Follow all the latest on the coronavirus pandemic from the UK and around the world
Here is a round-up of today’s top coronavirus news stories from the UK and around the world:
That’s all from me, Jem Bartholomew, and for the blog today. Thanks for following.
Remember you can catch up with the latest coronavirus coverage here.
City state Singapore saw Covid infections climb by 3,058 on Sunday, an 8.7% decrease on the previous day’s figure of 3,348 new cases.
A further nine deaths were reported, taking Singapore’s pandemic total to 224.
Inoculation rates in Singapore are high, with over 82.3% of the population fully vaccinated.
Singapore is one of the first countries to pivot from a Covid-zero approach to a living-with-the-virus strategy, loosening certain restrictions in August and planning to relax its borders for international travellers on 19 October.
But after low daily infections measured in the scores rather than the hundreds for much of the pandemic, September saw cases surge – with new infections for much of October hovering around 3,000 a day.
Throughout the pandemic Singapore became a model of the Covid-zero strategy. Now it faces a tough transition – which fellow zero-Covid countries such as China, Hong Kong and New Zealand will be watching closely.
Italy recorded 2,437 new Covid cases on Sunday, 18.3% lower than the previous day’s figure of 2,983 new infections.
Italy’s health ministry also reported 24 Covid-related deaths, up from 14 on Saturday, taking the total death toll to 131,541 deaths.
That means Italy has the second highest toll in Europe behind the UK, which has recorded 161,798 deaths with Covid on the death certificate.
Italy introduced fresh workplace vaccine mandates on Friday, with workers in offices, factories, restaurants and shops alike required to provide proof of vaccination or undertake a Covid test every two days.
Italy joins other jurisdictions – France and Greece in Europe, Los Angeles and New York City in the US – betting on vaccine mandates in some form to reduce infections this autumn. But Italy has faced protests over its new measures.
A report has warned that the pandemic could see a surge in child stunting in the Pacific, as pandemic loss of work and skyrocketing food prices cause malnutrition.
World Vision, a Christian humanitarian aid organisation, found 60% of people in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste have lost their job or main source of income due to the pandemic.
This has caused serious harm to children’s health, the report found – with one in four families saying they had reduced the quantity or quality of their meals.
World Vision said that, with 8% of children eating two or less meals a day, chronic undernutrition could see child stunting climb significantly.
“There are interconnected issues, and the root causes of malnutrition could worsen if the pandemic and its impacts are not dealt with effectively,” said Evangelita Da Costa Pereira, a maternal health and nutrition specialist working for World Vision in Timor-Leste.
She added: “Malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty are strongly linked with each other. When poorer households have less income to purchase a sufficiently diverse diet, children have poor nutritional intake and become malnourished.”
Reporter Joshua Mcdonald has the full story here:
Updates on United States travel requirements.
The US Centers for Disease Control said on Sunday that incoming travelers fully vaccinated with mixed doses of approved vaccines can enter the US, the Washington Post reports.
The White House said travel restrictions for travellers to the US from 33 countries will be lifted on 8 November for fully-vaccinated people – provided they have proof of vaccination and a negative test result in the 72 hours before flying.
The Post writes:
While the CDC said it has not recommended mixing and matching vaccines, it acknowledged that “use of such strategies (including mixing of mRNA, adenoviral, and mRNA plus adenoviral products) is increasingly common in many countries outside of the United States.”
[US Representative] Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), whose district along the Canadian border includes Niagara Falls and Buffalo, said the CDC’s guidance was updated after he wrote a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requesting a clarification on its policies.
“Clarity is needed on which vaccines the United States will accept when the border reopens to all fully vaccinated Canadians,” Higgins wrote Thursday. “Nearly four million Canadians, equivalent to ten percent of their fully vaccinated population, have received mixed doses of the available mRNA COVID19 vaccines – this includes the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
With the UK recording the largest daily jump in cases since mid-July – 45,140 new infections on Sunday – here’s that rise in context throughout the pandemic.
The United States administered 818,998 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, the Centers for Disease Control said on Sunday, taking the country’s tally to 218.8 million people fully-vaccinated.
That means 78.9% of the US population over 18 has received at least one jab, according to CDC data.
Interesting opinion piece worth checking out here from long Covid researcher Ziyad Al-Aly, of Washington University in St Louis, arguing the WHO is letting down long Covid patients.
Al-Aly argues that the World Health Organisation’s failure to recognise “long Covid” – instead opting for “post-Covid-19 condition” – means it underplays clinical manifestations like new onset diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.
I worry that this myopic definition of long Covid may be used by governments and health insurers to debase the disease and deny insurance coverage.
It may add fuel to the gaslighters’ fire, providing them with a moral license to sow more skepticism around the existence of this disease and brand its ill effects as an “invention” of patient activist groups.
The millions of sufferers around the world deserve better.
My thoughts on @WHO case definition of #LongCovid
The @WHO, national governments, and health systems can and must do a better job preparing for #LongCovid https://t.co/BiXK3jPWn1
France reported 3,778 new Covid cases on Sunday, a 23% decrease on the previous day’s figure of 4,899.
France’s health ministry on Friday recorded the largest daily rise in cases since late July, at 6,099 new cases.
People who are not vaccinated now have to pay for Covid tests in France – which until Friday had been free.
President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccinination requirements for public settings like cafes and restaurants, coming into effect 15 October, situate France among other jurisdictions – such as Italy and Greece in Europe, New York City and San Fransisco in the US – banking on vaccine mandates to drive down new infections.
Egypt will launch new Covid requirements for state-employed workers from 15 November.
Public sector employees must either be vaccinated or take a weekly Covid test to work in government buildings from next month.
Egypt recorded 874 new Covid cases and 42 deaths on Saturday, according to local media. Al-Ahram reported that a shipment of 1.6 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses arrived on Saturday in Cairo.
The Egyptian government has also agreed to allocation 1 billion Egyptian pounds (£46 million) to address spending requirements related to the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported.
Here’s a helpful graph breaking down England’s Covid infections per 100,000 people by age group.
Walk-in vaccine clinics in England for children aged 12 to 15 look set to launch within weeks in efforts to drive down cases.
The 12-15 age bracket continues to clock the highest percentage of positive Covid cases, as the UK on Sunday saw the largest daily rise in Covid cases since mid-July.
But vaccine rates for this age group in England – at 14.2% – are lagging stubbornly behind inoculation rates in Scotland – at 44.3% – prompting criticism at England’s choice to administer vaccinations solely through schools.
Prof Kevin McConway, an emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said the latest results in secondary school-age children were “concerning”.
“However you look at it, this is a huge increase, and it clearly follows from schools having reopened and, crucially, from vaccination rates of children in that age group still being low,” McConway said.
In Scotland 12- to 15-year-olds can already attended walk-in vaccine clinics.
My colleague Linda Geddes has the full story here:
This comment piece from an exasperated ICU nurse in Sydney, Australia is really worth a read.
It talks about the human cost of misinformation – with stories of patients on oxygen trying to escape and people just off ventilators insisting Covid isn’t real.
It’s bizarre to watch an individual chastise the nurses and doctors about Covid being fake as they sit on the floor gasping for air while a cytokine storm roars in their lungs. The time between each word is drawn out while they are trying to draw in as many breaths as they can.
“Would you like the oxygen back on, sir?” a nurse will inquire after another failed escape. They accept our help back to their room. Regain their breath with help from the oxygen. And then the escape plotting starts all over again. Another patient who was on a ventilator kept telling us Covid wasn’t real after they regained consciousness.
While the Australian state of New South Wales is reopening (see post below), modelling suggests the country could experience a surge in Covid cases from new variants if international travel restrictions are loosened.
If a variant with similar levels of transmissibility to Delta arrived, Australia would see a jump in hospitalisations and infections – even if the country reached its target of 80% of adults fully vaccinated.
That’s according to new research by the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at the University of New South Wales.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, appeared cautious on Friday, saying “we will not rush” and that the international border would only open to vaccinated Australian citizens and families, not tourists.
Melissa Davey has the full write up here.
“The planned reopening of Australian borders to international travellers increases the risk of introducing new chains of infection and new variants of SARS-CoV-2,” the modelling found.
“Political and health system policymakers should not focus exclusively on defining vaccination thresholds at which particular restrictions might be removed. Instead, they should recognise that mass vaccination is unlikely to achieve complete protection against Covid-19.”
A raft of new freedoms will come into effect on Monday 18 October in New South Wales, Australia, as the rate of fully vaccinated adults hit 80%.
New freedoms include:
After announcing the state had reached the 80% milestone, the premier Dominic Perrottet said on Twitter: “Summer in NSW is looking good.”
Perrottet also said on Friday that from 1 November, returning Australians and tourists can travel to Sydney without hotel quarantine.
80% in NSW! Been a long wait but we've done it.
Feels great to break this news. Huge thanks to all the nurses and vaccination hub staff at @NSWHealth, the GPs, the pharmacists, and each and every person who rolled up their sleeve to get us here.
For the full details, check out Justine Landis-Hanley’s story on what extra freedoms people have now.