Coronavirus: Latest from around world - Thursday, October 21

Britain's health minister Sajid Javid on Wednesday resisted calls from doctors for fresh measures to halt a rising wave of COVID-19 infections despite their warnings that hospitals are on the edge of being overwhelmed.

Britain reported 223 new deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since March, and cases are the highest in Europe, with nearly 50,000 new infections reported on Wednesday. 

As of Thursday morning, there have been 242.5 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed globally with 4.9 million deaths.

Here's the latest from around the world:



Travel restrictions between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, eased on Wednesday as Victoria opened its borders to fully-vaccinated residents from New South Wales amid a rapid rise in immunisation levels.

With cases trending lower in New South Wales, including Sydney, residents will be allowed quarantine-free entry into Victoria for the first time in more than three months. Travellers from Melbourne who wish to enter Sydney, however, must undergo a two-week home quarantine. 

All players that want a visa to compete in the Australian Open will need to be fully vaccinated, the country's minister for immigration said on Wednesday, putting the participation of World number one Novak Djokovic in doubt. Djokovic, who is bidding for a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has declined to reveal his vaccination status, and has said he is unsure if he would defend his Australian Open crown. 

Coronavirus: Latest from around world - Thursday, October 21
Photo credit: Getty Images


Thai government officials on Wednesday inspected the readiness of the country's airports to welcome quarantine-free travellers, due to return next month after almost two years of strict COVID-19 rules that halted vital tourism.

From November 1, the country will allow vaccinated arrivals from low risk countries to return to its popular destinations like Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Tourism before the pandemic was a leading driver of the economy, accounting for 12 percent of GDP. But the tourism authority has forecast foreign arrivals will drop to just 100,000 this year, down from 40 million in 2019 before the pandemic struck.


Singapore will extend its social curbs to contain the spread of COVID-19 for around a month in order to ease the pressure on the healthcare system, the government said on Wednesday.

The city-state in late September reimposed curbs that include limiting social interactions and dining out to two people in order to slow virus transmission. However, daily cases have continued to rise and hit a record 3994 on Tuesday.

While Singapore has vaccinated more than 80 percent of its 5.45 million population, asymptomatic or mild cases have been rising steadily, spreading the virus and mounting pressure on hospitals and medical staff.

Coronavirus: Latest from around world - Thursday, October 21
Photo credit: Getty Images


United States 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday ordered all city employees to show proof of inoculation against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave, drawing criticism from a police union which vowed to fight the mandate in court.

The mayor set a deadline of 5pm on Friday, October 29, for employees to show proof to a supervisor. Seventy-one percent of all 160,000 New York City workers have already received at least one dose, the mayor said.


Brazilian senators investigating the handling of the country's COVID-19 outbreak have dropped a recommendation from their draft report that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with genocide and homicide, instead accusing him of "crimes against humanity."

Senators leading the congressional probe met late on Tuesday to discuss a report prepared by opposition Senator Renan Calheiros, and agreeing to remove the homicide and genocideaccusations due to what one senator called technical reasons.

The draft report still needs to be voted on by the Senate commission and could be vetoed and altered.

Jair Bolsonaro.
Jair Bolsonaro. Photo credit: Getty Images



Russia, which boasted of developing one of the earliest COVID-19 vaccines, has been unable to persuade large swathes of the population to take it, and is now facing its highest daily death rates of the pandemic.

President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that the period from October 30 to November 7 would be "non-working days", although salaries would still be paid. Individual regions could extend the shutdown for longer in response to local conditions.

Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Getty Images


As an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 fatalities engulfs Romania, funeral home owner Sebastian Cocos is struggling to source coffins and keep up with a faster pace of burials.

But for him, nothing brings home the scale of what is currently the world's deadliest epidemic more than the mourners who keep returning.

"There were families who buried up to four people in two weeks, and that is not easy," he told Reuters.

With COVID-19 killing one person every five minutes on average this month in a country where the inoculation rate is worryingly low, he says activity both at his funeral home and across the industry has risen 50 percent.


Bulgaria, where only a quarter of the population has taken a first dose of vaccine, banned access to indoor public spaces this week for anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from a recent infection. 

Schools in areas with high infection rates will have to shift to online teaching.

"The number of new infections and deaths is rising. That forces us to impose additional measures. All activities indoors should be carried out with a 'green certificate'," interim Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov told reporters.


Poland's health minister said on Wednesday "drastic measures" could be needed to respond to a sudden surge of infections there, although he said no new lockdown was being considered. 

"Over the last two days we have seen an explosion of the pandemic," Adam Niedzielski told a news conference. "We have increases from week to week of 85 percent and over 100 percent."



Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced.

The East African nation, which has a population of 54 million, has recorded 252,199 infections since the pandemic erupted and 5233 COVID-19 deaths, health ministry data shows.

It has received 7.5 million doses of vaccines so far and 4.5 million people have had at least one dose, the data shows.


Burundi on Monday rolled out its first COVID-19 vaccines, months after most African countries, the latest step in the East African nation's shift towards a more active approach to containing the pandemic.

The vaccination campaign started in the commercial capital of Bujumbura without fanfare. Dozens of city residents queued quietly at a vaccination site, telling Reuters they heard about the drive through word of mouth.

No government officials were present to officially inaugurate the launch.

Middle East


Kuwait has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated people, its prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, told a news conference on Wednesday.

He did not give further details during the televised event.

Kuwait airport will resume operating at full capacity from October 24, the cabinet spokesman told the same news conference.

The Gulf country has been witnessing a gradual return to normal life as daily cases of coronavirus have steadily declined.