Over the past seven days, all WHO regions recorded declines in new COVID-19 case numbers except Africa which saw its fifth consecutive week of increases. The WHO Director-General this week said that ‘the steep increase in Africa is especially concerning’. Namibia, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia are flagged in the latest regional weekly bulletin for their rising infection rates, while ‘Botswana, Namibia, Cape Verde and Seychelles are all exhibiting uncontrolled community transmission’. The government in Tanzania is set to start releasing COVID-19 data ‘soon’ in response to pressure from the UN and international financial institutions – there have been no disease updates since April 2020 when the official count was 509 cases and 21 deaths. Read more
In related news:
- The WHO has designated a new variant of interest (VOI) first detected in Peru in Aug 2020. Lambda is the seventh VOI and has become increasingly prevalent in several South American countries. Read more in the June 15 WHO epi update.
- On June 9 the RANZCOG and ATAGI released a joint statement on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women, recommending they are ‘routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby.’
- Public health measures introduced for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage (17-22 July) will limit attendance to people from within Saudi Arabia and numbers are restricted to 60,000 pilgrims between the ages of 18 and 65 years. Read more
- Data released by Public Health England suggests high efficacy against hospitalisation with the Delta variant for two vaccines (following two doses): 96 percent for Comirnaty and 92 percent for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
- Four countries are hosting trials of the Pfizer vaccine in children, with the Phase 2/3 using lower doses for the age group of five to 11 years, followed at a later date by children of two to four years and then under two years. News reports state that the trial will be carried out over two years. Read more
- Human subjects are being sought by Brisbane-based researchers for trials of a COVID-19 vaccine delivered by nasal spray. Read more
- Germany’s new CovPass app, which provides digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination, is expected to be available to fully vaccinated residents by the end of this month. According to a VOA article, ‘the yellow paper WHO-issued vaccination certificates will still be honored as well’. The app is aligned with the EU certificate which is planned to be in use for a period of 12 months from July 1. Read more
- The UEFA European Football Championship is underway in 11 host countries until July 11. The reduced number of spectators (around 460,000) must ‘comply with border entry restrictions, including COVID-19 restrictions, and requirements that will be in force at the time of the games in the hosting country as well as COVID-19 restrictions to access the stadiums, which may necessitate, for some venues, proof of negative COVID-19 test, and/or vaccination, and/or proof of COVID-19 diagnosis within certain period’. The ECDC is monitoring the events and will release weekly reports on any significant health-related incidents. Read more
Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.