COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 205 new cases, 13 deaths

07 November 2021 - 07:28
A sculpture of brother and sister is pictured with protective masks on, as people stroll in a park amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea.
Image: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji A sculpture of brother and sister is pictured with protective masks on, as people stroll in a park amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea.

November 07 2021 — 21:00

205 new cases, 13 deaths reported 

November 07 2021 — 20:00

Global covid-19 cases near 250 million as Delta surge eases

 Worldwide cases due to Covid-19 were approaching 250 million on Sunday as the surge from the Delta variant eases and more normal trade and tourism resume, although some countries in eastern Europe are experiencing record outbreaks.

Over the last three months, the daily average number of cases has fallen by 36%, according to a Reuters analysis.

Even though the spread has slowed, the virus is still infecting 50 million people every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, the analysis showed. It took nearly a year to record the first 50 million Covid cases.

Health experts are optimistic that many nations have put the worst of the pandemic behind them thanks to vaccines and natural exposure, although they caution that colder weather and upcoming holiday gatherings could increase cases.

"We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus ... where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death," Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist leading the World Health Organisation, told Reuters.

In addition to vaccines, doctors now have better treatments. Britain on Thursday became the first country in the world to approve a potentially game-changing Covid-19 antiviral pill jointly developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics called molnupiravir.

Studies showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of developing severe Covid-19 when given early in the illness.

Infections are still rising in 55 out of 240 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Greece at or near record levels of reported cases since the pandemic started two years ago, according to a Reuters analysis.

Eastern Europe has among the lowest vaccination rates in the region. More than half of all new infections reported worldwide were from countries in Europe, with a million new infections about every four days, according to the analysis.

Several Russian regions said this week they could impose additional restrictions or extend a workplace shutdown to fight a surge in Covid-19 cases as the country witnesses record deaths due to the disease.

More than half of the world's population has yet to receive a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. Less than 5% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups last month appealed to leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies to fund a $23.4 billion plan to bring Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months.

"Vaccine inequity remains the biggest barrier to reaching our coverage targets," PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa, urging authorities to prioritize the elderly, frontline workers, and people with pre-existing conditions, to protect them from overburdening the healthcare system.


November 07 2021 — 19:00

Italy reports 26 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, 5,822 new cases

 Italy reported 26 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday against 31 the day before, the health ministry said. It reported 5,822 new infections, down from 6,764 a day earlier.

With 4.81 million cases to date, Italy has registered 132,391 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain, and the ninth-highest in the world.

The number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 3,215 on Sunday, up from 3,173 a day earlier.

There were 26 new admissions to intensive care units, compared with 23 on Saturday. The total number of intensive care patients rose slightly to 398 from a previous 392.

Some 434,771 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 491,962, the health ministry said.


November 07 2021 — 18:06

US braces for surge of vaccinated international travellers

The US is expecting a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world's population first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of Covid-19.

United Airlines is expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers Monday compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000.

And Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has warned travellers should be prepared for initial long lines.

It's going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately,” Bastian said, adding that “we'll get it sorted out”.

Delta said in the six weeks since the US reopening was announced it has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings vs the six weeks prior to the announcement.

White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said on Twitter “As we expect high demand when the US lifts its existing air and land travel restrictions Monday, we are taking critical steps to be prepared by providing additional resources.”

The Biden administration has held multiple calls with US airlines to prepare for the influx of additional travellers that will begin arriving at US airports and has warned travellers crossing from Canada and Mexico by land or ferry to be prepared for longer waits starting Monday.

For Bhavna Patel, a flight from London will take her to New York on Monday to see her first grandchild after more than a year of watching him grow via FaceTime.

The rules have barred most non-US citizens who within the prior 14 days have been in 33 countries — the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, China, India, SA, Iran, Brazil, Britain and Ireland.

Trade group U.S. Travel said the countries accounted for 53% of all overseas visitors to the US in 2019 and border communities were hit hard by the loss of tourists crossing from Mexico and Canada. The group estimates declines in international visitation “resulted in nearly $300 billion in lost export income” since March 2020.

US airlines are boosting flights to Europe and other destinations that were impacted by the restrictions. Airlines are planning events on Monday with executives meeting some of the first flights.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and United Airlines President Brett Hart are holding an event at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Monday to mark the reopening.

US officials plan an Instagram live chat on November 9 to help answer questions.

Many international flights are expected to operate close to full or full on Monday, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks.

Airlines will check vaccination documentation for international travellers as they currently do for Covid-19 test results. At land border crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will ask if travellers have been vaccinated and spot check some documentation.

Children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements. Non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption.

Also Monday, new contact tracing rules will take effect requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers if needed “to follow up with travellers who have been exposed to Covid-19 variants or other pathogens.”


November 07 2021 — 17:20

England's Farrell to rejoin squad after false Covid-19 positive

England captain Owen Farrell will immediately rejoin the squad at Pennyhill Park after returning a negative Covid-19 test, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said in a statement on Sunday.

Farrell tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of their autumn internationals test against Tonga at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday and was forced into isolation.

Courtney Lawes captained England in his absence as England crushed their opponents 69-3. However, the RFU said that Farrell had returned a false positive following a review of his sample and the result was accepted by the National Health Service Test and Trace.

“His subsequent PCRs have also been negative and therefore he has been released from self-isolation,” the RFU said.

England will next face Australia on November 13.


November 07 2021 — 17:05

Broncos QB Drew Lock out at Dallas, in Covid-19 protocol

Denver Broncos backup quarterback Drew Lock is out for Sunday's game at Dallas due to Covid-19 protocol.

The team announced his status four hours before kickoff of the Broncos' Week 9 game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Lock lost the preseason quarterback competition with Teddy Bridgewater, who will start again for the Broncos (4-4) on Sunday.

Tight end Noah Fant is on the Covid-19 list after a positive test earlier in the week and out at Dallas.

With Lock unavailable, Brett Rypien is the No. 2 quarterback for the Broncos.

In November 2020, Lock was ruled ineligible for a game against the New Orleans Saints for violating Covid-19 protocols.

Field Level Media

November 07 2021 — 14:30

UK to roll out Covid-19 antiviral drug trial this month -Health Security Agency

Britain will start to roll out Merck's molnupiravir Covid-19 antiviral pill through a drug trial later this month, Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday.

Last week Britain became the first country in the world to approve the potentially game-changing Covid-19 antiviral pill, jointly developed by US-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The government said in October it had secured 480,000 courses of the Merck drug, as well as 250,000 courses of an antiviral pill developed by Pfizer Inc.

Asked about the molnupiravir approval, Hopkins told BBC television: “That is great news and it will start to be rolled out through a drug trial in the end of this month/the beginning of December.”

Hopkins said all the trials so far had been done with the unvaccinated, so this would help understand how it will work in the wider vaccinated population.

“The new Pfizer drug is probably not going to be licensed until the new year some time,” she added. “It is still likely to be a couple of months away.”


November 07 2021 — 14:00

Austrian chancellor expects tighter Covid-19 rules to remain past Christmas

Austria's latest measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus will likely stay in force over Christmas and New Year, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg was quoted as saying on Sunday, as the country posted a record number of infections.

The country reported 9,943 new infections within a 24 hour period on Saturday, surpassing the previous worst day of Nov. 13 2020 when 9,586 cases were recorded.

To stem the virus, the government said on Friday that it will bar those not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from cafes, restaurants and hairdressers, effective Monday.

The '2G' rule, which requires proof of full vaccination or recovery, will also be in place for hotel and cinema visits or events for more than 25 people.

2G takes its name from the German words for immunised and recovered. In workplaces a 3G rule has applied since November 1 which means that employees must be vaccinated, recovered or tested (geimpft, geneses, getestet).

“I am not assuming that in six weeks the situation will be such that we can take the measures back. So it will probably be a 2G Christmas,” Schallenberg told Kronen Zeitung in an article published on Sunday.

“Most likely we will still have 2G for Christmas and New Year's Eve,” Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler told the newspaper.

New infections on Sunday declined slightly to 8,554 according to data from the Interior Ministry. Austria, which has a population of 8.9 million people, has reported 883,887 Covid-19 cases and 11,502 deaths since the pandemic broke out last year.


November 07 2021 — 10:30

SA fights back: 23-million Covid-19 vaccines in arms, more urged to get the jab

More than 23-million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in SA so far, the health department says, as it targets 1-million more inoculations this week.

In densely populated Gauteng, the provincial health department at the weekend urged more residents to come forward, saying “getting 70% or more of the adult population vaccinated is [recommended so] that we can minimise the affect of the fourth wave.”

November 07 2021 — 07:27

SA records 24 new Covid-19 deaths as total cases near 3m