Coronavirus has infected more than 244M people and killed over 4.9M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 26:

The daily number of Covid-19 deaths in Russia hit another high amid a surge in infections hitting several countries across the globe.
The daily number of Covid-19 deaths in Russia hit another high amid a surge in infections hitting several countries across the globe. (AP)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

WHO: Pandemic ‘far from over’

The Covid-19 crisis is far from over, the World Health Organization's emergency committee has said as it called for research into next-generation vaccines for long-term control of the pandemic.

The 19-member committee meets every three months to discuss the pandemic and make recommendations.

"While progress has been made through increased uptake of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics, analysis of the present situation and forecasting models indicate that the pandemic is far from finished," the WHO said in a statement.

Swiss authorise booster jabs for the vulnerable

Switzerland has authorised booster shots of vaccines for the over-65s, as it urged those with no protection at all to get immunised.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said the booster would be one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or a half-dose of Moderna.

Infections soar in Czech Republic, Slovakia

Slovakia has extended tight restrictions to more parts of the country as the latest surge of infections intensified.

The number of counties affected by the measures doubled in just one week, from 5 out of 79 to 10 out of 79.

Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, coronavirus infections have soared to the highest levels in more than half a year as authorities call on the Czechs to get vaccinated.

Ukraine report record daily deaths, low vaccinations

Ukraine has reported another record daily number of deaths as vaccinations in the nation of 41 million people lags.

Ukraine's Health Ministry registered 734 deaths in 24 hours, raising the country's pandemic death toll to 64,936.

UK reports highest daily death total since March

UK has reported 263 new deaths, the highest daily total reported since March 3 following a steady rise in cases in the last month, according to government data.

Another 40,954 cases were reported, a rise the previous day's 36,567, although the running total for the last seven days had flattened, the data showed.

African Union to buy up to 110 million Moderna vaccines

The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters.

The AU's doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter.

"This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately," AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said in an email. 

"We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the (US government) and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines."

Russia's daily death toll hits new record

Russia has reported 1,106 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest figure since the start of the pandemic, amid a surge in new cases that has prompted authorities to reimpose partial lockdown measures.

The daily toll has hit new records in six of the past eight days.

The state Covid-19 task force also reported 36,446 new infections, compared with 37,930 a day earlier.

China locks down Lanzhou city

China has placed a city of four million under lockdown on Tuesday in a bid to stamp out a domestic coronavirus spike, with residents told not to leave home except in emergencies. 

The restrictions came as China reported 29 new domestic infections — including six cases in Lanzhou, the provincial capital of northwestern province Gansu. 

Officials in Lanzhou said the "entry and exit of residents" would be strictly controlled and limited to essential supplies or medical treatment. 

"All types of residential communities are to implement closed management," authorities said in a statement.

Bulgaria reports record deaths, infections

Bulgaria has reported record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths and infections as a fourth wave of the disease is stretching the health system in the European Union's least vaccinated member state.

New infections in the previous 24 hours topped 5,863 while 243 people died of the virus, official data showed. The pandemic has killed 23,316 people in Bulgaria.

Climate-vulnerable countries forced to scale back their attendance at COP26 summit

Some of the world's most climate-vulnerable countries have been forced to scale back their attendance at the COP26 climate summit due to Covid-19 travel curbs and costs, blunting their negotiating power, according to Fiji's UN ambassador.

Border closures, quarantine rules and high travel costs will see small island states and poorer nations sending smaller delegations, with some leaders unable to travel to the key United Nations' climate talks that start in Scotland on Sunday.

Only four leaders from Pacific island states - Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and Palau - are due to attend the COP26 conference in person, according to Satyendra Prasad, Fiji's ambassador to the United Nations.

"The stakes could not be higher, but it's a very difficult situation," Prasad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York, where he is based.

Borders remain closed in many Pacific island countries to keep local communities safe from Covid-19, as in Kiribati, while long quarantine periods of up to three weeks including in Tonga make it hard for leaders to travel, Prasad added.

COP26 is billed as the "last best shot" for the world to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius - crucial for Pacific nations battling more powerful tropical storms and rising sea levels, according to the UN envoy.

Biden imposing new international travel vaccine rules, lifting restrictions

US President Joe Biden has signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travelers and lifting severe travel restrictions on China, India, and much of Europe effective November 8, the White House said.

The extraordinary US travel restrictions were first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of Covid-19. 

The rules bar most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, and Brazil.

"It is in the interests of the United States to move away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the Covid-19 pandemic and to adopt an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States," Biden's proclamation says.

The White House confirmed that children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements as are people with some medical issues. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10 percent will also be eligible for exemption from the rules. 

Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States.

Thousands of Nicaraguans go to Honduras border for vaccines

Nearly 8,000 Nicaraguans received Covid-19 vaccines at two customs border crossings with neighboring Honduras in recent days, Honduran health authorities said, as supplies of the inoculations in Nicaragua have run low.

Promoting the vaccines for Nicaraguans, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez wrote in a post on Twitter that "the solidarity and brotherhood of Hondurans crosses borders." 

He added that up to 500 doses were being given out daily to Nicaraguans.

Honduran health authorities also pitched cross-border assistance as a way to help beat back the risk of more infections at home.

"They don't have access to vaccines in Nicaragua and that becomes a risk for us due to the significant movement of people along the border," said Honduran regional health official Jose Maria Paguada.

Facebook, YouTube take down Bolsonaro video over false vaccine claim

Facebook and YouTube have removed from their platforms a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in which the far-right leader made a false claim that Covid-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS.

Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc's YouTube said the video, which was recorded on Thursday, violated their policies.

"Our policies don't allow claims that Covid-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

YouTube confirmed that it had taken the same step later in the day.

"We removed a video from Jair Bolsonaro's channel for violating our medical disinformation policy regarding Covid-19 for alleging that vaccines don't reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases," YouTube said in a statement.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies