The Australian government has denied undermining China’s plan to roll out Covid vaccines to Pacific countries after Beijing lashed Canberra’s purported “callous” and “irresponsible behaviour”.
The allegation, first aired in Chinese state-controlled media and then amplified by the foreign ministry in Beijing, was “absolutely not” true, the Australian government said on Tuesday.
The spat is the latest flashpoint in the deteriorating relationship between China and Australia amid intense competition for influence in the Pacific region:
Israel to trade 700,000 Pfizer doses with South Korea
Israel will deliver about 700,000 expiring doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to South Korea later this month, Reuters reports, and South Korea will give Israel back the same number, already on order from Pfizer, in September and October.
South Korea has quickly distributed the Covid vaccines it has, but has struggled to obtain enough doses in a timely manner amid tight global supplies, particularly in Asia.
“This is a win-win deal,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement announcing the deal on Tuesday. “Together we will beat the pandemic.”
A spokeswoman for South Korea’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday she had no comment on the deal, reported first by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
After a world-beating roll-out, Israel has administered both shots to around 55% of its population and seen turnout plateau.
The South Korean said last week it is hoping to achieve herd immunity earlier than its November target by inoculating at least 70% of its population with a minimum of one vaccine dose, mostly mRNA ones such as Pfizer’s.
Germany to lift UK and India travel ban
Germany is easing strict restrictions on travel from Britain, Portugal and some other countries that were imposed because of the rise of the more contagious delta virus variant.
AP: Germany’s national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said late Monday that Britain, Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal will be removed from the country’s highest risk category of “virus variant areas” effective Wednesday. They will move into the second-highest category of “high-incidence areas.”
The UK had been in the top coronavirus risk category since 23 May , and was joined last Tuesday by Russia and Portugal, one of Germany’s partners in the European Union.
Airlines and others are restricted largely to transporting German citizens and residents from “virus variant areas,” and those who arrive must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.
People arriving from “high incidence areas,” however, can avoid quarantine if they can prove that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. Others can cut short a mandatory 10-day quarantine by testing negative after five days. Transport is no longer restricted.
Officials have said the listings would be reviewed as the proportion of infections caused by the delta variant in Germany rises. Although overall case numbers are very low, more than half of new cases are now believed to be caused by delta.
Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated during a visit to Britain on Friday that the restrictions on travel from the U.K. would soon be relaxed.
Eleven countries will remain on Germany’s “virus variant area” list for now: Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uruguay.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
Germany’s national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said late Monday that Britain, Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal will be removed from the country’s highest risk category of “virus variant areas” effective Wednesday. They will move into the second-highest category of “high-incidence areas.”
Meanwhile Israel will deliver about 700,000 expiring doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to South Korea later this month, and South Korea will give Israel back the same number, already on order from Pfizer, in September and October.
More on these stories shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key developments from the last few hours:
- Indonesia is calling for oxygen to be redirected to its hospitals, where there are major shortages. During an oxygen outage at a hospital in Yogyakarta city on Saturday 33 people died. Indonesia reported on Monday a record 29,745 new coronavirus infections and 558 deaths, health ministry data showed.
- Save the Children said more vaccines need to reach Indonesia to stop the spread of the virus. The charity said children are suffering from the current outbreak in Indonesia, with almost 600 killed.
- Bangladesh has suffered its worst day, with 164 deaths and 9,964 new infections. The government has extended the current lockdown into next week as hospitals on border areas struggle with the Delta variant, which was first identified across those borders in India.
- Africa recorded its record number of cases over the past week, according to a count by AFP. There were 36,000 new infection reported per day, driven by a surge in South Africa.
- England will lift regulations on wearing face masks and social distancing in public spaces. There has been strong opposition however to the idea of allowing people to ride public transport without face coverings, especially as infections are currently rising.
- Spain recorded more than 30,000 new infections since Friday, an 85% increase on the previous weekend. The Delta variant has spread among mostly unvaccinated young people.