UK ‘to abolish quarantine for almost all countries’

Travelers arrive at Heathrow's Terminal 5 in west London on Aug 2, 2021 as quarantine restrictions ease.
(TOLGA AKMEN / AFP)

The UK will abolish quarantine for almost all countries, the Sunday Telegraph reports, citing sources.

The current “red list” of 54 countries will be slashed to as few as nine. The changes, that are expected to be announced on Thursday, will allow travelers to visit those countries without having to self-isolate on their return.

South Africa, Brazil and Mexico are expected to be opened up to quarantine-free travel in time for the October half-term break for schools.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has authorized two Cuban-made coronavirus vaccines to be used in the Central American nation, the Cuban state-run pharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma said on Saturday.

Cuban scientists have developed three vaccines against COVID-19, all of which are waiting to receive official recognition from the World Health Organization.

BioCubaFarma said on Twitter that the Health Regulation Authority of Nicaragua's Health Ministry authorized the Abdala and Soberana vaccines for emergency use.

Nicaragua's government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuba is the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to successfully develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Romania

Thousands of protesters marched in Romania’s capital against new restrictions amid a surge in infections that reached a record on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

As intensive-care units reach capacity, the country will require masking in public, cut restaurant capacity in half and close stores at 10 pm.

READ MORE: J&J gains help from rival Merck to make jabs

Protesters in Bucharest, organized by the far-right AUR party, blocked traffic and said proof-of-vaccination certificates were signs of dictatorship.

Romania has one of Europe’s lowest vaccination rates, with almost 29 percent of people receiving at least one dose. That compares with an EU average of 67.7 percent, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Russia

Russia registered 25,219 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the largest daily number since July 16, the government’s task force in charge of fighting the illness said.

Meanwhile, the country's health chief said all the barriers to register Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine with the World Health Organization have been cleared and only some paperwork remains to be completed.

The Sputnik V shot, widely used in Russia and approved for use in over 70 countries, is undergoing a review by the WHO and the European Medicines Agency. Their approval could open up new markets for the shot, especially in Europe.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Saturday that the company which is dealing with Sputnik V registration at WHO only "has to sign a few documents, submit a few additional papers".

The WHO said in July its review of how Russia produces the Sputnik V vaccine had found some issues with the filling of vials at one plant. The manufacturer said it had since addressed all of the WHO's concerns.

US

US President Joe Biden marked the “painful milestone” of 700,000 US deaths from COVID-19, saying it’s a reminder for Americans to get vaccinated. He said “we must not become numb to the sorrow.”

ALSO READ: US virus deaths top 1918 flu estimates

“On this day, and every day, we remember all those we have lost to this pandemic and we pray for their loved ones left behind who are missing a piece of their soul,” Biden said in a statement. “As we do, the astonishing death toll is yet another reminder of just how important it is to get vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Alaska invoked emergency crisis-care protocols at 20 hospitals, which allows for rationing medical care in what is now the US state hardest hit by the virus. The declaration includes several facilities that have already adopted the standards.

The standards give decision-making guidance to hospitals battling with a shortage of resources, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said in a statement. Challenges include limited bed availability, staff and oxygen supplies, it said.

Alaska has by far the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 infections in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.