Covid-19 wrap : Facebook to ban ads discouraging vaccines, Iran's death toll rises

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Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

FOLLOW LIVE | Covid-19: What we know about vaccine hesitancy in South Africa

Facebook will ban ads discouraging people from getting vaccines

Facebook Inc will start banning ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, the social media company said on Tuesday, as it also announced a new flu vaccine information campaign.

The company said in a blog post that ads advocating for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines, including a Covid-19 vaccine, would still be allowed.

Facebook will begin to enforce the new policy in the next few days.

Facebook, which has been under pressure from lawmakers and public health groups to crack down on anti-vaccine content and misinformation on its platform, said that although a Covid-19 vaccine would not be available for some time, the pandemic had highlighted the importance of preventative health behaviors.

Facebook's rules prohibit ads with vaccine misinformation, but ads expressing opposition to vaccines had been allowed if they did not contain false claims.

This summer, Facebook Public Policy Manager Jason Hirsch told Reuters the company believed users should be able to express such personal views and that more aggressive censorship could push people hesitant about vaccines towards the anti-vaccine camp.


Russia approves trial of Covid-19 vaccine on group of over 60s -RIA

Russia's health ministry has approved a trial of the Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 on 110 volunteers over the age of 60, the RIA news agency cited the ministry as saying on Tuesday.

The testing will be conducted alongside an ongoing late-stage trial, known as a Phase III, of the vaccine on 40 000 volunteers in Moscow.


Latest on the worldwide spread of coronavirus

Johnson & Johnson said it would take a few days to hear from a safety monitoring panel about its review of the company's late-stage Covid-19 vaccine trial after announcing that the study had been paused due to an unexplained illness in one participant.


Russia reported record high daily coronavirus cases and deaths, pushing total infections to 1 326 178, but authorities said they do not plan to impose lockdowns across the country.

The United Kingdom reported 143 new deaths from Covd-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since June, as parts of the country faced tougher social distancing restrictions under a new three-tiered alert system.

Hundreds of primary care doctors went on strike in the Spanish region of Catalonia calling for better working conditions as cases rise.

Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive, Portugal's Football Federation said.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he had gone into quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive. Poland reported 5 068 new cases on Tuesday, only the second time the figure has passed 5 000 in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began.

Ukraine's government voted to extend the lockdown until the end of the year.

The Netherlands reached a new record in daily cases, hitting nearly 7 400 infections in 24 hours.

Italy imposed new restrictions on gatherings, restaurants, sports and school activities.


US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected President Donald Trump's latest offer on Covid-19 stimulus, in the latest sign that a bipartisan deal on coronavirus relief remains unlikely ahead of the November election.

The case of a man in the United States infected twice with Covid-19 shows there is much yet to learn about immune responses and also raises questions over vaccination, scientists said.

Mexico plans to vaccinate more than 116 million people, or roughly 90% of its population, by the end of 2021 after reaching accords with pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX plan.

Argentina surpassed 900 000 cases on Monday, with strong growth of infections in large populated centers in the interior of the country.


Asia-Pacific countries including Singapore, Australia, Japan and Thailand are gradually easing some international travel restrictions as cases slow, in hopes of helping to revive their economies.

The Philippines on Tuesday reported 1 990 new infections, the lowest number in three weeks, and 40 additional deaths.

India's total cases rose by 55 342 in the last 24 hours to 7.18 million on Tuesday morning, the lowest daily rise since mid-August.


Iran's death toll rose by 254 to 29 070 on Tuesday, as the number of confirmed cases spiked to 508 389 in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country.


Iran's coronavirus death toll exceeds 29 000 - State TV

Iran's novel coronavirus death toll rose by 254 to 29 070, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as the number of confirmed cases spiked to 508 389 in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 4 108 new cases were identified in the past 24 hours.


Mexico aims to vaccinate 116 million against coronavirus by end of 2021

Mexico plans to vaccinate more than 116 million people, or roughly 90% of its population, against the novel coronavirus by the end of 2021 after reaching accords with pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX plan, the government said on Tuesday.

In a presentation led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the government said it planned to start providing two of the four different types of vaccines being developed beginning in December.

Under the accords, US-based Pfizer is expected to provide up to 34.4 million vaccines, Britain's AstraZeneca 77.4 million and China's CanSino 35 million. The COVAX plan is expected to provide 51.57 million, the presentation showed.

The vaccines by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the COVAX plan require two doses, whereas the CanSino product works with a single dose, according to the plan, which was presented at President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's regular news briefing.

Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera added that the country had allocated $1.659 billion for the purchases of the vaccines, which will be free for Mexicans.


Covid-19 infections among health workers declining: WHO

Health workers have since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic been disproportionately affected by the crisis, but the WHO said Tuesday their high infection levels had finally begun to subside.

While the coronavirus crisis has taken a heavy toll overall, data from many countries and regions show that healthcare workers have been infected at a far higher rate than the general population.

Health workers represent less than three percent of the population in most countries, but have accounted for around 14 percent of all Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO, and in some countries they have accounted for over a third of cases.

But the UN health agency said analysis of reported data from 83 countries, mainly in Europe and the Americas, now showed that "there has been a substantial decline in (health worker) infection since the beginning of the epidemic."

The proportion of health workers among the newly infected "is decreasing steadily", Anne Perrocheau, a WHO epidemiologist, told a virtual press briefing, adding their proportion was now close to their share of the general population.

A number of factors have contributed to the high numbers of health workers infected by the virus, including a dire shortage in the beginning of personal protective equipment (PPE), and insufficient training in how to use it.

Benedetta Allegranzi, the technical lead on WHO's infection prevention and control taskforce, told reporters the decline was likely linked in part to increased availability of personal protective gear.

It was also, she said, likely due to better understanding and adherence to infection prevention measures, like "continuously wearing a medical mask or a respirator depending on the situation, frequently performing hand hygiene, keeping physical distance as much as possible."

The new coronavirus has killed nearly 1.1 million people out of close to 38 million registered infections since it first surfaced in China late last year.

Governments across the globe are struggling to keep up with a sharp rise in infections as the pandemic enters a second deadly wave.

Perrocheau said that while there were large variations in different countries, the downward trend was evident even in countries where overall cases were rising.


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