Coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4.5 million people and infected over 218 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for September 1:

Nurses prepare syringes with doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus disease at a vaccination centre in Meloneras on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, July 28, 2021.
Nurses prepare syringes with doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus disease at a vaccination centre in Meloneras on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, July 28, 2021. (Reuters)

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Spain says 70% of population fully vaccinated

One of the global frontrunners in vaccination against the coronavirus, Spain has fully vaccinated just over 70 percent of its 47 million residents.

According to the latest figures released by the Spanish health ministry, some 33,376,693 people have been completely vaccinated, or 70.3 percent of the population.

"70 percent of Spain's population is now fully vaccinated," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted as the figures were released, thanking the country's national health service.

Turkey has given over 94M Covid-19 jabs so far

Turkey has administered more than 94.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since launching a mass immunisation campaign in January, according to official figures.

Over 48.56 million people have gotten their first vaccine dose, while more than 37.36 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

Turkey has also given third booster shots to over 8.66 million people.

The data showed that at least 78 percent of the country's adult population has received at least one dose of a two-shot vaccine.

The ministry also reported 23,946 new coronavirus cases, while as many as 290 more people have died of the disease in the past 24 hours.

Covid vaccine passports proposed for high risk events in Scotland

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has proposed introducing Covid-19 vaccine passports for nightclubs and high risk venues like music festivals, amid a sharp rise in cases of the virus.

Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh that the proposals, similar to those planned in neighbouring England, aimed to keep people safe and prevent the reintroduction of restrictions in the coming months.

France registers 17,621 new Covid cases

France has reported 17,621 new cases of Covid-19 and 83 more deaths in hospitals, according to official data.

Italy reports 69 deaths, 6,503 new cases

Italy reported 69 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 75 the previous day, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 6,503 from 5,498, the health ministry has said.

A total of 129,290 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 ninth-highest globally. Italy has reported 4.55 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 4,2 31 on Wednesday, down from 4,252 a day earlier.

There were 40 new admissions to intensive care units, decreasing from 49 on Tuesday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 540 from a previous 544.

Some 303,717 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 307,643, the health ministry said. 

Cuba's Covid shots need WHO authorisation to be supplied, says Americas health agency

Covid-19 vaccines developed by Cuba do not have emergency use authorisation from the World Health Organization and cannot be bought for countries in the Americas, the WHO's regional health branch has said.

Pan American Health Organization Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa said the vaccines, Abdala and Soberana, need that authorisation before they can be supplied by PAHO's revolving fund that supports equitable access to vaccines through the WHO-led COVAX facility.

English study finds long Covid affects up to 1 in 7 children months after infection

As many as 1 in 7 children may have symptoms linked to the coronavirus months after testing positive for Covid-19, the authors of an English study on long Covid in adolescents have said.

Children rarely become severely ill with Covid-19 but they can suffer lingering symptoms, and the study is one of the largest of its kind on how common so-called long Covid is in the age group.

The study, led by University College London and Public Health England, found that 11- to 17-year-olds who tested positive for the virus were twice as likely to report three or more symptoms 15 weeks later than those who had tested negative.

WHO director on new Berlin pandemic intelligence hub

Germany and the World Health Organization have opened a new global WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin.

The hub will bring together partners worldwide to collaborate and create the tools and data needed for all countries to prepare, detect and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chairman of the Board of Charite Hospital Heyo Kroemer.

Covid-19 has "demonstrated that trust, partnership and solidarity are essential for confronting shared public health threats," said Tedros.

Greek hospital staff protest vaccine requirement

Staff at public hospitals have held protests around Greece on the deadline to comply with a vaccination mandate for health care workers or face suspension without pay.

The government says the measure is needed to safeguard hospitals amid a third major surge in Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

But health care unions say it is unnecessary, noting that an estimated 95 percent of doctors and 90 percent of other staff at the country’s largest hospitals are fully vaccinated.

Merck begins late-stage trial of experimental Covid-19 drug

Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics has said they had begun enrolling patients in a late-stage trial of their experimental drug molnupiravir for prevention of Covid-19 infection.

The oral antiviral drug will be studied in over 1,300 volunteers to see if it can prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Merck said in June the US government has agreed to pay about $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of its experimental Covid-19 treatment, if it is proven to work in a separate, ongoing large trial and authorised by US regulators.

The new late-stage study is enrolling participants who are at least 18 years of age and stay in the same household as someone infected with symptomatic Covid-19.

France starts Covid-19 booster shot campaign for the elderly

France has started administering booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions to shore up their vaccine protection, as the highly contagious delta variant is spreading in the country.

People can get the shot on condition a minimum six-month period has passed since they got fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab can get a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna at least four weeks after they first got vaccinated.

Egypt virus cases rise amid variant, fewer rules

The number of daily Covid-19 cases confirmed in Egypt has grown steadily in recent weeks amid relaxed precautionary measures and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The Health Ministry reported late on Tuesday 279 cases in 24 hours and nine deaths, compared to 194 cases and seven deaths on the same day last week.

The delta variant first was detected in Egypt in July. Daily reported cases have gone up as authorities relaxed restrictions, allowing concerts and other large events where few participants wear face masks or maintain a distance from others.

Authorities have reported a total of 288,440 confirmed cases and 16,736 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but the actual numbers are believed much higher due to limited testing.

Italy extends Covid-19 Green Pass to trains, planes, ferries and coaches

Italy has broadened usage of its Green Pass health document, making it obligatory for people to have it when travelling on high-speed trains, planes, ferries and inter-regional coaches.

The Green Pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows whether someone has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, has tested negative or has recently recovered from the virus.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi introduced the pass earlier in the summer to try to encourage people to get vaccinated. It was initially needed to enter man y cultural and leisure venues, but its scope has gradually been widened.

The scheme has triggered protests by some Italians who say it tramples on freedoms, and opponents have vowed to block railway traffic at demonstrations set for later on Wednesday.

However, with 70.1 percent of all Italians over the age of 12 fully vaccinated, the vast majority of people seem to back the inoculation drive and the use of the Green Pass.

German companies can't ask about employees' vaccine status, says minister

German companies will not be granted the right to find out whether their employees are vaccinated against Covid-19, although provisions could be made for some particularly risky workplaces, the labour minister has said.

Many countries are making vaccination mandatory for some sectors - such as healthcare staff or public sector workers - and some companies - particularly in the United States - have started demanding that employees are inoculated.

But Germany has strict data privacy laws because of its history of Nazi and Communist state surveillance of citizens, meaning that companies have no right to find out about health issues relating to their staff.

Hair cuts and dining in as Thai malls reopen after virus cases ease

Thailand has allowed shopping malls in the capital Bangkok to reopen and restaurants to operate at half capacity, after nearly three months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the country's worst coronavirus outbreak.

Philippines hits 2 million virus cases as Delta drives surge

The Philippines has topped two million coronavirus cases as the country battles a record surge in infections that the World Health Organization confirmed is being driven by the hyper-contagious Delta strain.

In recent weeks, daily case rates have hit the highest levels since the start of the pandemic and the health department warned the trend could continue.

Wednesday's official data show the country recorded 14,216 new infections, taking the total caseload to just over two million, with 33,533 deaths in the country of 110 million people.

India schools cautiously reopen even as Covid warnings grow

More students in India will be able to step inside a classroom for the first time in nearly 18 months, as authorities have given the green light to partially reopen more schools despite apprehension from some parents and signs that infections are picking up again.

Schools and colleges in at least six more states are reopening in a gradual manner with health measures in place throughout September. In New Delhi, all staff must be vaccinated and class sizes will be capped at 50 percent with staggered seating and sanitised desks.

In the capital only students in grades nine through 12 will be allowed to attend at first, though it is not compulsory.

Covid vaccine mandates - and prizes - boost uptake among Palestinians

After mandating vaccinations for workers and many students - and offering prize money - to nudge a sceptical public to get the jab, Palestinian officials have reported a big boost in vaccine uptake they hope will stem a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Officials in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank announced the new rules last week after many shunned the vaccine due to misinformation online - even as authorities accumulated enough doses to cover most Palestinians over 12.

In addition to mandating jabs for public sector workers and those in jobs dealing with the public, as well as teachers and students above 15, Gaza now offers a chance at $200 - a hefty sum for Palestinians in the impoverished territory - to anyone over 50 who gets inoculated.

Ten winners are chosen daily.

Israeli students return to school amid surge in cases

Israeli pupils have returned to school with mask requirements and mandatory Covid-19 testing aimed at stemming a surge in coronavirus cases that has overshadowed the highly-vaccinated country's reopening.

Health officials worry the launch of a new school year - with most students attending in-person - will exacerbate the current wave ahead of this month's Jewish holiday season, potentially forcing another national lockdown.

Warnings as Southeast Asia's biggest economies ease Covid-19 curbs

As Indonesia and Thailand have started to ease Covid-19 curbs after seeing case numbers fall, health experts say cases of new infections could rise again with vaccination rates still low.

After containing the coronavirus better than much of the world last year, Southeast Asia has turned into a global epicentre in recent months with the arrival of the virulent Delta variant.

Although case numbers are still rising fast in most of the region, Indonesia and Thailand, which have its largest economies, have started to lift curbs on dine-in restaurants and shopping malls to ease the economic pain of their lockdowns.

Philippines health workers protest neglect as Covid-19 strains hospitals

Scores of healthcare workers have protested in the Philippine capital to demand an end to what they called government neglect and unpaid benefits, as pressure builds at hospitals fighting one of Asia's longest-running coronavirus epidemics.

Protesters wearing protective medical gear gathered at the Department of Health (DOH) and held placards demanding their risk allowances and hazard pay, and the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

North Korea proposes Sinovac shots go elsewhere

North Korea has proposed a UN-backed immunisation program send its allotment of almost 3 million doses of a Chinese-made vaccine to countries with severe Covid-19 outbreaks while it continues to claim a perfect record in keeping out the coronavirus.

UNICEF, which procures and delivers vaccines on behalf of the COVAX program, said on Tuesday that North Korea’s Ministry of Public Health has communicated that the 2.97 million Sinovac shots COVAX planned to deliver to the North may be sent elsewhere.

The North Korean ministry also said it will “will continue t o communicate with COVAX Facility to receive Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months,” UNICEF said in an email to The Associated Press.

COVAX had also allocated 1.9 million AstraZeneca shots to the North but delivery has been delayed.

New Zealand's cases spike again

New Zealand has reported 75 new coronavirus cases as the infections have spiked again since the country was hit by the Delta variant of the virus last month, according to state-run media.

With the latest infections, the total number of cases in the current community outbreak rose to 687, Radio New Zealand reported.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 49 cases, slightly downed from 53 on Monday.

China beats Taiwan to the punch in announcing new vaccine delivery

China has beaten Taiwan to the punch in announcing the delivery timetable for a highly politicised order of Covid-19 vaccines from BioNTech SE, saying the first 932,000 shots would arrive on the Chinese-claimed island on Thursday.

Taiwan has blamed China for blocking an original order from the German firm earlier this year - charges Beijing has angrily denied.

Taiwan's government subsequently allowed major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn - formally Hon Hai Precision Industr y Co Ltd - as well as its high profile billionaire founder Terry Gou, along with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, to negotiate on its behalf for the vaccine.

A $350 million deal for 10 million doses was signed in July. They will be donated to the government for distribution.

S Korea tops 1,000 cases for 57th straight day

South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, approaching a daily record set last month just a day after officials cautiously expressed hope that infections may slow.

The 2,025 cases reported on Wednesday marked the 57th consecutive day of at least 1,000 cases, and there are concerns transmissions could worsen as the country approaches its biggest holiday of the year.

WHO monitoring new coronavirus variant named 'Mu'

The World Health Organization has said it is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as "Mu", which was first identified in Colombia in January.

Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, has been classified as a "variant of interest", the global health body said in its weekly pandemic bulletin.

The WHO said the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it.

New Zealanders venture out as curbs eased in most regions

New Zealanders have visited beaches and queued for takeaway food as tough lockdown measures enforced to beat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus were eased for most of the country.

About 1.7 million people in the largest city Auckland still remain in strict level 4 lockdown for another two weeks, but restrictions for the remainder of the country were loosened.

Surfers and kayakers were seen heading to the beaches in droves, local media reports said, while other outdoor recreation facilities like golf courses were busy again.

US state Idaho reactivates National Guard to help with new cases

Idaho Governor Brad Little has said he was reactivating the National Guard and directing up to 370 additional people to help hospitals as they were overwhelmed with unvaccinated patients.

There were only four intensive care unit beds available Tuesday in the entire northwestern US state, out of nearly 400, the governor said in a statement.

"Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up too," Governor Little said.

Australia's Victoria sees rise in cases as lockdown extension looms

Australia's Victoria state has seen a jump in new locally acquired cases of the virus as the government prepared to extend a hard lockdown, while neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) brought forward its vaccination target date.

Residents in Victoria, where a lockdown is due to end on Thursday, are waiting to learn for how long the tough restrictions will be extended, after the state reported 120 new local cases, up from 76 a day earlier.

Victoria entered into a lockdown soon after the first case was detected in early August but infections have risen steadily over the past four weeks.

Japan finds another Moderna vial suspected to contain foreign substance

Japan's Kanagawa prefecture has said it has found another vial of Moderna Inc's vaccine suspected of containing a foreign substance and has put the rest of the lot on hold.

In a statement on Tuesday, prefectural authorities said a pharmacist found several black particles in one vial upon checking for foreign substances before the vaccine's use.

Japan suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna shots last week after being notified of contamination in some of the supply.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies