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COVID-19

U.S. requires embassy staff in Afghanistan to telework amid COVID-19 outbreak

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

Staff in the U.S. embassy in Kabul are being required to telework, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, citing a “significant outbreak of COVID-19” that has sickened officials and killed one local embassy staffer.

The embassy was taking steps to ensure safety of staff by “requiring all staff to telework and to adhere to physical distancing, masking requirements and other applicable regulations,” Price said.

Price declined to say how many embassy staff had been infected, but said 95% of the cases at the embassy were individuals who were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated against the virus.

“We are saddened by the deaths of many valiant Afghans who’ve been sickened by this pandemic and we in fact grieve the passing of a local embassy staff member,” Price said, adding normal embassy operations would resume when “the chain of transmission has been broken.”

COVID-19

China says 76% of population fully vaccinated against COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

China has given complete doses of COVID-19 vaccines to about 75.6% of its population as of Oct. 23, National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Sunday.

Some 1.068 billion people have now been inoculated with the required dosages, out of a population of 1.412 billion, Mi told a news briefing.

The country administered 2.245 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Saturday, official data showed.

China is giving booster shots to adults whose last dose was at least six months earlier, with priority groups including essential workers, older people and those with weaker immune systems, Reuters reported.

Data showed antibodies elicited by vaccines, including the most-used shots from Sinovac and Sinopharm, declined within months.

Wang Huaqing, chief expert for the immunization program at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China would not keep giving people booster shots after booster shots.

“We hope that an ideal vaccine works well with the full doses of immunization,” Wang told the briefing.

“Even if it needs to be strengthened later, the number of boosters is limited,” Wang said. “We hope in the future there will be better vaccines and better vaccination procedures to achieve solid protection among the public.”

China has largely contained the virus in most areas, and the sporadic local outbreaks are tiny compared with those seen in other countries.

However, Mi cautioned on Sunday there is increasing risk that China’s latest outbreak, involving over 100 infections in a week across 11 provincial areas, will spread further.

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COVID-19

Up to 180,000 health workers may have died from COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2021)

Between 80,000 and 180,000 health and care workers may have died from COVID-19 between January of 2020 and May of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

This estimate features in a new WHO working paper based on the 3.45 million coronavirus-related deaths reported globally to the UN health agency up to May; a figure that WHO said may well be at least 60 percent lower than the actual number of victims.

To highlight the need for better protection, WHO was joined by global partners working to end the pandemic, to issue an urgent call for concrete action on behalf of workers in the sector.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reiterated that “the backbone of every health system is its workforce.”

“COVID-19 is a powerful demonstration of just how much we rely on these men and women, and how vulnerable we all are when the people who protect our health are themselves unprotected”, he added.

WHO and partners said that apart from huge concern over deaths, an increasing proportion of the workforce continue to suffer from burnout, stress, anxiety and fatigue.

They are calling on leaders and policy makers to ensure equitable access to vaccines so that health and care workers are prioritized.

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COVID-19

Global COVID-19 cases exceed 236 million, death toll hits 4.83 million

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(Last Updated On: October 11, 2021)

The cumulative total number of global COVID-19 cases has exceeded 236.5 million with the death toll hitting 4.83 million as of Friday, according to the latest data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Specifically, there had been 236,599,025 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,831,486 deaths as of Wednesday, the WHO’s COVID-19 dashboard showed Monday.

In addition, a total of 6.3 billion vaccine doses had been administered across the world as of Saturday, according to the WHO.

The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 44.3 million as of Sunday, with the death toll surpassing 713,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The country’s case count rose to 44,338,297 on Sunday, and its death toll came to 713,154, the CSSE tally showed.

As of early Monday morning, a total of 400,352,880 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across the United States, CSSE data showed.

Reuters reported that in Britain, another 34,574 people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing its total coronavirus cases to 8,154,306, according to official figures released Sunday.

The country also recorded another 38 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 137,735. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

There are currently 6,763 patients in hospital in the UK with COVID-19.

Russia meanwhile confirmed 28,647 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally to 7,775,365, the official monitoring and response center said Sunday.

The nationwide death toll grew by 962, close to a record number of 968 a day earlier, to 216,415. Recoveries increased by 17,274 to 6,858,119.

In Asia, India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 33,971,607 on Monday, as 18,132 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the federal health ministry’s latest data.

The number of new cases recorded in a day are the lowest in the past 215 days, said a statement by the federal health ministry.

Besides, as many as 193 deaths from the pandemic since Sunday morning took the total death toll to 450,782.

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