Thursday, August 19, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

Data Hints 4 In 5 South Africans May Have Had Covid

Data on South Africa’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths suggest 80% of the population may have had covid, making it one of the worst-hit nations. Meanwhile, the U.S. is suggesting that next month’s UN General Assembly should be virtual to prevent it from becoming a superspreader.

Deaths Data Shows 80% Of South Africans May Have Had Covid

As many as four out of five South Africans may have contracted the coronavirus, indicating that the country may be one of the world’s hardest-hit nations by the disease, the chief actuary at Africa’s biggest health insurer said. Emile Stipp, the actuary at Discovery Health, based his calculations on the country’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths, a measure of the number of fatalities compared with an historical average. They are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of the pandemic than the official toll. (Sguazzin, 8/18)

US Urges Over 150 World Leaders Not To Come To UN Over COVID

The United States is urging the more than 150 countries planning to send their leader or a government minister to New York to speak in person at the U.N. General Assembly next month to consider giving a video address instead to prevent the annual high-level week from becoming “a super-spreader event.” A note from the U.S. Mission sent to the 192 other U.N. member nations also called for all other U.N.-hosted meetings and side events to be virtual, saying these parallel meetings that draw travelers to New York “needlessly increase risk to our community, New Yorkers and the other travelers.” (Lederer, 8/19)

COVID Evacuation Flights Help Overseas Travelers Get Back Home 

There’s a lot of pent-up demand for overseas travel, but one thing holding Americans back is the worry that they’ll be stranded in a foreign country if they contract COVID-19 while traveling. The U.S. requires all arriving air passengers — vaccinated or not, including Americans returning home — to test negative for COVID-19 no more than three days before their trip. (Muller, 8/19)

New Zealand’s PM Says Scientists Have Solved COVID Outbreak “Puzzle” 

New Zealand scientists linked the country’s growing COVID-19 cluster to the Delta outbreak that began in Sydney, Australia — and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday they’re “fairly certain” they’ve found the source. Since the country entered its highest pandemic restrictions just before midnight Tuesday over one positive local test result, scientists have uncovered links to a traveler who arrived in NZ from Sydney on Aug. 7. (Falconer, 8/19)

Latvians Protest Mandatory Vaccination

Thousands of people took to the streets of Latvia’s capital of Riga late Wednesday to protest mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. The Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency, said the number of people exceeded the maximum allowed for public protests, people did not observe distance, and many didn’t wear face masks. (8/19)

Mexico Covid Cases Rise By Record 28,953 Amid Third Wave

Mexico reported a record daily rise in Covid-19 cases with 28,953, bringing the total to 3,152,205, the Health Ministry said in its daily report Wednesday. The ministry reported 940 new Covid-19 deaths for a total of 250,469. Mexico had vaccinated 61% of adults as of Aug. 16 with at least one dose, a little more than half having received complete vaccination, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Twitter on Tuesday. Of Mexico’s Covid-19 deaths in 2021, 95.5% were unvaccinated people, 2.5% were partially vaccinated and 2% vaccinated, Lopez-Gatell said. (Orozco, 8/18)

The Washington Post:
Nicole Kidman Exempt From Hong Kong’s Tough Quarantine Rule, Sparking Backlash

Olympic medalists, the heads of global banks and every other Hong Kong resident must go through between 14 and 21 days of mandatory quarantine, among the world’s strictest border control rules. But not Nicole Kidman, who was spotted shopping in the city just two days after her arrival. The Daily Mail Australia first reported that Kidman boarded a private plane in Sydney headed for Hong Kong, where she is shooting a television series about expatriates in the city. (Mahtani, 8/19)

Singapore To Deport Briton Who Refused To Wear Mask, Reports Say

Singapore will deport a U.K. national who repeatedly refused to wear a mask in defiance of the Asian city-state’s strict social distancing rules, CNA reported. Photos of Benjamin Glynn not wearing a mask on a train in Singapore’s central business district went viral, and he was charged for that violation as well as subsequently showing up for a court appearance without a mask. According to the Straits Times, Glynn during the court trial said he was a “sovereign” to whom the charges didn’t apply, an argument the Singaporean court rejected. Police officers testified Glynn had told them Covid-19 was a “hoax” and that vaccines were bad for human health, the newspaper reported. (Wallbank, 8/19)

On Havana syndrome —

The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Officials In Germany Hit By Havana Syndrome 

At least two U.S. officials stationed in Germany sought medical treatment after developing symptoms of the mysterious health complaint known as Havana Syndrome, U.S. diplomats said. The symptoms, which included nausea, severe headaches, ear pain, fatigue, insomnia and sluggishness, began to emerge in recent months and some victims were left unable to work, the diplomats said. They are the first cases to be reported in a NATO country that hosts U.S. troops and nuclear weapons. (Pancevski, 8/18)

Also —

World Flu Activity Stays Sporadic; Flu B More Common Than Flu A

Global flu activity remained at very low levels, as it has for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, with influenza B the most commonly detected strain, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update, which covers the last half of July. Flu is still at interseasonal levels in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Sporadic detections were reported in some parts of the world, including western and eastern Africa and in some South Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. (8/18)

‘WeThe15’ Stresses Rights Of 1.2 Billion With Disabilities

The opening next week of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo is being used as a stage to launch a human-rights movement aimed at the world’s 1.2 billion people with disabilities. The campaign is called “WeThe15”and gets its name from World Health Organization estimates that persons with disabilities represent 15% of the global population. The campaign is being spearheaded by the International Paralympic Committee, UN Human Rights, the International Disability Alliance, and others. (Wade, 8/19)

The Washington Post:
Polish Olympian Auctions Off Silver Medal To Help Pay For Infant’s Surgery

For Maria Andrejczyk, something mattered more than the silver medal she won in the javelin during the Tokyo Olympics. So the bone cancer survivor decided to auction her medal to raise money to help pay for surgery for an 8-month-old baby with a heart defect. … On Monday, she wrote that a $125,000 bid from Zabka, a Polish convenience store chain, was the winner, with funds set to help the child have surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. (Boren, 8/18)

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