Czechs Mull Austria-Style Lockdown; Japan Risk: Virus Update
The Czech Republic and Germany are considering curbs for the unvaccinated as the virus spreads in Europe. Austria has already started a lockdown for people who have refused inoculations.
The U.S. revised its travel advisory for Japan to the lowest level of risk as assessed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The antidepressant Prozac appeared to reduce the possibility of death in patients with severe Covid-19 who were admitted to the hospital, according to a small, observational study.
New York City asked health care providers to give a booster to anyone who requests one as new cases picked up steam, while the U.K. expanded its booster program to people age 40 and older. Ireland got set to recommend that individuals start working from home again.
Czechs Mull Lockdown for Unvaccinated (4:30 p.m. NY)
The Czech government is considering several options of stricter rules for people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19, ranging from harsh steps to only a mild tightening of measures, according to outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
One of the alternatives is a similar regime to the one imposed in neighboring Austria, which limits the movement and activities of those who have refused inoculation, Babis told a televised news conference after a government meeting on Monday.
The government will meet again on Thursday to debate new measures as it tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
AmEx Requires Employee Vaccinations (3:34 p.m. NY)
American Express Co. will require all 22,000 U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated before they can work from its offices in the country. The requirement will also apply to in-person, company-sponsored events, on- and off-site.
The company isn’t planning a broad return to its offices until Jan. 24, at which point a large majority of its staff will split their time between an office and remote work.
New Zealand Reduces Isolation Time (3:07 p.m. NY)
New Zealand reduced the isolation period to 10 days from 14 for fully vaccinated people who get Covid-19 or are in close contact with someone who has it. The isolation period must include 72 hours symptom-free.
Novavax Faces Suit Over Vaccine Claims (2:49 p.m NY)
Novavax Inc. was sued for allegedly overstating its vaccine manufacturing capabilities and playing down issues that led the company to delay seeking emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The shareholder complaint was filed Nov. 12 in U.S. federal court for the District of Maryland.
CDC Puts Japan Travel Notice at Lowest Level (2:43 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its travel advisory on Japan to Level 1, the agency’s lowest risk assessment. Travelers should be fully vaccinated, wear masks and maintain social distancing, the CDC said.
Amazon, California Reach Worker Safety Deal (2:32 p.m. NY)
Amazon.com Inc. will step up efforts to inform warehouse workers in California about safety protocols and outbreaks under a deal reached with the state’s attorney general.
The accord requires that the retailer notify workers within a day and local health agencies with 48 hours about new cases in the workplace. The state filed suit against Amazon in state court, along with a request that a judge approve the settlement.
Boris Johnson Leaves Lockdowns on the Table (12:32 p.m. NY)
Asked if there could be another lockdown this Christmas, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned: “Clearly, we cannot rule anything out.” While saying that current data show no need for more restrictions, “history shows we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said. Last month Johnson said there would be no curbs over the holidays.
England Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said large parts of the National Health Service are under “very significant pressure” and are likely to remain so over the winter.
Prozac May Reduce Death Risk, Study Says (11:21 a.m. NY)
The antidepressant popularly known as Prozac appeared to reduce the risk of death in patients admitted to the hospital with severe Covid-19, according to a study published in the JAMA Network Open journal. Of the 470 patients taking fluoxetine, Prozac’s chemical name, 9.8% died. That compared with more than 13% of patients with similar characteristics not receiving any antidepressant.
A reviewer of the study cautioned that it was observational and too small to establish cause and effect. Also, previous health conditions weren’t available for all patients, another limitation, the reviewer said.
Singapore New Cases Rise to 2,069 (10:43 a.m. NY)
Singapore recorded 2,069 new cases, up from 1,723 on Sunday. The Health Ministry reported that 1,533 patients were hospitalized, 255 of whom required oxygen supplementation. Eight people died from Covid-19 complications on Nov. 15.
Italy’s Police Probe Anti-Vaccine Extremists (10:34 a.m. NY)
The Italian police identified 17 anti-vaccine and anti-green pass extremists affiliated with the “Enough of the Dictatorship” Telegram chat. The protesters are under investigation for instigation to commit crimes against doctors, journalists, scientists and government officials in the country, including Prime Minister Mario Draghi, authorities said.
NYC Urges Adults to Get Booster Shot (9:39 a.m. NY)
New York City encouraged health care providers to allow all adults to get the booster shot as the city grapples with a rise in virus cases.
People age 18 and over who received a Moderna or Pfizer dose at least six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are eligible for the booster, city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said.
More than 630,000 New Yorkers have already received a booster shot. The percentage of positive cases on a seven-day-average rose to 1.66% on Saturday, up from 1.36% on Oct. 31, according to city data.
Cyprus Backs Boosters for All Adults (8:53 a.m. NY)
Cyprus approved a booster for everyone above age 18, the country’s Health Ministry said. Some 67% of the population has been fully vaccinated and the extra shot will be administrated six months after the second one.
Singapore Reopens for Some Foreign Travelers (8:11 a.m. NY)
Singapore said it would allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people from countries including India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The city-state is looking to reclaim its position as an international aviation hub and move past the pandemic that has kept its 5.7 million residents home for more than a year.
Inoculated visitors from Indonesia and India will be able to enter starting Nov. 29, while those from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will be welcome starting Dec. 6 without having to quarantine, the Health Ministry said. Unvaccinated children 12 and under can accompany eligible adults.
Italy Cases, Deaths Crept Up Last Week (6:54 a.m. NY)
Italy reported 15,223 more new Covid-19 cases and 105 more deaths last week than the week before, according to data released by the government. The country’s figure of 51,318 new infections was the highest since May.
Compared with the same week one year ago, Italy reported 190,763 fewer new infections, though tests conducted increased by almost 2 million. The 390 recorded Covid deaths was less than 11% of the total recorded in the same week of 2020.
EU Expands Vaccine Pass Recognition (6:20 a.m. NY)
European Commission recognizes the Covid-19 certificates issued by Georgia, Moldova, New Zealand and Serbia. At the same time, the four countries agreed to accept the EU’s digital certificate for travel.
U.K. Offers Boosters to People in Their 40s (5:30 p.m. HK)
The U.K. is expanding its Covid-19 booster program to younger people as the country seeks to head off another wave of infections this winter.
A third vaccine dose will be available to people at age 40 to 49 starting six months after their second shot, the government said Monday. Previously, only those over 50 and other vulnerable groups were eligible. So far, more than 12 million people have received a booster.
The government is also recommending a second shot of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine for 16 and 17-year-olds. That inoculation will be given at least 12 weeks after the initial dose or a Covid infection, whichever is later.
Indonesia Cases Fall to 18-Month Low (5:04 p.m. HK)
Indonesia reported 221 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the fewest since April last year, with 11 deaths.
While the country has identified so-called delta subvariants among its active cases, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a press briefing that the government is confident there is now sufficient immunity, with about 40% of the targeted population fully vaccinated.
More than 130 million Indonesians have received at least their first dose, nearly half of the total. The country is still monitoring the virus situation in other countries before reopening borders further, said Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto.
Austria Slaps Restrictions on Unvaccinated (4:31 p.m. HK)
Austrian police were ordered to stop individuals on the streets to enforce a lockdown on people who have refused a Covid-19 shot, with Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg condemning the country’s “shamefully low vaccination rate.”
Starting on Monday, people who can’t show proof of vaccination and are caught going into cinemas, gyms or retail stores face fines starting at 500 euros ($573). Business owners could be tapped for 3,600 euros, the Interior Ministry announced on Sunday.
German Parties Mull Curbs for Unvaccinated (3:17 p.m. HK)
The three German parties negotiating a government coalition -- the Social Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens -- are planning to tighten restrictions on unvaccinated people, according to Oliver Krischer, the deputy head of the Greens caucus in German parliament.
People who have refused a Covid shot will have to expect curbs on contact, he said Monday on ZDF television. Current extraordinary measures to combat the spread of the virus will expire on Nov. 25, and the coalition parties are planning to present new legislation later this week.
Germany reported a record seven-day incidence rate of 303 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Robert Koch-Institut.
Ireland May Encourage People to Stay Home (3:14 p.m. HK)
Ireland’s government is set to recommend people go back to working from home where possible, the Irish Times reported.
The country has seen the most new cases since January in recent days. Still, the government is unlikely to push through more severe restrictions for now, with hospitalizations about a third of what they were at the start of the year.
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