Australian doctors warned a too-rapid easing of COVID-19 curbs in Sydney could put pressure on health systems and risk lives, as the city prepares for key restrictions to be relaxed next week after more than 100 days in lockdown.
Stay-at-home orders are due to be lifted on Monday, after New South Wales state this week hit its 70 per cent target of full vaccination for its adult population, and owners of restaurants and other public venues are now scrambling to arrange supplies and staffing.
While an easing of restrictions on travel for Sydney residents outside of their local government areas had previously been planned, authorities on Thursday also decided to bump up permitted limits for home gatherings, weddings and funerals — earning the ire of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
“New South Wales must not be reckless at this critical time,” AMA president Omar Khorshid said in a statement, adding that “too fast or too early” could result in avoidable deaths and the reintroduction of lockdowns.
State Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended his decision to bring forward the easing of several restrictions amid a steady fall in infections, saying the pandemic “is an economic crisis, too.”
Officials have a staggered plan to ease limits on gatherings as full inoculation hits 70 per cent, 80 per cent and 90 per cent of adults, and while movement around the city will be permitted from Monday, restrictions on travelling to regional areas remain.
Daily infections in New South Wales rose on Friday to 646 cases, the majority in Sydney, up from 587 on Thursday. They had previously fallen for the past seven days as first-dose inoculations in people over 16 near 90 per cent. Eleven new deaths were registered.
Victoria state logged a record 1,838 new cases on Friday, the highest number of any state in the country since the pandemic began, exceeding the previous high of 1,763 set three days earlier. There were five new deaths.
Australia is fighting a third wave of infections fuelled by the delta variant. In addition to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra have also imposed lockdowns, forcing the closure of thousands of businesses.
The country’s cumulative COVID-19 numbers are, however, still far lower than many comparable countries, with some 122,500 cases and 1,405 deaths.
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Friday afternoon, more than 237 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In Europe, Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has hit a record 936 deaths amid the country’s sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. The government’s task force also reported 27,246 new confirmed cases on Friday, slightly less than Thursday’s number of 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.
Finland has joined other Nordic countries in suspending or discouraging the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in certain age groups because of a slightly increased risk of heart inflammation, a rare side-effect associated with the shot.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says authorities won’t give the shot to males under age 30. They’ll be offered the Pfizer vaccine instead.
Africa’s top public health official has issued a strong reminder about the danger of the continent not having enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines, saying that getting the vaccination rate in Africa up quickly is “a way to ensure the collective security of everybody.”
Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong said Thursday that while Moderna’s intention to build a vaccine-manufacturing plant in Africa was “very much welcomed,” it “doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of today,” which is “to get these vaccines in the arms of people as quickly as possible.”
Nkengasong said 35 countries are still experiencing a “severe” third wave of infections, but Africa had a 20 per cent average decrease in new cases over the past four weeks.
The continent of 1.3 billion people has only been able to administer 156 million doses of vaccines out of the 200 million it has so far received. Its full vaccination rate has nudged up to 4.57 per cent.
In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday said more U.S. businesses should obligate workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, calling the move vital to ending the pandemic and sustaining the economy.
“Today I’m calling on more employers to act,” Biden said during a visit to the construction site of a future Microsoft Corp data centre near Chicago. The construction firm, Clayco, said it plans to implement immunization or testing requirements for all employees.
Biden last month ordered all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, and for private employers with 100 or more workers to require staff to be vaccinated by Dec. 8, or get tested for the coronavirus weekly. That order covers 100 million people, about two-thirds of the workforce.
Panama is purchasing three million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for its inoculation efforts next year, the government said on Thursday, bringing the total number of that vaccine bought by the country to 10 million.
In Asia, Japan has struck a deal with Pfizer to be supplied with another 120 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from January 2022, its health ministry said on Friday. The country arranged to buy about 194 million doses in 2020, or enough for 97 million people.
Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic ask for U.S. help on migration
The presidents of panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday asked for U.S. assistance in stemming the flow of thousands of migrants crossing the dangerous jungles that divide Panama and Colombia as they make their way to the United States.
Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo hosted a meeting with Costa Rica’s Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Dominican Republic’s Luis Abinader in Panama City on Wednesday, where they discussed the burgeoning migrant crisis.
Cortizo said that so far this year a record number of more than 100,000 undocumented migrants have trekked north from Colombia through the Darien Gap, a lawless jungle teeming with everything from deadly snakes to anti-government guerrillas.
The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said earlier this month that some 19,000 migrant children have crossed the Darien Gap so far in 2021, almost three times higher than the total for the previous five years.
Cortizo said the situation demands concrete solutions and that Washington should play an active role in assisting.
The Latin American leaders agreed “that our foreign ministers urgently articulate with the U.S. authorities and other countries to … look for concrete measures,” he added.
The presidents discussed the possibility of establishing a strategy of investments and job creation in Haiti, home to many of the migrants.
Cortizo said that he is seeking a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden during the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
In early 2021, Panamanian authorities had warned of a possible crisis after opening the borders that had for months been closed because of the pandemic.
By September, the immigration authorities of the Central American nation reported a record number of 91,305 migrants who entered from neighboring Colombia. Of these, 56,676 were Haitians and 12,870 Cubans.
(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a shot that is different than their original inoculation.
The decision paves the way for millions more people in the United States to get the additional protection with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus causing breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.
The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.
Last week, an advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend a third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups.
The panel also recommended a second shot of the J&J vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation at least two months after receiving their first.
The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under some pressure to authorize the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a widespread booster campaign.
The advisory panel meeting included a presentation of data on mixing vaccines from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study in which 458 participants received some combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J shots.
The data showed that people who initially got J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a stronger immune response when boosted with either the Pfizer or Moderna shot, and that “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types was safe in adults.
Many countries including Canada and the U.K. have backed mix-and-match strategies for the widely-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States but is based on similar viral vector technology as J&J’s vaccine.
Reuters reported in June that infectious disease experts were weighing the need for booster shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after the J&J shot.
A CDC advisory committee on Thursday will make its recommendations about which groups of people should get the Moderna and J&J boosters, which the agency’s director will use to inform her final decision.
About 11.2 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to data from the CDC.
What’s happening in Canada
- Pandemic restriction opponents line up behind Manitoba PC leadership hopeful.
- Some unvaccinated municipal workers in northeastern Ontario sent home.
- N.L. sees 9 cases as officials make tweaks to fix vaccine passport issues.
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday, more than 241.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the latest figures posted by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million, according to the U.S-based university’s coronavirus tracker.
In Europe, Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia went back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins, as vaccine-skeptic ex-communist countries face record highs of infections and deaths.
In Africa, Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Americas, 41 per cent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization said.
In Asia, China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.
N.Korea says U.S. overreacting over submarine missile test
This week’s test of a new ballistic missile from a submarine was part of North Korea’s mid- and long-term plan to bolster self defense and was and not aimed at the United States or any other country, an unnamed spokesperson at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
Washington had taken “overly provocative moves” by calling the test a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional peace and stability, the spokesperson said.
The Security Council met on Wednesday over the launch at the request of the United States and Britain, and the U.S. envoy urged Pyongyang to accept offers of talks, reiterating that Washington has no hostile intent toward it.
The foreign ministry spokesperson said the United States’ “double standards” over missile development cast doubt over its overtures.
“It is a clear double standard that the United States denounces us for developing and testing the same weapons system it already has or was developing, and that only adds suspicions to their sincerity after saying they have no hostility towards us,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA.
The United States and the council could face “more grave and serious consequences” if they opted for wrong behaviour, the spokesperson said, warning against “fiddling with a time bomb.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Richard Pullin)
Enter the Zuckerverse? Social media churns with new names for Facebook
Hall of Famer Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer battle – Toronto Sun
Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic ask for U.S. help on migration
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Tech17 hours ago
Facebook ‘planning to rebrand company’ with new name – Al Jazeera English
News23 hours ago
Japanese volcano spews plumes of ash, people warned away
Health20 hours ago
COVID-19 drives up demand for flu shots; N.S. to launch campaign later this week – CTV News Atlantic
News23 hours ago
At least 34 dead after floods in north India
Art22 hours ago
Vancouver Island art councils work together on regional impact study – Parksville Qualicum Beach News – Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Sports14 hours ago
NHL great Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer diagnosis – CTV News
Health10 hours ago
Restricting travel over vaccine type could be discrimination, PAHO warns
Sports23 hours ago
Golf-Olympic gold medallist Schauffele pumped for Zozo Championship in Japan