Wales set to tighten rules on self-isolation for close contacts amid rising case numbers
Wales is set to announce changes in its Covid restrictions as a result of the rising case numbers across the UK. The Welsh government will be encouraging people to work from home if possible, and also insisting that anybody in a household with somebody who has tested positive also isolates until they have a negative PCR test. On Sky News just now, first minister Mark Drakford said:
We have to do more here in Wales to bring those numbers down. We want more people to work from home. We want to make sure that people do the simple things of mask wearing in crowded public places. We’ll be changing some of the arrangements in our schools to try to stem the flow of young people falling ill with the virus, and we will be asking people who are household contacts of someone who has tested positive to stay at home until they themselves have taken a PCR test. If it’s negative, they will be able to go back to school and to work. If it’s positive, then they won’t have been out and about spreading the virus to other people.
Gordon Brown: UK government hasn’t realised ‘urgency’ of getting unused vaccines to poorer countries
Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has said wealthier countries are being “too slow” in moving unused vaccine doses to poorer countries.
The ex-Labour leader said it is “only the leaders of the G20” who can decide their unused vaccines should be “moved out as quickly as possible to save lives and to avoid waste”.
PA Media quote his appearance on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he said:
The problem is we’re being too slow and we’re holding back when we know we’ve got these unused vaccines. We should be getting them out as quickly as possible.
There’s an urgency about saving lives and there’s also an urgency about preventing these vaccines passing their use-by date and I don’t think the British government has yet realised the urgency of the problem and of the need in the poorest countries.
There have been 245 million cases of Covid, there are going to be 200 million more if we don’t get the vaccines out there as quickly as possible.
In a subsequent appearance on LBC radio he said:
Britain controls its supply of vaccines, America controls its own supply of vaccines, Canada does, the EU does, you’ve to get together and say how can we timetable the delivery of these surplus vaccines.
So I’ll be looking for an agreement [at the G20 summit] to co-ordinate activities, maybe a task force that someone heads just to bring everybody together so that we get these vaccines out, and I’ll be looking for a statement that we’ve got to prepare for pandemics better in the future.
Ukraine sets record caseload for second consecutive day
The Ukrainian health ministry has issued its latest coronavirus numbers, and the country has recorded another record daily high of 26,870 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, exceeding the previous high of 26,071 a day earlier. There were 648 official deaths. The ministry also said there 5,463 hospital admissions in the last day.
Yesterday the mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko announced that the country’s capital would be imposing new restrictions from 1 November up to the limits of his powers, and called on the national government to take further measures. The Ukrinform news agency reports him saying:
The situation with the spread of coronavirus in the capital is rapidly deteriorating. The number of hospitalisations and patients in need of oxygen support is increasing.
The new measures mean people will have to present a Covid vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test before they can access indoor activities in the capital.
Malaysia has said it will proceed with the procurement of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children, following a US panel’s recommendation for the shot to be authorised for those aged 5 to 11.
The US Food and Drug Administration voted on Tuesday to recommend the authorisation, saying the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Malaysia’s Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Twitter other options, such as the vaccine made by China’s Sinovac BioTech, would also be considered to ensure schools can reopen safely.
About 62% of teenagers aged between 12 and 17 in the Southeast Asian country are fully vaccinated, government statistics show.
Icy double vax for Antarctic expeditioners
Australia’s vaccination campaign has taken an icy trip to the shores of the Antarctic.
An Airbus A319 arrived in Wilkins Aerodrome on Thursday evening with a cargo of Pfizer vaccines for 27 expeditioners at the Casey research station, minister for the environment Sussan Ley said in a press release on Friday.
“The exercise was a reminder of the isolation Australia’s Antarctic Expeditioners face each year and the detailed planning that is in place to support their well-being,” Ley said.
“As the Antarctic season looms and as expeditioners prepare to head home, it is important that they can join the national surge in Covid-19 vaccinations.”
Ley said the delivery required “months of careful planning” and the vaccines had to be stored at the right temperature from their arrival in Hobart, their delivery to the plane, the flight to Antarctica and then the four-hour journey across the ice to the station in a frozen container.
Vaccines to reach Africa amid syringe shortage
A syringe shortfall threatens Africa Covid vaccine drive as the continent struggles to inoculate people against the virus.
The United Nation’s fund for children (UNICEF) is predicting an “imminent shortfall” of up to 2.2 billion of the single-use syringes for Covid vaccination.
“Limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes may slow the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa,” WHO Africa said, referencing UNICEF’s dire prediction.
“Early next year, Covid-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyse progress,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said.
“Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast.”
Unless there is a significant acceleration, only five African countries, or below 10 percent, will reach the target of 40 percent of populations vaccinated by the end of the year, the WHO said.
These countries – Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, which have already reached this target, as well as Tunisia and Cape Verde – together account for just 51 million of the continent’s 1.2 billion population.
Hi and welcome back to our daily Covid blog.
I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you the top headlines from across the world.
First up, it’s good news for a group of researchers working from Australia’s Casey Station in Antarctica today.
Pfizer vaccines have finally arrived for 27 staff, federal environment minister Sussan Ley announced on Friday. Vaccines will also be delivered to its Davis and Mawson research stations.
Officials in South Korea have also announced restrictions will begin to ease from next week.
“Beginning November 1, our community will take the first step of resuming our normal life,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said. “However, we must be aware that this doesn’t mean the fight against coronavirus is over, but a new beginning.”
Here’s a rundown of what else you might have missed.
- A syringe shortfall threatens Africa’s Covid vaccine drive. As vaccines arrive to the continent, a scarcity of syringes could “paralyse progress”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. UNICEF, the United Nation’s fund for children, is predicting an “imminent shortfall” of up to 2.2 billion of the single-use syringes used to give jabs.
- New Zealand records another 125 Covid cases, pushing the country’s Delta outbreak past 3,000.
- The US economy grew at its slowest pace in more than a year in the third quarter as a resurgence in Covid cases further stretched global supply chains, leading to shortages and decreased consumer spending, Reuters reports.
- Russia sets more Covid restrictions amid record deaths and vaccine hesitancy. Recent rampant outbreaks in the countries have been driven by low vaccination rates.
- Britain has reported 39,842 new cases of Covid, government data showed on Thursday. A further 165 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid, meaning the seven-day total was up 16.2% from the previous week.
- More than 100 million Indians have not turned up for their second coronavirus vaccine dose, official data showed, raising concerns of a resurgence in the disease despite a relatively low infection rate.
- Only five African countries will meet the target of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations against Covid unless the pace of inoculations increases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
- Singapore reported 3,432 new cases of Covid on Thursday, a day after recording its highest single-day rise in cases which the city-state’s healthy ministry described as an “unusual surge”.
- Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that they expect to deliver 50m more doses of their Covid vaccine to the United States by the end of April.
- Airlines cast doubt on flying unvaccinated passengers to Australia.
- England set to remove final countries from Covid travel ‘red list’. At least 12 more countries’ vaccines also expected to be recognised in significant opening up of borders.
- Face mask row in Japan over cost of 80m left in storage unused. Wearing masks may be near-ubiquitous in Japan, but the government has come under fire after it was revealed that more than 80m face coverings it procured at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are still in storage, at a huge cost to taxpayers.