Coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 3.8M people and infected over 179M globally. Here are the latest Covid-related developments for June 22:

Backdropped by the iconic Galata Tower, people walk and sit by the promenade of the Golden Horn leading to the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia, in Istanbul.
Backdropped by the iconic Galata Tower, people walk and sit by the promenade of the Golden Horn leading to the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia, in Istanbul. (AP Archive)

Tuesday, June 22

'Extremists' use Covid pandemic to polarise societies – Europol 

Violent "extremists" are abusing the coronavirus pandemic to polarise societies, spread hate propaganda and exacerbate mistrust in public institutions, Europol has warned in a report.

Since Covid gripped the world in early 2020, there has been "a notable increase in intolerance of political opponents, while the number of individuals conducting verbal or physical violence is also increasing," Europe's policing agency said.

Moscow restricts visits to bars, restaurants to curb Covid-19 wave

Moscow's mayor ordered bars and restaurants to serve people only if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or had had an infection indicating immunity - one of the Russian capital's toughest steps to fight the pandemic since last year's lockdown.

The Kremlin has blamed a renewed wave of infections over the last two weeks on the Delta variant and the slow pace of its vaccination programme even though four domestically-produced vaccines have been approved for use.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the new restrictions would take effect on June 28 and were needed to avert a stringent new lockdown.

UK records 11,625 new virus cases, 27 new deaths

Britain has reported 11,625 new virus cases and 27 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official government data showed.

That compared to 10,633 cases and 5 deaths reported a day earlier. 

Turkey announces first local Covid vaccine

Turkey's President Erdogan has announced the country's first local vaccine in development against Covid-19 would be called Turkovac.

The first dose of the vaccine’s third phase trial was administered to a male volunteer in a videoconference by the health minister, professors and Turkey’s president. 

The health minister said Phase 1 and 2 trials showed the vaccine’s safety and immune response.

Turkovac is using an "inactivated virus" technology and was developed at Erciyes University. Other vaccine developments continue in Turkey. Turkish President Erdogan has said it is imperative to have a local vaccine that Turkey would use in the country and export to others.

Korea tells WHO it has detected no virus cases

North Korea has told the World Health Organization it tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus through June 10 but has yet to find a single infection.

The WHO said in a monitoring report that North Korea’s testing figures included 733 people who were tested during June 4-10, of which 149 were with influenza-like illnesses or severe respiratory infections.

Experts widely doubt North Korea’s claim that it has not had a single case of the virus, given its poor health infrastructure and porous border with China, its major ally and economic lifeline.

Turkey lowers vaccine eligibility age to 25 

Turkey has lowered the Covid-19 vaccination eligibility age to 25, the country's health minister announced.

People over 25 years of age can make an appointment as of tomorrow, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter. 

Over 43 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered since the country launched a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January, according to the Health Ministry. 

Amid a nationwide fall in Covid-19 cases, Turkey is set to end pandemic curfews as of next Thursday, July 1. 

Colombia death toll tops 100,000

Colombia's death toll from Covid-19 has passed the 100,000 mark with a new 24-hour record of almost 650 deaths, the health ministry said.

It has now recorded 100,582 dead, including 648 in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

Cuba says its Abdala vaccine 92 percent effective

Cuba’s government has announced that its three-shot Abdala vaccine has proved to be 92 percent effective against the coronavirus.

It provided no details of the clinical testing. The Abdala is one of the vaccines Cuba is testing. It recently said its Soberana 2 vaccine has shown a 62 percent efficacy. The announcement came as Cuba faces its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic with record new infections.

Dr Francisco Duran, the island’s director of epidemiology, on Monday reported 1,561 new coronavirus cases for a total of 169,365 confirmed cases and 1,170 deaths.

Russia reports most deaths in a single day since February

Russia has reported 546 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since February, amid a surge in new cases that authorities have blamed on the new Delta variant.

The government coronavirus task force confirmed 16,715 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 6,555 in Moscow, taking the national case total to 5,350,919 since the pandemic began.

Kenya receives 358,700 doses of vaccine

Kenya has received 358,700 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a donation from Denmark.

In a statement, Kenya’s Health Ministry said the arrival of the vaccines is expected to boost an ongoing second dose vaccination exercise that commenced late last month.

India reports 42,640 new cases, 1,167 deaths

India has reported 42,640 new infections over the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The South Asian country's total case load now stands at 29.98 million, while total fatalities are at 389,302, the data showed. 

India's coronavirus-related deaths rose by 1,167 overnight.

Brazil reports 38,903 new cases

Brazil has recorded 38,903 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 761 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Brazil has registered nearly 18 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 502,586, according to ministry data.

Italy to scrap face masks from end of June

Face masks will no longer be compulsory in Italy, one of the countries in Europe worst hit by the virus, from June 28, the health ministry said.

The lifting of the mask requirement would come into effect in regions labelled "white" under Italy's classification system for how rapidly the virus is spreading, Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook.

This includes all Italian regions except the tiny Aosta Valley in the far northwest.

Speranza's announcement came on advice from Italy's Comitato Tecnico Scientifico (CTS) scientific advisory panel, which said people should still have masks at hand for events with higher risk of spreading the virus like large gatherings.

By June 28, experts predict all of Italy will be classified a "white" zone.

The country has recorded 127,291 deaths since the pandemic reached it in early 2020, with 4.25 million infections.

So far 30 percent of people over 12 have been vaccinated, or around 16 million out of a population of 60 million.

More than 46 million vaccine doses have been administered in Italy.

Companies boost vaccine rollout in Japan

Thousands of Japanese companies began distributing vaccines to workers and their families in an employer-led drive reaching more than 13 million people that aims to rev up the nation’s slow vaccine rollout.

About 3,500 companies have signed up for the free vaccines, and that number is growing. The companies must present a plan to inoculate at least 1,000 people per site. But they decide whom to include, such as families, affiliate companies and suppliers.

Universities are also eligible. Smaller companies can apply through organisations, such as the local merchant association, so ideally no one falls through the cracks, according to the health ministry.

Company applications for the vaccines are accepted through February 2022.

Japan is relying totally on imported vaccines for a campaign that started in February with medical professionals. Only about 6% of Japanese are fully vaccinated. Japan has had more than 14,000 deaths from the virus.

Vaccinations have been slowed by bungled reservation procedures, unclear distribution plans and shortages of medical staff to give shots.

Local governments and Japan’s self-defence forces are also leading the vaccination campaign, but the employer-led efforts are helping accelerate the pace.

US announces allocation plan for 55M vaccine doses

The administration of US President Joe Biden announced its plan for the next tranche of 55 million vaccine doses it plans to send to countries in need.

The donation will complete Washington's initial pledge of 80 million doses from its own vaccine supply, made ahead of a vow to buy 500 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine for low- and middle-income nations.

Forty-one million of the 55 million doses (75 percent) are being distributed through the Covax programme, with the remaining 14 million (25 percent) shared with recipients the US deems priorities.

The vaccines being shared with Covax include 14 million for Latin America and the Caribbean, approximately 16 million to Asia, and 10 million for Africa in coordination with the African Union.

The first tranche included the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, but it was not immediately clear what the second tranche would comprise.

Philippines threatens those who refuse vaccines with jail

President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated as the Philippines battles one of Asia's worst outbreaks, with over 1.3 million cases and more than 23,000 deaths.

"You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed," Duterte said in a televised address on Monday following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital Manila.

Duterte's remarks contradict those of his health officials who have said that while people are urged to receive the vaccine, it was voluntary.

"Don't get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country," Duterte said. "I'm just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government."

As of June 20, Philippine authorities had fully vaccinated 2.1 million people, making slow progress towards the government's target to immunise up to 70 million people this year in a country of 110 million.

Vaccine technology transfer centre to open in South Africa

The World Health Organization is in talks to create the first-ever technology transfer hub for vaccines in South Africa, a move to boost supply to the continent that's desperately in need of virus shots, the head of the UN agency announced.

The new consortium will include drugmakers Biovac and Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a network of universities and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

They will develop training facilities for other vaccine makers to make shots that use a genetic code of the spike protein, known as mRNA vaccines.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies