Singapore adds traffic lanes for nine more nations: virus update

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(Bloomberg) –

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore could not remain ‘locked up and closed indefinitely’, urging people to continue the strategy of living with Covid-19 in a televised address which came as new cases continue to beat records.

Authorities have also announced plans to establish vaccinated traffic routes with nine other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, meaning travelers do not have to self-quarantine. The city-state has reported more than 3,000 new infections for four consecutive days this week.

The Australian state of Victoria has released another day of record cases, even as it prepares to remove restrictions. The state recorded 1,965 new infections on Saturday as the Delta epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. The state government still plans to ease restrictions later this month when vaccination thresholds are reached.

Key developments:

  • Global Virus Tracker: cases exceed 237.2 million; deaths exceed 4.84 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: more than 6.46 billion vaccines administered
  • Merck’s Covid pill runs the risk that the virus could outsmart it
  • Actions to watch as Covid enters its next phase
  • More than 120,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or guardian to Covid
  • Superpower rivalry and vaccine urge set the stage for climate talks

Vietnam to start immunizing children at the end of October (1:40 p.m. HK)

Vietnam plans to start immunizing children aged 12 to 17 from the end of October, reports the VietnamNet news site, citing Deputy Health Minister Tran Van Thuan.

The health ministry also plans to gradually expand vaccination to children under 12, according to the report. Vietnam has fully vaccinated about 13% of its population of 98 million, according to the Ministry of Health.

Singapore Urges ‘Living With Virus’, Adds Travel Lanes (12:30 p.m. HK)

Singapore will allow vaccinated travel to and from nine other countries without having to quarantine itself. Eligible countries are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, from October 19, and South Korea from November 15, the government announced on Saturday.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address that Singapore could not remain “locked up and closed indefinitely”, pursuing the strategy of living with Covid-19 despite a record increase in the number of cases.

Singaporeans must “respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralyzed with fear,” said Lee, painting a picture of a “new normal”, perhaps after three to six months, where Singapore eases restrictions , will have slight social distancing measures in place and cases number in the hundreds a day.

United States to Accept WHO-Approved Vaccines for Air Travelers (11 a.m. HK)

The United States will accept the use of Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or U.S. regulators for international travelers, Reuters reported, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States announced last month that it would allow entry to most foreign air travelers if they were fully vaccinated, but did not specify at the time which vaccines would be accepted.

Bali said to increase shooting and testing before reopening (9:50 a.m. HK)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered the acceleration of vaccination, testing and tracing in the tourist island of Bali before it reopens to international travelers on October 14.

Jokowi, as the president is called, urged the local government to target regencies where testing and tracing has fallen behind, as well as reaching the remaining areas to complete the vaccine rollout. More than 98% of Bali’s population received the first dose on Friday, while more than 80% completed their second injection, he said in a statement.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is gradually opening its borders and lifting lockdown measures as Covid-19 cases decline sharply, reaching their lowest level since June 2020 this week.

Deaths in Thailand drop to lowest since July (9:10 a.m. HK)

Thailand has reported 10,630 new cases of Covid-19 and 73 deaths in the past 24 hours. This is the lowest number of deaths since July 26, when the government accelerated its vaccination program. At least 70% of Thailand’s population will receive two doses of the vaccine by the end of December, Permanent Secretary of Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Thursday.

Cases continue in New Zealand (8:30 a.m. HK)

New Zealand has registered 34 new cases in the community, including 31 in Auckland, the public broadcaster reported on Saturday. This is down from the 44 infections the day before.

No new cases were detected in Northland, which entered tighter restrictions from midnight after infection was detected in the region, RNZ said.

Victoria State Breaks Records (6:13 HK)

The Australian state of Victoria has released another record for daily cases, even as it prepares to remove restrictions that have made Melbourne one of the most locked-in cities in the world.

Victoria reported 1,965 new infections on Saturday and five more deaths, with the Delta epidemic showing no signs of slowing down and putting pressure on the state’s hospital system. After ordering closures six times since the start of the pandemic for a total of around 250 days, the state government is still preparing to ease restrictions later this month when vaccination thresholds are reached.

Meanwhile, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, recorded 580 new infections and 11 deaths on Saturday. While authorities say they have detected a different strain of the delta variant in western Sydney, they added that it did not appear to be more transmissible or cause more disease than the original strain.

Snow leopard with symptoms of Covid dies (4:46 p.m. NY)

A snow leopard has died after showing symptoms similar to Covid-19 at a US zoo with a confirmed case of the virus, officials said on Friday.

Baya, 2 and a half, showed signs of a cough followed by “inappetence and lethargy” and died Thursday, according to the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the zoo’s Amur tigers tested positive this week, the zoo said.

CDC Panel to Meet on Boosters and Kids’ Shots (1:19 p.m. NY)

Advisors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have scheduled two upcoming meetings. The first, October 20-21, will discuss Covid-19 vaccine recalls for Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. The second, on November 2 and 3, will focus on pediatric vaccines against Covid-19.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices posted a notice of the meeting on its website on Friday. The panel of external experts advises the CDC on the best way to administer the new vaccines.

White House Covid-19 adviser Anthony Fauci said he hoped for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for Pfizer’s vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 would come by Halloween.

Next week, the FDA advisory group will meet to discuss Moderna and J&J boosters

Top 400,000 Deaths in Russia (12:25 p.m. NY)

Deaths in Russia linked to Covid-19 in August rose to 49,389, adding to an increase in the number of deaths that brings the global total to nearly 420,000 since the start of the epidemic.

The number of deaths associated with the virus was more than double the 23,877 reported in the daily reports of the government Covid-19 task force. The Federal Statistical Service, which released the data on Friday evening, also revised upward the record total reported in July to 51,044.

Iceland stops Moderna shooting (12:20 NY)

Iceland is joining its Nordic peers in halting inoculations with Moderna Inc.’s Spikevax over concerns over side effects.

The Moderna vaccine, which has mainly been used in Iceland for second doses, will not be used until more information on its safety is gathered, the chief epidemiologist said on Friday.

Sweden, Denmark and Finland suspended injections for young people this week due to the risk of heart inflammation as a potential side effect.

Daily US Cases Drop Below 100,000 (11:25 a.m. NY)

The seven-day average of cases in the United States fell below 100,000 for the first time since August, another sign that the wave fueled by the delta variant is receding. Infections are down about 42% from the peak of this wave.

The daily death toll is still high – averaging 1,762 Thursday – but at its lowest for nearly a month. The average infection was 99,804 Thursday, the lowest since August 5, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

More than 44 million Americans, or about 13% of the population, have contracted the virus so far, and more than 710,000 have died.

UK offers ‘refillable’ doses to trial volunteers (7:00 a.m., NY)

Starting next week, volunteers in vaccine clinical trials will be offered additional approved doses to ensure they can travel abroad, the UK Department of Health said.

While the UK recognizes that trial participants are fully vaccinated, many other countries do not and require visitors to be vaccinated with an approved vaccine.

Denmark changes course with Child Moderna hits (6:48 a.m. NY)

Denmark will offer Moderna Inc.’s vaccine to children under 18 after all, the Danish health authority said, reversing a previous statement.

On Wednesday, the authority said it would stop offering the vaccine to people under that age, citing new data indicating an increased risk of heart inflammation.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP


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