Covid-19 has infected more than 228M people and killed over 4.6M. Here are virus-related developments for September 17:

Women walk over the Galata Bridge with Suleymaniye Mosque in the background, in Istanbul, on July 27, 2021.
Women walk over the Galata Bridge with Suleymaniye Mosque in the background, in Istanbul, on July 27, 2021. (AP)

Friday, September 17, 2021

UK removes Turkey, Pakistan and others from travel red list

The UK has removed Turkey from its red coronavirus travel list, allowing travel without compulsory hotel quarantine on arrival, and so easing travel and tourism between the two countries.

With the latest update, Britain’s traffic light system is now scrapped and a simpler, "go" and "don't go" system was introduced.

Starting on Wednesday, September 22, arrivals from Turkey, Pakistan, and the Maldives will no longer need to self-isolate in a designated hotel, potentially saving them thousands of pounds.

Singapore reports 935 new cases

Singapore has reported 935 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since April last year.

A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of some measures has prompted Singapore to pause on further reopening. 

More than 80 percent of its population has been vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Switzerland tightens Covid-19 border controls

Switzerland has announced that all travellers entering the country who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the disease will need proof of a negative test.

Bern said the measures, which come into force on Monday, were a bid to prevent a spike in cases once people start returning from their autumn vacation, following a surge in Delta variant infections after the summer holidays.

"Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has not recovered must present a negative test result on entry," the government said in a statement, adding that after four to seven days in Switzerland, another test must be carried out, subject to a fee.

All travellers must also complete a locator form.

Vaccine bookings jump in Italy

Bookings for Covid-19 vaccinations have jumped in Italy after the government made inoculation mandatory for all workers in some of the strictest anti-coronavirus measures adopted in the world.

The number of people making appointments more than doubled from the day before in the northeastern region of Veneto, while in Tuscany they almost tripled, according to provisional data.

In Italy's largest region Lombardy, daily bookings jumped to more than 17,000 on Thursday from some 9,500 a day earlier.

Italy has reported 66 coronavirus-related deaths against 67 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 4,552 from 5,117.

Italy has registered 130,233 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 4.63 million cases to date.

India administers 20M doses in one day

India has broken its daily vaccination record by administering over 20 million doses of vaccines in a single day as states organised a special inoculation drive on the occasion of PM Narendra Modi's birthday.

The health minister called it a gift for Modi, who turned 71 as vaccination breached the previous peak of 14.1 million on August 31.

Immunisations have surged in the past few weeks, thanks mainly to a rapid rise in production of the AstraZeneca shot by the Serum Institute of India. The company would supply 200 million doses to the country's immunisation programme this month, compared with around 150 million in the previous month, said a ministry source, who declined to be named.

Britain reports 178 more deaths

Britain has recorded 32,651 new cases and a further 178 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, government data showed.

That compared with 26,911 new cases and 158 deaths a day earlier, although those figures did not include statistics from Scotland due to a technical issue. 

Shortages of vaccines in Africa could lead to more variants 

Africa faces a 470 million shortfall in vaccine doses this year after the Covax alliance cut its projected shipments, raising the risk of new and deadly variants, the WHO said.

Only 17 percent of the continent's population will now be vaccinated by the end of this year, compared with the 40 percent target set by the World Health Organisation, the global agency's Africa unit said at its weekly briefing in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville.

China reports 62 new cases

China reports another 62 cases, even as the number of Chinese citizens fully vaccinated has topped 1 billion.

All but one of the cases was detected over the previous 24 hours in the eastern coastal province of Fujian in China’s latest outbreak of the delta variant, the National Health Commission said. 

Of those, 31 were in the major port city of Xiamen, with 28 others in the city of Putian and one in the city of Quanzhou.

South Korea reports more than 2,000 new cases

South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new cases, nearing a one-day record set last month, continuing an alarming surge as the nation enters its biggest holiday of the year.

The 2,008 cases reported was the 73rd consecutive day of over 1,000 despite officials enforcing the country’s strongest social distancing rules short of a lockdown in capital Seoul and other large population centres for the past 10 weeks.

More than 1,500 of the new case came from the greater Seoul area, home to half of a population of more than 51 million, where infections have surged as schools reopened and people returned from summer vacations in recent weeks.

NSW to trial home quarantine for international arrivals

Authorities in Australia's most populous state have said they will trial home quarantine for international travellers arriving into Sydney.

Currently, international passengers coming to Australia are required to stay in hotel quarantine for 14 days, but the trial will allow travellers to stay at home for seven days if they have received they are fully vaccinated.

New South Wales state Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said this was a "massive step forward."

Austria hears first lawsuit over virus outbreak in ski resort

The first civil lawsuit has begun in a court in Vienna over a notorious outbreak of coronavirus at the popular ski resort of Ischgl in March 2020, where thousands of people from 45 countries claim to have become infected.

The case is the first of 15 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs from Austria and Germany, accusing the authorities of not responding quickly enough to Covid-19 outbreaks in Ischgl and other resorts in the province of Tyrol.

It is being brought on behalf of the family of 72-year-old Hannes Schopf, who died after contracting the virus in Ischgl.

US' Florida state surpasses 50K deaths after battling delta wave

Florida has surpassed 50,000 deaths since the pandemic began, health officials reported, with more than one fourth of those succumbing this summer as the state battled a fierce surge in infections fuelled by the delta variant.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied 50,811 deaths after adding more than 1,500 deaths provided Thursday by the state's health department. Those reported deaths occurred over various dates in recent weeks.

Florida has the 11th worst per-capita death rate among the 50 states, the CDC says. New Jersey, Mississippi and New York have had the worst, but Florida has risen from the 17th spot in the past two weeks.

France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers

Thousands of health workers across France have been suspended without pay for failing to get vaccinated ahead of a deadline this week, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

France's national public health agency estimated last week that roughly 12 percent of hospital staff and around six percent of doctors in private practices have yet to be vaccinated.

"Some 3,000 suspensions were notified yesterday to employees at health centres and clinics who have not yet been vaccinated," Veran told RTL radio.

Alaska seeing one of sharpest Covid-19 surges in US

Alaska’s state epidemiologist says Alaska is experiencing “one of the sharpest surges” in Covid-19 in the country.

Dr. Joe McLaughlin added that it’s not clear when the situation might stabilise. He says a lot will depend on vaccination rates and measures such as masking and distancing.

Vaccinated Australians promised more freedom even as Covid-19 cases mount

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged more freedom for vaccinated citizens, even as the country's second largest state reported its second highest daily rise in new Covid-19 infections this year.

Morrison said federal and state leaders would discuss vaccine passports and expanding home quarantine when they meet for a national cabinet later on Friday.

"You will see vaccinated people being able to move and do more things," Morrison told radio station 3AW.

Cuba begins vaccinating children as young as 2

Cuba began a Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children between the ages of 2 and 10, saying it was necessary to curb the spread of the delta variant.

Cuba has two homegrown vaccines, Abdala and Soberana, that it says are safe and effective. Both require three shots. In previous weeks, the government started vaccinating people between 11 and 18 years old.

Mexico reports 7,040 virus cases

Mexico's Health Ministry reports 7,040 new confirmed cases of the virus in the country and 434 deaths, bringing the total number of official infections since the pandemic began to 3,549,229 and the death toll to 270,346.

Health Ministry officials have previously said the real virus numbers are likely significantly higher.

Brazil sees 34,407 more virus cases

Brazil registered 34,407 new virus cases and 643 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Italy requires Covid pass for all workers from October 15

Italian workers in both the public and private sectors must display a health pass to access their workplaces from October 15 under a decree adopted by Premier Mario Draghi’s broad-based coalition government.

The measures are the first by a major European economy requiring proof of vaccination, a recent negative virus test or recovery from the virus in the previous six months for all categories of workers.

IMF, World Bank urge more vaccination doses to go to poor countries

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and other multilateral-organisation leaders urged countries with high vaccination rates to boost efforts to send doses to low- and middle-income countries.

Georgieva and the heads of the World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization expressed concern in a joint statement that it would not be possible to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 without urgent action.

British study to test mixed vaccine dose schedules in children

A British study will look into the immune responses of children to mixed schedules of different vaccines as officials try to determine the best approach to second doses in adolescents given a small risk of heart inflammation.

Children aged 12-15 in Britain will be vaccinated from next week, while those aged 16-17 have been eligible for shots since August.

However, while the children will be offered a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, officials have said that advice about second doses will be given at a later date, while more data is gathered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies