Latest Covid News

NPHCDA: 818, 865 receive first dose of coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria
Africa Covid19 Healthcare
Nigeria records 129 new Covid-19 cases, total now 162,891
Africa Covid19 Healthcare
Nifty Stumbled on Negative Global Cues and COVID Spike but May Scale 17.5K by FY22
Asia Covid19
Nigeria: Govt Recovers N49,7 Billion Debt, to Spend N296 Billion On Covid-19 Vaccination
Africa Covid19 Government Healthcare
Outlook India Photo Gallery – Night Curfew In Mumbai After Covid Surge
Asia Covid19
Japan nixes plan for Olympic torch relay amid COVID-19 surge
Asia Covid19
How world moves forward post-COVID-19 is important multifaceted question – IMF
Africa Covid19 Financial Services Government Healthcare
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, April 1, 2021
Covid19 North America
‘It is very personal’: AbCellera’s COVID-19 treatment is saving lives in the U.S. In Canada, it’s sitting in storage. Now the company’s CEO is speaking out
Covid19 North America
Stephen Lynch sounds alarm over buying coronavirus PPE from ‘adversary’ China
Asia Covid19
France to close schools, ban domestic travel as coronavirus surges
Covid19 Europe
Coronavirus: hoteliers on tenterhooks in face of UK uncertainty
Asia Covid19
South Sudan Covid-19 campaign will be hampered by logistics, UN says
Africa Covid19
Overload: Poland struggles to cope as COVID deaths hit 2021 record
Covid19 Europe
France to open Covid vaccination mega centre in Disneyland Paris
Covid19 Europe
S’pore to contribute S$27.73 million to help low-income countries hit by Covid-19
Asia Covid19
Saint Lucia Records 22 New COVID-19 Cases
Covid19 North America
Long-term care residents across Canada saw fewer doctor’s visits, family during coronavirus pandemic
Covid19 North America
Nigeria vs Lesotho: Iwobi tests negative for COVID-19
Africa Covid19 Healthcare Sports
Preacher blames president for Kenya Covid wave
Africa Covid19 Healthcare
AstraZeneca Covid shots not recommended for under 55s in Canada
Covid19 North America
Ghana to begin coronavirus antigen test
Africa Covid19 Healthcare
How much does a Covid-19 test cost to travel to France, Greece, Spain, Italy and the US?
Covid19 Europe
New Covid strain detected in Israel; Pfizer vaccine appears effective against it
Asia Covid19
Suspended jail sentence for Vietnam Airlines Covid-19 spreader
Asia Covid19
Ireland braced for another six weeks of lockdown as Covid-19 cases remain high
Covid19 Europe
No Facemasks, No Social Distancing: Holi Celebrations From Across India Amid Covid-19 Scare
Asia Covid19
Poland duo Krychowiak and Piatkowski test positive for COVID-19 ahead of England clash
Covid19 Europe
Guyana to benefit from new Canadian aid to PAHO for COVID fight
Covid19 South America
When Will the Coronavirus Peak in Hungary?
Covid19 Europe
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NPHCDA: 818, 865 receive first dose of coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria
Africa Covid19 Healthcare

NPHCDA: 818, 865 receive first dose of coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria

A total of 818,865 eligible persons in Nigeria have been inoculated with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 40.7 percent proportion vaccinated, according to an update released by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, on Thursday, April 1st, 2021.

The update contained in an Electronic Management of Immunisation Data (EMID) System, of the agency, showed that Lagos state is still ahead in the exercise with 152,261 persons vaccinated.

Ogun and Kaduna states are following Lagos with 51,608 and 49,759 persons vaccinated respectively.

Other states are Kano, 39,818; Katsina, 38,476; Bauchi, 34,795; Kwara, 29,993; FCT, 31,586; Ondo, 28,999; Jigawa, 24,101; Ekiti, 21,985; Edo, 21, 234; Plateau, 20,706; Rivers, 20,207; Osun, 20,032; Yobe, 18,865; Adamawa, 16,343; Borno, 17,810; Oyo, 17,208; Imo, 15,903; Nasarawa, 15,846; Gombe, 16,766; Delta, 13,158; Benue, 12,550 and Niger, 15,407.

Also listed are Zamfara, 8,999; Cross River, 8,932; Akwa Ibom, 8,095; Enugu, 8,052; Kebbi, 9,132; Anambra, 7,117; Bayelsa, 6,934; Sokoto, 6,742; Ebonyi, 4,612; Taraba, 2,760 and Abia,1,874.

Kogi state is yet to commence vaccination because it is yet to be allocated doses.

 

This content was originally published here.

Nigeria records 129 new Covid-19 cases, total now 162,891
Africa Covid19 Healthcare

Nigeria records 129 new Covid-19 cases, total now 162,891

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 129 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 162,891.

The NCDC disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Wednesday.

“On the 31st of March 2021, 129 new confirmed cases and 1 death was recorded in Nigeria.

“Till date, 162,891 cases have been confirmed, 151,648 cases have been discharged and 2,057 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The 129 new cases are reported from 13 states- Lagos (46), Ondo (19), Nasarawa (14), Kaduna (11), Borno (9), Bauchi (8), Akwa Ibom (5), FCT (5), Jigawa (4), Plateau (3), Bayelsa (2), Osun (2) and Rivers (1),” the NCDC said.

This content was originally published here.

Nifty Stumbled on Negative Global Cues and COVID Spike but May Scale 17.5K by FY22
Asia Covid19

Nifty Stumbled on Negative Global Cues and COVID Spike but May Scale 17.5K by FY22

Nifty Stumbled on Negative Global Cues and COVID Resurgence but May Scale 17.5K by FY22

India’s benchmark stock index Nifty 50

(NSEI) closed around 14690.70 Wednesday, stumbled almost -1.04% on negative global cues and COVID resurgence in some industrialized states, causing partial/localized lockdowns. During Indian trading hours,

Dow Jones 30 Futures

was in red on higher U.S. bond yields, the concern of hedge fund liquidation, and Biden’s infra stimulus plan along with tax hikes. Later in the day, the White House unveiled Biden’s $2.25T infra stimulus (over 8-years: 2022-30) and corporate tax hike plan (over 15-years: almost $2.25T) from 21% to 28% (15-years). The market was expecting around $3T infra stimulus and a $1.8T tax hike over 10-years.

Dalal Street was concerned over lockdown 2.0 in various Indian states amid the resurgence of COVID. Also, election-related political rallies in various Indian states may cause a flare-up of COVID infections in the coming days. India is now reporting officially almost 60K corona infections as 7-DMA, inching towards the 100K mark; the Wednesday figure was above 72K.

But Indian COVID deaths are still on the lower side, now around 300 (7-DMA), way below 1100 during the Sep’20 peak period. Having said that, the number of deaths also jumped almost 3-times from Feb low around 100. In any way, as the health care system is showing stress in various hot spot states, local authorities have no way but to announce partial/full lockdown including Mumbai/MH. Indian Federal authority also termed the country’s COVID situation as ‘bad to worse’. There is a rumor that various state governments may soon take some restrictive actions after the election. But an all-out national lockdown may not happen again. At the same time, India’s slow progress on COVID vaccinations and the growing controversy over the Oxford-Astra vaccine is a cause of concern.
india
On Wednesday, after Indian market hours, data show that infrastructure output in India contracted -4.6% in Feb, following an upwardly revised +0.9% growth in Jan (y/y). It is the first decline in three months and the biggest since Aug’20, led by refinery products, electricity, steel, coal; crude oilnatural gas; cement, and fertilizers. Considering the April-February period, India’s infrastructure output slip -8.3%.

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Overall, it seems that India’s Q4FY21 GDP growth may continue to be subdued. Also, India’s fiscal deficit for Apr’20-Feb’21 was at Rs.14.06T, at a record high against Rs.10.37T in the same period last year (y/y).

On Wednesday, the Indian market was mainly dragged by private banks amid a report that the Federal government may not compensate/reimburse bank’ losses for around Rs.8B on compound interest cases (contrary to earlier perception). Additionally, HDFC (NS: HDFC) bank was under severe stress on reports of technical problems (internet outage) in digital banking. HDFC bank is already in RBI restriction not to open any fresh A/C with digital banking facilities due to earlier outages. But PSU banks were upbeat on equity fund infusion by the government to stay afloat.

Apart from private banks, the Indian market was also dragged by energy, techs (suspense of H1B visa extension), infra, media, and automobiles, while helped by reality (extension of stamp duty concession in MH), PSU Banks, FMCG, Pharma and metals (global infra stimulus boost). Nifty was dragged by HDFC Bank (NS:HDBK), HDFC, RIL, Infy, ICICI Bank (NS:ICBK), Kotak Bank, Asian paints and Tech-M; most of these scrips have lower weightage in index rebalancing. Nifty was helped by ITC (NS:ITC), HUL, TCS (NS:TCS), SBI (NS:SBI),Tata Steel (NS:TISC) and Grasim (NS:GRAS). Overall, Nifty gained almost +71% in FY21. But if we consider pre-COVID Jan’20 high 12430.50 Nifty surged almost +18%.

On late Wednesday, the Indian government slashed the small savings rate drastically for Q1FY22. This may pave the way for more rate cut transmission if RBI goes for further rate cuts. Even if RBI does not cut-rate going forward, banks may not transmit further (old rate cuts) and thus bank’s NIM may improve. Under lower deposit rates for various small savings instruments (sovereigns), RBI may also cut further to reduce India’s 10Y bond yield for lower borrowing costs not only for the Main Street but also for the government to fund huge COVID fiscal stimulus.

Bottom line: India is enjoying a unique position and scarcity premium in the EM space (except China)
India is providing infra stimulus (creating assets) by borrowing as-well-as deleveraging (disinvestments/selling PSU companies/monetizing existing assets). The country now needs to hasten this process of deleveraging to fund infra/fiscal stimulus and to strengthen its balance sheet.

Almost 80% of India’s government revenue goes towards interest and mandatory spending including salary & pension. The country needs some structural reform to improve its quality employment and revenue significantly in line with nominal GVA growth. India needs to combine targeted fiscal/infra stimulus and structural reform is required to improve its productivity, which is the ultimate. And the COVID adversity is a big opportunity for Modi to use the mix of that targeted fiscal stimulus and structural reform to bring out the economy from pre-COVID stagflation.

India is now enjoying the highest FPI flows among EMs (except China) due to ‘scarcity premium’, political & policy stability, fiscal prudence, targeted fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms (from farms to railways). FPIs are scrambling for Indian blue-chips for a good business model, credible management, and a strong balance sheet, especially after deleveraging. This coupled with the attraction of Modinomics, 5D (democracy, demography, demand, deregulation, and digitalization), and Modi’s mantra of reform, perform & transform, and monetize & modernize (latest PSU deleveraging), India is now one of the most attractive investment destinations among the developing world. And supported by unprecedented global liquidity (Fed/ECB/BOJ QQE), Nifty may scale 17525 by Mar’22 (FY22).

Technical View: Nifty and Bank Nifty Future

Technically, whatever may be the narrative, Nifty future now has to sustain over 15015-15075 levels for further rally. Similarly, Bank Nifty now has to sustain over 34400-34600 for a further rally; otherwise, expect some correction for both.
india
india

INDIA 50 (Nifty 50 Futures)

This content was originally published here.

Nigeria: Govt Recovers N49,7 Billion Debt, to Spend N296 Billion On Covid-19 Vaccination
Africa Covid19 Government Healthcare

Nigeria: Govt Recovers N49,7 Billion Debt, to Spend N296 Billion On Covid-19 Vaccination

Abuja — Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that the federal government has succeeded in recovering N49.7billion out of its N5.2trillion debt.

She also informed that the federal government will spend N296 billion on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.

She also confirmed that the supplementary budget for procurement of security equipment and COVID-19 vaccines being prepared by the federal government is not ready yet.

Ahmed disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

She was speaking on the council’s approval for the second phase of Project Lighthouse, which is a component that is meant to expand the debt recovery capability of the project.

Project Lighthouse, according to the minister, is a data engine that collects, integrates and analyses data from revenue generating agencies in order to create insightful information for improved decision making.

She said Messrs Carter House Consulting, a Nigerian technology company, who has worked with the ministry for three years, won the first phase of the contract in May 2019 and the second phase that was approved on Wednesday was in the sum of N316.5 million.

She said, “One major area that we have witnessed remarkable progress is in terms of recovery of debts owed to government. Generally, revenue loopholes have been aided by poor information sharing enforcement.

“So, this Protect Lighthouse shows us that many companies and individuals who owe government agencies have refused to honour their obligations yet are still being engaged and transacted with, and even being paid on government payment platforms like Treasury Single Account.

“In 2019, the ministry issued a directive to all ministries, departments and agencies to aggregate and send to the ministry a list of all debtors and their outstanding amounts that are owed to government agencies. This we have put together in one central fund that we call Project Lighthouse.

“Since that time, we have been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debts that are being owed government by third parties and as at today, we have been able to recover N49.7 billion of this amount through the efforts of works we have been carrying out through Project Lighthouse and we are still compiling.

“Project Lighthouse has brought together data from the FIRS, the Nigerian Customs Service, the Corporate Affairs Commission, as well as data from BVN in one central pool.

“Also, we are hoping we get data from three states; land registry data from the FCT, from Kaduna State, as well as from Lagos State and other states will also be joining in the second phase.”

 

This content was originally published here.

Outlook India Photo Gallery – Night Curfew In Mumbai After Covid Surge
Asia Covid19

Outlook India Photo Gallery – Night Curfew In Mumbai After Covid Surge

Gateway of India wears a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai

Marine Drive wears a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai.

Girgaum Chowpatty wears a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai.

Girgaum Chowpatty wears a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai.

Colaba wears a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai.

Near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, a deserted look during night curfew, imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Mumbai.

 

This content was originally published here.

Japan nixes plan for Olympic torch relay amid COVID-19 surge
Asia Covid19

Japan nixes plan for Olympic torch relay amid COVID-19 surge

Japan is canceling a planned Olympic torch relay in the city of Osaka, as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to grow in the country and vaccine rollout has been relatively slow since February.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said late Thursday the relay scheduled for April 13 and 14 in Japan’s third-largest city has been canceled due to a new surge of COVID-19, Kyodo News reported.

The statement from Suga came after Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura recommended the cancellation. The city was already planning to enforce stricter rules to curb the spread of the virus from April 5 to May 5, the report said.

Earlier in the year Osaka had ended a state of emergency only to see cases climb rapidly at the end of last month.

“In Osaka, in particular, the number of infected individuals in their 20s and 30s is increasing as people continue to go out at night,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Thursday, according to Al Jazeera.

“Reports of mutant strains are also increasing, and the contagion is expected to continue.”

Osaka recently began to require shorter business hours. Office employees have been advised to work from home and stay away from indoor recreational spaces like karaoke bars, the report said.

The Tokyo Olympic torch relay began on March 25 in Fukushima. On Thursday, the torch passed through the city of Nagano but the relay took place without an audience due to the resurgence of COVID-19.

The virus could be spreading in urban areas despite shorter business hours.

Japan’s health ministry said Tuesday that 23 of its employees violated guidelines by attending a late-night party in Tokyo.

The government officials tasked with the nation’s COVID-19 response “betrayed the people’s trust” by partying until midnight last week in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said, according to the Japan Times and Kyodo News.

Restaurants and bars in Tokyo are required to close by 9 p.m., reports said.

This content was originally published here.

How world moves forward post-COVID-19 is important multifaceted question – IMF
Africa Covid19 Financial Services Government Healthcare

How world moves forward post-COVID-19 is important multifaceted question – IMF

How the world moves forward after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is an important question that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wrestles with, and involves three parts, according to its Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva.

Georgieva also said that there is anxiety on returning to normal, particularly given that the previous ‘normal’ was “not great”.

The IMF head’s comments during a virtual Panel Discussion on Economic and Social Transformation, which it organised on Wednesday.

Georgieva noted that governments have an important role to play in the post-COVID-19 era, and that it is not about big government or small government. It is, instead, about good leadership that does the right thing for people.

“This includes reflecting on what it means to make sure that there is access to opportunities for all, what is the role of policymakers to set the right policies in place, but also to put their money where their mouth is,” she added.

“Of course, the fund has to be clear on policy recommendations that are forward leaning and that is a big part of my second point, in addition to there being shocks to come,” Georgieva noted, “Building resilience to shocks is something that becomes a ultimate goal of policymakers, but it is also a role for individuals and certainly for businesses.”

The IMF head added that there then comes the issue of social acceptance, and how the world builds that social acceptance in an era of information, misinformation, and straightforward lies. This includes how we go about creating such a concept, and how we get that notion of vibrant civil society, where information serves a powerful purpose in that vibrant society.

She explained that transformations are good when they lead to good policies, but that they are also complex, and they can be painful.

Micro decisions have micro consequences, Georgieva said, adding that they have to be understood. This includes negating and mitigating their impacts to the greatest extent possible, to ensure they bring the desirable gains for country, community, and family.

“I know that we are now at the boundaries of another transformation due to the pandemic, and it is very important that what comes on the other side is better and inclusive,” she said.

She recalled her first speech as IMF head in the month just before the pandemic, noting that it is not practical to return to how things were before the global health crisis.

“In the speech, I talked about low productivity, anaemic growth, inequalities going up, and a looming climate crisis, none of which have gone away,” she said.

Georgieva noted that the world has an absolute obligation to look at what policies can do to bring us to a more inclusive greener resilient digital world. This would ensure as little divergence as possible, and yet growing divergence is being seen within and across countries.

This content was originally published here.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, April 1, 2021
Covid19 North America

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, April 1, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

There are 987,918 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 987,918 confirmed cases (49,568 active, 915,348 resolved, 23,002 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 5,808 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 130.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 36,358 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,194.

There were 43 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 212 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 60.52 per 100,000 people.

There have been 27,770,015 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,020 confirmed cases (eight active, 1,006 resolved, six deaths).

There was one new case Thursday. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been five new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 220,762 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 160 confirmed cases (13 active, 147 resolved, zero deaths).

There was one new case Thursday. The rate of active cases is 8.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 125,647 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,719 confirmed cases (24 active, 1,629 resolved, 66 deaths).

There were three new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.74 per 100,000 people.

There have been 426,492 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 1,623 confirmed cases (142 active, 1,451 resolved, 30 deaths).

There were 10 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 18.17 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 77 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 11.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 3.84 per 100,000 people.

There have been 265,890 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 312,362 confirmed cases (9,038 active, 292,648 resolved, 10,676 deaths).

There were 1,271 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 105.4 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,927 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 990.

There were nine new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 46 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is seven. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 124.51 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,157,570 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 352,460 confirmed cases (20,875 active, 324,196 resolved, 7,389 deaths).

There were 2,557 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 141.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,390 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,341.

There were 23 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 109 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 50.15 per 100,000 people.

There have been 12,400,039 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 34,174 confirmed cases (1,179 active, 32,058 resolved, 937 deaths).

There were 59 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 85.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 480 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69.

There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of eight new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 67.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 591,171 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 33,789 confirmed cases (1,949 active, 31,404 resolved, 436 deaths).

There were 199 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 165.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,443 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 206.

There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.99 per 100,000 people.

There have been 664,534 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 149,207 confirmed cases (8,653 active, 138,560 resolved, 1,994 deaths).

There were 875 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 195.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,896 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 699.

There were four new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 18 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 45.09 per 100,000 people.

There have been 3,696,615 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 100,880 confirmed cases (7,685 active, 91,732 resolved, 1,463 deaths).

There were 832 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 149.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,111 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 873.

There were five new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 17 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 28.42 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,186,765 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 74 confirmed cases (two active, 71 resolved, one death).

There were zero new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 4.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people.

There have been 8,562 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (zero active, 42 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 16,044 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 395 confirmed cases (zero active, 391 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 10.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 9,848 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published April 1, 2021.

This content was originally published here.

‘It is very personal’: AbCellera’s COVID-19 treatment is saving lives in the U.S. In Canada, it’s sitting in storage. Now the company’s CEO is speaking out
Covid19 North America

‘It is very personal’: AbCellera’s COVID-19 treatment is saving lives in the U.S. In Canada, it’s sitting in storage. Now the company’s CEO is speaking out

VANCOUVER — In early December, Kush Dalal answered a phone call from his 83-year-old father, then in a B.C. hospital battling COVID-19. Though coronavirus-related delirium had wreaked havoc in his brain, Dalal’s dad remembered his son was part of a team of scientists at local biotech company AbCellera who had developed a promising antibody therapy to counter the disease. He asked his son if the treatment was available for him. Dalal lied. “I had to tell him that the doctors have something better for [him] in the hospital,” he recalled. “I basically had to lie to him to calm him down, which was just heartbreaking.”

His father would be hospitalized for another two months. Several times, doctors warned the family he had just days to live. Though he survived, he has significant cognitive and physical impairments from his battle with the disease. “I don’t think he’ll ever really be the same,” said Dalal.

The treatment AbCellera developed, in partnership with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, is meant for high-risk individuals—such as the elderly—who’ve contracted COVID-19 but don’t yet have severe symptoms. Called bamlanivimab, it is a monoclonal antibody therapy, offering temporary, enhanced immunity and helping prevent even more severe symptoms. It takes about 15 minutes to administer through an intravenous drip, according to the company. 

In the U.S., one of 15 countries in which health authorities have approved its use, bamlanivimab has been used to treat hundreds of thousands of COVID patients; Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the Biden White House’s COVID response team, has said monoclonal antibody treatments, including AbCellera’s, save one life for every 52 doses administered.

Canada has also approved the treatment. But while the federal government has thousands of doses, provincial and territorial governments have balked at making them available to doctors, citing the logistical challenges of administering the treatment and a lack of evidence that it works. According to Eli Lilly, less than one per cent of the patients who’ve received the therapy have been Canadian.

AbCellera has been the standard-bearer for Canada’s resurgent biotech sector, riding the promise of its technology and the success of its COVID-19 treatment to a record-breaking US$556 million IPO late last year. However, its home country’s reluctance to deploy the company’s signature achievement in the fight against the pandemic bewilders its CEO.

“It is criminal negligence,” said Carl Hansen in an interview with The Logic. “It is absolutely appalling and inexcusable.”

Talking Point

Though Health Canada has approved the monoclonal antibody therapy AbCellera co-developed to treat COVID-19, the provinces and territories have not made it widely available to patients. The company’s CEO first learned about the lack of access in December, when one of AbCellera’s employees couldn’t secure the treatment for his 83-year-old dad. After months of pushing for action, Carl Hansen said “it is beyond reprehensible” that the treatment has made it to hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S., but only a handful in Canada.

Hansen and a group of others started AbCellera Biologics in 2012, out of a lab at the University of British Columbia, where he worked as a professor. With just six employees, the company made a discovery in collaboration with another UBC lab that would become the foundation of AbCellera’s technology, allowing it to scan, decode and analyze antibodies from humans or animals to find rare ones that can block specific viruses. It uses that technology to partner with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that can prevent or treat diseases.

AbCellera grew quickly. The company its 25th partnered discovery program at the start of 2018 and roughly two months later, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) it a four-year, up-to-US$30-million contract to help fight viral pandemics. Investors started paying attention. In September 2018 AbCellera raised its Series A, and that fall, left its UBC campus location and moved into a 21,000- square-foot Vancouver headquarters with custom-built laboratories for its 60-plus staff. 

The pandemic set the stage for the company to apply its technology to an urgent situation. As COVID-19 shut down the world as we knew it, scientists raced to create a vaccine, a process that can take years. AbCellera answered the call for action in its own way, in March 2020 with U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly to look for a way to fight the disease.

Two weeks earlier, AbCellera had received a blood sample from one of the first people to recover from COVID-19 in the U.S. It waited for about four days while the sample thawed, then ran tests on more than 5.5 million immune cells. Using the company’s technology, they narrowed that to some 2,000 cells with antibodies that were proven to bind to the virus (in the test, the successful ones glowed), then sequenced their DNA to whittle the list to 500. Working with Eli Lilly, they homed in on just one, then called LY-CoV555, for human clinical trials. 

B.C. hospital

Dalal, AbCellera’s group lead of antigen protein, and others worked overtime to isolate that antibody, starting clinical testing just 90 days after receiving the sample. “It was all hands on deck,” said Dalal, who was responsible for analyzing different antibodies to help determine the best candidates.

The Canadian government came to the table in May, committing up to $175.6 million in financing to the company from the . The money was earmarked “to expand efforts related to the discovery of antibodies for use in drugs to treat COVID-19, and to build technology and manufacturing infrastructure for antibody therapies against future pandemic threats,” according to a release. The City of Vancouver also chipped in support. In a statement at the time, then-ISED Minister Navdeep Bains called AbCellera’s technology “world-leading.” 

Human testing of bamlanivimab in June. By November 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—considered the gold standard for approvals in the pharmaceutical industry— an emergency-use authorization for the therapy. Health Canada’s emergency-use approval 11 days later. Four days after that, the federal government an agreement to purchase up to 26,000 doses. Canada has requested and received 17,000 of those doses or about US$21.3 million so far.  

While the U.S. distributing bamlanivimab alone last week, as some COVID-19 variants have proved resistant to it, the FDA has already given emergency approval to a new treatment combining bamlanivimab with another antibody, etesvimab. Eli Lilly said it has submitted the combination to Health Canada, which has not yet issued a decision. 

With bamlanivimab, Dalal and the team had achieved every scientist’s dream. “It was incredible just to know that we participated in something that works,” he said.

That high wore off the next month when Dalal’s father contracted the virus in the weeks leading up to the company’s IPO. When Dalal called his father’s general practitioner to ask about getting him the AbCellera therapy, he was met with confusion. The doctor “wasn’t even aware that there was a treatment like that which was available,” Dalal said. He called government agencies every few days, trying to secure a dose for his father. He was repeatedly told it wasn’t available.

It was the first time the company realized the doses Canada bought weren’t actually reaching patients, and Hansen and his team have been pushing for action ever since. “It is very personal,” said Hansen, becoming emotional when talking about Dalal’s experience. The CEO’s frustration led him to publish an in The Daily Hive two weeks ago urging the provincial governments to save lives by using the therapy. “You can work in biotech and never have an approved drug—certainly not save thousands of lives,” he told The Logic. ”That’s something to be proud of. But to do it within Canada, which never happens, and to have it not used here because people are putting up roadblocks, and meanwhile, people that you know and that have worked on it are not able to get access? …  That hits pretty close to home. It is beyond reprehensible.” 

While Health Canada—which said it could not meet the deadline to comment for this story—has approved bamlanivimab for use here, the country’s nearly 20,000 doses are mostly sitting in storage because provincial and territorial health officials don’t allow their physicians to administer the therapy. 

The Logic reached out to all 13 provinces and territories with questions about the treatment’s availability in their jurisdiction. Those that responded mostly cited logistical challenges in administering it, and a lack of clinical evidence for its effectiveness.

Among them, Nunavut’s government decided the risk of using the treatment outweighed the benefit, a spokesperson wrote in an email. No one in Newfoundland and Labrador “will receive [bamlanivimab] as a therapy until more evidence is derived to support the drug’s efficacy,” said a spokesperson for that province. Manitoba has “noted that this drug has weak evidence of effectiveness and has significant logistical challenges for the acute care system because of the need for infusions,” said a provincial spokesperson.

Quebec only allows the therapy to be administered in exceptional circumstances, said a health ministry spokesperson, pointing to a report from the province’s Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux, which advises the government on new pharmaceutical products. That report cited a lack of robust scientific data, among other issues.

British Columbia will soon have more data thanks to a new clinical trial. A Phase 4 study mid-March with an estimated enrollment of 576 participants. AbCellera donated $1 million to help fund it. Dr. Gregory Haljan, the study’s principal investigator, did not respond to an interview request, but according to the company, he has been ready to start the trial as early as December. The treatment is otherwise not available in the province, its health ministry said in a statement, adding the clinical trial will “help us make a more informed decision about the role these medications may play in the B.C. health-care system.”

One big reason for caution from the provinces and territories may be a January report from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). The country’s governments created the body in 1989 to provide “health care decision-makers with objective evidence to help make informed decisions about the optimal use of” drugs and other health technologies. The CADTH report there is not enough data to determine that bamlanivimab “should be standard of care, will lead to faster recovery, or will reduce the risk of hospitalization or time in hospital.” It deemed there was no evidence the antibody improved mortality. CADTH also highlighted the logistical challenges of administering IV treatment outside of hospitals. That “would require increased use of currently overburdened and, in some cases, scant health care resources,” the report read, adding the group heard concerns about increased transmission risks, among other things, should such treatment centres be set up.

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies

Hansen’s response to the CADTH report is to question the agency’s expertise, especially compared to the FDA, which approved bamlanivimab back in November. “They can’t both be right,” he said. (CADTH did not respond to The Logic’s request for comment.)

He disputes the claims about a lack of data. In September 2020, AbCellera’s interim findings from a Phase 2 clinical trial hospitalizations and emergency room visits decreased 72 per cent for high-risk populations. In January, the company announced that its treatment the risk of residents of long-term-care facilities contracting COVID by up to 80 per cent. In March, Phase 3 trial data its antibody treatment coupled with etesvimab reduced coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths by 87 per cent. 

As for the logistical challenges associated with administering an IV treatment during a pandemic, Hansen said he doesn’t want to diminish them, but “if you put a chair and a hanger that could hang a bag, and a nurse [in a space], in principle that would be enough to deliver the therapy.” In the U.S., about 5,000 infusion offer three types of monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, including the sole and combination bamlanivimab therapy. Health-care workers in the country have provided the treatment to more than 300,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare sends emails reminding people it covers the treatment and encouraging those with mild to moderate symptoms and a positive diagnosis to consider it. 

Don Sheppard, director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity who is also a practitioner in clinical infectious diseases at the McGill University Health Centre, wanted to see something similar in Canada. He served as a scientific advisor for the Canadian COVID therapeutics task force that advised the federal government on its purchase of AbCellera’s antibody therapy. He’s quick to point out he isn’t associated with the biotech firm or Eli Lilly. He was so convinced of the therapy’s worth that in November he called the chief of IV at his hospital with a plan to convert an antibiotic IV clinic into an antibody-infusion clinic for high-risk COVID-19 patients. “He made all of the necessary efforts,” said Sheppard. “And all we met was resistance from the top down.” They never got to use it. As far as he knows, only one patient in Quebec has received the treatment thanks to an emergency-use authorization from the provincial ministry. “I absolutely think it should have been and should be available for use,” he said, calling the data “compelling.”

Sheppard doesn’t think the CADTH analysis, which he called “over-conservative,” stopped provincial and territorial governments from allowing the therapy. He believes those governments were simply reluctant to create a system of identifying high-risk individuals at the time of diagnosis, contacting them and giving them a single-dose of an IV drug. “I think they were looking for a reason to say no because they just thought it was too hard.” 

In its first earnings report as a public company, earlier this week, AbCellera said Bamlanivimab “proved” the company’s technology and business model. The company earned about US$198.3 million in royalty revenue in its 2020 financial year, thanks to the therapy’s commercial success. 

Hansen, of course, has a financial interest in bamlanivimab’s adoption. AbCellera receives a royalty on Eli Lilly’s sales of the treatment. As well as being AbCellera’s CEO, Hansen owned 26.3 per cent of the company before its IPO. Asked about his stake in the therapy’s success, he responded that the Canadian market is a relatively insignificant one for therapeutics. Bamlanivimab is being sold in the much bigger U.S. market, and has been approved for use in 13 countries beyond Canada and the United States. Besides, he added, the Canadian government has already paid for the doses he wants moved out of storage and administered to patients. 

Hansen thought long and hard about staying silent. “But if you’re in leadership, you have to decide what kind of company we’re trying to build here. And if we’re going to keep our head down when we know something is wrong, and we know that the cost of that is people ending up sick or dead—or both—then we’re willing to take that risk by saying what needs to be said. That’s why we did it.”

After his father’s infection, COVID-19 swept through Dalal’s family, his mother, brother and Dalal himself all contracted it. While none were able to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment he helped develop, Dalal hopes it can still benefit other Canadians. “If I could spare any other family the trauma of having to go through that, that would be my goal,” he said. “It’s something that I think about every day.”

This content was originally published here.

Stephen Lynch sounds alarm over buying coronavirus PPE from ‘adversary’ China
Asia Covid19

Stephen Lynch sounds alarm over buying coronavirus PPE from ‘adversary’ China

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is sounding the alarm over groups using federal money to buy life-saving personal protective equipment from companies in “adversary” China.

“We’ve got China hacking federal agencies, hacking our military and hacking our domestic companies, we’ve had theft of intellectual property,” the South Boston Democrat said. “We shouldn’t put our future and our safety in the hands of a government that’s been hostile to the interests of the United States.”

Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that Lynch and other Massachusetts lawmakers helped pass into law, billions of dollars are flowing to states, municipalities, schools and other businesses to help them buy masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment they might need to help protect people against COVID-19.

“We flooded these cities and towns and states with resources to buy PPE,” Lynch said. “However, many of them we’re seeing have prior relationships with producers in China, and distributors that have relationships in China.”

The U.S. government along with 13 others issued a joint statement on Tuesday expressing “shared concerns” over lack of access to data that plagued the World Health Organization-China study of the origins of the coronavirus. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the study, which is under review by U.S. experts, “lacks crucial data, information and access; it represents a partial and incomplete picture.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. government’s cybersecurity agency issued an emergency warning after Microsoft said in a blog post it believed its Exchange email program was targeted by a hacker group “assessed to be state-sponsored and operating out of China.” The FBI last year charged four Chinese military-backed hackers in connection with the 2017 Equifax breach.

“It’s a national security vulnerability that we need to close,” Lynch told the Herald. “If we have to rely on our adversary to protect us, we’re in trouble.”

Massachusetts companies and others across the nation have been pumping out critical PPE for months now.

“We have companies all over the United States that are trying to provide the product for the protection of our United States citizens,” Lynch said in a press conference with the governor and the heads of FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.

“That can’t happen if we continue to buy product from China,” Lynch said. “So we have to get our act together.”

This content was originally published here.

France to close schools, ban domestic travel as coronavirus surges
Covid19 Europe

France to close schools, ban domestic travel as coronavirus surges

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced a three-week nationwide school closure and a month-long domestic travel ban, as the rapid spread of the virus ramped up pressure on hospitals.

In a televised address to the nation, Mr. Macron said efforts are needed as “the epidemic is accelerating.”

“We’re going to close nursery, elementary and high schools for three weeks,” he said, adding that a nationwide 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be kept in place.

“If we stay united in the coming weeks… then we will see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Mr. Macron said restrictions already applying in the Paris region and others parts of north and eastern France will be extended to the whole country, for at least one month.

Under these restrictions, people are allowed to go outside for leisure, but within a 10-kilometer radius from their homes — and without gathering. Also most non-essential shops are closed down.

The move is a departure from the government’s policy in recent months, which has focused on regionalised restrictions. School closures in particular had been seen as a very last resort.

A debate is scheduled in parliament on Thursday that will address the virus situation and the new measures.

“The key factor in our decision-making remains the situation in hospitals,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday after Mr. Macron hosted his weekly coronavirus strategy meeting and a Cabinet meeting.

After Paris hospital officials warned they would have to start refusing needy patients for lack of space, he said, “One thing is clear: France will not refuse care for any sick patients. Choosing patients is not an option.”

Previous nationwide lockdowns in March and October 2020 were announced by Mr. Macron in televised speeches.

The total number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in France surged past 5,000 on Tuesday, the first time in 11 months that the figure has been that high. Mr. Macron on Wednesday said numbers of hospital ICU beds will be increased “in the coming days” from the current 7,000 to 10,000.

After an overnight shift at an ICU in the northern French city of Amiens, Dr. Pauline Caillard described growing numbers of patients and mounting strain on medical staff.

“It is moving very fast,” she said. “I hope we do not have to make choices” between patients.

The renewed surge of infections has led to growing questions about Mr. Macron’s virus strategies. With presidential elections scheduled for 2022, Mr. Macron is having to weigh both political and health considerations.

An overnight nationwide curfew has been in place since January, and all France’s restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas and museums have been closed since October.

This content was originally published here.

Coronavirus: hoteliers on tenterhooks in face of UK uncertainty
Asia Covid19

Coronavirus: hoteliers on tenterhooks in face of UK uncertainty

Despite the continuing uncertainty emanating from the UK as regards foreign travel, hoteliers in Cyprus are forging ahead and getting ready to reopen their doors to tourists in the next two months, hoping Britain will stick to its original roadmap to allow leisure travel after May 17.

Cyprus has struck deals with Israel and the UK allowing vaccinated people to enter the country without the need for quarantine. These agreements are due to come into effect on April 1 for Israel and on May 1 for the UK.

Officials are pondering a similar deal with Russia, a huge market in terms of tourism for Cyprus, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) could approve Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine within the next two months, according to various reports. No deal has been struck yet.

Hoteliers in Cyprus, while preparing and hoping for the best, are leery about becoming overoptimistic until the situation in the UK is clarified, which is expected on April 5.

The president of the Hoteliers’ Association (Pasyxe) in Famagusta Doros Takkas said that the UK’s reticence to allow foreign travel “could make things very difficult for Cyprus.”

“We are patiently waiting to see what the UK government decides as far as foreign travel is concerned. I personally believe that Britons will not be able to go on holiday abroad until the end of June,” he told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday.

The Sun newspaper reported on Tuesday that the go-ahead for foreign holidays for Britons may well be pushed back, as “the picture in Europe and elsewhere is still too bleak to make a clear decision.” The paper said it is likely the UK government will simply announce that it’s too soon to make a decision on leisure travel when the time comes.

Britain currently bans all foreign travel, except for work, education or health reasons. However, the government is to review that in April and possibly allow it from May 17. In the meantime it is imposing a 5,000 pound fine on anyone who travels for unapproved reasons. This measure is in place until the end of June.

Takkas said the first six months of 2021 were extremely difficult for the island’s tourism industry.

“We knew that from the beginning, we just hope the situation will improve for us throughout the second part of the year. There are certain developments that are out of our hands, namely the situation with the virus in other countries such as the UK and Russia,” he said. “We cannot control that. What we can control is our own situation and make sure that the epidemiological picture in Cyprus remains stable, while waiting for arrivals from abroad.”

General director of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek) Chrisemily Psilogeni told Cyprus Mail that the most pressing matter was to vaccinate tourism industry workers in order to attract foreign arrivals.

“Foreign markets, such as the UK, prefer to travel to countries that are safe, as it should be,” she said.

“I think the government should realise how important is to start vaccinating people working in hotels, especially considering how important Britons are for our economy. So far, our thoughts have fallen on deaf ears, we haven’t had any official reply from the government,” she said.

Despite the many difficulties and the doubts pervading the industry, most hotels are ready to reopen their doors at a moment’s notice.

“We are ready to open right now, as we have been preparing for months,” Pasyxe’s General Director Philokypros Roussounides told Cyprus Mail.

“It is also true that at the moment only very few hotels are actually open. However, my understanding is that more and more will reopen in the upcoming weeks.

“A good number of hotels are waiting to see an actual flow of tourists to the island before reopening for good. Once they get the confirmation, or at least some solid indications that foreign tourists are coming, they will be able to reopen in a matter of days,” Roussounides said.

Roussounides, however, admitted that Cyprus could be faced with some bleak numbers in terms of arrivals from the UK.

He said that at the moment is difficult to predict how many foreign tourists will arrive in Cyprus over the summer.

“It is impossible to do any projection as of now. Things are changing day by day and making assumptions or predictions is a no-go for us, as they can end up being misleading.”

This content was originally published here.

South Sudan Covid-19 campaign will be hampered by logistics, UN says
Africa Covid19

South Sudan Covid-19 campaign will be hampered by logistics, UN says

Though South Sudan has secured more than 2-million Covid-19 vaccines it will struggle to get shots into arms as the rainy season approaches, rendering many roads in one of the world’s poorest nations impassable, the outgoing head of the United Nations (UN) mission in the country said.

Getting vaccines out to the population “is not as easy as it sounds, in a place like South Sudan where logistics are so difficult”, said David Shearer, who leaves the country next month after heading the more than $1-billion per year United Nations peacekeeping mission since 2016.

South Sudan is expected to receive 2.3-million shots in the coming months through the global vaccine-sharing programme COVAX. But their arrival will coincide with rains that flood many of the only 400 kilometres (250 miles) of paved road in a country nearly as large as France.

Shearer said vaccines would need to be delivered by river barge.

The world’s newest nation has recorded only 10 119 infections and 108 deaths from Covid-19, according to data from Africa’s disease control body, but inadequate testing prevents a clear picture of the pandemic.

Nearly a decade after South Sudan gained independence following a bitter war, the country is grappling with the triple threat of conflict, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, Shearer said.

Nearly all the population depends on international food aid, he said, and most basic services such as health and education are provided by the UN and aid groups.

“I don’t see a government looking and taking care of its people,” he said, adding that some of the conflict between ethnic communities could be prevented by “leaders who are looking at serving their people above all rather than necessarily serving themselves”.

Overload: Poland struggles to cope as COVID deaths hit 2021 record
Covid19 Europe

Overload: Poland struggles to cope as COVID deaths hit 2021 record

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland sought to ease pressure on hospitals in one of its hardest hit regions on Wednesday as COVID-related deaths hit a 2021 record.

Medical staff member prepares medicines inside for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at a coronavirus disease ward of the Interior and Administration Ministry (MSWiA) hospital in Warsaw, Poland, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

As case numbers soar with the spread of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain, Poland’s health service has been driven to the brink, with some regions close to running out of ventilators.

Health Ministry data showed that on Monday there was one ventilator available in Silesia, an industrial southern region with a population of some 4.5 million people.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said that 150-170 COVID-19 patients from Silesia would be moved to other regions by the end of the week, with medical aircraft on standby 24 hours a day to help.

“The situation in Silesia is very difficult, this is the moment when the problems of one region cannot be solved only within this region,” he told reporters.

An additional 3,000 to 4,000 beds will be added nationwide by the end of the week, he added.

Poland reported 653 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number in 2021, and 32,874 new cases. Niedzielski said Poland should reach the peak of the third wave of the pandemic this week or next.

Amid reports of medical students being called on to plug staffing shortages and even of a stroke patient being transported in the trunk of a passenger car, Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska sought to reassure Poles that the health service could cope.

“The situation is under control but very serious,” he told public broadcaster TVP1 before Wednesday’s data was published.

However, Malgorzata Jedrzejczyk, a spokeswoman for the Megrez hospital in Tychy, a town in Silesia, said staff were struggling to deal with the highest number of new patients since the start of the pandemic.

“They (the doctors) just work so hard,” she told Reuters. “When there are few medical staff… and on the other hand there is a huge influx of patients, we inevitably end up with a massive overload.”

In total, Poland, a country of 38 million, has reported 2,321,717 cases of the coronavirus and 53,045 deaths. Over 2 million Poles have now received both doses of vaccine.

Reporting by Alan Charlish, Joanna Plucinska, Anna Koper, Alicja Ptak and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Catherine Evans, William Maclean and Gareth Jones

This content was originally published here.

France to open Covid vaccination mega centre in Disneyland Paris
Covid19 Europe

France to open Covid vaccination mega centre in Disneyland Paris

Amidst the rising coronavirus cases in the country, the French government has decided to open a Covid vaccination mega centre in Disneyland Paris next month.

The amusement park is one of 35 “vaccinodromes” which is being opened throughout France in order to accelerate its vaccination roll-out, which has been among the slowest in Europe so far, The Independent reported.

According to Le Parisien, the site will consist of 40 local firefighters and nurses, who will administer the Pfizer vaccine to up to 1,000 people every day.

With a third national lockdown being announced earlier this month, the plans to reopen the theme park on 2 April have been put on hold.

New cases have continued to witness a surge since then, with over 5,000 Covid-19 patients currently in intensive care. French president Emmanuel Macron is set to make another announcement on Wednesday evening, during which he is expected to unveil even stricter confinement measures.

Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed possible cooperation on vaccines with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a joint video conference on Tuesday.

The Kremlin said in a statement that ‘the trio had discussed the outlook for Russia’s flagship Sputnik V vaccine being registered across the EU as well as potential deliveries and joint production of the vaccine inside the EU, The Independent reported.

The European Union’s regulator the European Medicines Agency is yet to give a nod to Suptnik V, but is reviewing it. Meanwhile, some individual EU member states have either granted their approval or are assessing it for approval at a national level.

Use of the Russian vaccine has divided the 27-nation bloc with some such as Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, saying it has no need for Sputnik V and others, such as Charles Michel, who chairs EU summits, accusing Moscow of using vaccines for propaganda, something it rejects.

This content was originally published here.

S’pore to contribute S$27.73 million to help low-income countries hit by Covid-19
Asia Covid19

S’pore to contribute S$27.73 million to help low-income countries hit by Covid-19

Singapore will contribute US$20.57 million (S$27.73 million) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in order to assist vulnerable low-income countries in dealing with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), this will be subject to Parliament’s approval on April 5.

Grants will be given to three different initiatives

According to MAS, Covid-19 has led to a surge in requests for financial assistance from various low-income countries.

Singapore will be providing grants to three different initiatives.

Firstly, a total of US$17.6 million (S$23.71 million) will be given to the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which provides debt relief to the IMF’s poorest and most vulnerable members, in the event of a global health pandemic or natural catastrophe.

MAS said that the CCRT is in need of a US$1.4 billion (S$1.89 billion) replenishment to help strengthen healthcare systems in low-income countries, and that Singapore’s grant to the CCRT is commensurate with Singapore’s IMF quota share.

The grant to the CCRT will be drawn from MAS’s Official Foreign Reserves (OFR).

In addition, Singapore will also be giving US$2 million (S$2.69 million) to the Covid-19 Crisis Capacity Development Initiative (CCCDI), which targets the urgent capacity development needs of countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This will also be drawn from MAS’ OFR.

Finally, Singapore will provide a US$0.97 million (S$1.31 million) grant to the Trust for Special Poverty Reduction and Growth Operations for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (PRG-HIPC Trust), in order to support the IMF’s US$344 million ($463 million) financing package for Somalia’s debt relief.

According to MAS, the IMF has assessed that Somalia’s external debt is unsustainable, and urgent assistance is required to clear its prolonged arrears.

Singapore’s grant to the PRG-HIPC Trust will come entirely from Singapore’s share of existing resources in other IMF accounts, and will not impact the size of Singapore’s OFR.

 

This content was originally published here.

Saint Lucia Records 22 New COVID-19 Cases
Covid19 North America

Saint Lucia Records 22 New COVID-19 Cases

The Ministry of Health and Wellness today Monday March 29, 2021 received confirmation from the Ezra Long Laboratory of 22 new cases of COVID-19.

These results are from a batch of 120 samples.

The samples were taken on March 26, 2021 and March 27, 2021.

These samples were processed on March 27, 2021.

All of the twenty two individuals were seen at various community respiratory clinics where
they were assessed and tested for COVID-19.

In keeping with the COVID-19 testing protocol, these individuals were placed in home quarantine by healthcare practitioners while awaiting receipt of their COVID-19 test results.

Arrangements have been made to place these newly diagnosed cases in isolation.

The contact tracing for these new cases is currently underway.

Confirmation was also received of the recovery of 4 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.

This brings the total number of active cases currently recorded in country to date to 133.

At present, two of the active cases require critical care at the Respiratory Hospital.

The new cases bring the total number of cases diagnosed in country to date to 4224.

Today, the Ministry of Health also reports one COVID-19 related death bringing the total
number of deaths in country to date to 59.

Death #59 is a 71 year old male from the Castries district with underlying medical illnesses who passed away while in care.

The Ministry of Health extends sympathies to the family and loved ones of this individual.

As of Friday March 26, 2021 a total of 21, 494 individuals have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Saint Lucia.

The public is reminded that the COVID-19 vaccination drive for individuals in Phases 1A and 1B continues this week.

Everyone interested in getting vaccinated are encouraged to pre-register ahead of time via the online platform https://hmi.govt.lc/ or at the Community Wellness Centre nearest to you.

The Ministry of Health encourages everyone to continue practicing the infection prevention and control measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

– Wash your hands frequently using soap and flowing water
– Wear a mask in public places and ensure it covers the mouth, chin and nose
– Maintain a physical distance from others
– Use a bleach solution to sanitize frequently touched surfaces and frequently handled
objects
– Avoid contact with other people who have flu-like symptoms
– If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, keep away from others and seek medical
care

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue providing updates to the public as new
information becomes available.

This content was originally published here.

Long-term care residents across Canada saw fewer doctor’s visits, family during coronavirus pandemic
Covid19 North America

Long-term care residents across Canada saw fewer doctor’s visits, family during coronavirus pandemic

TORONTO — A new study shows residents in long-term care homes in several provinces received less medical care and had less contact with family and friends during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic than the previous year.

In its latest report, the Canadian Institute for Health Information says the proportion of long-term care residents who received a visit from a physician between March 1 and Aug. 31 of last year was down 16 per cent compared with that same period in 2019.

The report says that drop was seen in all five provinces where data were available – Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador -even when homes did not have an outbreak.

It says there was a similar decrease in physician care orders for long-term care residents, which suggests virtual visits from doctors did not replace in-person ones.

The document says 11 per cent of assessments during the first wave found the resident had not had any contact with friends or relatives over the previous week, even by phone or video — three times more than the same period in 2019.

Residents who had no contact with friends or family were more likely to be assessed with depression — 36 per cent compared with 23 per cent for those who were in touch with loved ones.

Meanwhile, the report shows there was a slight increase in antipsychotic drugs prescribed to long-term care residents in six provinces during the first wave compared with the previous year.

“It would appear that care changed significantly for these people,” said Tracy Johnson, director of health system analysis and emerging issues at CIHI.

While it’s impossible to determine the impact of those changes based on the data, there were also more deaths from any cause among long-term care residents between March 1 and June 30 of last year than during that same time in each of the previous five years, Johnson said.

“If you have nursing staff who are run off their feet, taking care of people with COVID, you don’t have as many…physicians in to see people, and you have less visitors to note that their loved one has changed in some way, people possibly got sick, and possibly some of the unintended consequences here were more deaths,” she said.

Long-term care homes in many parts of Canada experienced staffing shortages during the first wave of the pandemic, and most provinces imposed restrictions on visitors, including family members and caregivers.

The report also notes fewer patients were transferred from long-term care to hospital, with the number of transfers down by 27 per cent.

The drop was the biggest in Ontario, where hospital transfers decreased by 30 per cent, and the lowest in Newfoundland and Alberta, which each saw a reduction of 13 per cent, the document says.

The most significant decreases were seen in transfers for infections and other medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure, the report says. Those saw between 51 and 58 per cent fewer transfers, it says.

Some provinces had recommendations that discouraged hospital transfers from the long-term care sector during the pandemic, the report says.

“There may be some argument that says that we send people to hospital from long-term care, which is their home, and we could have provided better ongoing care for some of this in a home. So, we’re always looking at whether or not some of these kinds of transfers are appropriate,” Johnson said.

“But a 50 per cent decrease seems like a lot, and when you combine that with less physicians visiting and less people around to understand this person, very potentially they didn’t receive care that they needed.”

Forty per cent fewer people were also admitted to long-term care homes during the first wave than during the same period in 2019, the report says.

The biggest reduction — 58 per cent — was seen in admissions from the community, which suggests Canadians may have been reluctant to place their relatives in long-term care during the pandemic, Johnson said. Homes may also have been hesitant to bring in more residents at that time, she said.

This content was originally published here.

Nigeria vs Lesotho: Iwobi tests negative for COVID-19
Africa Covid19 Healthcare Sports

Nigeria vs Lesotho: Iwobi tests negative for COVID-19

Super Eagles forward, Alex Iwobi who was reported to have tested positive for coronavirus has now returned a negative result according to the latest update from the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF].

“Update: @NGSuperEagles forward, @alexiwobi has tested negative after further COVID-19 tests were conducted,” the NFF wrote Tuesday morning on their Twitter page.

Iwobi was declared positive last Friday ahead of the AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic by health authorities in Port novo.

The Everton star was omitted from the Nigeria squad for the game against Benin Republic since the result conducted by the hosts was said to have been positive.

However, the Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr had expressed reservations, labeling the result as fake and the coach appears justified now with the new development giving the former Arsenal star a clean bill of health.

Iwobi has been declared fit now and has been included in squad to face Lesotho by 5pm at the Teslim Balogun stadium for the last game of the AFCON qualifiers.

This content was originally published here.

Preacher blames president for Kenya Covid wave
Africa Covid19 Healthcare

Preacher blames president for Kenya Covid wave

Ghana Waves App

Days after the government of Kenya imposed severe restrictions on businesses and movement in five counties to curb the spread of coronavirus, a preacher in the capital, Nairobi, has excoriated President Uhuru Kenyatta for the decision.

“You [President Kenyatta], and your fellow politicians are to blame for this devastating third wave and the buck stops with you,” said Bishop Peter Ambuka from the Pefa church in Kahawa West area.

He added that majority of Kenyans now have to suffer the consequences of their “careless actions”.

“You continue living your lavish lifestyles thanks to the taxes we continue to pay even as we lose our source of income,” Bishop Ambuka said.

He said that when infection rates slowed late last year, President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga restarted their campaign to change the constitution, which attracted huge crowds.

Deputy President William Ruto, who opposes the change, also held massive rallies.

These were “super spreader” events, Bishop Ambuka said.

The bishop also said that the latest measures introduced by the president were insufficient and were likely to keep Kenyans in a cycle of lockdowns and curfews.

“A massive campaign of testing and vaccination, is what will bring us back to a normal life,” he said.

Kenya has reported more than 130,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 2,000 deaths.

The doctors’ union said last week that the country had run out of ICU beds which were mostly occupied by Covid-19 patients.

This content was originally published here.

AstraZeneca Covid shots not recommended for under 55s in Canada
Covid19 North America

AstraZeneca Covid shots not recommended for under 55s in Canada

Canadian experts on Monday recommended halting the use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 shots for people aged under 55, after a small but rising number of patients abroad suffered blood clots.

Manitoba and Quebec provinces were the first to heed the new National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Health (NACI) guidelines, with each region responsible for its own immunization program.

“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefits of providing AstraZeneca vaccines to adults under 55 years of age,” Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo told a news conference.

“At this time, we are pausing the use of AstraZeneca vaccine to adults under 55 years of age, pending further risk-benefit analysis,” he said.

Officials, meanwhile, urged Canadians who have received the AstraZeneca shot in the last 20 days to consult a doctor.

Health Canada and NACI doctors told a briefing that the manufacturer — which has now posted a warning on the label — would be asked to conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of its vaccine by age and sex.

“To date, no cases of (blot clots) have been reported in Canada,” Health Canada chief medical officer Supriya Sharma said.

“However, through our ongoing international collaboration, Health Canada has become aware that additional cases of these events have been reported in Europe,” she said.

The NACI earlier this month urged giving AstraZeneca shots only to people aged 18 to 64, saying clinical trials hadn’t included enough seniors, then revised its recommendation to include people of 65 and over after reviewing “real-world evidence” of its effectiveness in seniors.

The AstraZeneca vaccine candidate was approved for use in Canada in February, alongside Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots.

Mostly young women affected

NACI vice chair Shelley Deeks said most of the adverse health effects observed impacted women under 55, and occurred between four and 16 weeks after receipt of the vaccine.

Rates of incidents, she said, ranged from one in a million people who received the AstraZeneca jab to as high as one in 100,000, according to German data.

“The exact mechanism by which the AstraZeneca vaccine triggers the event is still under investigation,” Deeks said.

Canada is scheduled to receive 1.5 million surplus AstraZeneca doses from the United States, which has yet to approve its use domestically, on Tuesday.

Separately, Canada has ordered 20 million AstraZeneca shots plus another two million doses of the same formula made by the Serum Institute of India.

But as of Monday, it had distributed only about 500,000 doses made by the Serum Institute, and Njoo said only 300,000 of those had been administered. Few of them went to younger people, according to local reports.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has had a rollercoaster ride, with Britain, which developed it, staunchly supporting its use, South Africa outright rejecting it, and more than a dozen EU nations suspending shots in mid-March before most restarted rollouts but with a patchwork of age restrictions.

France has limited its use to over 55s, and Spain to under 65s, for example.

This content was originally published here.

Ghana to begin coronavirus antigen test
Africa Covid19 Healthcare

Ghana to begin coronavirus antigen test

Ghana will soon introduce COVID-19 antigen test to improve and enhance testing for coronavirus.

Professor William Ampofo, Head of Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) told the Ghana News agency in Accra that this was part of a national plan to make testing easily accessible throughout the country.

Presently, COVID-19 laboratories conduct Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test only to manage the patients, while antigen screening and testing is done at the airport only.

Prof Ampofo said the government intended to have complimentary antigen testing together with PCR testing to enhance the COVID-19 testing process.

He said Ghana had received over 75,000 antigen test kits from the African Medical Supply platform from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which was being validated by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).

The Virologist explained that antigen testing was able to read and detect the COVID-19 virus and whole antigen particle quite fast.

“Antigen test also known as rapid test is faster and cheaper than the PCR, the PCR can take about three hours to detect a virus which the antigen test does in 15 minutes” he said.

He said the FDA had reviewed and registered about four devices for antigen test.

Professor Amfopo said when rolled out, antigen testing would be done under the educational programme where health facilities had been marked to schools, so that suspected cases could be quickly screened and tested for timely interventions.

“One thing we know about antigen and PCR testing is that, when you are infectious and producing the virus particle, the antigen is positive so at that time antigen test complements that PCR test,” he noted.

Antigen test also referred to as a rapid test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus.

It can be done in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick and in some cases, results can be reported within 15 minutes.

PCR test on the other hand detects genetic materials that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms.

The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in your car. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but results can be in as little as 24 hours. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.

This content was originally published here.

How much does a Covid-19 test cost to travel to France, Greece, Spain, Italy and the US?
Covid19 Europe

How much does a Covid-19 test cost to travel to France, Greece, Spain, Italy and the US?

It’s clear that tests for travel are likely to be with us for some time. But new snapshot research from Which? has found the current cost of testing is likely to be too expensive for most people wanting to travel or take holidays when international travel can restart.

Thousands of people booked holidays to Greece last month when the government announced international travel might resume from 17 May (at the earliest) . Yet a return trip to Greece currently requires five tests totalling an estimated £370pp. For a family of four that’s £1480 – see prices below.

Greece, and the EU, have indicated that those with vaccines won’t need to provide a test, but those under 18 are unlikely to have been vaccinated, meaning families still face significant costs. Meanwhile the UK government has not yet said whether it will lift its requirement to test on return, even if you have been vaccinated

While the frequency of tests required is likely to reduce as health certificates are increasingly accepted for travel, testing is still going to be required for some travellers and destinations. The UK government has discussed retaining tests alongside health certificates to reduce the risk of variants.

Which? has called on the Global Travel Taskforce, which is due to make its recommendations on restarting travel in April, to make sure testing is affordable.

How much do private Covid-19 tests for travel cost?

Prices for tests vary a great deal. We have previously found that some labs are far cheaper than others.

This time, our snapshot research found the average cost of a PCR test in the UK is £120.

Prices in the UK are significantly higher than in many other European countries. In Italy the average cost of a PCR test is €86 euro (£74), while the region of Lazio (Rome) has capped it at €60 (£52)

Below is our estimated costs of private tests to travel to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the USA.

How much does a Covid test cost for return travel to France?

It’s £420 for the five tests required. You’ll need a PCR test before departure and to pay for an antigen test when you arrive, as well as tests to return home.
£120 PCR
£50 test in France (€54 euros)
£60 Rapid Antigen to return home
£190 two and eight day package

How much does a Covid test cost for return travel to Greece?

It’s £370 for the five tests required. You’ll need a PCR test before departure but the antigen test required seven days after arrival is free.
£120 PCR
Free test after seven days
£60 Rapid Antigen to return home
£190 two and eight day package

How much does a Covid test for return travel to Spain?

It’s £330 for the four tests required. If you can find one, LAMP tests are accepted – these cheaper than PCR test, but can be less accurate.
£80 LAMP test (available at some airports)
£60 Rapid Antigen to return home
£190 two and eight day package

How much does a Covid test for return travel to Italy?

It’s £310 for the five tests required. Antigen tests before departure are accepted and a test at your Italian airport on arrival is free.
£60 Rapid Antigen before departure
Free test on arrival at airport
£60 Rapid Antigen to return home
£190 two and eight day package

How much does a Covid test for return travel to United States

It’s £322 for the four tests required. Antigen tests before departure are accepted.
£60 Rapid Antigen
£72 ($100) test to return home
£190 two and eight day package

Notes: Our UK prices are based on an easily accessible cheap option but not the cheapest. ie: £120 for PCR (a High St retailer such as Boots, or PCR test at home from UKAS accredited Nationwide Pathology – both £120); Test costs can vary from £70 to more than £300. £190 UK testing package – prices range from £175 (cheapest with Nationwide Pathology) to much more.

The UK government currently requires you to book a test on the second and eighth day after your return to the UK. That package costs an estimated £190.

£60 Rapid Antigen test (prices vary; £80 Boots (but only do them at five stores); £50 Express Test at many airports; £39 from Qred test at home kit. In some countries Rapid Antigen tests before the trip home are cheaper but it’s difficult to estimate this – based on how difficult it may be to find them, how easy it is to arrange them in a foreign language, etc.

£80 LAMP (not widely available – but £80 at some airports).

Which? calls on the Global Travel Taskforce

In addition to reducing the cost of testing, Which? has also asked the GTT to ensure that when international travel does restart consumers can have confidence they won’t face unexpected extra costs before they travel and confidence they’ll get their money back if the holiday or flight doesn’t go ahead

This content was originally published here.

New Covid strain detected in Israel; Pfizer vaccine appears effective against it
Asia Covid19

New Covid strain detected in Israel; Pfizer vaccine appears effective against it

A new coronavirus strain has been identified in Israel, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, used primarily in a swift nationwide inoculation drive, appeared to be effective against it.

Separately, a bid by the Israeli government to secure 36 million more Pfizer/BioNTech doses for use as booster shots or for children once they are eligible hit a snag this week over political infighting.

The cabinet had been set for Monday to approve the purchase, at around 3.5 billion shekels ($1.05 billion), but it was called off in a squabble between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, Benny Gantz, who heads a rival party, over judicial appointments.

The health ministry, which has spent 2.6 billion shekels on vaccines, without disclosing the exact number of Pfizer and Moderna doses purchased, said it had sufficient supplies “for the present round of vaccinations”.

But it said it was important to acquire more doses to fend off variants and inoculate children when that becomes possible.

The ministry said separately it discovered no evidence the new variant caused widespread infection or severe morbidity, and said it appeared to be scarce and may be disappearing entirely.

More than half of Israel’s population of nine million have received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Infection rates have been dropping steadily, and Israel’s economy has largely reopened.

Health officials have said they expect all those eligible for the vaccine to be inoculated by the end of May. About a third of Israelis are under the age of 16, rendering them ineligible until the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is deemed safe for children.

Israel is in the grips of another political stalemate after an election last week, its fourth in two years, ended with no clear winner. Talks on building a governing coalition could go on for weeks.

A spokeswoman for Pfizer declined to comment on the potential vaccine sale.

Netanyahu said this month that Israel is looking to buy 36 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

This content was originally published here.

Suspended jail sentence for Vietnam Airlines Covid-19 spreader
Asia Covid19

Suspended jail sentence for Vietnam Airlines Covid-19 spreader

Suspended jail sentence for Vietnam Airlines Covid-19 spreader

Duong Tan Hau at the HCMC People’s Court, March 30, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen.

Duong Tan Hau, 29, was charged with spreading a dangerous infectious disease, according to HCMC People’s Court. Due to his good record and cooperation with authorities, among other factors, he was allowed a suspended sentence.

Hau entered Vietnam from Japan on Nov. 14 last year and quarantined at a facility managed by Vietnam Airlines in Tan Binh District from Nov. 14 to 18. But Hau eventually made contact with two others in the zone, who were later confirmed infected with the coronavirus, despite quarantine protocols not allowing crew members to contact each other.

After testing negative twice, Hau entered self-isolation at an apartment in the same district on Nov. 18. During this period, he met friends and participated in a contest at a HCMC university. Among the people who he made contact with was a male teacher at a local English center, who was later confirmed infected with the virus, which he then in turn spread to two more people.

Hau tested positive on Nov. 28. The damage he caused by spreading the disease in the community was estimated at VND4.475 billion ($193,870), including testing and quarantining fees, the court heard.

In court, Hau acknowledged his crime, but said spreading the disease had not been his intent. Therefore, he believed he should not have to be criminally charged.

“I was too confident of not being infected after testing negative twice. I’ve seen my mistake and would like to apologize to the three others infected and the entire community,” Hau said.

Hau is the first case in Vietnam where flouting Covid-19 prevention regulations is treated as a crime, but he was not the last. Two others, a man in Mekong Delta’s Vinh Long Province who illegally entered Vietnam and a woman in northern Hai Duong Province who did not declare her travel itinerary nor who she came in contact with, are also being probed on the same charge.

This content was originally published here.

Ireland braced for another six weeks of lockdown as Covid-19 cases remain high
Covid19 Europe

Ireland braced for another six weeks of lockdown as Covid-19 cases remain high

NPHET will meet today to discuss their latest advice to Government which will be relayed to the Cabinet Covid-19 subcommittee this evening.

Proposals made in these two meetings will be brought to Cabinet tomorrow before a final decision was made.

The Irish Independent reports that only “minimal changes” will be announced to the public tomorrow and these will take effect next week on April 5.

“It is the Government’s job to factor in other issues beside the medicine and the science. But on this occasion there is a strong sense that Nphet’s advice will hold sway,” one government source told the Irish Independent.

“The bigger hope will be change in May depending on the vaccine roll-out happening as planned. But it seems likely that major changes will be in the latter part of May,” another source said.

The news comes as confirmed cases of coronavirus remain stubbornly high. Sunday saw a further 604 cases confirmed as well as 13 deaths.

One restriction that could be eased is the 5km limit, however this has not been confirmed.

Outdoor activities and construction work could also be eased on a phased basis from April as schools are set to fully reopen after the Easter holidays.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week on Sunday, Minister Simon Coveney said the Government wants to avoid a fourth wave of the virus and do not want to reintroduce restrictions after easing them.

“We don’t have that NPHET recommendation yet, but I don’t think it is any secret that NPHET and indeed the Government recognise that the people need some room to breathe here,” he said.

“I would expect, but I can’t be sure, that we would be looking at the 5km restriction, that we’d be looking at outdoor activity, that we will certainly want to facilitate completing the full return to school for children after 5 April.”

Mr Coveney added that by the middle of July the “vast majority” of people who want to be vaccinated will be.

This content was originally published here.

No Facemasks, No Social Distancing: Holi Celebrations From Across India Amid Covid-19 Scare
Asia Covid19

No Facemasks, No Social Distancing: Holi Celebrations From Across India Amid Covid-19 Scare

India is undoubtedly in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic and the speed at which the outbreak is spreading across the country is a matter of concern. The number of active COVID-19 cases in India was recorded at 5,19,026, while 1,13,54,200 people have recovered from the disease. As people all over India, nobody is following the COVID guidelines and social distancing is being ignored. It shows how people are forgetting there’s a pandemic. These pictures show just that:

Indians play with colors as they celebrate Holi in Hyderabad, India, Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, also heralds the arrival of spring.

Revellers smeared in color powder celebrate the Holi, the spring festival of colors, on a street in Guwahati

People play with ‘Gulal’ a colored powder used in Holi celebrations, the spring festival of colors, in Amritsar.

People daubed in colors rest as they take a break during Holi celebrations, amidst the spread of the COVID-19 in Chennai.

Children throw colored water on each other during the celebrate Holi in Navi Mumbai.

Due to the rise in Covid-19 cases, Police persons are not allowing vehicles to enter RK beach and they are not allowing to celebrate Holi in Visakhapatnam.

Tourists celebrate Holi at Miramar beach in Panaji, Goa.

Children in Patna celebrate Holi in Bihar.

Devotees of Lord Shiva play Holi and dance to the tunes of religious songs with artists dressed up as Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.

Kids posing for pictures while playing holi in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh.

This content was originally published here.

Poland duo Krychowiak and Piatkowski test positive for COVID-19 ahead of England clash
Covid19 Europe

Poland duo Krychowiak and Piatkowski test positive for COVID-19 ahead of England clash

Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kamil Piatkowski are the latest Poland players to test positive for coronavirus ahead of the World Cup qualifier against England on Wednesday.

Midfielder Mateusz Klich was the first squad member to return a positive COVID-19 test last week and it was revealed on Saturday that goalkeeper Łukasz Skorupski had also contracted the virus.

Polish Football Association spokesman Jakub Kwiatkowski confirmed midfielder Krychowiak and defender Piatkowski have now tested positive on the eve of the clash with Group I leaders England at Wembley.

Kwiatkowski tweeted: “The Polish national team has undergone further tests for the presence of coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, the results of Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kamil Piatkowski are positive. Due to the fact that Krychowiak is a recovering man, we started talks with UEFA in order to clarify the matter and admit him to the match.”

Kwiatkowski said he too had tested positive for COVID-19. Prolific Poland captain Robert Lewandowski has also been ruled out of the encounter with Gareth Southgate’s side due to a knee injury.

This content was originally published here.

Guyana to benefit from new Canadian aid to PAHO for COVID fight
Covid19 South America

Guyana to benefit from new Canadian aid to PAHO for COVID fight

(PAHO) — The Government of Canada announced it would contribute CAN$1,200,000 (approximately USD$950,000) to support the efforts of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) against COVID-19 in six Caribbean countries.

Several countries in the Caribbean are reporting a rise in COVID-related deaths – including a doubling of COVID-19 deaths in some (places). Many countries have begun or will soon begin, rolling out vaccines to protect their populations.

The donation by the Canadian government will be used to acquire essential personal protection equipment, laboratory and medical equipment, as well as supplies to be used by health care workers and hospitals in The Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, as part of PAHO’s technical cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. It will also help strengthen communication efforts around public health risks, continued promotion of protective measures and community engagement.

“The pandemic is putting health care workers and systems of the countries in the Caribbean under great strain, which is why we are grateful to the Government of Canada for supporting COVID-19 treatment for countries in the Caribbean that are struggling due to the pandemic. Their contribution will help save lives and shows how we can all join forces in solidarity to defeat this virus,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.

This contribution is part of a 5-year subregional programme between PAHO and Canada, which aims to reduce the heath consequence of emergencies and disasters in the Caribbean, through better preparedness and a more resilient health sector. It builds on the longstanding relationship between the organization and the Canadian government to strengthen health emergency risk management in the Region of the Americas.

For over 30 years, Government of Canada has supported PAHO’s efforts to improve emergency preparedness, mitigation and response across Latin America and the Caribbean region. It also played a key role in the establishment of the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Framework adopted by CARICOM Member States, together with PAHO.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has donated over USD$8 million to support PAHO’s technical cooperation to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas.

Canada’s Acting Senior Director for the Caribbean Regional Development Program, Ms. Jennifer Heys, said: “Even one year later, COVID-19 continues to challenge health systems across the Caribbean, and we continue to see the stark health and socioeconomic impacts this crisis is having on the Caribbean people. Canada is proud to partner with PAHO once again to provide additional much-needed medical equipment, supplies, and training to support the Caribbean countries that are facing the greatest health sector crisis from COVID-19.”

In the spirit of continuous collaboration and Pan American solidarity, the Canadian government and PAHO have been in conversations to keep addressing critical needs of Latin American and Caribbean countries to sustain the fight against COVID-19. As vaccine campaigns begin in many countries, there are still many challenges ahead which are best addressed collectively.

PAHO is the specialized health agency in the Americas and the Regional Office of WHO providing critical leadership, coordination and assistance to fight the spread of COVID-19, save lives, and protect the most vulnerable peoples in all 52 countries and territories of the Americas.

This content was originally published here.

When Will the Coronavirus Peak in Hungary?
Covid19 Europe

When Will the Coronavirus Peak in Hungary?

Hungary’s coronavirus related daily death rate is on a frighteningly consistent upward curve. Hungary’s total deaths have surpassed 20 thousand people, and the question of when the rapidly increasing curve of the pandemic will peak is on everyone’s lips. Hungary’s health professionals and government officials offer various responses.

There is no clear answer as to when Hungary’s upward curve will stop, and when restrictions will be eased. Most calculations seem to indicate a peak and then a plateau near the end of April and a significantly better situation by June. Still, there are a few things that must be considered before jumping to conclusions about the end of the third wave.

Understanding Hungary’s Coronavirus Statistics

Balázs Pártos of Semmelweis University shared four graph projections of the coronavirus. The first two show that hospital capacity increases with active infections. This means that the government accommodates hospitals to meet the growing severity of the virus, and makes it clear that the virus is continuously worsening.

Fully 274 patients died over the past 24 hours, while 4,609 new infections were registered, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Tuesday. Since the first outbreak, 645,733 infections have been registered, while fatalities have risen to 20,435. Fully 402,964 people have made a recovery.

The third and fourth graphs show that people who die from the virus spend a certain amount of time on ventilators beforehand, since there is a lag between number of deaths and number of ventilators in use. Thus, according to Pártos, deaths will continue to occur even if the number of people on ventilators are no longer increasing.

Daily Deaths Shown to be Best Indicator

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) states that daily deaths are the best indicator of the progression of the pandemic, even with a 17–21-day lag between infection and deaths. As harrowing as they are, these numbers show the direct impact the virus has on Hungary’s population.

According to the institute, Hungary’s daily deaths will plateau on April 18, and then face a sharp decline. The current projection shows that by June there may only be roughly 15-25 deaths a day, lower if masks are worn universally.

Health Professionals Forecast Severe Situation for Weeks

János Szlávik, senior infectologist of the South-Pest Central Hospital, told public media on Saturday that Hungary is in “the most severe days” of the third wave right now, and that the situation will continue to worsen. The infectologist said Easter will be especially dangerous, since people are more likely to spend time with their families without masks.

Past experience indicates that the spread of the coronavirus in Hungary could start slowing again in mid-to-late April, János Szlávik, senior infectologist of the South-Pest Central Hospital, told public media on Saturday. Hungary right now is in “the most severe days” of the third wave of the pandemic, with record caseloads and a high number […]Continue reading

Szlávik’s projection also points towards a slowing of the pandemic in mid-to-late April. He believes Hungary’s authorization of multiple vaccines allows it to be “capable of vaccinating a lot more people than many other European countries, but at the moment even this is not enough.”

According to Béla Merkely, rector of Semmelweis University, the severity of the pandemic should remain for another month and a half, followed by “a very nice summer, when families can be reunited, and when we will have the liberty to rest.”

Merkely added that thanks to the Chinese and Russian vaccines, Hungary’s vaccination rate is well over the European Union average. Hungary has vaccinated 20 percent of its population, significantly higher than the EU average of 12.5 percent. Still, its death rate per million is only lower than the Czech Republic.

Having as many as five Covid-19 vaccines approved by Hungary’s drug authority is an advantage in the fight against the disease, Béla Merkely, the rector of Budapest’s medical Semmelweis University, said on Sunday. Public trust in the vaccine is continuously rising, Merkely told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, adding that 99.9 percent of doctors and 87 […]Continue reading

Merkely also emphasized that even though the weather is getting nicer, everyone should remember to wear masks, since the British mutation can cause severe symptoms in every age group. If someone is infected while wearing a mask, however, a smaller amount of the virus ends up in the body and can potentially be less harmful.

Virus Researcher Rusvai Emphasizes Immunity

Virus researcher Miklós Rusvai told M1 that the virus could plateau within the next few days. He believes the British mutation of the coronavirus, which spread through Hungary in January, is responsible for the current situation.

According to American analysts, it is possible that by the end of March, 500 people will die every day in Hungary due to the coronavirus. However, virologist Miklós Rusvai treats the forecast of the epidemic analysts with skepticism. According to a projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), supported by the Bill […]Continue reading

Rusvai emphasized that immunity is a key factor in curbing the pandemic, since whoever has recovered from the virus or has been inoculated has a significantly lower chance of spreading it. He believes herd immunity to be the only path to having a summer which is not ruined by the coronavirus.

Hungary’s Coronavirus Still Faces Upward Curve

Ágnes Galgóczi, Expert in Public Health at the National Public Health Center (NNK), said that Hungary is currently still in the upward curve of the third wave, and that continued disciplined behavior and adherence to restrictions are crucial.

Galgóczi told public media on Sunday that ten thousand new cases had been reported on Saturday, and that everyone’s priority right now should be to stop the spread of the virus.

The National Public Health Center approved vaccinations for pregnant women against the coronavirus on Friday, and from Saturday, medical universities have begun inoculating pregnant and lactating mothers at separate vaccination points through GP referrals. However, the vaccination points had experienced organizational problems when not only registered women showed up. There were also examples of women […]Continue reading

Restrictions must be adhered to during Easter as well, she said, this means maintaining social distancing, washing hands, using disinfectant, and wearing masks. Galgóczi said families should not have large gatherings, and that grandparents should only be visited if they have been inoculated.

PM Orbán: Plateau Phase Must Be Considered

On Kossuth Rádió’s “Good morning, Hungary” program last Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that it is not certain that numbers will immediately begin to decrease immediately, but may instead remain in a “plateau phase” where they continuously remain at a high point. He said that he will not engage in predictions for now.

Examples of such a plateau occurring continuously include the Czech Republic and Belgium. The Czech Republic hit a two-week plateau in its death rate before falling back down, while Belgium’s plateau lasted ten days before death rates were reduced.

Hungary continues to have the highest daily coronavirus related death rate in the world. Aside from Gibraltar and San Marino, we have the second highest number of total deaths relative to our population. The curve does not appear to be waning, and Hungarians are beginning to ask themselves: why us? While there are no definite […]Continue reading

If Hungary faces a similar situation, its total number of deaths could grow by 10 percent in a one-week plateau, or even 25 percent in a two to three week plateau.

This content was originally published here.