in the world in terms of Covid-19 cases – has struggled with the aggressive Delta variant and sluggish vaccination rates.

Rosstat's figure – released late on Friday – painted a far darker picture of the pandemic's toll in the country than official figures suggest, with a government tally saying 23,349 Russians died as a result of Covid-19 in July.

Government figures only take into account fatalities where the virus was established as the primary cause of death after an autopsy.

Rosstat, however, publishes figures under a broader definition for deaths linked to the virus.

According to the agency, more than 350,000 people have died in Russia as a result of coronavirus. The government figure is far lower, at 180,041.

US CDC reveals case, teacher spread Covid to 26 people

An unvaccinated teacher at an elementary school in California spread the coronavirus to at least 26 other people, including 12 students in her classroom, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.

The health agency said the case highlights the importance of vaccinating school staff in order to protect young children who are not yet eligible for vaccines, as schools reopen amid a new nationwide surge driven by the ultra-contagious Delta variant.

The CDC said the incident took place in Marin County, a suburb of San Francisco.

The teacher, who reported attending social functions from May 13-16, became symptomatic on May 19 but did not take a Covid test until May 21, initially believing the symptoms were due to allergies.

No one involved in the outbreak was hospitalized.

The CDC said the outbreak was likely underestimated because all testing was voluntary.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies