Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 20 September

An exhibition of white flags representing Americans who have died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which are placed over 20 acres of the National Mall, is seen in Washington, U.S., September 17, 2021.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2ORP9GI092

White flags represent Americans who've lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Joe Myers
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  • 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: President Biden to convene virtual COVID-19 summit on UN fringes; England simplifies international travel rules; US FDA advisers vote in favour of booster shots for those aged 65+.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 228.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.69 million. More than 5.92 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The Australian state of New South Wales has reported its lowest rise in new daily COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks.

COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland, New Zealand, will be eased slightly from Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

Viet Nam's capital Hanoi is also set to further ease its COVID-19 restrictions this week.

It comes as Viet Nam approved Cuba's Abdala vaccine for use against COVID-19. It becomes the eighth vaccine approved for use in Viet Nam.

An installation of white flags representing Americans who have died of COVID-19 has opened in Washington, where it covers 20 acres of the National Mall.

150,106 additional COVID-19 cases were reported in Brazil on Saturday, after an adjustment to how case numbers are tabulated. Some 92,614 cases occurred in Rio de Janeiro in recent months, but were only entered into the official count in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

1,012 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore on Sunday, the highest one-day tally since April last year.

Switzerland has introduced new requirements for some travellers, who'll need to present a negative test if they've not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.

Cambodia has started vaccinating children aged 6-12 against COVID-19, becoming one of just a handful of countries to offer jabs to primary school children.

Public sector employees in Slovenia will need to show proof of vaccination or of a recent recovery from COVID-19 to enter their working spaces from 1 October.

US Food and Drug Administration advisers have voted in favour of COVID-19 booster shots for those aged 65 and older having previously voted against a wider rollout of booster shots.

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. Biden to convene virtual COVID-19 summit on UN fringes

US President Joe Biden is set to convene a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly. The session will be aimed at boosting vaccinations worldwide, with the aim of ending the pandemic by the end of next year.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States will be asking participants to commit to "a higher level of ambition" on making vaccines available on a more equitable basis and getting shots in arms, among other steps recommended to address the pandemic.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the summit must come up with a plan to transfer stockpiled vaccines to poorer nations before their expiry date.


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3. England simplifies international travel rules

Rules have been simplified for international travel to England, in a boost to the tourism industry. Under the proposals, destinations will be ranked as low- or high-risk, rather than the current system of red, amber, green.

Eight countries - including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives - will be removed from the high-risk red band from Wednesday.

From 4 October, fully vaccinated passengers travelling from low-risk countries will be permitted to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests now required. PCR tests for a family now can cost hundreds of pounds.

"Today's changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

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