Russia sets another daily record for Covid deaths
A parent writes for us today on the experience of their daughter being bullied at school for having the Covid jab:
We are a pro-vaccination family, although we have friends who aren’t – we have chosen to stay off the topic with them. My daughter is at an age where she seeks out a lot of information online, so I directed her to some websites to read up more widely about it, while emphasising the reasons why it was my strong preference for her to have the vaccine.
On the day S was due to get her vaccine in school, we had a final discussion about it. “Some of the kids are saying they won’t have it because they can’t see how it helps them,” she told me. “But I think that there’s a benefit to me being able to see grandma without worrying about infecting her. And I can’t face school closing again, so I’m a bit stressed, but I’m going to do it.”
Take-up at the school was low, partly because there was an issue with the consent form being difficult for some parents to access. Ultimately, S was the only child in her class to have the vaccine, with about 20% of her entire year group taking it up. She came home with a sore arm and slight headache, but other than that she was fine. She said that the vaccination team talked her through what was going to happen, and double-checked that she was sure before they went ahead.
All was well until the following day, when another child in her class declared that because S had the vaccine, that meant she had now been injected with Covid – so if anyone went near her she would pass Covid on to them. This resulted in several children moving away from her, and refusing to sit beside her during lessons or at lunchtime.
Poland records over 8,000 new cases for first time since April
Agence France-Presse have a useful round-up this morning of the state of play with closed borders in Asia, to coincide with the news that Thailand will allow vaccinated travellers from 46 countries and territories to enter the kingdom without quarantining from Monday.
Singapore has started quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated travellers from 10 countries, including the US and several European countries, and will add more soon.
Indonesia re-opened the resort island of Bali this month to tourists from select countries although, with travellers still required to do a five-day quarantine on arrival, the scheme has had a slow start.
Vietnam plans to allow foreign visitors entry to the holiday island of Phu Quoc from next month and Malaysia has a similar plan for Langkawi island, while Cambodia will reopen beach spots Sihanoukville, Koh Rong and Dara Sakor from 30 November.
Mainland China remains closed to overseas tourists, as is Japan. South Korea has started accepting visitors from 49 countries. A negative coronavirus test is required for all arrivals, with a limited exemption from a 14-day quarantine for those vaccinated in South Korea.
Some of the world’s toughest measures have been implemented in Hong Kong - with a maximum 21-day quarantine for incoming travellers.
India re-opened for foreign tourists on charter flights this month and will allow in visitors on all flights from mid-November. Fully vaccinated travellers no longer have to undergo home quarantine, provided they are arriving from countries with which India has reciprocal arrangements for acceptance of WHO-approved vaccines.
Last month, Nepal started issuing visas on arrival for vaccinated tourists and dropped quarantine requirements. Among the first countries to reopen borders was the popular holiday destination of the Maldives, which started allowing in foreign tourists in July last year.
Sri Lanka opened its international borders for fully vaccinated tourists without any quarantine requirements on 7 October, while Pakistan allows in foreign visitors as long as they have proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test.
The Philippines and Myanmar remain closed to foreign tourists.
China has reported nearly 250 locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 since the start of the current outbreak 10 days ago, with many infections in remote towns along porous international borders in the country’s northwest.
China had 50 new local cases for 26 October, the highest daily count since 16 September, Reuters report official data showed.
The overall number is modest compared with more than 1,200 local cases reported during China’s July-August outbreak and the more than 2,000 cases in January during the last winter.
However, the steady increase of cases in the past week and their geographical spread alarmed local authorities and prompted the return of complex sets of restrictions on travel as well as on the tourism and catering sectors.
China has said the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to its hosting of the Winter Olympics in February and Winter Paralympics in March. Officials suspected the current flare-up was caused by a virus source from overseas.
Prior to Covid-19, Ejina Banner, a remote administrative division on China’s border with Mongolia, saw 8 million visitors in 2019 thanks to attractions such as a drought-resistant forest that would turn a golden yellow in October.
But the settlement of its 36,000 residents has been hard hit in the latest outbreak. Ejina has gone into a lockdown since last week, rendering nearly 10,000 tourists unable to leave, a local official said. Nearly half of those visitors are aged over 60.
Ruili in the southwestern province of Yunnan, rocked by multiple domestic outbreaks this year, has been served with the toughest curbs ever seen in China.
People who want to leave the city, except for those leaving for a few essential reasons, must be quarantined at centralised facilities for at least seven days before departure
Committee chair: Dido Harding-run test and trace programme treated taxpayers like 'an ATM machine'
Czech Republic cases double in one week – set highest daily tally since April
Bulgaria sets new daily record for Covid infections at 6,813
A quick report from Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia for Reuters here: the number of coronavirus infections in Bulgaria rose by 6,813 in the past 24 hours, a new record high daily tally since the start of the pandemic, official data showed.
The virus has killed 124 people in the past 24 hours, according to the figures, bringing the total death toll to 23,440. Yesterday the data showed that 243 people had died, which was a record for Bulgaria.
Over 7,300 people were in Covid-19 wards in the European Union’s least vaccinated country, overwhelming hospitals amid medical staff shortages.
Arwa Mahdawi has written her latest column for us, and today she says that telling anti-vaxxers to get the jab should not be controversial – even Fox News is doing it:
Telling people to get vaccinated during a pandemic shouldn’t be controversial. Neil Cavuto’s employer Fox News has worked overtime to ensure that it is. A recent analysis by a media watchdog found 60% of Fox News’ summer programming included claims undermining vaccinations. While Fox has been amplifying anti-vaxxer propaganda, however, it has also been quietly enforcing its own strict vaccination and testing policies. Nearly 90% of full-time employees at the Fox Corporation have been vaccinated, it was reported last month. The company has also said it will soon implement daily Covid testing for employees who haven’t had the jab.
It has become depressingly clear that we’re not going to end this pandemic by relying on everyone to do what is best for the greater good. If we want to have any hope of getting back to normal then we need strict vaccine and testing requirements – as Fox, for all its posturing about freedom, clearly realises. There are heated debates across the world about how to implement this. Indonesia has made vaccines mandatory, with big fines for refuseniks. While it seems unlikely that most countries will go that far, vaccine mandates for people such as government employees and care workers have been implemented in countries including the US, Australia, France and – from 11 November – in England. As well they should be. There is nothing controversial about requiring people to get inoculated; vaccination requirements for school and travel have been in place for decades. If you’re marching in the street to protest against the “tyranny” of being forced to consider other people, please get a grip. Even Fox News hosts think you are being an ass.
Brazil senators support criminal charges for Jair Bolsonaro over Covid crisis
A Brazilian Senate committee recommended that president Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world’s second highest Covid-19 death toll.
The seven-to-four vote on Tuesday was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic. It formally approved a report calling for prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and in doing so hold him responsible for many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 Covid-19 deaths.
The president has denied wrongdoing, and the decision on whether to file most of the charges will be up to prosecutor general Augusto Aras, a Bolsonaro appointee who is widely viewed as protecting him. The allegation of crimes against humanity would need to be pursued by the international criminal court.
Senator Omar Aziz, the chairman of the inquiry, said he would deliver the recommendation to the prosecutor general on Wednesday morning. Aras’ office said the report would be carefully reviewed as soon as it was received.
Ministers call for new G20 forum to prepare for next pandemic
The world’s biggest economies should create a forum to facilitate global coordination for the next pandemic, as well as a new financing facility to keep up with emerging threats, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have said in a letter to their G20 colleagues
The two finance ministers said the forum would allow health and finance ministers to better cooperate and coordinate prevention, detection, information-sharing, and any needed response.
Yellen and Indrawati said the Covid-19 pandemic revealed a lack of readiness at the country level and a lack of coordination among G20 countries.
“While we are making progress in fighting Covid-19, we also face a stark reality: this will not be the last pandemic,” they wrote ahead of Friday’s joint meeting of G20 health and finance ministers. “We must not lose this opportunity to demonstrate leadership with a decisive commitment to act.”
Welcome back to our Covid blog where we’ll bring you all the latest news surrounding the evolving coronavirus crisis.
I’m Samantha Lock reporting to you from Sydney, Australia. Here’s just a quick guide on what you might have missed earlier.
A damning report to come out of the UK has lambasted the NHS test and trace system, saying it failed to achieve “its main objective” to cut infection levels and aid in returning to life as normal.
The initiative was handed an “eye-watering” £37bn in taxpayers’ cash but ultimately “has not achieved its main objective to help break chains of Covid-19 transmission and enable people to return towards a more normal way of life,” the Commons spending watchdog has said.
At the time of its launch, Boris Johnson claimed the programme would be “world-beating” but the watchdog says its aims had been “overstated or not achieved”. The funding - equal to about 20% of the health service’s entire annual budget - was used to hire more than 2,000 consultants who were employed on rates of more than £1,000 a day, the report by the public accounts committee (PAC) found.
- The Covid-19 crisis is far “far from finished”, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee has said. The 19-member committee, which meets every three months to discuss the pandemic and make recommendations, also called for research into next-generation vaccines and long-term action to control the virus.
- Vaccine booster rates are now exceeding first-shot rates across the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- In Thailand, businesses are pleading with the government to drop the nation’s current alcohol ban when the country reopens, saying it will deter tourists.
- China has locked down a city of 4m over 6 Covid cases. Residents in Lanzhou, Gansu, have been told to stay at home as buses, taxis and key rail routes are suspended.
- FDA advisers recommend approval of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children aged 5-11. it will be the first vaccine available for younger children in the US. The nearly unanimous vote clears the way for possible approval for emergency use next month, making nearly 30m children eligible.
- Pregnant women are being turned away from Covid vaccine clinics despite clinical advice, experts have warned as they urged ministers to ramp up efforts to reach unvaccinated groups.
- The UK recorded 40,954 new Covid cases today and 263 more people have died, official figures show.
- A Brazilian Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that president Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world’s second highest Covid-19 death toll. The 7-to-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
- No exemptions are to be given for unvaccinated tennis players travelling from overseas for the Australian Open, the state’s premier has said. Players like Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal his vaccination status.
- Fully vaccinated Australians will no longer have to apply for travel exemptions to leave the country, as Australia prepares to ease its international borders from 1 November.
- Australia could hit the 80 per cent full Covid-19 vaccination mark within a week.
- Russia, Bulgaria and the Ukraine all reported a record number of daily deaths on Tuesday. Russia reported 1,106 deaths in 24 hours, the most since the start of the pandemic bringing the total death toll to 232,775, Europe’s highest by far. Sluggish vaccination rates have allowed the virus to spread quickly across Eastern Europe.
- Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene has been fined for the third time for refusing to wear mask on House floor.