Australia’s Crood plan
There have been similar fun and games with cultural references in Australia where the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has likened the country’s Covid escape plan to the cartoon film, The Croods.
Morrison, who is under pressure to find a way to lift the lengthy lockdowns affecting the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria, explained the exit strategy thus:
Now, it’s like that movie in The Croods – people wanted to stay in the cave … and that young girl, she wanted to go out and live again and deal with the challenges of living in a different world. Well, Covid is a new, different world, and we need to get out there and live in it. We can’t stay in the cave and we can get out of it safely. That’s what the plan does.
In the real world, NSW recorded another 753 cases on Tuesday but passed 6m vaccination doses to open up the prospect of some lifting of restrictions for people who have been doubled-jabbed. The state is in its ninth week of lockdown, while Victoria is under lockdown until the end of the month.
New Zealand braced for worst-ever outbreak
New Zealand is bracing for its worst-ever outbreak of the virus after it added another 41 cases, taking the total to 148 since it started spreading last week.
The majority of those infected are Samoan, and are linked to a sub-cluster who assembled at the Assembly of God church in Mangere, Auckland before the lockdown.
A nationwide, level 4 lockdown – the highest setting – has been extended until at least the end of the week, as the country battles to contain the outbreak of the Delta variant.
New Zealand has been mocked for going into hard lockdown over relatively few cases but our columnist Max Rashbrooke explains why he’s happy to live in “Jacinda Ardern’s mysterious socialist hobbit kingdom”.
Bright sunshine and fast evaporation have been linked with falling rates of coronavirus, while cloudy skies and slow evaporation appear to aid the spread of the virus.
A study into whether seasons affect the spread of Covid – as happens with flu – has been published in the journal GeoHealth.
It reveals that there were two variables – ultraviolet levels and air-drying capacity – that consistently correlated with Covid-19 levels in all countries.
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Israeli officials and scientists have reported seeing infections fall after people began receiving a third vaccine shot.
After one of the world’s most successful vaccine rollouts, Israel saw a sharp increase in cases fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant. It began a program to deliver a third shot at the end of July, starting with the over-60s.
On Thursday it expanded eligibility to 40-year-olds and up whose second dose was given at least 5 months prior, saying the age may drop further.
In the past 10 days, the pandemic is abating among the first age group, more than a million of whom have received a third vaccine dose, according to Israeli health ministry data and scientists interviewed by Reuters.
The rate of disease spread among vaccinated people age 60 and over – known as the reproduction rate – began falling steadily around Aug. 13 and has dipped below 1, indicating that each infected person is transmitting the virus to fewer than one other person. A reproduction rate of less than 1 means an outbreak is subsiding.
Hawaii governor asks people to reduce travel
Hawaii’s governor has asked that visitors and residents reduce travel to the islands while the state struggles to control the spread of the Delta variant.
David Ige said on Monday local time that he wants to curtail travel to Hawaii through to the end of October.
“It is a risky time to be traveling right now,” he said.
He said restaurant capacity has been restricted by staff shortages and there was limited access to rental cars.
Ige stopped short of the kind of mandate he introduced last year, saying that he did not want a repeat of measures that shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry.
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Hawaii’s governor wants to curtail travel to the state until the end of October while the state struggles to control the Delta strain. David Ige said late on Monday: “It is a risky time to be traveling right now.”
And Israeli scientists say the country’s vaccine booster drive is driving down a resurgence of infections driven the fast-spreading Delta variant. Cases are already abating among over-60s, the first group to have the third shot, Reuters reports.
More on these stories shortly. In the meantime, here are the key recent developments:
- US regulators have given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine in a decision likely to trigger a wave of formal vaccine requirements from government departments, businesses, schools and the military. Pfizer shares were up around 2.5% following the announcement.
- Deaths from Covid-19 are now averaging 100 a day across the UK, and there are warnings that case rates will jump again when millions of pupils return to schools next week. The country racked up more than 31,000 new cases on Monday.
- Almost 5,000 UK Covid-19 cases are linked to a music and surfing festival – Boardmasters – which took place in Cornwall this month.
- New South Wales recorded another 753 cases on Tuesday but the Australian state has passed 6m vaccinations and will announce some relaxation of the tight lockdown curbs this week for people who have received two doses.
- New Zealand is bracing for its biggest coronavirus outbreak yet as cases rose by another 41 on Tuesday. The majority of people are Samoan and are linked to a cluster at a church.
- Vietnam has deployed soldiers to enforce a lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, after authorities claimed enforcement of recent curbs has not been sufficiently strict – with people from today people from today generally prohibited from leaving their homes.
- The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that Covid-19 booster shots should be delayed as priority ought be given to raising vaccination rates in countries where only 2% of the population has been inoculated.
- A Spanish court rejected a renewed request, following a prior denial last week, by the regional government of Catalonia to reimpose a virus curfew in Barcelona and dozens of other cities, arguing the measure was “disproportionate” as infections have fallen.
- Berlin nightclubs are set to reopen after a court repealed a blanket ban on dance events in closed rooms in the German capital, but only for the vaccinated or those who have recently recovered from Covid.