Sydney Record; Singapore Hits 80% Vaccine Target: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Sydney had another record day of infections, leading new Covid-19 cases in New South Wales state. Singapore has outpaced most advanced economies to fully vaccinate 80% of its population. 

All NBA referees must be vaccinated for the season that begins in October, the National Basketball Association said on Saturday. Former U.S. Open champion Andy Murray said a large number of professional tennis players remain unvaccinated ahead of next week’s tournament. 

Protests were held in France and Germany against virus measures. Japan is investigating the deaths of two people who were administered Moderna Inc.’s shots from vaccine batches that have since been suspended. 

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 215.8 million; deaths pass 4.4 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 5.17 billion doses administeredVaccine holdouts in N.Y. persuaded by FDA approval, mandatesThe worst places to be as delta spreads are in Southeast AsiaSpaceX, ULA see launch risk from low oxygen supply amid pandemicAntibodies waning? The immune system has a backup plan for that

Sydney Breaks Another Record (9:26 a.m. HK)

Sydney had a record number of Covid-19 infections, accounting for the bulk of cases in New South Wales as Australia’s most populous state battles to contain the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.  

The state saw a record 1,218 daily infections in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. local time on Saturday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Sunday in Sydney. Six more people died.

Meanwhile, Victoria state will extend its sixth lockdown past Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews said without giving details on how long the restrictions will last.

Singapore Hits 80% Vaccine Threshold (9:23 a.m. HK)

Singapore has outpaced most advanced economies to fully vaccinate 80% of its population against Covid-19, paving the way for the small but wealthy city-state to forge ahead with reopening in an approach that’s closely watched by the rest of the world still figuring out how to live with the virus. 

Senior officials have pegged the milestone to its cautious strategy, pledging to use the high inoculation rate to gradually have more economic and social activities, as well as quarantine-free travel.

Italy to End Quarantine for Vaccinated From U.K. (7:49 a.m. HK)

Italy’s health ministry said the five-day mandatory quarantine will end starting Aug. 31 if travelers from the U.K. are fully vaccinated and can show a negative Covid-19 test, Sky News reported.

Refrigerated Morgues Dispatched to Central Florida (6:30 a.m. HK)

Hospitals in central Florida have been sent 14 refrigerated portable morgues to handle a high number of deaths, the Orlando Sentinel reported on Friday. 

“The number of deaths right now is unprecedented,” said Lynne Drawdy, executive director of the Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition, the newspaper reported.

On Friday, Florida reported 1,727 weekly deaths, the most since the state has been issuing the reports. 

In Oregon, two counties have also requested refrigerated morgue trucks to handle an overflow of Covid-19 fatalities, the Associated Press reported. 

Murray Says Many Tennis Players Unvaccinated (5:04 p.m. NY)

Andy Murray said a large number of professional tennis players remain unvaccinated ahead of the U.S. Open, which begins Monday in New York.

“A lot of the tour is not vaccinated,” the British player said at a pre-tournament press conference. “I can see it’s going to become an issue over the coming months.” 

No more than half the players have been vaccinated, the Telegraph reported, citing people close to the tour. The U.S. Open announced Friday that anyone attending the two-week event must show proof of at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.  

Almost 750,000 Third Doses Given in U.S. (4:39 p.m. NY) 

The U.S. recorded slightly above a million vaccine doses on Saturday, including 87,000 third doses, Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s Covid-19 data director, tweeted. It was the fifth of day above 1 million shots in the last 10 days, with vaccinations rising over the last month as the delta variant has spread. 

A total of 732,000 additional shots have officially been given since Aug. 13, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. That was when federal health regulators permitted third shots for people with compromised immune systems. President Joe Biden said he wants to begin administering booster shots to all vaccinated adults starting Sept. 20. 

Hospitals in U.S. South Run Low on Oxygen (2:58 a.m. NY)

Hospitals in the U.S. Southeast are running low on oxygen, with the worst-hit left only 12 to 24 hours worth, said Premier Inc., a hospital-supply purchasing group. 

This comes amid the region’s struggle over the summer with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Now Hurricane Ida is set to hit the Gulf Coast in the coming days.

Premier has notified the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Health and Human Services department about the scarcity of oxygen in the region, said Blair Childs, Premier’s senior vice president of public affairs. There is “so much more demand for oxygen than there ever has been,” Childs said. 

Canada Suspends Morocco Flights (2:56 p.m. NY)

Canada is suspending direct flights from Morocco for 30 days due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in travelers arriving from the North African country, according to a Transport Canada press release.

The flight ban will go into effect as of Aug. 29 and will remain in place until Sept. 29.

NBA Referees Mandated to Get Vaccines (1:57 p.m. NY)

All NBA referees must be vaccinated for the season that begins in October, the National Basketball Association said in a statement on Saturday. The mandate came as part of an agreement with the National Basketball Referees Association, in which referees must be fully vaccinated and receive recommended boosters. 

On Friday, the NBA told teams that all personnel with with proximity to players and referees must also be vaccinated. That requirement included coaches, medical staff, security and front office personnel. 

Players are not required to be vaccinated. 

French Protest for Seventh Week (10:12 a.m. NY)

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in French cities for a seventh consecutive weekend to protest against the government’s health pass system, which makes access to restaurants, cafes and other venues conditional on proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test. BFM TV reported that 200 protests were planned across the country.

The French government is trying to reach a target of 50 million first jabs by early September and has sought to step up pressure on those who are reluctant or refuse to get vaccinated. French Prime Minister Jean Castex said this week that it would start to give booster shots from Sept. 12, starting with the elderly in nursing homes.

German Activists Arrested in Protests (9:49 a.m. NY)

Thousands of protesters gathered in Berlin on Saturday to demonstrate against Germany’s pandemic rules. Several dozen activists were detained, according to local media. German authorities have taken a harder line on anti-coronavirus rallies after demonstrators sought to storm the Reichtstag parliament building last year.

Contagion rates in Germany have been rising steadily for weeks. On Saturday, there were 72.1 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days — the highest level since mid-May.

Singapore Reports 121 New Cases (6:20 a.m. NY)

Singapore reported 121 new cases in a day, with 113 of those coming from locally transmitted infections and the rest from newly-arrived visitors who had already been placed in isolation.

The city-state had experienced a steady decrease in cases until a resurgence on Aug. 23. But authorities have not flagged additional restrictions, thanks in part to the country’s high rate of vaccinations. The Ministry of Health on Friday said it expects 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated by the end of August.

Japan Investigates Deaths After Moderna Shots (4:35 p.m. HK)

Japan said it’s investigating the deaths of two people who had been administered Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines.

While the relationship between the deaths and the shots is unclear, the health ministry will conduct the investigations together with external experts, and continue to assess the safety of the vaccine, according to a statement on Saturday.

Russia Reports Over 19,000 New Cases (4:31 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 19,492 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, according to the government’s virus response center. Total cases have reached 6.86 million.

The death toll from Covid-19 in July grew to 50,421, the highest monthly total since the epidemic began, amid spreading infections from the delta variant and continued public resistance to vaccination campaigns.

Scotland Weighs Pub Vaccine Passports (3:30 p.m. HK)

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was “actively considering” vaccine passports for Scots wishing to go to a pub or a nightclub. 

Sturgeon said while she didn’t to single out the hospitality industry, such venues would fall into the category of places the Scottish government might introduce a vaccine passport entry requirement. “I’ve been clear all the long we shouldn’t rule it out,” Sturgeon said on Friday. “It may be an added layer of protection and mitigation.” Her comments came as Scotland recorded a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, forcing Sturgeon to deny the authorities were considering a circuit breaker lockdown.

Swiss Hospital Cancels Surgeries as ICUs Fill (2:56 p.m. HK)

Zurich University Hospital will postpone surgeries for patients “not in direct danger to life and limb,” as a spike in coronavirus cases fills up intensive care beds in Switzerland, newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported.

There are about 230 coronavirus patients in intensive care unit beds compared to about 20 in July, the paper said. At the Geneva University Hospitals, which had space for 10 coronavirus patients, 17 ICU beds are now occupied by those with Covid, newspaper Tribune de Geneve reported.

Slightly more than 51% of Switzerland’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, one of the lowest rates for a major economy in Europe.

 

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