Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 16 September

Workers walk towards Tower Bridge during the morning rush hour, amid a relaxation of lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain, September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville - RC28QP9J1265

England recently announced a 'winter plan' for COVID-19. Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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COVID-19

  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: COVID-19 in the Americas; White House planning new travel system; Panama set to offer COVID-19 vaccines to tourists.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 226.39 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.65 million. More than 5.79 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Indonesia is in talks with the World Health Organization (WHO) and drug companies to become a global manufacturing hub for vaccines, its health minister has told Reuters.

The US Food and Drug Administration has said that booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine might not be needed - but that the third shot does generate a higher immune response.

The Australian state of Victoria has reported its biggest one-day rise in COVID-19 cases of 2021. However, a surge in vaccinations nationwide has seen almost 70% of adults having now received a first dose.

Panama is set to offer tourists COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to boost an industry hit hard by the pandemic.

The Canadian province of Alberta has introduced a COVID-19 vaccine passport system to combat a fourth wave of the virus.

Chile has announced plans to reopen its borders to tourists ahead of the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Sweden will ramp up efforts to boost its COVID-19 vaccine coverage. "More efforts are needed to make vaccine coverage even higher and more equal," Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren told a news conference.

Moderna has released data from its large COVID-19 vaccine trial showing that protection wanes over time - supporting the case for booster doses, the company said in a news release.

93% of US employers surveyed in August required or encouraged employee COVID-19 vaccinations, with 7 in 10 testing all or some of their workers. The survey was conducted by Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries. Image: Our World in Data

2. COVID-19 in the Americas

COVID-19 cases have risen by a third in North America over the past week, due to rises in the US and Canada, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday.

New infections have doubled in the Canadian province of Alberta, where hospitals are facing staffing shortages, PAHO said.

Most South American countries are seeing continuing declines in COVID-19 cases and deaths, though. However, that's not the case across the region. Infections are rising in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize, the organization said.

And while infections have slowed in the Caribbean, Grenada, Barbados, Bermuda and Jamaica have all seen cases jump.

Overall, the Americas reported a near 20% increase in new cases, PAHO said.

The organization also warned that children are representing a larger percentage of hospitalizations and deaths as a result of COVID-19.

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3. White House plans new system for international travel

The United States is developing a 'new system for international travel', a senior White House official said yesterday.

The new system will include contact tracing, but Jeff Zients said that there are no immediate plans to relax any travel restrictions.

"The American people need to trust that the new system for international travel is safer even as we - I mean at that point - we'll be letting in more travelers," Zients said on Wednesday, adding it will eventually replace existing restrictions.

"We are exploring considering vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States," Zients said.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told the same meeting with the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board that the spike in COVID-19 cases is preventing any easing of restrictions.

"We want to move to a metrics-based system," Raimondo said. "Before we can do that, we have to get a better handle on the domestic situation, which requires us to get everyone vaccinated."

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