Illinois will require everyone in schools to wear masks indoors and has mandated jabs for state employees in high-risk settings to combat rising Covid-19 cases. “Far too few school districts” have indicated they plan to follow recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the new academic year begins, governor Jay Pritzker said.
The New York International Auto Show has been cancelled for a second straight year, a casualty of tighter restrictions in the city and concerns over the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The announcement on Wednesday came a day after New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said patrons of indoor public places, such as gyms, restaurants and entertainment venues, will be required to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 in order to gain entry from August 16.
Organisers of a popular beer festival in Chicago have cancelled this year’s event. “With increasing Covid-19 cases and associated risks, we do not believe it is the right choice to move forward with the festival at this time,” organisers of Hyde Park Summer Fest said after consulting with “various stakeholders”.
Israel will bring back outdoor mask use for large groups, send half of its public sector employees home and ask people to refrain from unnecessary indoor gatherings as a surge of the Delta variant tests one of the world’s most vaccinated nations. New cases surged to over 3,000 Tuesday, up from a few dozen a day just a month ago, and health minister Nitzan Horowitz said the country may have to impose a fresh lockdown over the coming High Holy Days if severe hospitalisations continue to climb.
The UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said on Wednesday. “After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16 to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for the JCVI, said.
Walgreens has reported a surge in vaccinations in US states where overall take-up rates had lagged, a sign that concerns over the Delta variant and a recent wave of new cases is fuelling demand. Demand for shots has jumped more than 30 per cent over the last several weeks “in key areas of the country that have previously been slower to vaccinate,” the company said. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas are among the states that have registered the “most notable” gains in vaccination rates.
The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus has urged the government to fix “chaotic scenes” at airports, as the country approaches the next review of its travel restrictions. “The government’s border policy is leading to chaotic scenes at UK airports and leaving the country dangerously exposed to new variants,” said Caroline Lucas, the group’s vice chair.
The European Commission has ordered 200m doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine to bolster its arsenal of jabs, despite the US drugmaker’s vaccine having not yet been approved. The deal covers the purchase of 100m doses, with the option to get an extra 100m doses up to 2023. Novavax shares jumped 12 per cent in New York trading.
The World Health Organization has called for a global moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September amid a severe shortage of vaccines in lower-income countries. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said that the Geneva-based health body was calling for the moratorium to allow at least 10 per cent of people in every country in the world to be vaccinated.
China has tightened its border controls by temporarily blocking new passports being issued to most citizens, as the country grapples with an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant. China’s National Immigration Administration on Wednesday announced that it would no longer issue new travel documents including passports for non-essential trips outside the country.