Covid-19 wrap: World reacts to Russia's vaccine, new cases spell uncertainty for elections in NZ

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  • New Zealand is mulling its elections plan as new Covid-19 cases are reported in the country.
  • The world continues to react to Russia's vaccine news.
  • The global death toll is now at 742 207, according to a Reuters tally.

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

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New Zealand election date in doubt as virus returns

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern weighed delaying New Zealand's upcoming election Wednesday, as experts investigated whether the coronavirus could have re-entered the country through freight shipments.

Health authorities rushed to implement a rapid lockdown in the country's largest city Auckland, where four more probable infections have been uncovered bringing the outbreak's total to eight.

With 1.5 million people under stay-at-home orders, and millions more at risk of a wider outbreak, Ardern said she was seeking advice on delaying the September election.

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

"At this stage, it's too early to make any decision but this means there is some flexibility if required," said Ardern, who is well ahead in opinion polls and expected to win a second term.

Leader of the opposition National Party Judith Collins called for a delay until late November, or even next year.

- AFP


Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 20.41 million, death toll at 742 207

More than 20.41 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 742 207 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified.

- Reuters


World reaction to Russia's Covid-19 vaccine

Russia's granting of regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing has prompted expressions of caution as well as interest from around the world.

Moscow said on Wednesday that the first batch of the vaccine would be ready for some medics within two weeks and rejected safety concerns as "groundless".

Israel will examine Russia's Covid-19 vaccine and enter negotiations to buy it if it is found to be a "serious product", Israel's health minister said.

Philippine scientists were set to meet representatives of the Russian research facility that developed the vaccine on Wednesday, to discuss possible participation in clinical trials and access to its research data.

Brazil's Parana state governor Ratinho Junior was expected to meet the Russian ambassador to Brazil on Wednesday to discuss the terms of an agreement to produce the vaccine. But it was unclear if the state's research institute would get regulatory approval in Brazil.

Kazakhstan plans to send government officials to Moscow later this month to discuss possible deliveries.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the vaccine had not been sufficiently tested, adding the aim was to have a safe product rather than just being first to start vaccinating people.

Mexico's coronavirus czar, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said he was surprised by the Russian announcement and the government would wait for more information.

- Reuters


Scottish children go back to school for the first time in five months

Scottish children go back to school for the first time in five months as leaders across Britain try to kickstart a return to education despite a resurgence in the number of coronavirus cases.

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