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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 29th Oct 2021

Lockdown Exit
Covid Vaccination Rates: How Black Doctors Increased Shots in Philadelphia
Earlier this year, Philadelphia’s partnership with the student-led group Philly Fighting Covid Inc. abandoned testing sites in Black neighborhoods. It seemed like the latest affront in a long legacy of racism that has fueled distrust in the medical system, dating back to the infamous Tuskegee experiments in the 1930s. But Philadelphia, after a slow start, is closing out the year with one of the highest Black vaccination rates in a major U.S. city. In Philadelphia, 54% of Black citizens are now vaccinated. That puts it at the top of a group of the country’s 10 most Black cities, with populations of 500,000 or more and with Black people making up anywhere from 77% to 28% of the population. (The country’s second-largest city, Los Angeles, has vaccinated 55% of its Black residents, but they’re just 8% of the population.)
Hungary to require COVID-19 vaccinations at state institutions
Hungary's government will require employees at state institutions to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after a jump in new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff told a briefing on Thursday. Gergely Gulyas also said that private company employers will also be empowered to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees if they believe that is necessary and mask wearing will be mandatory on public transport from November 1.
New Zealand to start easing COVID-19 border restrictions
New Zealand said on Thursday it would ease coronavirus border restrictions that have been in place since March 2020, and move to a system of home isolation for fully vaccinated overseas arrivals from early next year. The country was the among the first to shut down its borders in response to the pandemic last year, and has retained these tough border restrictions - leaving many expatriate citizens and residents stranded for months.
Indonesia warily weighs holiday travel with virus concerns
Indonesians are looking ahead warily toward the holiday travel season, anxious for crucial tourist spending but worried an influx of visitors could spread the coronavirus just as its pandemic situation seems to be subsiding. After seeing infection and death rates soar in July and August, officials said this week they are sticking to plans to allow travel with some limitations. They expect nearly 20 million people to vacation in the popular islands of Java and Bali.
Australia advises caution overseas when border opens Monday
Australia advised its nationals traveling overseas on Thursday to “exercise a high degree of caution” as it prepares to open its borders for the first time in 19 months. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reinstated its travel advice for 177 countries and territories ahead of fully vaccinated Australians becoming free to travel from Monday. No destination has been given a risk assessment lower than the second-tier warning: “Exercise a high degree of caution.”
Exit Strategies
Florida Sues Biden Administration Over Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors
Florida is suing the Biden administration over vaccine mandates for federal contractors, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in the middle district of Florida’s Tampa division, alleges that the requirement for employees at federal contractors be vaccinated by Dec. 8 interferes with Florida’s employment policies and threatens economic harm and the loss of federal contracts. “The federal government is exceeding their power and it is important for us to take a stand because in Florida we believe these are choices based on individual circumstances,” said Mr. DeSantis, a Republican. The requirement is part of a six-point initiative announced by President Biden in September to help curb the spread of Covid-19 by boosting vaccinations, improving access to testing and making treatments more widely available. The plan also set out vaccine requirements for employers with 100 or more workers.
Gilead Tops Forecasts on Sales of Remdesivir Covid-19 Treatment
Gilead Sciences Inc. posted third quarter earnings that easily beat expectations as revenue from its Covid-19 treatment surged thanks to the highly infectious delta variant. The company reported adjusted earnings per share of $2.65 versus analyst expectations for $1.77 a share. Sales of Veklury, a drug for Covid-19 also known as remdesivir, were more than triple analyst expectations. Gilead raised its earnings guidance for the year to a range of $7.90 to $8.10 a share from a previous range of $6.90 to $7.25 a share.
EU gives go-ahead to NHS Covid pass as proof of full vaccination
All remaining countries on England’s travel “red list” will be removed and vaccines from at least a dozen more countries are to be recognised, ministers are expected to announce in a significant opening up of borders. The move, which the Guardian understands was signed off at a meeting on Thursday afternoon, means no passengers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a hotel at a cost of more than £2,000. However, the red list system will not be abandoned entirely, and countries may be added again in future if concerning new variants emerge.
Thousands of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses going to waste despite near-record production
Almost 1,000 Covid vaccination providers are destroying expired AstraZeneca supplies, with the wastage of 31,833 doses reported despite Australian production of the vaccine continuing at near-record rates. There are now fears more will be binned as rates of uptake wane due to increased vaccination choice and the federal health department stepping in to manage the overstock. Data given to Guardian Australia shows a relatively low rate of wastage of AstraZeneca due to expiry so far, though there are fears of a looming glut of the vaccine as uptake shifts increasingly to Pfizer. The federal health department data showed 969 sites, less than 10% of the total number of vaccine providers, reported having to waste expired AstraZeneca. About 822 of those sites said they destroyed less than five vials.
States placing orders for pediatric vaccine; FDA authorization expected as soon as Friday
The Food and Drug Administration is aiming to grant emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Friday, according to federal officials familiar with the plans. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the final say in the vaccine’s authorization for that age group, states already are gearing up to acquire the necessary doses.
News Corp Australia to introduce Covid vaccine mandate for staff
News Corp Australia will not allow anyone who is not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter its buildings next year, joining other big employers including Coles, the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas that have mandated vaccines for staff. Nine Entertainment, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, is expected to unveil a similar vaccination mandate for its workplaces by 1 December. The News Corp ban on the non-vaccinated will apply to its Holt Street, Surry Hills headquarters, as well as state-based newspapers across the country, Sky News Australia and Foxtel.
India: over 100 million people fail to turn up for second Covid vaccine
More than 100 million Indians have not turned up for their second coronavirus vaccine dose, official data showed, raising concerns of a resurgence in the disease despite a relatively low infection rate. Apart from leaving these people at risk of catching Covid-19, their “vaccine truancy” endangers India’s target of inoculating all adults by 31 December, a target that is in any case unlikely to be met owing to the earlier shortage of vaccines at the start of the inoculation campaign. “We have seen this complacency with tuberculosis patients. They start taking the drugs and after a few weeks, they feel better so they stop even though they have to take them for six months,” said Bhavna Dewan, a health worker in Nainital. “It’s a similar mentality with the vaccine. I’m sure they feel one dose is enough because no one is falling ill.”
Most parents don't plan to vaccinate young children against Covid-19 right away, KFF survey finds
A Covid-19 vaccine could be available for little kids soon, and public health leaders say vaccinating them could help end the pandemic -- but only if parents actually get them vaccinated. A new survey suggests that's uncertain at best. The majority of parents say they will not get their younger children vaccinated right away, according to the survey published Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
White House signals flexibility over Dec. 8 vaccine deadline
The Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccination deadline will not require immediate action on the part of employers against unvaccinated employees when it comes into force on Dec. 8, the White House coronavirus response coordinator said on Wednesday. Some lawyers previously interpreted President Joe Biden's Sept. 9 executive order and subsequent White House guidance requiring all covered federal contractor employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 unless they got a religious or medical exemption.
UK has no plans to scrap COVID red travel list, PM's spokesman says
Britain has no plans to scrap a travel red list country system that requires arrivals to stay in a hotel to quarantine, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
Exclusive: Tens of millions of J&J COVID-19 shots sit at Baltimore factory
An estimated 30 million to 50 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine made early this year sits idle in Emergent BioSolutions Inc's plant in Baltimore awaiting a green light from U.S. regulators to ship, two sources familiar with the matter said. Emergent, a contract drug manufacturer, is waiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve release of those doses. The agency must still inspect and authorize the plant before Emergent can ship newly manufactured drug substance, one of the sources said.
Australia eases COVID-19 travel advisory ahead of border reopening
Australia on Thursday eased its COVID-related travel advice for several countries including the United States, Britain and Canada as it prepares to reopen its borders next week for the first time in over 18 months. Australia will lift its outbound travel ban for fully vaccinated residents from Nov. 1 following a strong uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, as Sydney and Melbourne, its biggest cities, look to welcome overseas travellers without quarantine.
As ‘test to stay’ gears up nationwide, Massachusetts’ ‘rocky’ rollout raises questions
Massachusetts is drawing praise and even imitation for its “test-to-stay” approach to keep kids in school during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the realities of the policy’s implementation have been less than rosy, overburdening school nurses and requiring the National Guard be sent in to counter personnel shortages. Test to stay allows students to attend in-person classes and partake in extracurricular activities provided they test negative every day — an option aimed at keeping more kids in class, more often. In other states, many schools are choosing to quarantine all students who come into close contact with someone who tests positive, which has amounted to tens of thousands of missed days of school for people who have not been infected with the virus. The approach has been heralded as a “success” and a “simple solution.” This month, there are even some indications that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will endorse test to stay. On Oct. 13, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a press briefing that the agency was working with states to evaluate test to stay as a “promising potential new strategy for schools,” and that guidance would be forthcoming.
WHO, partners seek $23.4 bln for new COVID-19 war chest
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups on Thursday appealed to leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies to fund a $23.4 billion plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines, tests and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Group of 20, whose leaders are meeting in Rome at the weekend, had the political and financial power needed to end the pandemic by funding the plan, which he said could save five million lives. The latest update of the so-called Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), until September 2022, is expected to include use of an experimental oral antiviral pill made by Merck & Co (MRK.N) for treating mild and moderate cases
Beijing city mandates COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for some workers
Beijing city is demanding a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for some key workers, making it the first key Chinese metropolis to publicly articulate a booster mandate, as the country combats a fresh outbreak caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Having vaccinated about 76% of its 1.41 billion population with complete doses as of Oct. 23, China is pushing eligible people to get an additional injection, in a bid to strengthen immunity. Key workers for construction sites, including cooks, security guards and cleaning personnel, can only be hired if they have received a booster dose, Ding Sheng, vice director at Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said on Thursday.
Partisan Exits
NYPD Has 10000 Unvaccinated Officers as Mandate Deadline Approaches
Nearly a third of New York Police Department cops are unvaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the city’s Friday deadline. The Police Benevolent Association, which represents 24,000 cops in the most populous U.S. city, said 10,000 of the roughly 35,000 uniformed NYPD officers have not gotten the shot. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio eliminated the test-out option and said all city employees must receive their first vaccine dose by Oct. 29 or face unpaid leave. The union is fighting the mandate in court, but a judge has refused to block it in the meantime. It’s not clear what effect the drop in staff will have on the operations of the nation’s largest police force, but de Blasio on Thursday sought to assure New Yorkers they will be safe.
NYC firefighters are planning a protest at the mayor's home over vaccine rules
New York City firefighters plan to take their protests over the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday. The mayor approved a vaccine mandate that forces all public employees in the city to get a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1, or risk losing their jobs. He added: "Death from coronavirus appears much closer than I imagined." Ukraine is suffering through a surge in coronavirus infections, along with other parts of Eastern Europe and Russia While vaccines are plentiful, there is a widespread reluctance to get them in many countries — though notable exceptions include the Baltic nations, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary.
Vaccine reluctance in Eastern Europe brings high COVID cost
Truck driver Andriy Melnik never took the coronavirus seriously. With a friend, he bought a fake vaccination certificate so his travel documents would appear in order when he hauled cargo to other parts of Europe. His view changed after the friend caught COVID-19 and ended up in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. “It's not a tall tale. I see that this disease kills, and strong immunity wouldn't be enough -- only a vaccine can offer protection,” said Melnik, 42, as he waited in Kyiv to get his shot. “I'm really scared and I'm pleading with doctors to help me correct my mistake."
Covid-19 Victoria: Daniel Andrews is labelled a 'dictator' over pandemic laws in Parliament
Victoria's state of emergency laws expire on December 15 after 21 months. Premier Daniel Andrews wants to pass sweeping new laws to replace them. The Health Minister will have the power to enforce lockdowns and quarantine. There will be fines of up to $90,870 for individuals and $454,350 for businesses
Brazil probe of Bolsonaro offers COVID-19 families solace
The morning after a Brazilian Senate committee recommended criminal indictments for President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bruna Chaves, who lost her mother to the disease, was venting her pain in an emotional grief support group session. “It wasn’t my mom’s time to go,” she told the others Wednesday inside an ecumenical chapel in Rio de Janeiro. “Somebody needs to be blamed.” A government body laying blame at the president’s feet in the form of a nearly 1,300-page report is already helping bring solace and validation to the mournful nation with the world’s second highest death toll from the virus and eighth highest per capita.
Scientific Viewpoint
Israel Needs More Jabs, Tourist Safeguards to Avoid Fifth Covid Wave
Israel must do more to break down vaccine resistance and implement tougher safeguards as foreign tourists start returning next month, or risk a fifth Covid-19 wave, public health experts are warning. The increasingly urgent calls will be closely monitored worldwide as Israel has often been ahead of the curve in handling the coronavirus, from sweeping restrictions and vaccine programs to renewed outbreaks as its economy reopened. It’s in the vanguard again with the world’s first widespread booster program, which dramatically brought down a surge in cases generated by the delta variant, but it’s being warned of another critical juncture ahead.
Delta Variant Is Spread by Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People Alike, Study Shows
People inoculated against Covid-19 are just as likely to spread the delta variant of the virus to contacts in their household as those who haven’t had shots, according to new research. In a yearlong study of 621 people in the U.K. with mild Covid-19, scientists found that their peak viral load was similar regardless of vaccination status, according to a paper published Thursday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal. The analysis also found that 25% of vaccinated household contacts still contracted the disease from an index case, while 38% of those who hadn’t had shots became infected.
UK study finds vaccinated people easily transmit Delta variant in households
The Delta coronavirus variant can transmit easily from vaccinated people to their household contacts, a British study found on Thursday, although contacts were less likely to get infected if they were vaccinated themselves. The Imperial College London study illustrates how the highly transmissible Delta variant can spread even in a vaccinated population. The researchers underlined that did not weaken the argument for vaccination as the best way of reducing serious illness from COVID-19 and said booster shots were required.
WHO says seeks more data from Merck on COVID anti-viral, from Bharat on vaccine
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it was seeking further data from Merck on its experimental new antiviral COVID-19 pill and hoped to issue guidance in coming weeks regarding its use for mild and moderate cases. "This is a drug that we are currently evaluating and we met with Merck on Friday to discuss data from their current clinical trials that are under way in other countries," WHO expert Maria van Kerkhove told a news conference where she was asked about Merck's molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Covid-19: global vaccine production is a mess and shortages are down to more than just hoarding
In March 2021 drug manufacturers predicted that 12 billion doses of covid-19 vaccine, enough to fully immunise at least 70% of the world’s population, could be manufactured by the end of the year.1 That assessment was confirmed in September in a report by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations,2 though it also warned that “most doses in the production queue are already allocated” to high income countries. At the time of writing, only 1.3% of people in low income countries have received their jabs. Seventy countries have yet to vaccinate 10% of their populations, and 30 countries—including much of Africa—have vaccinated fewer than 2%.3 In Latin America, only one in four of the population has received a dose of covid vaccine.
Sixty million vaccine doses to be made on Teesside if regulator gives approval
Sixty million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine will be produced on Teesside if approval is given by the UK's medicine regulator. The manufacturer has submitted final data on the vaccine to the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) - and anticipates a "positive decision". If successful, it would mean all 60 million doses of the vaccine Britain has ordered would be produced by Fujifilm in Billingham. Stanley Erck, Novavax president, said: "This submission brings Novavax significantly closer to delivering millions of doses of the first protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, built on a proven, well-understood vaccine platform that demonstrated high efficacy against multiple strains of the coronavirus." According to the results of a phase three trial, announced in March, the jab offers 100% protection against severe disease, including all hospital admission and death.
90 per cent of people in Delhi have antibodies against Covid-19, says sero survey
More than 90 per cent of people in India’s capital city have developed antibodies against the coronavirus, according to a latest serological survey. A Delhi government official told the media: “We have found Covid antibodies in more than 90 per cent of the samples collected during the sixth round of the survey.” However, the official cautioned that “we cannot say Delhi has achieved herd immunity despite such a high level of seroprevalence.” Experts say this high level of seroprevalence indicates that Delhi might not suffer any devastating Covid waves anytime soon. But it all depends on whether any other variant of the virus emerges in the city, they cautioned.
Cheap antidepressant shows promise treating early COVID-19
The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about $2,000 and Merck s experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about $700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus. Researchers tested the antidepressant in nearly 1,500 Brazilians recently infected with coronavirus who were at risk of severe illness because of other health problems, such as diabetes. About half took the antidepressant at home for 10 days, the rest got dummy pills. They were tracked for four weeks to see who landed in the hospital or spent extended time in an emergency room when hospitals were full.
India's Optimus Pharma seeks approval to produce generic Merck COVID-19 pill
Indian bulk drugs manufacturer Optimus Pharma is seeking domestic regulatory approval to produce a generic version of Merck & Co's oral COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir, the company's top executive told Reuters on Thursday. If granted emergency use approval, the company could scale up production to 80 million capsules a month and is targeting a price of 40 cents per capsule, said D. Srinivasa Reddy, managing director at the Hyderabad-based company.
EU set to produce over 3.5 billion COVID vaccine doses in 2022 - chief executive
The European Union will produce more than 3.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines next year, the head of the bloc's excutive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday. She added that the majority of these vaccines will be shipped abroad.
U.S. CDC panel to discuss COVID-19 shots for younger kids on Nov. 2
An advisory panel of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Nov. 2 to discuss the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children aged between 5 and 11 years. Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the regulator authorize Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine for younger children.
Pfizer gets U.S. contract for 50 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses for kids
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Thursday they expect to deliver 50 million more doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. government by April-end, as the country prepares to vaccinate children. The move comes after a panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted on Tuesday to recommend its authorization for the vaccine in children aged 5 to 11. The agency's decision on the vaccine for the age group is awaited. If authorized and subsequently recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) advisory panel, the companies said they expect to then begin shipping the vaccine immediately, in 10 microgram pediatric doses, as directed by the U.S. government.
Merck sees up to $7 billion in sales of COVID-19 drug through end of 2022
Merck & Co Inc on Thursday said its experimental COVID-19 drug could bring in between $5 billion and $7 billion in sales through the end of next year, assuming it gains U.S. authorization in December. Merck's shares rose more than 4% to $84.88 in early trading. The antiviral drug, molnupiravir, has been closely watched since Merck earlier this month reported data that showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 when given early in the illness.
Israel expected to recognize Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine
Israel will likely allow tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to enter Israel next month, The Jerusalem Post has confirmed. The news comes only days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and less than a week after an announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office that only travelers inoculated with a vaccine recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organization would be able to enter the country. Sputnik V is not approved by any of these bodies.
Study: Nearly all severely allergic people tolerate COVID vaccines
While healthcare workers at a Boston healthcare system with severe allergies reported more reactions after receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, nearly all were able to safely complete the series, according to an observational study yesterday in JAMA Network Open. Researchers at Mass General Brigham and Harvard Medical School mined the electronic health records of 52,998 employees, of whom 97.6% received both doses of vaccine, and 0.9% reported a history of high-risk allergy. The study period was Dec 14, 2020, to Feb 1, 2021. Participants completed a prevaccination allergy risk assessment and at least one postvaccination symptom survey during the 3 days after vaccination.
FDA panel recommends Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids, setting it up for approval
The Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is one step closer to winning FDA approval for use in children. But a rousing debate as to whether inoculating kids would reduce transmission of the virus, coupled with some hesitancy from parents, is raising questions about how the approval will impact demand for the shot. A positive recommendation from the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday set the vaccine up for a green light in the coming days. The panel voted 17-0, with one abstention, to extend the vaccine to kids between the ages of 5 and 11. It would become the first to be approved in the United States for this age group, which includes 28 million kids. The Pfizer dosage for children is one-third the size of that for those age 12 and older. The second of the two-shot series can be administered three weeks after the first.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Singapore probes unusual surge in COVID-19 cases after record
Singapore is looking into an "unusual surge" of 5,324 new infections of COVID-19, the city-state's health ministry said, its highest such figure since the beginning of the pandemic, as beds in intensive care units fill up. Ten new deaths on Wednesday carried the toll to 349, after 3,277 infections the previous day, while the ICU utilisation rate is nearing 80%, despite a population that is 84% fully vaccinated, with 14% receiving booster doses. "The infection numbers are unusually high today, mostly due to many COVID-positive cases detected by the testing laboratories within a few hours in the afternoon," the health ministry said in a statement.
COVID infections, deaths dropping across the Americas -health agency
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, reporting that last week the continent's death and infection figures were the lowest in over a year. Many of the larger Caribbean islands are seeing downward trends, including Cuba, the site of a major months-long COVID-19 outbreak. However, Paraguay saw a doubling of coronavirus cases in the last week and Belize a sharp jump in COVID-related deaths, the regional branch of the World Health Organization said in a briefing.
UK reports 43941 more COVID-19 cases, 207 further deaths
Britain on Wednesday reported 43,941 more cases of COVID-19 and 207 further deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.
Germany's COVID caseload makes biggest leap in two weeks
Germany's coronavirus caseload took its biggest jump in two weeks on Thursday, with over 28,000 new infections, the Robert Koch Institute said, adding heft to worries about restrictions this winter. The number of new infections per 100,000 people over seven days - one of the metrics used to determine policy measures - stands at 130.2, up 12.2 points from 118.0 the previous day. New infections have been steadily creeping up since mid-October
New Lockdown
Rare plea for help as China's zero tolerance for COVID hits border town
A former vice mayor of a Chinese town on the border with Myanmar lamented local lockdowns and disruptions caused by repeated COVID-19 outbreaks and wrote a rare plea for a "strong" helping hand from Beijing. Ruili, in the province of Yunnan, has faced some of the toughest curbs in the country under Beijing's zero-tolerance policy, as a key international transit point for southwest China, following multiple outbreaks since last year.
Moscow locks down as Russian COVID-19 deaths surge to new highs
The Russian capital brought in its strictest COVID-19 related lockdown measures in more than a year on Thursday as nationwide one-day pandemic deaths and infections hit new highs amid slow vaccination take-up across the world's biggest country. Moscow's partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open and schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown from Oct. 30