Denmark becomes only EU country with no Covid curbs
Covid-19 has killed more than 4.6M people and infected almost 224M globally. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for September 10:
Friday, September 10, 2021
Denmark becomes only European country with no Covid curbs
Denmark on Friday became the only European nation with no Covid curbs, losing a requirement to show vaccine passports to enter nightclubs as it cautiously embraces a return to normal.
New infections have eased off in Denmark as vaccine rates have climbed, reaching over 70 percent of the overall population.
But as the Scandinavian country looked ahead to a new post-pandemic reality, the WHO warned that vaccines alone may not end the pandemic and the virus could be around for years.
One Denmark resident said the lifting of the last curbs was “liberating” after a tough pandemic slog.
“It’s been a rough couple of years. I have three kids and we have had homeschooling and it’s been a lot of hard days,” Klaus Sylvester said.
“It’s quite liberating that Denmark no longer has restrictions.”
Mu variant bears traces of previous variants
The Mu variant carries some strains of Beta, Gamma and Delta variants and needs to be monitored, according to a member of Turkey’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board.
“Currently, the Delta variant is the most dominant variant in Turkey as well, and we see it in over 90% cases in our country,” Afsin Emre Kayipmaz told Anadolu Agency.
He recalled that European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control defines the Beta, Gamma and Delta variants as “a worrying variant”.
“The characteristic of the Delta variant is that it is at least two times more contagious than the previous variants, for example, the wild type that originated in Wuhan or the British variant is described as Alpha variant,” said Kayipmaz.
Regarding the Mu variant, under the WHO classification of a “variant of interest”, he said it carries a risk of easier transmission between people, and at the same time, preventing antibody response obtained by vaccines o r going through the disease.
China will donate 3M more vaccines to Vietnam
China will give three million more vaccine doses to Vietnam by the end of this year, raising China’s total vaccine donations to the Southeast Asian country to 5.7 million doses, the Vietnamese government said on Friday.
The announcement came after a meeting between the Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and visiting Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, the government said.
Greece approves tough penalties for fake certificates
Greece has introduced tough penalties for the issuing of fake vaccination certificates after a worker at a state vaccination center was suspended for allegedly helping several dozen people acquire bogus documents.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris said Friday that parliament has approved a legislative amendment to impose fines of 5,000 euros ($5,920) for each vaccination, recovery, or test certificate issued under false pretenses. Private health facilities found to have issued fake documents could be fined up to 50,000 euros.
“People planning to commit these acts should know that they will be fired, they may face criminal prosecution, and they will have to pay a lot of money,” Plevris told state ERT TV.
Penalties, he said, would be more severe if the counterfeiting could be linked directly to the spread of the virus.
Biden on vaccine mandate: ‘We are in the tough stretch’
In his most forceful pandemic actions and words, President Joe Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out effort to curb the surging delta variant.
Speaking at the White House Thursday, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, all but biting off his words.
The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”
Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.
Experts warn of higher suicidal tendency during pandemic due to isolation
The rate of suicidal tendency may have risen with the pandemic, according to a Turkey-based psychologist.
The long list of factors contributing to suicidal tendency may have become more common and intense with the ongoing pandemic, Hatice Demirbas, the head of the Psychology Department of Haci Bayram Veli University in the Turkish capital Ankara, told Anadolu Agency.
Theoretically speaking, restrictions in social life, raptures in inter-personal relations, the feeling of loneliness, and increased rates of domestic violence may have had drastic outcomes during the quarantine periods and lockdowns triggered by the pandemic, she said.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on Sept. 10 annually to raise awareness of suicide and prevent it in a bid to reveal a silver lining for the people struggling with challenges in their lives.
Psychological counselor Secim Buyukcatalbas, also based in Ankara, underlined that mental health specialists see the coronavirus pandemic as a threat that will affect public mental health in the long run.
She added that social isolation, quarantines, fear of getting infected, deaths due to the virus, and financial problems caused by the pandemic can lead to hopelessness and the feeling of loneliness, which may ruin the will to live.
Pointing out the rise in suicide rates following certain global crises such as World War II and the 1918 Spanish flu, Buyukcatalbas urged for the immediate inclusion of “post-Covid-19 suicide prevention” in global mental health policy to help people who fail to overcome depression after the pandemic not get mired in suicidal thoughts.
UK records 147 new COVID-19 deaths
Britain recorded 147 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from 167 on Thursday, government statistics showed on Friday.
There were 37,622 new cases of the virus, compared with 38,013 on Thursday, the figures showed.
Sinovac opens global pediatric vaccine trial in South Africa
South Africa on Friday launched the main phase of a global vaccine study on children and teenagers led by Chinese maker Sinovac Biotech, with the first two participants jabbed in Pretoria.
The study is testing the efficacy of Sinovac’s two-dose CoronaVac on 14,000 children aged between six months and 17 years in Chile, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Africa.
CoronaVac is approved for use among adults in over 50 countries. China recently cleared it for use in minors, where it has already been administered to millions of children aged three to 17.
Sinovac is also in talks about setting up a vaccine production facility in South Africa to provide the continent with shots against a range of diseases, Numolux executives said.
Hungary signs letter of intent to produce Chinese Sinopharm shots
Hungary’s government has signed a letter of intent with Sinopharm executives to develop the required infrastructure within the next 10 months to produce the Chinese vaccine, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Hungary has said it plans to produce Sinopharm’s jab and a locally developed shot in a new vaccine plant.
The agreement will enable the Hungarian facility to respond quickly to any possible new coronavirus variants by way of information sharing with Sinopharm, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The government has earmarked 55 billion forints ($186 million) to build the plant that is expected to make Hungary self-sufficient in vaccine production from the end of 2022.
As of Friday, Hungary registered 814,732 cases with 30,086 deaths. In all, 5.54 million people, more than half of the population, have been fully vaccinated , the government said.
Singapore watching outbreak closely, holds off on restrictions
Singapore is trying to live with the virus and sees no need to tighten restrictions to address a spike in cases, but will hold off on more reopening moves while monitoring for increases in severe cases, officials said on Friday.
Singapore’s new daily infections have risen sharply recently and hit 450 on Thursday, the most in a year, after containment measures were eased as part of a phased reopening upon vaccination of 80% of its population.
“This rapid and exponential rise in daily infections that we are experiencing now is what every country that seeks to live with COVID-19 has to go through at some point,” health minister Ong Ye Kung told a media briefing.
To support the healthcare system, the city-state will let more vaccinated patients recover at home and will start a vaccine booster programme for vulnerable groups.
Authorities have also decided to reduce quarantine from 14 days to 10 for close contacts of infected people.
Russia reports 789 deaths
Russia has reports 18,341 new coronavirus cases and 789 deaths in past 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 7,084,284 and fatalities to 190,376.
Russian authorities blame the spread of the more contagious Delta variant and a low vaccination rate for the third wave of coronavirus infections, which peaked in July.
Final England-India test off after outbreak in Indian camp
The fifth and final test of the cricket series between England and India has been cancelled barely two hours before play was due to start in Manchester, following a coronavirus outbreak in the India camp.
India was “regrettably unable to field a team,” the England and Wales Cricket Board said, due to fears of more cases inside the group.
India’s entire touring party was forced to isolate in its Manchester hotel on Thursday after assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar was the latest person to test positive for the virus.
India coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun, fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar and main physio Nitin Patel had already tested positive.
India was leading the series 2-1.
Vietnam approves Hayat-Vax vaccine for emergency use
Vietnam has approved the Hayat-Vax vaccine for emergency use, the seventh to be endorsed in the country.
The vaccine is manufactured in China and packaged in the United Arab Emirates, the government said in a statement.
Egypt sees spike before schools open next week
Egypt’s daily reported cases have surpassed 400 for the first time in months.
The Health Ministry on Friday reported 413 cases and 12 fatalities for the past 24 hours. Daily cases have been spiking in recent weeks since the more contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.
The latest increase is alarming for Egyptian authorities as schools are scheduled to open their doors for face-to-face classes next week.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with 100 million people, has reported 291,585 cases including 16,836 fatalities from the pandemic.
Singapore pauses Covid rules
Singapore sees no need to tighten curbs for now despite a spike in infections over recent weeks, a top official said on Friday, but will not press ahead with more reopening moves as it monitors for severe cases.
The country will take a pause and monitor the situation in hospitals and intensive care units over the next 2-4 weeks, said Lawrence Wong, finance minister and co-head of the coronavirus task force.
If manageable, the country will return to its reopening plans, he added.
Denmark ends restrictions
After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread of Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to become one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic restrictions.
The return to normality has been gradual, but, the digital pass — a proof of having been vaccinated — is no longer required when entering night clubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall.
More than 80 percent of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots.
Cases rise in Australia’s Victoria as regions exit lockdown
Australia’s Victoria state has reported its biggest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases this year, the majority in Melbourne, as most other regions in the state exited lockdown.
Australia’s New South Wales state, the epicentre of the country’s worst outbreak, has reported 1,542 new locally acquired cases, its biggest one-day rise in the pandemic, topping the previous high of 1,533 hit last week.
Officials have announced plans to bring Melbourne and Sydney out of extended lockdowns in coming weeks, despite infections continuing to rise in both of the country’s two biggest cities.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, whose state reported 334 new locally acquired cases and one death, has said lockdown restrictions in Melbourne will not be eased until 70 percent of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, which is expected around September 23.
The shift to a strategy of living with, rather than suppressing, the virus after hitting national vaccine coverage of 70-80 percent is part of a four-stage national reopening plan unveiled by the federal government in July.
Los Angeles makes vaccines compulsory for school kids
Children aged 12 or over who attend public schools in Los Angeles will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the start of next year, city education chiefs said, the first such requirement by a major education board in the United States.
The vote by the Los Angeles Unified School District – the second biggest in the country – comes as the United States grapples with surging coronavirus numbers, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
It also came as US President Joe Biden set out tough new nationwide rules designed to stanch the flood of new infections, ordering companies with 100 or more personnel to ensure all of them are vaccinated, and requiring that all federal employees and contractors also get the shots.
Brazil registers 753 deaths
Brazil has registered 753 Covid-19 deaths and 30,891 additional cases, according to data released by the nation’s Health Ministry.
The South American country has now registered a total of 585,174 coronavirus deaths and 20,958,899 confirmed cases.
Mexico reports 730 deaths
Mexico’s Health Ministry has reported 14,828 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 730 more deaths, bringing the total number of official infections since the pandemic began to 3,479,999 and the death toll to 266,150.
US doubles fines for travellers not wearing masks
The Transportation Security Administration is doubling fines for first-time offenders who fail to wear masks, effective on Friday, and said repeat offenders could face fines as high as $3,000.
The White House said President Biden was directing the higher fines to “ensure that masking requirements remain in place on the other modes of transportation as we continue to battle Covid-19.”
TSA said the new fines will “be $500-$1,000 for first offenders and $1,000-$3,000 for second offenders.”