Covid-19 has infected more than 237M people and killed over 4.8M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 7:

A passenger stands next to a Covid-19 testing centre sign in the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport, Britain on August 2, 2021.
A passenger stands next to a Covid-19 testing centre sign in the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport, Britain on August 2, 2021. (Reuters)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

UK eases travel rules for countries including India, Turkey

Britain has said it will scrap tough quarantine travel rules for 47 destinations including South Africa on Monday and will recognise the vaccine status of arrivals from more countries in the latest easing of restrictions.

Transport minister Grant Shapps said that travellers arriving in England from 37 countries and territories would also face fewer entry requirements as their vaccine status will be recognised, including arrivals from India, Turkey and Ghana.

The UK government has announced a dramatic reduction to its  travel "red list", scrapping bans on foreigners travelling to England from 47 countries.

Turkey administers over 111.6M vaccine jabs

Turkey has administered over 111.68 million doses of vaccines since the country launched an immunisation drive in January, according to official figures released.

More than 54.35 million people have been given a first dose of a vaccine, while around 45.81 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

Separately, the ministry also recorded 30,019 new cases, 217 related deaths and 32,240 recoveries over the last 24 hours.

Italy loosens restrictions on leisure activities

Italy has increased the maximum attendance capacity allowed at cultural and sporting venues, continuing its progressive easing of curbs for those who can show documents of immunity from the disease.

As of October 11, cinemas, theatres and concert venues will be able to fill all their seats, scrapping the current limit of 50 percent, the government said, following advice from its panel of public health advisors.

Pfizer seeks US authorisation of vaccine for ages 5-11

US drugmaker Pfizer has said it formally requested emergency use authorisation for its vaccine in children age five to 11.

Children have been infected in greater numbers in the latest wave driven by the Delta variant, and inoculating young people is seen as key to keeping schools open and helping end the pandemic.

Germany recommends booster shots for J&J recipients

Germany's vaccine advisory committee has recommended a booster mRNA vaccination shot for people who were inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it said.

The committee, known as STIKO, said it had seen higher breakthrough infections and a comparatively low vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant among people who had had a single shot of the J&J vaccine.

The committee also recommended booster shots for people over 70, regardless of which vaccine they had received.

Spain's rate at 'low risk' level for first time in 15 months

Spain's incidence have dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people, reaching the threshold considered "low risk" by the Health Ministry for the first time in over a year.

More than three quarters of the Spanish population has now been fully vaccinated and most restrictions on socialising have recently been dropped, although masks remain mandatory in enclosed spaces.

The Health Ministry added 1,807 cases to its tally of infections, bringing the total up to 4.97 million since the pandemic began. The death toll rose by 23 to 86,701.

WHO working to get medical supplies to North Korea

The World Health Organization is working to ship Covid-19 medical supplies into North Korea, a possible sign that the North is easing one of the world’s strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside help.

WHO said in a weekly monitoring report that it has started the shipment of essential Covid-19 medical supplies through the Chinese port of Dalian for “strategic stockpiling and further dispatch” to North Korea. WHO officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for more details, including what those supplies were and whether they had yet reached North Korea.

Describing its anti-virus campaign was a matter of “national existence,” North Korea had severely restricted cross-border traffic and trade for the past two years despite the strain on its already crippled economy.

Finland pauses use of Moderna vaccine in young men

Finland will pause the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for men born in 1991 and later due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect, the institute for health and welfare said.

Swedish and Danish health officials had announced on Wednesday afternoon they would pause the use of the Moderna vaccine for all young adults and children.

Norway already uses Pfizer's vaccine for all children and now also recommends it for men under the age of 30.

The Nordic countries based the decision on an unpublished Nord ic research study including data from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Malaysia buys 150,000 courses of Merck's pill

Malaysia has struck a deal with US drugmaker Merck & Co to buy 150,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill, the health ministry said, joining other Asian countries in a rush to secure supplies.

Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19, clinical data has shown. 

Merck and Singapore sign deal on antiviral pill

Pharmaceutical company Merck has announced a supply and purchase agreement with Singapore that will ensure it access to its experimental oral Covid-19 antiviral drug.

The drug Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19. Merck is seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for the pill.

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed the deal though it declined to comment on the number of doses it purchased, citing commercial sensitivities.

Moderna plans mRNA vaccine factory in Africa

Moderna plans to invest about $500 million to build a factory in Africa to make up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines each year, including its Covid-19 shot, as pressure grows on the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture drugs on the continent.

Moderna's proposed site will also include bottling and packaging capabilities. The company said it would begin the process of deciding the country and location soon.

"We expect to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine as w ell as additional products within our mRNA vaccine portfolio at this facility," CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement.

Uzbekistan starts producing Sputnik V vaccine

Uzbekistan has started producing the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine domestically in a joint project with Russia, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's office said.

More than 120,000 US kids had caregivers die during pandemic

The number of US children orphaned during the Covid-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.

More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40 percent of the US population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.

“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed," one of the study's authors, Dr Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.

China reports 25 new confirmed cases, vs 26 a day earlier

China has reported 25 new Covid-19 cases on the mainland for Oct. 6, versus 26 a day earlier, the national health authority said.

All of the new infections were imported, the National Health Commission said.

It reported 11 asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases.

No new deaths were reported.

As of October 6, mainland China had recorded 96,335 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Sydney to exit Covid-19 lockdown next week

Covid-19 restrictions will be eased further in Sydney from Monday, authorities said, as Australia's largest city looks set to exit a nearly four-month lockdown after hitting its 70% full vaccination target.

Fully vaccinated people in New South Wales (NSW) state will be able to leave their homes for any reason including visiting pubs, retail stores, cinemas, and gyms, which will reopen under strict social distancing rules.

The number of vaccinated visitors allowed to gather in a home will double to 10, while the limit on vaccinated people at weddings and funerals will be raised to 100. 

Nightclubs can partially reopen to vaccinated people once inoculations reach 80 percent, earlier than previously planned, and masks will not be mandatory in offices.

The state will use a vaccination-passport system to ensure those who have not been fully inoculated remain under strict stay-home orders until December 1.

"Vaccination is the key to our freedom and the sacrifices and the effort of people right across NSW have ensured that we can open up as quickly and safely as possible," state Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters in Sydney.

Mexico reports more than 700 deaths

Mexico has reported 7,697 new cases of Covid-19 in the country and 713 more deaths, bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,699,621 and the death toll to 280,607.

It has previously said that these numbers are likely significantly higher than those reported.

Brazil sees 530 new deaths

Brazil has registered 17,893 new cases of coronavirus and 530 additional Covid-19 deaths, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

In total, registered Covid-19 deaths in Brazil have reached 599,359.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies