Mexico gets 6m vaccines as pressure grows to up jabs

A healthcare worker injects a boy with a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, during a vaccination drive for children from 12-17, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, on Oct 20, 2021. (ISABEL MATEOS / AP)

MOSCOW / LONDON / MEXICO CITY – Mexico's health ministry said it had on Saturday received nearly 6 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses against COVID-19 as pressure grows on the government to widen its vaccination roll-out to include children.

The shipment of 5,993,700 doses followed the arrival of almost 6.5 million Sputnik V vaccine doses on Tuesday, easily the two biggest vaccine consignments Mexico has received, according to data on the ministry's website.

Mexico has fully vaccinated against COVID-19 around 56 million people, or over 43 percent of the population, according to Our World in Data, a research group at Oxford University

Mexico has fully vaccinated against COVID-19 around 56 million people, or over 43 percent of the population, according to Our World in Data, a research group at Oxford University.

The government has yet to undertake a broad inoculation program for children, saying only that it would vaccinate up to a million aged between 12 and 17 deemed to be at high risk.

However, media reported this week that a court had ordered health authorities to give more vaccinations to children aged 12-17 just as other countries do so.

Separately, the health ministry reported 3,478 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 325 more fatalities, bringing Mexico's overall death toll from the pandemic to 288,276 and the total number of cases to 3,805,765.

Officials have said the ministry's figures likely represent a significant undercount of both COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Cuba

The number of daily coronavirus cases in Cuba continues to fall as the government eases COVID-19 measures across the country.

It comes as the Caribbean nation on Saturday reported 712 new cases, marking the lowest number of infections since mid-July.

According to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, there are 4,109 active cases of COVID-19 in Cuba, 119 of whom are in intensive care units.

The island nation has recorded 20,503 new infections in the last fortnight, with the province of Camaguey posting 3,421 cases, followed by the province of Holguin with 2,678 and the province of Pinar del Rio with 2,643.

Meanwhile, Havana, the country's most populous city with around 2.2 million residents, logged 1,277 new infections in a period of 15 days.

Francisco Duran, national director of epidemiology at Cuban health ministry, said that the epidemiological situation in Cuba has improved over the past few months, citing the high vaccination rates and active public participation in tackling the health emergency.

"Cuba shows positive indicators in the fight against the virus, but people should strictly follow coronavirus protocols to avoid getting infected," he said during a televised COVID-19 briefing.

The Cuban government has lifted COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, including the gradual reopening of theme parks, sports facilities, and cafeterias.

Local authorities have also given the green light for beaches and swimming pools to reopen, albeit with coronavirus protocols in place.

Starting on Monday, national bus, train, and ferry services will resume operations as universities gear up to reopen for face-to-face learning, local media reported.

Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of the country's eligible population have received a second dose of a homegrown vaccine.

To date, Cuba has confirmed 951,325 infections and 8,230 deaths since the pandemic first hit the island in March 2020.

Greece

Greece recorded 4,696 cases on Saturday, a new daily high since the beginning of the pandemic. 

A committee of health experts is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss imposing new measures mainly in regions with high number of unvaccinated people. Just above 70 percent of adults have gotten at least one dose. 

The aim of any further potential measures will be to convince citizens to get vaccinated, Gkikas Magiorkinis, an adviser to the government on COVID-19 said Saturday on Skai TV.

Russia

Russia posted another unprecedented one-day surge with 40,993 new infections that pushed the total tally past 8.5 million cases. Deaths rose by 1,158 to exceed 238,500.

President Vladimir Putin declared that Oct 30 to Nov 7 will be non-working days in Russia in a bid to curb the virus transmission. Lockdowns in some regions, including the capital – Moscow – started earlier last week.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday proposed that the Group of 20 countries should solve as soon as possible the problem of mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination certificates.

Not all countries in need can obtain access to vaccines and other vital resources due to unfair competition, protectionism and a lack of mutual recognition of vaccines, Putin said via video link at the first session of the 16th G20 Leaders' Summit.

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He also called on the G20 members to develop mechanisms for a systematic and prompt update of vaccines given the fact that the coronavirus continues to mutate.

Putin stressed the importance of increasing international cooperation in healthcare and accentuated the role of the World Health Organization, saying that steps that would infringe upon its prerogatives are unacceptable. 

UK

Another 41,278 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 9,019,962, according to official figures released Saturday.

The country also reported a further 166 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 140,558. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

There are currently 8,983 patients in hospital with COVID-19.

The latest data came as coronavirus infections in England have increased to their highest level since the beginning of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Around one in 50 people had the virus in the week ending Oct. 22, the highest level since Jan. 2, the ONS reported.

ALSO READ: UK falls behind Europe on virus as mutation draws focus

The pandemic appears to be growing in England, as the coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number in England is estimated to have risen to between 1.1 and 1.3.

The R number indicates the average number of people each COVID-positive person goes on to infect.

More than 86 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 79 percent have received both doses, the latest figures showed. Meanwhile, more than 13 percent have received booster jabs, or third doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.