Covid-19 wrap: Japanese urged to watch Olympics on TV, Tanzania to join COVAX, UK mulls vaccine passport

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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: 13 246 new cases, 136 more deaths

Coronavirus toll at 10:00 (GMT) Thursday

Paris – The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3 835 238 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 Thursday.

At least 176 966 040 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 Wednesday, 10 887 new deaths and 401 224 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were Brazil with 2 997, followed by India with 2 330 and Argentina with 646.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 600 653 deaths from 33 498 511 cases.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 493 693 deaths from 17 628 588 cases, India with 381 903 deaths from 29 700 313 cases, Mexico with 230 624 deaths from 2 463 390 cases, and Peru with 189 522 deaths from 2 015 190 cases.

 - AFP

Tokyo coronavirus emergency to end 20 June, month before Olympics - PM

Tokyo – A virus state of emergency in Tokyo and several other regions will be lifted on 20 June, just over a month before the Olympics, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Thursday.

But in its place, the government will implement so-called "quasi-emergency" measures in the capital and several other areas until 11 July, limiting alcohol sales and opening hours for bars and restaurants.

 - AFP

Japan Prime Minister Suga urges Japanese to watch Olympics on TV to prevent spread of Covid-19

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday called on the public to watch the upcoming Tokyo Olympics on TV to avoid the spread of Covid-19 infections, as the organisers debate whether to allow domestic spectators into Olympic venues.

Suga, speaking at a news conference to announce the lifting of some Covid-19 restrictions in Tokyo and several other areas, said that the most important thing was to avoid a rebound in the number of infections and the collapse of the medical system.


Tanzania to request to join COVAX vaccine-sharing facility - WHO

NAIROBI – Tanzania plans to request to join the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, the latest sign of the country's change of tack following the death of its Covid-19 skeptic president in March.

Former president John Magufuli had underplayed the pandemic and expressed skepticism of vaccines, but his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan has sought to gradually bring the country into line with global public standards for tackling Covid-19.

The nation of more than 58 million people is one of just four African countries that have yet to start vaccination campaigns, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have received information that Tanzania is now formally working to join the COVAX facility," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told a news conference.


Britain considers vaccine passports to restart international travel

LONDON – Britain is looking at easing travel restrictions, including allowing those who are double vaccinated against Covid-19 to enjoy a foreign holiday without intrusive red tape, a step that indicates vaccine passports are firmly back on the agenda.

Countries in the European Union last week agreed to an easing of travel restrictions over summer that will allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid tests or quarantines and broaden the list of EU regions from which it is safe to travel.

Britain, whose vaccination programme has seen more than half of adults receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, is now considering similar plans, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Asked about the report, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said that nothing was ruled out in considering how to reopen travel, but they would be cautious in introducing plans for so-called "vaccine passports".

"We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn't write anything off at this point," Norman told Sky News, adding that the virus was not something that could be controlled,

"(So) it would be imprudent to make any carte blanche or... firm statement now."


Costa Rica rejects delivery of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, says it is not effective enough

SAN JOSE – Costa Rican health authorities on Wednesday said that after studying the available clinical studies, they had decided to reject the delivery of Sinovac Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine for the time being, saying it was not effective enough.

Earlier this month however, Uruguay released real-world data on the impact of Sinovac's vaccine among its population that showed it was over 90% effective in preventing intensive care admissions and deaths.


Denmark to immunise 12-15 year-olds against Covid-19 ahead of winter

COPENHAGEN – Denmark will offer Covid-19 vaccines for children aged 12-15 after the adult population has been inoculated, to boost its overall immunity against the virus ahead of winter, health authorities said on Thursday.

Initially, Denmark will only offer Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for 12-15 year-olds, as it is the only vaccine approved by the EU's drug regulator for use in adolescents, the Danish Health Authority said in a statement.

In late May, the EU's drug regulator cleared Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, and expects to announce its decision on the use of Moderna's shot in adolescents sometime next month.

"An expansion of the target group to the 12-15-year-olds is necessary to ensure even greater immunity in the population, and thus ensure control of the epidemic in Denmark," the head of the Danish Health Authority, Soren Brostrom, said.


Australia limits use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to people over 60

SYDNEY/CANBERRA – Australia will recommend only people over 60 receive AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, the country's Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Thursday, following a spate of blood clots in those who have received the inoculation.

Australia has administered 3.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it has been linked to 60 cases of blood clots, the government has said. So far, two people have died, which Hunt said has driven the policy shift.

"The government places safety above all else," Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

"This updated advice received today is based on new evidence demonstrating a higher risk for the very rare (thrombocytopenia syndrome) condition in the 50-59 year-old age group."

Australia in April moved to limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 50 years old.


Brazil reports 2 997 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours - health ministry

BRASILIA – Brazil has had 95 367 new cases of coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 2 997 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The South American country has now registered 17 628 588 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 493 693, according to ministry data, in the world's third worst outbreak outside the United States and India and its second-deadliest.


India reports 67 208 new Covid-19 cases, 2 330 deaths

BENGALURU – India reported on Thursday 67 208 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The South Asian country's total Covid-19 case load now stands at 29.70 million, while total fatalities are at 381 903, the data showed. India's coronavirus-related deaths rose by 2 330 overnight.


Russia reports 14 057 new Covid-19 cases, 416 deaths

MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday reported 14 057 new Covid-19 cases, including 6 195 in Moscow, pushing the national infection tally to 5 264 047 since the pandemic began.

The government coronavirus task force confirmed 416 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 127 992.

The state statistics agency, which keeps separate figures, has said that Russia recorded around 270 000 deaths related to Covid-19 from April 2020 to April 2021.


Indonesia reports 12 624 new Covid-19 cases, highest rise since January

JAKARTA – Indonesia reported on Thursday 12 624 new coronavirus infections, the biggest increase since 30 January, health ministry data showed.

The total number of infections rose to 1 950 276, while the health ministry also reported 277 new Covid-19 deaths, taking total fatalities to 53 753.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1 330 - RKI

BERLIN – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1 330 to 3 718 955, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 105 to 90 179, the tally showed.


Taiwan reports 175 new domestic Covid-19 cases

TAIPEI – Taiwan reported 175 new domestic Covid-19 infections on Thursday, up from the previous day's figure of 167.


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