Covid-19

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German CDU chair Armin Laschet calls for harder lockdown
German CDU chair Armin Laschet calls for harder lockdown
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) State Premier Armin Laschet called for a harder lockdown on Monday as Germany struggles to contain a third wave of the coronavirus. The chairman of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and one of her potential successor as chancellor said that Germany needed harder lockdown measures to stem a rise in cases of Covid-19.

"We need a bridge lockdown. We have to build a bridge to the point in time when a lot of people are vaccinated," Laschet told.

Regional News • Oceania
Australian-New Zealand quarantine-free travel bubble to start on April 18
Australian-New Zealand quarantine-free travel bubble to start on April 18
Credit: Governor-General of New Zealand, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday that Australian and New Zealand residents will be able to travel between the two countries without having to quarantine. The trans-Tasman travel bubble will start on Sunday, April 18 at 11:59 p.m.

“This is an important step forward in our COVID response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world. That is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out,” Arden said.

Regional News • Asia • India
Delhi, India imposes night curfew amid rise in Coronavirus cases
Disinfection drive during lockdown 4.0 at Delhi, May 2020
Disinfection drive during lockdown 4.0 at Delhi, May 2020 Credit: Sumita Roy Dutta, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Delhi, India’s capital territory, imposed a night curfew amid a rise in Coronavirus cases. The 10 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew is effective immediately. Medical and media personell as well as delivery staff are still allowed to travel at night.

Science • Medicine
EMA official says there's a clear link between AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA denies having found link
EMA official says there's a clear link between AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA denies having found link
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

There's a clear link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, EMA's Head of Anti-infectives and Vaccines Marco Cavaleri told the Italian daily newspaper Il Messagero on Thursday.

“In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” so Cavaleri.

The European Medicines Agency issued a statement hours later, denying that a connection has been already established, saying it had “not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing”, but expects to announce findings later this week.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Over 161m Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US
Over 161m Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that 161,688,422 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States as of Saturday, April 2.

104,213,478 people have received at least the first dose, and 59,858,146 people have been fully vaccinated.

Regional News • Americas • South America
Argentina's President Alberto Fernández tests positive for Covid-19 in rapid test
Alberto Fernández receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine
Alberto Fernández receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine Credit: Esteban Collazo/Casa Rosada

The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, reported in the early hours of Saturday, April 3rd that he tested positive for Covid-19 after showing symptoms of the disease. Fernández had the two doses of the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.

"For everyone's information, I am physically fine and, although I wanted to end my birthday without this news, I am also in a good mood," posted the president of Argentina, who thanked for the messages of congratulations.

"We believe we are starting the second wave, with a sustained increase in cases, which causes concern," Health Minister Carla Vizzotti told a radio station on Friday.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Data reveals over a million people in the UK suffer from Long-Covid
Data reveals over a million people in the UK suffer from Long-Covid
Credit: unsplash.com/engin akyurt

UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that roughly 1.1 million people in the United Kingdom are suffering from Long Covid, also known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) and long-haul COVID.

“The Office for National Statistics estimates that over a million people in the UK were reporting symptoms associated with long Covid at the beginning of March 2021, with over two-thirds of these individuals having had (or suspecting they had) Covid-19 at least 12 weeks earlier," so Ben Humberstone, head of health and life events at the ONS. "An estimated 674,000 people reported that their symptoms have negatively impacted on their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities. People who tested positive for Covid-19 are around eight times more likely to suffer prolonged symptoms than observed in the general population.”

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
University of Washington projects 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in Brazil during April
University  of Washington projects 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in Brazil during April
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, from the University of Washington, in the United States, projects one hundred thousand deaths from Covid-19 in Brazil in April alone. According to Ethel Maciel, an epidemiologist and professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes), if the current pace is maintained, Brazil may surpass the United States in absolute numbers of deaths in August. The moving average of deaths exceeded 3,000 for the second time and reached 3,013, according to data from the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass).

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German President Steinmeier vaccinated with AstraZeneca
German President Steinmeier vaccinated with AstraZeneca
Credit: Адміністрація Президента України, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, has been vaccinated with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at the Bundeswehr Hospital in Berlin on Thursday, his office reported.

"I trust the vaccines approved in Germany," Steinmeier said in a statement. "Today I received my first vaccination with AstraZeneca. Vaccination is the crucial step on the way out of the pandemic. Take advantage of the opportunities. Get involved!"

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italy entered a three-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown Saturday to deter Easter travel and get-togethers even as the country's variant-fueled spike in new infections began to wane.

The government had announced last month that it would place all regions into the strictest "red zone" lockdown over the Easter weekend to limit the chances of contagion, taking the same precautions it enforced over Christmas and New Year's. But because Italian hospitals in most regions are still well over their Covid-19 capacity in both intensive care units and other wards, the ministry concluded that new infections were still "too high ... to allow any reduction in current restrictive measures."

Regional News • Europe • France
France goes into third national, month-long lockdown
France goes into third national, month-long lockdown
Credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday a third national, month-long lockdown for France starting Saturday. All schools, nurseries and universities will be closed until April 26th. The country will resume reopening from Mid-May on with strict rules.

Macron: "I know that there is a lot of weariness, fatigue. I know that there is also sometimes nervousness, anger. The success of this month of April and of this strategy depends on each of us, on our spirit of responsibility. This is how we can rebuild this path of hope, the one that will allow us to gradually find a life again. normal."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Berlin Senate decides on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday
Berlin Senate decides on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Berlin Senate agreed on Thursday on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday. The governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD), announced this after a Senate meeting. According to this, Berliners are initially only allowed to be outside alone or in pairs between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Over Easter, the previous regulations with a maximum of five people from two households will remain. In both cases, children up to the age of 14 are not counted.

Michael Müller (SPD), the governing mayor, defended the stricter rules at a press conference after a senate meeting on Thursday afternoon. "Infections arise through direct contacts in the professional, school and private environment.

Regional News • Europe
WHO says European vaccine rollout is "unacceptably slow"
WHO says European vaccine rollout is "unacceptably slow"
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a statement, saying that "speeding up vaccination roll-out is crucial as new cases in the WHO European Region are increasing in every age group, apart from one."

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, stated that vaccines are highly effective in preventing infections, but the "roll-out of these vaccines is unacceptably slow". Kluge is recommending "the same public health and social measures as we have in the past to compensate for delayed schedules" and added, "we must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and using every single vial we have in stock, now."

“Only 5 weeks ago, the weekly number of new cases in Europe had dipped to under 1 million, but now the Region’s situation is more worrying than we have seen in several months. There are risks associated with the increased mobility and gatherings over the religious holidays. Many countries are introducing new measures that are necessary and everyone should follow as much as they can,” said Dr Dorit Nitzan, Regional Emergency Director for the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany restricts use of AstraZeneca vaccine to over 60s in most cases
Germany restricts use of AstraZeneca vaccine to over 60s in most cases
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn and the 16 state health ministers on Tuesday decided to suspend the routine use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under age 60 at an emergency meeting. The decision came amid fresh concern over unusual blood clots reported in a tiny number of younger people who received the vaccine.

Several European countries briefly suspended the use of the vaccine earlier this month, albeit in that instance for more elderly people rather than the young, but resumed jabs after EU regulators said the shot was safe for use.

Regional News • Americas • Canada
Canada halts AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 55
Canada halts AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 55
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Canada announced Monday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should not be administered to people under the age of 55 due to safety reasons.

“There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,” said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

"Following population-based analyses of VIPIT assessing risk of COVID-19 disease by age, and considering that alternate products are available (i.e., mRNA vaccines), from what is known at this time, there is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to adults under 55 years of age given that the potential risks associated with VIPIT, particularly at the lower estimated rates," committee officials said.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil broke a new record with 3,668 deaths by Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours
Brazil broke a new record with 3,668 deaths by Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to a report of the consortium of Brazilian media companies consortium released on March 29 3,668 deaths by Covid-19, a new daily record. The country had, since the beginning of the pandemic 317,936 deaths.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US CDC director warns of potential fourth Covid-19 wave
US CDC director warns of potential fourth Covid-19 wave
Credit: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued a warning of a potential fourth Covid-19 wave, as the country sees a rise in infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

"I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. Right now I’m scared," Walensky said during a press conference. "We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge."

Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to "hang in there", adding it "will be a race between the vaccine and what’s going on with the dynamics of the outbreak, and we can win this by just hanging in there a bit longer."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Entry by air to Germany from now on only possible with a negative Covid-19 test result
Entry by air to Germany from now on only possible with a negative Covid-19 test result
Credit: unsplash.com / reisetopia

As of today, entry by air to Germany is only possible with a negative Covid-19 test. A corresponding amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Regulation came into force at midnight. The new regulation applies regardless of the Corona situation in the country from which someone is flying to Germany. The test may be no more than 48 hours old at the time of entry. The measure is limited until 12 May.

Regional News • Europe
Sweden to end travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark on March 31
Sweden to end travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark on March 31
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swedish government said it would end the travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark to Sweden on March 31. All people travelling to Sweden will still need a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country.

"This means, among other things, that Norwegians and Danes can travel to their holiday homes in Sweden and that families and friends across borders can meet each other," Mikael Damberg, Minister of the Interior, told a news conference.

Science • Medicine
BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 90% effective at preventing infections study shows
BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 90% effective at preventing infections study shows
Credit: unsplash.com/Marisol Benitez

A study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that both BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective at preventing infections, including asymptomatic infections, with the first dose showing 80% efficacy.

“Reducing the risk for transmissible infection, which can occur among persons with asymptomatic infection or among persons several days before symptoms onset, is especially important among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers given their potential to transmit the virus through frequent close contact with patients and the public,” the report concluded.