Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for Covid-19 vaccines to be treated equally and mutually recognised, according to the official Xinhua agency.
China has provided over 1.6 billion Covid vaccine doses to the world, Xi told the 16th Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit by video link, adding that the country was working with 16 nations on the cooperative manufacturing of doses.
Two Chinese vaccines, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from Sinopharm, have been included in the emergency use list of the WHO.
Merkel warns Germans against return of ‘recklessness’ amid rising hospital admissions
Angela Merkel has warned against the return of a “certain recklessness” as she said Germany’s increasing coronavirus hospital admissions “worry me a lot”.
AFP reports that the outgoing chancellor told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the rising admissions “should worry all of us” and that she is “very saddened” that 3 million Germans aged 60-plus have not been vaccinated.
“It could make a difference, for these people and the whole of society,” said Merkel, who is soon stepping down after 16 years in office.
On Saturday the Robert Koch health institute recorded 21,543 new cases in Germany and 90 more deaths.
So far nearly 67% of the country’s population of 83 million have been fully vaccinated.
More from China (see also 08:46) where a health official has said the Covid outbreak is “developing rapidly.”
Reuters reports National Health Commission (NHC) figures showing that there were 377 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms between 17 and 29 October. China has maintained a zero tolerance approach to Covid (see also 10:21).
“Within the past 14 days, 14 provincial areas have reported new locally transmitted cases or asymptomatic carriers,” Mi Feng, an NHC spokesperson, said. “The outbreak is still developing rapidly, and the virus control situation is severe and complicated.”
Another NHC official, Wu Liangyou, said the outbreak has “exposed the laxity of mind among some local authorities.”
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Some businesses in Moscow have ignored new lockdown restrictions imposed on Thursday to tackle rising cases and remained open amid a lack of robust state support.
Reuters reports that hospitality venues are only permitted to operate takeaway and delivery service, while only essential shops like supermarkets are allowed to remain open.
But some business owners said they had to make ends meet, and without state funding, they would have to remain open. An administrator at a Moscow beauty salon told Reuters: “To hell with them … we’re going to work. We’ll just put up curtains … During the last lockdown we sat there for almost a month and there was almost no help. We have to survive somehow.”
Although the government has pledged some help and cheap loans to small businesses, business associations say more is needed.
Bulgaria, which has some of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, has the highest number of Covid-related deaths per capita globally.
The country has registered 338.83 deaths per 100,000 residents, with Brazil recording the second-highest rank with 287.46 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The only other European country in the top five is Romania, in third place with a rate of 237.73 deaths.
Just one-fifth of Bulgaria’s nearly 7 million people are fully vaccinated.
“Each day Bulgaria loses the equivalent of one plane crash. It is really horrendous,” Ruzha Smilova, the programme director at the Centre for Liberal Strategies, told Euronews.
People observe tributes to the nearly 300,000 Mexicans who have died in the pandemic as the official global death toll approaches 5 million:
Tonga records first Covid cases since start of pandemic
Tonga – formerly one of the last countries in the world to have remained Covid-free – has recorded its first coronavirus case.
The Pacific island nation’s first infection was detected in a vaccinated person in managed isolation who had arrived on a repatriation flight from New Zealand.
The prime minister, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, warned residents that the main island of Tongatapu could face lockdown next week.
“The reason the lockdown won’t happen this weekend is because I have been advised that the virus will take more than three days to develop in someone who catches it before they become contagious,” Tuionetoa said.
“We should use this time to get ready in case more people are confirmed they have the virus.”
Fewer than one-third of Tonga’s population of 106,000 have been vaccinated. Health officials said the infected person received their second dose in mid-October.
Russia reports record number of daily cases
Russia has reported 40,251 Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, its largest daily case tally since the onset of the pandemic.
The government’s coronavirus taskforce also reported 1,160 deaths, just under the record of 1,163 fatalities set the day before, according to Reuters.
It comes as Russia prepares to enter a nationwide “non-working” week in the first week of November in an effort to stymie its rising cases, while Moscow reentered a partial lockdown on Thursday, allowing only essential shops to remain open.
China has enforced a tough zero-tolerance Covid policy since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, but the latest Delta outbreak appears to be testing the limits of people’s patience.
As most of the world begins to open up and live with the virus, China remains one of the few countries still pursuing an elimination trajectory. Helen Davidson and Vincent Ni report on growing frustrations with the policy:
Inspired by the Aids Memorial Quilt, which her mother worked on in the 1980s, a teenager in California has been stitching a quilt over the past 18 months to honour and remember people lost to Covid-19.
Madeleine Fugate started the memorial quilt in May 2020, then 13, as a seventh grade class project. She encouraged families in Los Angeles, where she lives, to send her fabric squares representing their lost loved ones, the Associated Press reports.
“I really want to get everyone remembered so that families can heal and represent these people as real people who lived,” she said.
It has grown to include about 600 memorial squares representing individuals or groups, such as New Zealand’s more than two dozen virus victims, stitched together by Fugate, her mother and a small group of volunteers.
Fugate said she would like to see a formal national memorial for Covid-19 victims.
“It would be amazing to see that happen, but we’re still technically fighting the war against this virus,” she said. “We’re not there yet, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing. We are the triage. We’re helping stop the bleeding.”
Beijing’s Universal Studios theme park tested all staff after close contacts of Covid cases visited the resort this week, it announced on social media.
The close contacts were isolating and had tested negative for Covid, the theme park said in a post on its official Weibo account, adding that it had increased health monitoring at the park.
The resort would enter “emergency pandemic prevention status”, state media reported, citing the Beijing government.
“Out of prudent consideration for the health and safety of visitors, we are fully cooperating with the disease control and prevention department to notify those who visited the park on 24 October to undergo nucleic acid tests and necessary health monitoring,” Universal Studios said in the post.
It comes as China recorded its highest daily number local cases in more than six weeks on Friday.
Greece’s health ministry has struck deals with five private clinics to free up almost 300 beds as state hospitals reach capacity.
The agreement with the private clinics, which are in Thessaloniki, Larissa and Volos, will offer 296 beds and comes after Greece reported 3,643 new cases, 661 of which were in Thessaloniki. Attica, which has a population about four times Thessaloniki’s size, had just 599, the Kathimerini newspaper reported.
“The solution is to decrease demand by increasing mandatory vaccination,” the head of intensive care at Thessaloniki’s Papanikolaou Hospital said on Friday. “There is no other way, we need vaccination.”
Greece has a double vaccination rate of 61.7%, while 59.3% have had just one dose.
Coronavirus bioweapon claims ‘scientifically invalid’, US intelligence reports
Theories that the coronavirus was created as a biological weapon are based on “scientifically invalid claims” and disseminated by proponents “suspected of spreading disinformation”, according to a study by US intelligence agencies.
While most of the 17 agencies also agreed that it had not been genetically engineered, they were split between whether the virus spread due to animal-to-human transmission or as the result of a lab accident.
“We remain skeptical of allegations that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims, their proponents do not have direct access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), or their proponents are suspected of spreading disinformation,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) study said.
Julian Borger has the story here:
China’s local cases reach six-week high
Welcome to today’s global coronavirus live blog.
China’s local daily cases reached a six-week high on Friday, with most new cases concentrated in its northern provinces.
There were 59 new locally transmitted infections on Friday, according to the National Health Commission, via Reuters, an increase from 48 the previous day and the highest number since 16 September. There were no further deaths, meaning the official death toll remains at 4,636.
Infections were mainly reported in northern China, including Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Beijing and Ningxia. Including imported infections, there were 78 new cases for Friday, up from 64 the day before.
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UK to send 20m vaccine doses abroad by year end
The UK will send 20m Covid vaccine doses to developing countries by the end of the year, Boris Johnson will announce to world leaders as they gather in Rome.
Leaders of the G20 countries are meeting in Rome in the run-up to the UN Cop26 summit, in the hope that progress can be made on securing commitments before the summit.
Earlier this year, the UK promised to provide at least 100m doses as part of a G7 aim to offer 1bn doses – a target criticised as too low. Johnson will call on leaders to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022.
“Like a waking giant, the world economy is stirring back to life. But the pace of recovery will depend on how quickly we can overcome Covid,” Johnson is expected to tell G20 leaders. “Our first priority as the G20 must be to press ahead with the rapid, equitable and global distribution of vaccines.”
It comes after 100 former leaders and ministers globally urged the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, who is hosting the G20 meeting, to ensure more equitable vaccine distribution. The US, EU, UK and Canada would be stockpiling 240m unused vaccines by the end of the month, the group said.