Updated: August 30, 2021 10:30:25 pm
Drawing attention to the consequences of the rising infections and stagnating vaccination rate in Europe, the World Health Organization on Monday warned that 236,000 more people could succumb to Covid-19 in the continent by December 1, AFP reported.
“Last week, there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of deaths in the region — one reliable projection is expecting 236,000 deaths in Europe, by December 1,” AFP quoted WHO Europe director Hans Kluge as saying on Monday.
Countries across Europe have been witnessing an uptick in the infection count as the highly contagious Delta variant strengthens, particularly among the unvaccinated. Poorer nations have been the hardest hit, with the death toll mounting as well.
Expressing concerns, WHO said the high transmission rates in Europe were “deeply worrying, particularly in the light of low vaccination uptake in priority populations in a number of countries”.
According to Kluge, the Delta variant was only partly to blame, along with an “exaggerated easing” of Covid restrictions and a surge in summer travel in the continent, which has so far registered around 1.3 million Covid deaths.
Japan’s Moderna vaccine contamination woes widen as 1 million more shots suspended
Another million doses of Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine have been temporarily suspended in Japan after foreign substances were found in more batches and two people died following jabs from contaminated lots.
The suspension of the supplies, affecting more than 2.6 million doses in total, comes at a time when Japan faces its worst wave of Covid-19 so far, driven by the highly-transmissible Delta variant, with new daily infections crossing 25,000 this month for the first time amid a slow vaccine rollout.
Australian state warns Covid-19 hospitalisations to peak in October
Intensive care cases in Australia’s New South Wales will reach its peak in October as Covid-19 infections rise, said the premier of the country’s most populous state.
“We anticipate that the worst month, the worst time for our intensive care unit will be in October,” Reuters reported Premier Gladys Berejiklian as saying. “We will need to manage things differently because we are in the middle of a pandemic, but we will cope,” he said, adding that preparations for additional hospitalisation was on as the infections pile up before increased vaccination starts to ease the pressure.
New South Wales, the epicentre of Australia’s current outbreak, reported a record one-day Covid cases at 1,290 on Monday.
There are 840 people in hospital for COVID-19 in New South Wales, of whom 137 are in intensive care with 48 requiring ventilation. The state reported four additional fatalities on Monday, taking the coronavirus death toll in the country to 1,003.
New Zealand reports first death linked to Pfizer vaccine, lockdown extended in Aukland
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Monday extended a lockdown in Auckland by two weeks, while officials reported the country’s first death linked to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The woman who died suffered a rare side effect, leading to inflammation of her heart muscle, reported Reuters. The incident followed a review by an independent panel monitoring the safety of the vaccines. “This is the first case in New Zealand where a death in the days following vaccination has been linked to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine,” Reuters quoted the statement of the Health Ministry.
New Zealand had been largely virus-free for nearly six months, barring a small number of cases that surfaced in February, until an outbreak of the Delta variant prompted Ardern to order a nationwide lockdown on August 17. Infections in the outbreak have reached 562 but the number of daily new cases dropped to 53 on Monday, the lowest over the past five days.
“I know we all feel encouraged that our number is lower than what we’ve seen in the last few days and I know we’re all willing for that trend to remain,” Ardern said at a news conference. “The job is not yet done and we do need to keep going.”
Indonesia schools start cautious reopening after devastating virus wave
Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Monday reopened about 600 of its schools as coronavirus restrictions eased, though a teachers’ association urged caution and warned of Covid clusters in classrooms caused by the contagious Delta variant.
Jakarta’s infection rate has fallen from a peak it hit last month, when Indonesia became Asia’s coronavirus epicentre, with a total number of cases crossing 4 million, and 131,000 fatalities.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said 610 of 10,000 schools that are deemed safe have opened at 50% capacity. “The conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic are much more under control,” he said on Instagram. While vaccinations are not mandatory for at-school learning, Anies said 91% of children aged 12-18 and 85% of educators have been fully immunised against the virus.
Czechs to offer booster vaccine shot to all after eight months
The Czech government will offer a booster Covid-19 vaccine shot from September 20 to alreasdy vaccinated persons, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said Monday. The Czech Republic has been among the countries worst hit by the pandemic as measured
by deaths per population, with over 30,400 victims.
The government’s coronavirus task force said that the boosters were strongly recommended for people over 60. However, it would also be available for all who had completed previous vaccinations. The government will use Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for the boosters for those who have completed a regular vaccination at least eight months earlier, Vojtech said.