In this March 9, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and provided through the global COVAX initiative, at the Coast General Teaching & Referral Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya. (GIDEON MAUNDU / AP)
JOHANNESBURG / BERLIN / PARIS / ACCRA / COTONOU / TIRANA / KIGALI / DAR ES SALAAM / WASHINGTON / ALGIERS / MONTERREY / SAO PAULO / TUNIS / SANTIAGO / HAVANA / RABAT / HARARE / MILAN / BUENOS AIRES / LONDON / KAMPALA / MOSCOW - The World Bank and the COVAX global vaccine distribution program unveiled on Monday a financing mechanism to speed the supply of doses to developing countries, where COVID-19 inoculation rates lag far behind those of richer nations.
The mechanism allows COVAX to make advance purchases - at more competitive prices - from vaccine manufacturers based on aggregated demand across countries, using financing from the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.
"Accessing vaccines remains the single greatest challenge that developing countries face in protecting their people from the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," World Bank President David Malpass said.
"This mechanism will enable new supplies and allow countries to speed up the purchase of vaccines. It will also provide transparency about vaccine availability, prices, and delivery schedules," he said in a statement.
The World Bank's agreement with COVAX, which is backed by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), will help low- and middle-income countries access additional doses of vaccines, on top of the fully-subsidized doses they are already receiving.
Forty million people in France have now received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Tweet on Monday.
Macron said that amounted to nearly 60 percent of the population, and that 4 million of the vaccinations had been administered in the past two weeks.
The French parliament on Monday approved a bill which will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as require a bolstered health pass in a wide array of social venues as France battles with a fourth wave of virus infections.
Visitors heading to museums, cinemas or swimming pools in France are already denied entry if they cannot produce a pass showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test. The pass has been required for large-scale festivals or to go clubbing.
From the start of August, the pass will further be needed to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys.
The measures contained in the bill are due to end on Nov 15. A final green light from the constitutional court, the nation's top jurisdiction, will be needed before the law can come into effect.
Coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 194.16 million while the global death toll topped 4.15 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Some of Germany’s most senior politicians have floated the possibility of tough restrictions for unvaccinated people, or even compulsory inoculation, echoing similar sentiment throughout Europe as the Delta variant spreads in the region.
The unvaccinated would have to curb contact in the event of a high level of infections in Germany and would be banned from “restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums,” Helge Braun, chief of staff in Angela Merkel’s chancellery, told Bild am Sonntag on Sunday. Those restrictions may be imposed regardless of tests, he added.
Braun said he feared the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany could soar to 100,000 a day in about two months unless many more people get vaccinated and those who refuse may face restrictions.
Cases were increasing by 60 percent per week even though nearly half the population is fully vaccinated, Braun said.
The prime minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Green party’s Winfried Kretschmann, told German news agency DPA that he doesn’t plan to make vaccinations obligatory, “but can’t rule out mandatory vaccinations forever,” adding that potential variants may make such a step necessary.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 958 to 3,756,856, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by three to 91,527, the tally showed.
Ghana seems to be facing a third wave of coronavirus infections driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, according to President Nana Akufo-Addo.
The West African nation restricted the time of events such as weddings and funerals to two hours, banning post-event receptions because of the risk of people abandoning safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
“It appears that our nation like many others is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections,” Akufo-Addo said in a state broadcast late Sunday. “These increased infections have largely been driven by the Delta variant of the virus.”
Ghana has seen over 102,000 COVID-19 cases, including 823 deaths, since the first case was reported. Active cases more than tripled to 4,521 as of July 23 from 1,200 in June, according to Akufo-Addo who described the trend as alarming. The Delta variant has led in recent weeks to “a rise in hospitalization and ICU bed uptakes, and tragically deaths,” he said.
The country, which aims to vaccinate its 20 million adults by the end of this year, has set aside US$25 million to help fund local vaccine manufacturing, he said.
To combat a rise in infections, Ghana's government is in the process of buying 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the African Medical Supplies Platform in the third quarter of this year, the president said. This would be supplemented by 1 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the United States, nearly 230,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the African Union and 249,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Kingdom in the same period.
Benin has vaccinated a total of 57,886 people against COVID-19 nationwide, a health official said on Sunday.
About 30,669 people received the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, while 27,087 others received the AstraZeneca shot, Thierry Lawale, director of the national agency for basic health care, said at a press conference in the economic capital Cotonou.
The Ministry of Health and Social Protection in Albania confirmed on Sunday the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country following some test analyses conducted in Germany.
The presence of the Delta strain coincides with the rise in new infections observed over the past two weeks across the country.
The health ministry on Sunday reported 22 new coronavirus cases out of 4,078 tests carried out in the last 24 hours, raising the tally to 132,875, along with 130,139 recoveries and 2,456 fatalities.
The Biden administration is keeping foreign travel restrictions in place amid concern about rising COVID-19 case levels as the Delta variant spreads, a White House official said Monday.
The administration has faced calls from foreign governments, airlines and some members of Congress to ease the limits on foreign nationals entering the country, but the official insisted the US position will be guided by public health.
Top infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that Americans who are immune compromised may end up needing COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as the United States deals with increasing cases from the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
"Those who are transplant patients, cancer chemotherapy, auto-immune diseases, that are on immunosuppressant regimens, those are the kind of individuals that if there's going to be a third booster, which might likely happen, would be among first the vulnerable," Fauci said during a CNN interview.
He added health officials are also considering whether to revise mask guidance for vaccinated Americans saying it was "under active consideration".
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday reported an uptick in the number of vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours -- 778,996, the highest number given in a 24-hour period since the US reported giving 1.16 million doses on July 3.
Austrian authorities will increase scrutiny of measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus amid growth in new cases. Restaurants, hotels and other services will be more closely monitored to check whether customers are vaccinated, have recovered or can show a recent negative test, the government said in a statement.
Travelers returning from Spain, the Netherlands and Cyprus will also face mandatory tests in Austria. Seven-day coronavirus incidence, a measure of the risk of contagion, increased to the highest since early June on Friday, though hospitalizations have stayed low.
Teh Rwandan government on Sunday announced a five-day extension of the current lockdown measures, which prohibit unnecessary movements in the capital city Kigali and eight districts, to consolidate gains in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths.
The measures which started from July 17 has been extended through July 27, the Office of the Prime Minister said in a communique.
Currently, the majority of cases and deaths in Rwanda are related to the Delta variant, he said, adding that the government was focusing on securing vaccines to vaccinate at least 30 percent of its population by the end of 2021.
ALSO READ: Russia sees nearly 24,000 cases, Moscow may have passed peak
Tanzanian health authorities on Sunday announced measures aimed at reinforcing precaution against COVID-19 amid a surge of cases in the third wave of the pandemic.
Abel Makubi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, announced the suspension of mass gatherings, including religious congregations and political rallies, until the pandemic is controlled.
He said the measures also include reinforcement of COVID-19 precautionary guidelines in bars, restaurants, meetings, weddings and ceremonial halls.
All public places should be equipped with thermal scanners, handwashing facilities, adding that people should wear face masks and observe social distancing, Makubi said.
Tanzania on Saturday received over one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.
In this July 6, 2021, file photo, a patient receives a Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 in Hammanskraal, South Africa. (ALET PRETORIUS / AP)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday the easing of restrictions on the sale of alcohol on weekdays and the movement of people between provinces. as new COVID-19 cases were declining..
"In the last two weeks, the number of new infections in Gauteng - which has been the epicentre of the third wave - has steadily been declining," Ramaphosa said while addressing the nation.
The curfew would remain from 10 pm to 4 am. Gatherings including religious services and political events will be permitted with 100 people allowed to gather outdoors, and 50 indoors.
"The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Thursday," the president said.
ALSO READ: South Africa says third COVID-19 wave has passed its peak
Ramaphosa said that from September, 18 to 34 year-olds would be allowed to begin vaccination. He said the country in October would receive 31 million shots, which would be adequate to vaccinate people for the rest of the year.
On Monday, South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare said it will supply the first batch of J&J vaccine to the country from July 26.
The company, which has been contracted by J&J to manufacture the vaccines in South Africa, imports the drug substance from J&J and prepares it for supply in what is known as a fill and finish process.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa on Sunday also unveiled a new relief package to help businesses and individuals recover from a week of deadly riots and coronavirus curbs. The measures include reinstating a monthly welfare grant of 350 rand (US$24) for the poor until the end of March, a 400 million-rand state contribution to a humanitarian relief fund and support for uninsured businesses, Ramaphosa said.
Despite the fact that cases were dropping in Gauteng, new cases in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape were increasing.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 9,718 new cases in South Africa, bringing the tally to 2,377,823. The toll rose by 287 to 69,775.
Algeria will reimpose restrictions on gatherings from Monday to cope with a rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus that has led to an increase in the number of patients, the prime minister's office said.
The measures, which will apply to 35 out of 58 provinces, include mainly closing gyms, cultural centres, leisure venues, beaches and used car markets, as well as an 8 pm-6 am curfew, according to a statement from the office issued on Sunday.
All gatherings, including wedding celebrations will be banned, while cafes and restaurants will be allowed to provide only take away services.
The Delta lta variant caused 71 percent of total infections for July, according to the state research centre Pasteur Institute.
The North African country has so far reported a total of 162,155 infections, including 4,063 deaths, since the pandemic began early last year.
Mexico's health ministry on Sunday reported 6,535 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 108 more fatalities, bringing its totals to 2,748,518 confirmed infections and 238,424 deaths.
People line up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazilm on July 25, 2021. (RAHEL PATRASSO / XINHUA)
Brazil registered 476 more COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising its national death toll to 549,924, the health ministry said on Sunday.
The total caseload rose to 19,688,663 after 18,129 new cases were detected, the ministry said.
As of Saturday, over 132.6 million people in Brazil have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with close to 37.4 million people fully vaccinated.
The Tunisian health ministry on Sunday reported 5,359 new COVID-19 cases, raising the tally in the North African country to 569,289.
The death toll from the virus rose by 231 to 18,600 while the total number of recoveries reached 460,361, the ministry said in a statement.
The Tunisian scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus assured that the epidemic situation in Tunisia has stabilized in recent days.
Chile COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 35,000, Health Minister Enrique Paris reported on Sunday.
Paris said that in the last 24 hours, the country reported 68 deaths, bringing the toll to 35,026, while another 1,446 new cases were registered, bringing the total caseload to 1,609,177.
Cuba on Sunday reported a new daily record of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with 8,853 cases and 80 fatalities registered in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Public Health said.
In total, the country has reported 332,968 confirmed cases and 2,351 deaths.
According to the ministry, the infection rates are very high throughout the island, except in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, where restrictive measures will soon begin to become more flexible due to lower case numbers.
About 3.4 million people have received at least one dose of domestically produced vaccines through Cuba's mass vaccination program.
Morocco announced on Sunday 4,110 new COVID-19 cases, taking the caseload in the North African country to 579,272.
The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 in Morocco increased to 543,603 after 1,525 more were added.
Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 9,589 with 30 additional fatalities reported during the last 24 hours.
A total of 11,748,418 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine whilem 9,797,720 have received two doses.
Zimbabwe on Sunday received the sixth batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China, as the southern African country ramps up its inoculation drive to tame the spread of COVID-19.
The latest delivery of Sinovac vaccines came at a time when the country is scaling up its vaccination program in the wake of the third wave of infections that has pushed the total number of COVID-19-related deaths to over 3,000.
To date, Zimbabwe has recorded 97,277 COVID-19 cases, including 64,628 recoveries.
An additional shipment of vaccine doses from China is expected on Thursday and another batch of doses will be delivered in August, according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
Italy reported seven coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday compared with five the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 4,743 from 5,140 on Saturday.
Italy has registered 127,949 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world.
In this handout photo provided by the UK Parliament, Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid updates MPs on the government's coronavirus plans, in the House of Commons, London, July 12, 2021. (JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT VIA AP)
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologized and deleted a tweet where he used the word “cower,” adding that it was a “poor choice of word.”
In an earlier tweet, where he said he had made a full recovery from COVID-19, Javid urged people to get vaccinated, saying “as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.”
Health Secetary Sajid Javid had been criticized for using the word "cower" when tens of thousands in Britain have died from the virus and many are trying to keep safe
Javid had been criticized for using the word "cower" when tens of thousands in Britain have died from the virus and many are trying to keep safe.
Writing on Twitter, Javid said on Sunday he had "deleted a tweet which used the word 'cower'."
"I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise. Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact."
The UK reported Sunday a drop in new coronavirus cases for a fifth consecutive day. A total of 29,173 new infections were recorded, down from 31,795 on Saturday, according to data from Public Health England.
The UK is expected to remove France from its "amber" category of coronavirus risk countries and could drop quarantine for travelers from France as soon as next week, The Times reported on Monday.
The plan to relax restrictions placed on travelers from France comes after officials appeared to acknowledge the threat from the Beta variant of the coronavirus had been contained, the newspaper reported.
READ MORE: UK lawmakers: Pandemic may fade but high costs will linger
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, Belfast Trust, which runs hospitals in the capital, called on nurses to work later on Sunday and overnight to help ease “extreme pressure” at two hospitals because of an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
Argentina registered 7,506 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the national count to 4,846,615, the health ministry said.
Another 137 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 103,721, the ministry said.
The number of patients in intensive care has reached 4,219, with a bed occupancy rate of 57 percent nationwide and 54.4 percent in Buenos Aires and its periphery.
So far, more than 29.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to the ministry.
Uganda will start vaccinating children under the age of 15 against COVID-19 once the country receives supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, a senior government official said on Monday.
Monica Musenero, a senior presidential advisor on pandemics, told Xinhua by telephone that the country would first target children at risk of contracting the virus.
Musenero, who is also the minister for science and technology, said children with diabetes, high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, or any other disease which puts them at high risk would be the priority.
Uganda has so far vaccinated over 1.1 million people against the virus. By Sunday, the country had registered a total of 92,490 infections and 2,557 deaths.
Ireland is restarting indoor dining after nearly seven months on Monday, with some bars without outdoor space opening for the first time since March 2020.
Only people who have been fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the past six months will be allowed to eat inside, along with accompanied minors.
The reopening comes amid a surge in cases due to the Delta variant. While hospitalizations have increased in recent days they remain far below the previous peak in January.
Russia reported 23,239 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 2,629 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 6,149,780.
The government coronavirus task force said 727 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 154,601.
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