Philippines economy will need a decade to recover
The long-term cost of the pandemic on the economy of the Philippines will be 41.4 trillion Philippine pesos (£6oobn), said the Economic Planning Secretary, Karl Kendrick Chua.
“Our long run total cost of Covid and the quarantine both to the present and future society – meaning our children and our grandchildren – will reach 41.4 trillion,” said Chua.
He said nearly 70% of the economy remained under “heightened quarantine” restrictions but warned lockdowns have thrown millions out of work and are increasing hunger.
England: number of positive tests rise by almost a fifth
The number of positive tests rose by almost a fifth to 191,771 in England in the week to September 22, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
The data also showed that the number of people getting their test results back within 24 hours had dropped from 87% to 75%.
at 6.53am EDT
Scuffles broke out in Taiwan’s legislature as members of the opposition party protested the government’s performance – including its handling of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.
Lawmakers from the Kuomintang party stormed the podium to disrupt an address by the head of the Cabinet, Su Tseng-chang.
This week party member’s protested the government’s handling of the pandemic and specifically criticised a policy to shorten quarantine for pilots.
Pilots required to only spend three days in quarantine were suspected by many of being the source of an outbreak in May and June that killed 800 people – though that has not been confirmed.
Here is a brief round-up of the day’s top Covid news stories so far:
- In Australia, Victorian authorities say Thursday’s spike in Covid-19 cases – the highest one-day total for the state the pandemic so far – was “completely avoidable”.
- India recorded a further 311 Covid deaths today, according to its latest government figures.
- Charity food banks in Britain are “preparing for the worst” as the government starts winding up emergency aid measures put in place to cushion the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on millions of workers and low-income households, Reuters reports.
- Malaysia has announced it is now mandatory for all federal government employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, with exceptions only to be allowed on health grounds.
- The lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will end tomorrow, ending almost three months of restrictions on movement to curb the Covid surge.
- The UK government needs to speed up Covid vaccine donations to developing countries or risk causing “irreparable damage” to both global health security and Britain’s reputation, a committee of MPs has warned.
- In the US, a Covid outbreak within Disney’s stage show Aladdin prompted an 11th-hour cancellation of Wednesday evening’s performance.
- Denmark appears to have fallen short of its target of 90% of people over the age of 12 having been vaccinated twice by 1 October.
- In the United States, a second hospital in Alaska is rationing health care as the state deals with a spike in coronavirus cases.
That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. I’ll be back tomorrow but am now handing over the coronavirus blog to my colleague Kaamil Ahmed, who will keep you across all this afternoon’s breaking Covid news. Goodbye.
The UK government needs to speed up Covid vaccine donations to developing countries or risk causing “irreparable damage” to both global health security and Britain’s reputation, a committee of MPs has warned.
In a report released today, the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said “glaring inequality” in access to vaccines risked allowing new variants to spread in developing countries.
The report also warned that Russia and China were attempting to exploit that inequality to “undermine the West and expand their influence by donating and selling vaccines”, the Press Association reports.
Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said:
The rapid creation of an effective vaccine is a remarkable achievement for international cooperation and has saved a huge number of lives.
However, glaring inequalities in vaccine access mean that lower-income countries have been left far behind. Bolstering vaccination rates in these countries is not only a moral imperative but will benefit us all by slowing the spread of a deadly disease.
The UK cannot allow authoritarian states, such as Russia and China, to exploit the shortfall in vaccine supply to gain leverage over other countries.
In Russia, people may soon be able to get coronavirus vaccines not registered in the country.
They are expected to be available from clinics set up in a special economic zone, under a healthcare ministry proposal, Russian Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.
Many Western nations have not registered Russian vaccines such as Sputnik V and require visitors to have other shots that are not available to Russians, a situation that has prompted vaccine tourism, Reuters reports.
According to the Kommersant report, the healthcare ministry has proposed allowing clinics set up in the Moscow International Medical Cluster to import vaccines made abroad, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech, or Moderna shots.
It was unclear whether and when the proposed regulations could be enacted.
In the United States, a second hospital in Alaska is rationing health care as the state deals with a spike in coronavirus cases.
Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp, in Bethel, announced the move on Wednesday as it reported it is operating at full capacity.
Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, which is the state’s largest hospital, has already been rationing care.
Coronavirus infections in Alaska have risen 42% in the past week.
The president of the Bethel region hospital says it did everything possible to delay rationing but had to take the step.
Hospital CEO Dan Winkelman urged “every resident of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region to get vaccinated, wear a mask in indoor public areas, and social distance.” He warned that “this is our last stand against this virus.”
Denmark set to fall short of Covid vaccination target
Denmark appears to have fallen short of its target of 90% of people over the age of 12 having been vaccinated twice by 1 October.
The latest official figures from the Danish Health Authorities show only 84.9% have had both shots, amounting to 4,366,235 people.
Those who have received the first shot — 4,453,321 people — represent 86.6% of those over the age of 12.
The vaccine is voluntary and free of charge in Denmark, which on 10 September declared that it no longer considers Covid as “a socially critical disease” because of the large number of vaccinations.
All restrictions have since been removed.
at 5.53am EDT
Ukraine reports highest daily cases since April
Ukraine recorded its highest number of daily Covid cases since April today, after its health ministry confirmed almost 12,000 new infections in the past 24 hours.
It came as the country registered 194 new coronavirus-related deaths.
The number of new cases has been growing over the past several weeks and the government has already tightened lockdown restrictions, Reuters reports.
Ukraine lifted lockdown restrictions as cases dropped over the summer but last week imposed a nationwide “yellow” code, which curbs mass events and limits the occupancy rates of gyms, cinemas and other venues.
at 5.43am EDT
The lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will end tomorrow, ending almost three months of restrictions on movement to curb the Covid surge.
People will be able to leave their homes, restaurants can serve take-away meals and other essential businesses can reopen, the city said on its website Thursday.
However, social distancing will remain, while schools are closed, public transport continues to be suspended, travel in and out of the city will be controlled and public gatherings of more than 10 people outside is banned.
People who wish to attend social activities will have to show proof of vaccination to be admitted to establishments, authorities said.
Ho Chi Minh City along with 18 southern provinces went into lockdown in mid-July when cases started to surge.
In the past three months, the delta variant of the virus has infected 770,000 people and killed over 19,000, according to the health ministry. Most of Vietnam’s Covid deaths occurred in this wave, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for the majority of them.
at 3.42am EDT
Malaysia has announced it is now mandatory for all federal government employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, with exceptions only to be allowed on health grounds.
It comes as the country looks to boost vaccination rates with the aim of inoculating 80% of the population by the end of the year, Reuters reports.
Malaysia has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in Southeast Asia, with 61% of its 32 million population already fully vaccinated.
In a statement, the Public Service Department said vaccinations would be made compulsory for federal staff in order to boost public confidence and ensure government services can be delivered smoothly.
Nearly 98% of civil servants were already vaccinated, while 16,902 or 1.6% have yet to register under the country’s inoculation programme, the department said. Malaysia has around 1.6 million public servants.
Unvaccinated employees have been given until 1 November to complete their inoculations, while those who are unable to be vaccinated must submit health information verified by a government medical officer.
Those who fail to get vaccinated in time will face disciplinary action, the department said.