Covid-19 wrap: Pfizer says jab safe for kids, Fiji to reopen borders to tourists, Sydney cases fall

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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 in SA: Death toll at 86 174 as cases rise by 2 281

Coronavirus toll at 10:00 (GMT) Monday

Paris – The novel coronavirus has killed at least 4 689 140 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 10:00 (GMT) on Monday.

At least 228 494 810 cases of coronavirus have been registered. The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.

The figures are based on daily reports provided by health authorities in each country.

They exclude revisions made by other statistical organisations, which show that the number of deaths is much higher.

The World Health Organisation estimates that the pandemic's overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19.

A large number of the less severe or asymptomatic cases also remain undetected, despite intensified testing in many countries.

On Sunday, 5 440 new deaths and 363 125 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were Russia with 778 new deaths, followed by Malaysia with 376 and Iran with 344.

 - AFP

Pfizer says its Covid-19 jab safe for children aged 5-11

Frankfurt – Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday said trial results showed their coronavirus vaccine was safe and produced a robust immune response in children aged five to 11, adding that they would seek regulatory approval shortly.

The vaccine would be administered at a lower dosage than for people over 12, they said.

"In participants five to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralising antibody responses," US giant Pfizer and its German partner said in a joint statement.

They plan to submit their data to regulatory bodies in the European Union, the United States and around the world "as soon as possible".

The trial results are the first of their kind for children under 12, with a Moderna trial for 6-11 year-olds still ongoing.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs are already being administered to adolescents over 12 and adults in countries around the globe.

Although children are considered less at risk of severe Covid-19, there are concerns that the highly contagious Delta variant could lead to more serious cases.

Inoculating children is also seen as key to keeping schools open and helping end the pandemic.

 - AFP

Virus-hit Fiji to reopen borders for tourists

Suva – Fiji plans to reopen for international tourists by November, aiming to rebuild a pandemic-devastated economy while battling a Delta-variant coronavirus outbreak.

"Our goal is to free our country – and our economy – from the rut of the pandemic," Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a statement last week.

Once 80% of Fiji's eligible population is vaccinated, it will offer quarantine-free travel to visitors from a "green list" of locations.

Of Fiji's eligible population, 66% is now fully vaccinated and Bainimarama predicts the country's target will be met by 1 November.

Fiji's green list includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore and parts of the United States.

Visitors would need to be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure.

Once in Fiji, they would stay in designated zones where all contacts, from hospitality staff to tour operators, would be fully vaccinated.

 - AFP

Vietnam capital Hanoi to ease coronavirus curbs this week

HANOI – Vietnam's capital Hanoi will further ease its coronavirus restrictions from this week, the government said, with new cases on the decline and the majority of its adult population partially vaccinated.

Most construction projects can resume from Wednesday, authorities said late on Sunday, adding further easing would follow, with average new daily cases down to just 20.

So far 94% of Hanoi's adult population of 5.75 million has received one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with the aim of completing second doses by the end of November, said deputy chairperson of Hanoi's ruling People's Committee, Duong Duc Tuan.

"We can't maintain the social distancing measures indefinitely," Tuan said in a statement.

Hanoi has escaped the brunt of a fierce wave of coronavirus infections in Vietnam since late April, recording less than 50 of the more than 17 000 Covid-19 deaths nationwide, and just 4 414 of the country's total 687 000 cases.


Sydney Covid-19 cases fall as curbs ease in virus hotspots

SYDNEY – Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state on Monday reported its lowest rise in daily Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks as some lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney, the state capital, amid higher vaccination levels.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been detected in the state, the lowest daily tally since 27 August, and down from 1 083 on Sunday. The state reported four more deaths.

"We're feeling more positive than we have in a couple of weeks ... but I don't want any of us to sit back and think the worst is behind us," Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney, warning of more deaths in the days ahead.

"Because we have seen the accumulation of so many cases, we know that October is going to be very challenging for our hospital system."

Nearly half of Australia's 25 million people are in lockdown after the Delta variant spread rapidly in Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, forcing officials there to abandon a Covid-zero target and shift to rapid vaccinations to ease curbs.

As the vaccine rollout gathers speed, with 53% of NSW's adult population fully vaccinated, some restrictions were relaxed on Monday in 12 of the worst-hit suburbs in Sydney's west. Time limits for outdoor exercise were lifted, while fully vaccinated people can gather outside in groups of five.


New Zealand eases Covid-19 curbs slightly in biggest city

WELLINGTON – New Zealand eased coronavirus curbs slightly on Monday in its largest city of Auckland, as the government expressed confidence that there was no widespread regional transmission of the Delta variant.

But tough restrictions will continue even after midnight on Tuesday, when the alert level drops to 3 from 4 in the city of about 1.7 million at the centre of the latest Delta outbreak.

Schools and offices must still keep closed, for instance, with businesses limited to offering only contactless services.

Residents must still keep to their own "bubbles", cannot visit friends or neighbours, or let children play together, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"Bubbles must remain small and exclusive," she told a news conference.

"We are confident that there is no large-scale undetected transmission," Ardern said. "There is ongoing work to stamp it out, which is why we are still at level 3."

The Auckland restrictions will ensure the Delta variant is stamped out as New Zealand sticks with its strategy of elimination of the virus, Ardern added.


Brazil registers 244 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil registered 244 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday and 9 458 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered a total of 590 752 total coronavirus deaths and 21 239 783 total confirmed cases.

On Saturday, Brazil registered over 150 000 cases due to a backlog of cases in Rio de Janeiro that had not been previously reported to the Health Ministry.


Mexico adds nearly 5 000 new confirmed Covid-19 cases

MEXICO CITY – Mexico reported 4 983 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 200 deaths on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 3 569 677 and 271 503 fatalities.

The ministry has previously said the real coronavirus numbers are likely significantly higher.


China reports 49 new coronavirus cases for 19 September vs 66 a day earlier

BEIJING – China reported on Monday 49 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for 19 September, down from 66 a day earlier, according to National Health Commission data.

Of the new infections, 28 were locally transmitted, all of them in the southeastern province of Fujian, the health authority said. That compares with 43 local cases a day earlier.

China reported two new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 19 a day earlier.

No new deaths were reported.

As of Sunday, mainland China had recorded 95 738 confirmed cases, with the death toll unchanged at 4 636.



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