(Bloomberg) -- Global coronavirus cases topped 200 million, another grim milestone in the 18-month pandemic that has killed more than 4.2 million people.
Israel, one of the world’s most vaccinated nations, called on employers to switch to work-at-home and warned that it may have to impose new lockdowns. The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots to enable poorer countries to catch up in vaccination rates.
The drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will again require employees across its U.S. stores to wear face masks. The European Union expanded its portfolio of potential vaccines, signing an advance purchase agreement with Novavax Inc.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 200 million; deaths pass 4.25 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 4.27 billion doses administered
- Vaccine mandates for kids is next back-to-school fight
- U.S. weighs requiring vaccinations for all foreign visitors
- WHO calls for halt on boosters to let poorer nations catch up
- U.K. will ease quarantine rules from August 8
U.K. Ready to Ease Quarantine Rules (6:45 a.m. HK)
Fully vaccinated visitors arriving in England from France will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, a loosening of restrictions that puts them in the same category as travelers from most other European countries.
The U.K. also eased rules for arrivals from India, Bahrain, and travel hubs the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Those countries will move from the U.K.’s highest-risk “red” list to its medium-risk “amber” list, meaning arrivals will no longer need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.
Six other European nations, including Germany, were added to the lowest-risk “green” list, meaning all visitors can avoid quarantine whether or not they are fully vaccinated. All changes will come into effect from 4 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8.
U.S. May Require Vaccines for Visitors (4:50 p.m. NY)
The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a White House official.
Illinois Orders Masks in Schools, Day Care (4:15 p.m. NY)
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said masks will be required in Illinois schools and day-care centers effective immediately amid the rise of the coronavirus delta variant.
Florida Hospitals Fight for Oxygen (3:52 p.m. NY)
Florida hospitals are struggling to get oxygen due to a rise in Covid-19 cases attributable to the delta variant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision not to declare another state of emergency.
A shortage of drivers who are qualified to transport oxygen, as well as restrictions around how long truck drivers can be on the road — which went back into effect following the expiration of the public health emergency in the state — means that the supply isn’t getting to the hospitals that need it most.
Massachusetts Orders Nursing Home Staff Shots (2:20 p.m. NY)
Massachusetts will require that all staffers at nursing homes and other long-term care venues get a Covid vaccine by Sept. 1 and be fully vaccinated by Oct, 10, state officials announced Wednesday. The mandate includes exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
N.Y. Auto Show Canceled (2 p.m. NY)
Organizers of the 2021 New York International Automobile Show have canceled the event for the second year in a row, citing concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.
The annual event was to be held in its traditional venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. This marks the second-consecutive year that the 121-year-old New York Auto Show was canceled. The organizers expressed confidence the show will return to its regular spring schedule in April 2022.
Florida Hospitalizations Extend Surge (12:15 p.m. NY)
Florida now has a record 11,906 adults patients hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19, up from 11,515 a day earlier, further surpassing the peak from the previous summer’s wave, according U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data.
A total of 12 of 238 hospital facilities reported critical staffing shortages, but that number is down from as high as 33 over the weekend, the HHS data show.
U.K. to Offer Vaccines to Those 16 and Up (10:45 a.m. NY)
The U.K. will offer coronavirus vaccines to people age 16 and over, after its medicines regulation recommended the change. U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid accepted a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that young people age 16 and over should get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,
Walgreens to Impose Masks, Shots (10 a.m. NY)
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will again require employees across its U.S. stores to wear face masks, the company said.
Workers at support offices must be vaccinated by Sept. 30 or enroll in a coronavirus testing program. Walgreens said it’s seeing interest in vaccines surge in virus hotspots. The drugstore chain has administered about 29 million shots in the U.S. since the immunization campaign started. Demand for virus tests doubled between June and July amid rising cases.
WHO Calls for Halt on Booster Shots (9:30 a.m. NY)
The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots to enable poorer countries to catch up in vaccination rates.
The halt on third doses should be in place until at least the end of September, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Wednesday. That would help achieve the WHO’s goal to vaccinate at least 10% of the population in every country by that date, protecting health-care workers and vulnerable people.
EU in Deal for 200 Million Doses of Novavax (9:20 a.m. NY)
The European Commission approved a contract with Novavax Inc. for up to 200 million doses of the U.S. company’s Covid vaccine, according to statement. The Novavax vaccine is under rolling review by the European Union’s drug regulator in view of a potential market authorization.
Beijing Escalates Virus Curbs (7:14 a.m. NY)
Beijing escalated measures to control Covid’s spread. Subway traffic will be restricted at some stations during early peak hours from Thursday and the city canceled large-scale conferences and exhibitions scheduled for August. Beijing’s party chief Cai Qi says virus control is the city’s top priority now.
The Chinese capital reported three more virus cases on Wednesday. Officials in charge of the pandemic response have criticized retailers, including an Ikea store, cinemas and supermarkets for lax enforcement of curbs ranging from mask-wearing and health code-checking to social distancing.
China will also suspend cross-city bus, taxi and ride hailing services in areas with medium-to-high infection risks.
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