Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world overnight - Thursday, September 16

Here's the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the world overnight.

Europe 

Vatican

Pope Francis said on Wednesday he was puzzled why so many people, including some cardinals in Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, have refused to get inoculated against COVID-19.

"It is a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines," he said. "As children (we were vaccinated) for measles, polio. All the children were vaccinated and no one said anything." 

UK

Small companies in Britain, which demanded that their insurers cover claims for losses accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic, have received more than one billion pounds in full and interim business interruption payouts to date.

Britain recorded a further 201 daily deaths from COVID-19 and 30,597 new cases on Wednesday, official data showed. In the last seven days the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive COVID test was up 4.4 percent on the week before. Weekly case numbers have started to fall, down 18.4 percent.

Italy

Italy is set to make its COVID-19 "Green Pass" mandatory for all workers from next month, a minister said on Wednesday, becoming the first European country to do so as it tries to accelerate vaccinations and stamp out infections. The nation reported 73 new deaths and 4830 infections.

Turkey

Turkey logged 28,224 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number of daily infections since May 4, health ministry data showed. Turkey also recorded 248 deaths.

Sweden

Sweden will ramp up efforts to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 in the face of a flagging inoculation drive, with authorities warning on Wednesday that the unvaccinated might have to live with restrictions longer.

More than 80 percent of Swedes aged 16 and above - the group eligible for the vaccines - have had one shot and almost 75 percent are fully vaccinated. However, some neighbourhoods, primarily low-income areas and ones with higher foreign-born population, lag the rest of the country.

Portugal

Portugal has fully inoculated 80 percent of its population against the coronavirus, official data showed, becoming one of the world's most vaccinated nations as authorities gradually drop most COVID-19 restrictions.

Americas

COVID-19 infections have risen by a third in North America over the past week, due to surges in the United States and Canada, where new infections have doubled in the province of Alberta, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

As more adults get their COVID-19 vaccines, children who are not yet eligible for vaccination in most countries are representing a larger percentage of hospitalisations and even death, it also said.

US

The United States is reporting more than 100,000 new daily infections for the first time since January.

With little fanfare, all of the Federal Reserve's regional banks have followed the Minneapolis Fed's July decision to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cuba

Cuba on Thursday will seek World Health Organization (WHO) approval of three COVID-19 vaccines, according to the state-run corporation that produces them, as it begins administering shots en masse to toddlers.

Asia-Pacific

China

China has fully vaccinated 91 percent of students aged 12-17 against the coronavirus, state television reported on Wednesday, although authorities said schools need to be vigilant.

Australia

A curfew imposed on more than 2 million people in the 12 Sydney suburbs hardest hit by the spread of the Delta variant ended on Wednesday night.

Officials said first-dose vaccination levels have reached 80 percent of the New South Wales adult population, while the dual-dose rate in Sydney's home state stands at 48 percent now. That's above the national average of 43 percent, but well below the 70 percent level that will trigger the easing of other curbs first imposed three months ago.

Vaccines and research

US Food and Drug Administration scientists said on Wednesday that a third booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine generates a higher immune response in recipients, but stopped short of saying the extra shots are needed broadly.

Scientists are begging rich countries to halt their COVID-19 vaccine booster campaigns, saying they could be prolonging the pandemic by not donating them to countries with minimal coverage

India is considering resuming exports of COVID-19 vaccines soon, mainly to Africa, as it has partly immunised a majority of its adults and supplies have surged, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Reuters / Newshub.