The Pacific archipelago of Wallis and Futuna has declared itself Covid-free, with no cases among the French remote island’s 11,500 inhabitants since 1 April, authorities said.
Many remote Pacific island nations have remained free of the virus after shutting the borders soon after the pandemic began. The French overseas collectivity’s administrator superior said it is “unanimously … free of circulation of the Covid-19 virus”.
But mask-wearing in public spaces remains mandatory and authorities claimed that vaccination was “the only way to get out of the epidemic for good”. So far 41% of the population are fully vaccinated and over 55% have received one shot.
Fiji, which managed 12 months without community transmission, has seen rising cases since April. Wallis and Futuna recorded 445 coronavirus cases between March and April with seven deaths.
Here’s a bit more on Hungary making vaccines mandatory for all health workers, courtesy of Agence France-Presse, after similar moves by France and a few other European countries.
“We are not in favour of coercion, with the exception of one area, where we have made a decision that vaccination will be mandatory for healthcare workers,” said the prime minister, Victor Orbán, in his weekly radio interview. He did not say when the requirement would take effect.
In Hungary, more than 30,000 people infected with coronavirus have died, making the 9.8-million population central European country one of the hardest hit EU member states, according to AFP data.
But the EU member carried out one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the 27-member bloc in part thanks to its use of the Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V jabs.
The infection case numbers have dropped quickly since May, while all coronavirus restrictions including mandatory mask-wearing indoors were lifted in early July.
Since June, however, the vaccination tempo has slowed. Orbán said today that elderly people who had not taken the vaccine would be visited in person to offer them a jab.
A third shot will be made available to people four months past their second Covid jab in August. Vaccinations will also be made available to those aged 12 and over in schools during the two days before the start of the school year on 1 September.
Hello and greetings to everyone reading, wherever you are in the world. Mattha Busby here to take you through the next few hours of global Covid developments. Thanks to my colleague Martin Belam for covering the blog up until now. Please feel free to drop me a line on Twitter or message me via email ([email protected]) with any tips or thoughts on our coverage.
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has encouraged states to administer AstraZeneca at mass vaccination centres and boost vaccination rates on weekends, in a sign that Australia is shifting away from its GP-led rollout model.
It comes after the federal government announced it would shelve the controversial AstraZeneca vaccine by October, suggesting it would have enough supplies of other vaccines to meet “allocation horizons” for vaccinating the population by the end of the year.
The commonwealth last month announced changed health advice for the AstraZeneca shot, restricting it to over-60s because it has been linked to an extremely rare blood-clotting condition.
Irish families with young children have finally been told they will be free to travel without PCR tests when the border re-opens for non-essential travel on 19 July.
In an update to its website, the government made clear that vaccinated adults would not have to provide a PCR test or quarantine on entry. It has also loosened the rules for children over seven to bring them into line with the rest of the EU, eliminating the prohibitive costs of Covid tests for under-12s.
“Currently, children between the ages of seven and 17 must have a negative RT-PCR test in order to travel into Ireland, even with fully vaccinated or recovered adults. Children aged six and under do not need to take a RT-PCR test prior to travelling to Ireland. From 19 July, children aged 12 and over will be required to have a negative RT-PCR test to travel into the country,” it said.
Today so far…
- The head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the Covid-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak, and said he was asking China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus.
- China has responded today by saying some data was unable to be copied or leave China as it involved personal information.
- Indonesia reported a record increase of 1,025 deaths from Covid, bringing the country’s total tally of fatalities to more than 71,000.
- Russia also reported a new record 799 coronavirus-related deaths in a day, the fourth day in a row it has set a record.
- The Philippines has detected its first locally acquired cases of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, the health ministry
- Thailand reported a daily record of 9,692 coronavirus infections on Friday, taking total cases to 381,907 since the start of the pandemic
- Hungary will offer the option of taking a third dose of a vaccine from 1 August, and will make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all healthcare workers, the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, told state radio today.
- Abu Dhabi has announced a partial lockdown and new entry requirements in the emirate starting 19 July from midnight until 5am.
- Spain’s 14-day infection rate surpassed 500 per 100,000 people for the first time since mid-February, health ministry data showed.
- Los Angeles will return to mandatory mask-wearing indoors, even for people who have been vaccinated, amid a rapid and sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in the US’s largest county.
- A non-athlete in their 60s from the Nigerian delegation to the Tokyo Olympics tested positive for Covid at an airport in Japan with mild symptoms. They have been hospitalised because of age and pre-existing conditions.
- The Australian basketball star Liz Cambage has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics. Campage says she has been having panic attacks at the thought of entering the Olympics bubble. The tennis player Alex de Minaur has also pulled out of the Tokyo Games after becoming the first member of Australia’s Olympic team to test positive for Covid-19.
- In Australia, epidemiologists have warned of more breakthrough Covid infections as the number of fully vaccinated people catching the Delta variant rises. Queensland reported a Covid case in a fully vaccinated person on Thursday, a worker at the Brisbane international airport.
Nicola Slawson has the UK Covid live blog. Mattha Busby will be taking over here shortly with the latest Covid news from around the world. I’m off to go and revise for the Olympics and Paralympics – at the end of next week I will be moving off this live blog and instead will be writing our Tokyo 2020 daily briefing. You can sign up to join me via email here.
Indonesia reports record 1,025 daily deaths
Indonesia reported on Friday a record increase of 1,025 deaths from Covid, bringing the country’s total tally of fatalities to more than 71,000.
Reuters says the south-east Asian country also reported 54,000 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases to 2.78 million.
There’s been a little bit of pushback from China, as you might expect, on the words of the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who yesterday acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the Covid-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak, and said he was asking China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus.
Reuters reports that at this morning’s regular briefing in China, the foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, when asked about Tedros’ comments, said some data was unable to be copied or leave China as it involved personal information.
You can read more about what Tedros said here…
Member of Nigerian delegation to Olympic Games hospitalised in Japan with Covid
Reuters is carrying news at the moment of the first member of a party travelling to the Olympics in Tokyo being admitted to hospital with Covid.
The broadcaster TV Asahi has reported that the individual, a non-athlete in their 60s from the Nigerian delegation, tested positive on Thursday evening at the airport with mild symptoms. They were hospitalised because of age and pre-existing conditions, the broadcaster said, without giving details.
Nicola Slawson is at the helm of our UK Covid live blog today, which has just started. So if it is UK news you are after, you need to head over to join her…
I’ll be continuing here with the latest global lines on the pandemic.
Russia records highest Covid death figures for fourth consecutive day
Russia on Friday reported 799 coronavirus-related deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began and the fourth day in a row it has set a record.
Reuters notes that the Russian coronavirus taskforce confirmed 25,704 new Covid infections in the last 24 hours.
It said the official national case tally now stood at 5,907,999 and the national death toll had risen to 146,868.
It is worth remembering that the federal statistics agency in Russia has kept a separate count and it says the country recorded about 290,000 deaths related to Covid from April 2020 to May 2021, which is nearly double the official figures.
Shaun Keasey is the general manager of Gorgeous nightclub in Dudley, in England’s West Midlands. He has been on Sky News explaining the precautions staff will be taking when they reopen on 19 July and they are … not much, to be honest.
He told Sky News:
We were expecting this huge freedom celebration. It’s not quite turning out that way though, with cases rising, but we’ve got to make the best of it. We’re a bit nervous, but we can’t wait to open the doors of the club, which will happen at one second past midnight from Sunday going into Monday.
Asked about whether people would need to check in or show vaccination proof or test results, Keasey said:
No, we won’t be insisting on that. The majority of our customers are younger people. They haven’t yet had the opportunity to have two jabs. If anyone wants to wear a mask, they’re free to wear it. There will still be hand sanitisation points to make sure that we encourage the best personal hygiene, but we just want to get on with business now. We will still have our entry procedures where you show your age, and the door staff will be looking for people who potentially don’t look well. But other than that, you know, we’re a nightclub, we’re not a medical facility.
Good luck if you are working there, I guess.
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