(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
China reimposes some border restrictions
Mainland China has barred entry to some travellers from Britain and Belgium and set strict testing requirements on visitors from the United States, France and Germany, as it reimposed border restrictions in response to rising global coronavirus cases.
The suspension was a partial reversal of an easing on Sept. 28, when China allowed all foreigners with valid residence permits to enter. In March, China had banned entry of foreigners in response to the epidemic.
From Friday, all passengers from the United States, France and Germany bound for mainland China must take both a nucleic acid test and a blood test for coronavirus antibodies. The tests must be done no more than 48 hours before boarding. Similar requirements were imposed on travellers from countries such as Australia, Singapore and Japan, effective from Nov. 8.
Denmark culls minks after mutation spreads to humans
Denmark will cull its mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday. Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink that showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of any vaccines, Frederiksen said.
The head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, called on Friday for full-scale scientific investigations of the complex issue of humans – outside China – infecting mink which in turn transmitted the virus back to humans.
Outbreaks at mink farms have persisted in the Nordic country, the world’s largest producer of mink furs, despite repeated efforts to cull infected animals since June. Minks have also been culled in the Netherlands and Spain after infections were discovered.
Italy’s new measures to come into effect on Friday
Italy’s latest measures to try to curb its coronavirus epidemic will come into force from Friday instead of Thursday as previously announced, the prime minister’s office said. The delay “will allow everyone to have enough time to organise their activities”, the office said in a statement.
The new restrictions include the division of the country’s 20 regions into red (high risk), orange (medium risk) and green (low risk) zones, depending on various factors, including infection rates and hospital occupancy.
Nationwide limits will also be imposed, such as a nighttime curfew, closure of museums and exhibitions, the shutting of shopping centres on weekends, curbs on capacity of public transport and moving high-school classes online.
Britain and Australia vaccine developments
The timetable for delivery of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate has slipped and Britain will receive just 4 million doses of the shot this year, the head of Britain’s vaccine procurement programme said.
In May, Britain had agreed a deal for 100 million doses of the vaccine, with 30 million doses estimated for delivery by September.
Vaccine Taskforce Chair Kate Bingham said the scale-up in manufacturing usually took years but instead was moving at unprecedented speed, adding that the full 100 million doses would be delivered next year.
Separately, Australia has agreed to purchase another 50 million doses of two more COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, as it aims to complete a mass inoculation programme within months.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel)