Covid-19 has infected over 225M people and has claimed 4.6M lives. Here are virus-related developments for September 13:

Students attend a lesson at Weaverham High School in Cheshire, UK, on March 9, 2021.
Students attend a lesson at Weaverham High School in Cheshire, UK, on March 9, 2021. (Reuters)

Monday, September 13, 2021

UK's health chiefs recommend 12 to 15-year-olds get vaccine

All children aged 12-15 should be offered Covid-19 vaccinations, but not be obliged to take them, the chief medical officers who advise the UK's four governments said.

The Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) recommended that children aged 12-15 in Britain get a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) earlier this month decided against making the recommendation.

The CMOs in a letter said that vaccinating children could reduce Covid-19 transmission and thus disruption to schools, and those benefits "on balance provide sufficient extra advantage... to recommend in favour of vaccinating this group."

"(Vaccination) will reduce education disruption," Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said at a news briefing.

Meanwhile, UK recorded 30,825 new cases, up from 29,173 reported a day earlier, with a further 61 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, government data showed. 

Turkey administers over 102.43M vaccine jabs

Turkey has administered over 102.43 million coronavirus vaccine jabs since the country launched an immunisation drive in January, according to the latest figures.

Over 51.78 million people have gotten their first Covid-19 vaccine dose, while more than 40.63 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

The data showed that 83.42 percent of the country's adult population has received at least one dose of a two-shot vaccine.

Separately, the ministry reported 24,613 new coronavirus cases, while as many as 231 more people lost their fight against the disease in the last 24 hours.

Number of French patients fall below 10,000

The number of French patients in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen below 10,000 again for the first time since mid-August, health ministry data showed.

The patient tally went down by 26 to 9,986, while the number of deaths in hospital increased by 86 to 88,862.

On Sunday, the seven-day moving average of new infections fell below 10,000 for the first time since July 20, as the number of new daily new cases stayed below 10,000 for the third day in a row. 

France now has 6.9 million confirmed cases and 115,618 deaths, including nursing home deaths.

Philippines to hold pilot test of localised lockdowns in capital region

The Philippines' capital region will shift to localised lockdowns and an alert level system starting September 16 to prevent the spread of coronavirus while allowing more businesses to resume operations, the president's spokesperson said.

"We should strive for total health and this can only be realised by carefully balancing our Covid-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of the nation," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Under the new guidelines, quarantine curbs will cover entire cities, replacing the existing four-degree classification imposed on large groups of cities and provinces, the coronavirus task force said in a statement.

Greek experts approve booster shot for those over 60

Greece will make a Covid-19 booster vaccine available to vulnerable groups, Health Ministry experts said, hoping to curb a rise in Delta variant infections.

Authorities would start making booster jab appointments available to persons with compromised immune systems and individuals over the age of 60.

"It can be administered 6-8 months after the second dose," said Maria Theodoridou, chair of the Greek National Vaccination Committee.

Singapore reports 607 new cases

Singapore's health ministry has reported 607 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since August last year.

The country's Covid-19 cases have hit a one-year high in the recent days as it entered a phased reopening after more than 80 percent of its population was fully vaccinated.

Italy reports 36 deaths, 2,800 new cases

Italy has reported 36 coronavirus-related deaths against 34 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 2,800 from 4,664.

No need for a vaccine third jab booster - study

Vaccines are effective enough at preventing severe cases of Covid-19 that there is no current need for the general population to be given third doses, according to a report in The Lancet.

The new report by scientists, including from the WHO, concluded that even with the threat of Delta, "booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic".

The authors, who reviewed observational studies and clinical trials, found that vaccines remain highly effective against severe symptoms of Covid-19, across all the main virus variants including Delta, although they had lower success in preventing asymptomatic cases of the disease.

The Lancet study concluded that the current variants had not developed sufficiently to escape the immune response provided by vaccines currently in use.

The authors argue that if new virus mutations do emerge that are able to evade this response, it would be better to deliver specially modified vaccine boosters aimed at the newer variants, rather than a third dose of an existing vaccine.

Vietnamese fleeing virus found in refrigerated truck: media

Fifteen people including a seven-year-old boy have been found inside a refrigerated truck in Vietnam after they tried to escape areas of the south badly hit by Covid-19, state media said Monday.

Vietnam has been battling a devastating fourth wave of the virus since April and tens of millions of people are under stay-at-home orders, with domestic travel largely forbidden.

On Sunday police in Binh Thuan province discovered the group of 15 inside a vehicle that had aroused suspicion as it tried to pass a virus checkpoint on its way north, Ho Chi Minh City's Phap Luat online news paper said.

"Police were so surprised to see 15 people at the back of the truck... Some of them were sweating and showed symptoms of breath shortness," the report said, adding the passengers were carrying negative Covid test certificates.

Vietnam speeds up Hanoi vaccine drive; 1M jabs over weekend

Vietnam is speeding up its vaccination programme in an effort to loosen coronavirus lockdown restrictions in major cities by the end of the month, the government has said.

Health workers administered vaccines throughout the night in the capital, Hanoi, which has been under lockdown since July.

More than a million vaccine shots were given over the weekend in Hanoi, out of around 5.5 million administered there since vaccinations started in March, the Health Ministry said.

“We have to speed up the vaccination program so we can make a plan to reopen the city,” Hanoi mayor Chu Ngoc Anh said Sunday.
More than half of the country’s 98 million population is also under lockdown.

About 80 percent of the city’s 5.7 million adults have received at least one shot, with authorities aiming for 100 percent by the end of this week. 

Russia reports 18,178 new cases

Russia reported 719 more fatalities, and 18,178 new cases, over past 24 hours, with the country recording over 700 deaths daily since July 5, according to official data.

Germany pushes vaccinations in varied locations

Health workers are visiting kebab stalls, hockey games and hardware stores across Germany in a push to reach people who have yet to get a coronavirus shot as the country’s vaccination sputters.

It is part of a special week-long vaccination drive during which people will be offered the shots without appointments at easily accessible sites listed on a national website and promoted on social media with the hashtag “Hier wird geimpft,” meaning “Vaccinations offered here.”

“It’s never been easier to get a vaccine,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekend video address.

Germany wants 75 percent of the population to be immunised against the coronavirus, but so far only 62.2 percent of the population has received all the necessary shots.

Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday defended growing pressure on unvaccinated people, including an end to free testing next month and — in some German states — no more sick pay for people in quarantine.

India reports 27,254 new cases, 219 deaths

India reported 27,254 new infections and 219 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

Total cases have now climbed to 33.26 million while deaths have risen to 442,874.

New Zealand cases rise

New Zealand reported an increase in new coronavirus cases on Monday, all in its largest city Auckland which is struggling to control the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Health authorities recorded 33 new cases of the Delta variant, higher than 23 and 20 cases reported over the weekend.

The latest cases were released ahead of a announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 0400 GMT on whether the social restrictions in place in Auckland would be eased or extended.

The new cases take the number of confirmed cases in the new outbreak to 955, most of which have been in Auckland.

New Zealand had been largely virus-free for months until an outbreak of the Delta variant imported from Australia prompted Ardern to order a snap nationwide lockdown on Aug. 17.

The lockdown was lifted in the rest of the country last week but Auckland remains shut, with schools, offices and public venues shuttered and its 1.7 million people ordered to stay indoors.

Australia's NSW state says coronavirus vaccination pace slows

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) said on Monday the pace of vaccinations had slowed as first-dose coverage neared 80% and urged the unvaccinated to get shots soon or risk missing out on freedoms when curbs ease.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to relax some restrictions for the state's 8 million residents once two-dose vaccination rates hit 70 percent, expected to be around the middle of next month. So far, about 46 percent of the state's adult population has been fully vaccinated, above the national average of 42 percent.

"For those of you who choose not to be vaccinated, that is your choice, but don't expect to do everything that vaccinated people do when we hit 80 percent," Berejiklian said at a media briefing in Sydney, the state capital.

Australia steps up vaccine rollout as bookings for children begin

Australia will expand its Covid-19 vaccination drive to include around one million children aged 12-15 as it secures additional supplies in a bid to step up the pace of its inoculation amid a surge in infections.

The country is scrambling to control a third wave of the coronavirus from the highly infectious Delta variant and has locked down its largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. It is also accelerating an initially sluggish vaccine rollout.

The steady rise in infections has turned up the heat on authorities to procure emergency vaccine supplies.

Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of the vaccination taskforce, said there would be enough vaccines from the middle of October to fully vaccinate every eligible person.

"We have the supply, we think we've got the distribution network and now it really comes down to people stepping forward, getting booked in and getting vaccinated," Frewen told local broadcaster ABC.

South Africa announces 'vaccine passport' plans, eases restrictions

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans to introduce Covid-19 "vaccine passports" amid widespread scepticism of the jab, ahead of an easing of movement restrictions this week.

In two weeks, we will "be providing further information on an approach to 'vaccine passports', which can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events", he said without providing further details in a televised address to the nation.

But he added that "a sustained decline in infections... over the last few weeks" would allow for an easing of confinement measures from Monday.

A night-time curfew will be shortened, starting at 23:00 (2100 GMT) instead of 10, and limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings will be increased.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be relaxed, although face masks remain mandatory in public.

Mexico reports 224 more deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 5,139 new, confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 224 more deaths, bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,511,882 and the death toll to 267,748.

Brazil registers 293 new deaths

Brazil has recorded 10,615 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 293 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered almost 21 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 586,851, according to ministry data.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies