N.Y. Hospitalizations Fall; U.K. Minister Replaced: Virus Update
New York hospital admissions for Covid-19 dropped to the lowest statewide level since the start of the pandemic. California, which lifted key pandemic restrictions for most place last week, reported the highest positive-test rate in more than a month.
U.K. Health Minister Matt Hancock quit after senior officials in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party criticized him for breaching pandemic rules in leaked photos that showed him embracing an aide. He was replaced by former chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid.
With the delta virus variant spreading worldwide, Germany imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers returning from Portugal, while new cases in the U.K. rose the most since early February.
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California’s Positive-Test Rate Rises (3:00 p.m. NY)
California’s test positivity rate rose to 1.1%, the highest in more than a month as the state eases its Covid-19 restrictions.
The Golden State lifted curbs including masks and social distancing requirements for most places on June 15 in what it called its reopening. The number of cases rose 1,683 to 3.7 million, while deaths increased 55 to 62,945.
Hospitalizations are at one of the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. Almost 41.2 million vaccinations have been administered.
Javid Named U.K. Health Minister (2:57 p.m. NY)
Sajid Javid was named U.K. health minister, taking over a key portfolio during the pandemic shortly after his predecessor resigned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tapped the former chancellor of the exchequer to replace Matt Hancock. Javid resigned last year after an argument with Johnson but has been loyal in the ranks and Johnson has now rewarded him with a comeback.
U.K.’s Hancock Resigns After Kiss With Aide (1:20 p.m. NY)
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned Saturday after breaking the country’s coronavirus rules by kissing a senior aide in his office, the latest embarrassment to hit Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.
Photos published by The Sun showing Hancock and Gina Coladangelo apparently embracing in his Whitehall offices last month prompted criticism with Johnson’s Conservative Party. One senior official called out Hancock for hypocrisy for flouting rules he helped set.
Johnson backed Hancock as recently as Friday, declaring the matter closed.
NY Hospitalizations at Lowest Since Pandemic Began (12:20 p.m. NY)
New York Covid-19 hospitalizations statewide have dropped to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, with 371 reported cases.
Of the 97,020 tests reported Friday, 385 -- or 0.4% of the total -- were positive, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet.
New Infections in U.K. Near Five-Month High (11:20 a.m. NY)
The U.K. added 18,270 cases, the most since early February, even though more than 80% of adults have had at least one vaccine dose. The spread of the delta variant is triggering the spike in infections, which have risen more than fivefold in June.
The vaccine campaign has helped limit the severity of the spread of the delta variant, with only about 1,500 people hospitalized. Another 23 deaths from Covid were reported Saturday, compared with 18 on Friday.
U.S. Hospitalizations Extend Decline (10 a.m. NY)
U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 declined further this week, staying at the lowest levels since the pandemic’s early days more than a year ago, according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data.
The nationwide five-day average fell to 16,684 on Wednesday for a little-changed occupancy rate of about 2.4%. That compares with a record 19.3% in January. Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma and West Virginia had the biggest one-day percentage increases in the number of Covid-19 inpatients.
Namibia Runs Out of Vaccines (9:45 a.m. NY)
Namibia, which currently has Africa’s most severe coronavirus infection rate, said it will from June 29 halt Covid-19 vaccinations except in cases where people need a second shot to complete an inoculation course. Supplies from Covax, the vaccine-sharing initiative, have run out and there are delays to deliveries of vaccines the country has bought itself.
Namibia had an infection rate of 3,404 per million people in the seven days through June 24, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, putting it ahead of neighboring Botswana and South Africa.
Iran Makes First Batch of Sputnik V Vaccines (9:21 a.m. NY)
Iran unveiled its first batch of domestically-developed Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines on Saturday, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The shots are produced by Iran’s Actoverco Pharmaceuticals under a licensing deal with Russia. The company aims to produce 2 million doses of Sputnik V vaccines per month, the report said without providing details.
Germany to Quarantine Travelers from Portugal (9 a.m. NY)
Germany imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers returning from Portugal for failing to heed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s calls to crack down on the spread of the delta variant.
The measure, which will go into force Tuesday, comes after Merkel said Portugal’s decision not to tighten rules for British tourists undermined the continent’s defense against the variant spread. Unvaccinated U.K. travelers to Malta face a two-week isolation period
“What I regret is that we have still not been able to achieve uniform behavior among member states in terms of travel restrictions,” Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday. “We have a situation in Portugal which possibly could have been avoided.”
China Vaccine Proving Effective, Adviser Says (8:33 a.m. NY)
People identified as close contacts in the recent outbreak in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and who received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are nearly 60% protected against symptomatic diseases, while almost 80% are protected against pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, according to a Caixan media group report.
None of the fully vaccinated who are infected developed severe and critical illnesses, Zhong Nanshan, who advises the government on its Covid-19 response and treatment, said in the report.
The outbreak in Guangdong is caused by the Alpha and Delta variants.
South Africa Warns Third Wave Worse Than Second (7:16 a.m. NY)
South Africa’s acting health minister said Saturday a third wave of coronavirus infections may be being driven by the delta variant and could be worse than the second.
Hospital capacity in South Africa’s industrial hub of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, is at risk of being breached within days by surging Covid-19 cases. Weekly hospital admissions in the densely populated province are almost as high as during the height of the first wave in July, and the total number of cases is forecast to be twice as large as during the first two waves.
Sydney in Lockdown, New Zealand Restricts Travel (6:10 a.m. NY)
Greater Sydney was put into a two-week lockdown to fight an outbreak of the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, prompting New Zealand to halt quarantine-free travel from all of Australia until June 29.
Sydney residents can only go out for reasons such as food shopping, medical care or essential work and education that can’t be done from their own homes, Australia’s New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. The decision followed the detection of a dozen more new local infections and increased exposure sites that are complicating contact tracing. The curbs will apply until July 9.
Britons Heading to Malta Face Quarantine (4:58 p.m. HK)
Unvaccinated U.K. holidaymakers heading to Malta will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, the Mediterranean island nation said, according to a report in The Telegraph.
Such a requirement would come just days after Malta was added to Britain’s roster of destinations from which travelers don’t have to quarantine when arriving back in Britain. The Maltese government website still lists the U.K. as an “amber” country, meaning arrivals can show a negative Covid-19 test instead of proof of vaccination.
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