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Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown



Bangkok’s hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are preparing to welcome back tourists as Thailand gears up to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors.

Hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are gearing up for the return of tourists to Bangkok as Thailand prepares to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors after 18 months of Covid travel curbs.

From November 1, fully vaccinated visitors travelling from more than 40 “low-risk” countries will be allowed to enter with a negative Covid result, retesting again upon arrival.

Originally published as Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown




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Beijing Games organisers say virus ‘biggest challenge’, 100 days from start



Protecting the Beijing Winter Olympics from the coronavirus is the “biggest challenge”, organisers said Wednesday, as millions of people in China were under stay-at-home orders to contain small outbreaks 100 days before the Games.

“The pandemic is the biggest challenge to the organisation of the Winter Olympics,” Zhang Jiandong, executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee, told a press conference.

Originally published as Beijing Games organisers say virus ‘biggest challenge’, 100 days from start




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Unvaccinated players can compete at Australian Open: leaked email



A leaked WTA email says unvaccinated players will be welcome at the Australian Open

Unvaccinated players will be allowed to compete at the Australian Open but must complete 14 days in hotel quarantine, according to a leaked WTA email Monday, although a government official insisted the matter was not yet settled.

The rules would also likely apply to the men’s tour, leaving the door open for world number one Novak Djokovic to defend his title at Melbourne Park in January.

The email said that players fully inoculated against coronavirus would not have to quarantine or remain in bio-secure bubbles, enjoying “complete freedom of movement”.

“We feel the need to reach out to you all to clear up false and misleading information that has recently been spread by other parties about the conditions the players will be forced to endure at next year’s Australian Open,” the email read.

Vaccinated players could arrive any time after December 1, must have a negative test within 72 hours of departing for Australia and test again within 24 hours of arrival. Otherwise, there will be no restrictions, the email said.

– Still talking –

“We’re still talking to the Commonwealth (national government) about whether the rule for international unvaccinated arrivals is either 14 days quarantine or they’re not coming into the country at all,” he said in response to the leaked email.

Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic is one of many players who have refused to share their vaccination status, casting doubt over whether he will defend his title.

Reports have put the vaccination rate for tennis players at between 50 and 60 percent, but Pakula spoke with Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on Monday and he believed they were much higher.

Melbourne is in Victoria state, which on Friday emerged from one of the world’s most prolonged series of Covid lockdowns, in total more than 260 days since the pandemic began.

mp/ar/pst

Originally published as Unvaccinated players can compete at Australian Open: leaked email




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Peru surpasses 200,000 Covid deaths: officials



In this file photo taken on October 19, 2021, a health professional assists a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in northern Peru

Peru, which has the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate per capita, has surpassed 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the health ministry said on Friday.

The ministry announced 25 new deaths over the previous 24 hours, taking the South American country over the symbolic threshold with 200.003 deaths since the pandemic started in March 2020.

With 6,065 deaths per million population, Peru’s Covid mortality rate is the highest in the world, according to an AFP count based on official data.

“We’re maintaining a high level of control,” health minister Hernando Cevallos said recently.

The fall in infections has allowed the government to relax some healthcare measures and reactivate parts of the economy.

Peru’s number of deaths is only surpassed in Latin America by Brazil and Mexico, although those countries’ populations are almost seven and four times greater respectively.

“We need to get vaccinated so there is no more sadness in homes and no more orphans,” Mirtha Garcia Espinoza, a 39-year-old mother of two widowed by the pandemic, told AFP.

Last week that was down to 169, according to official figures.

The government hopes to vaccinate 70 percent of its population over 12 by the end of the year.

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Originally published as Peru surpasses 200,000 Covid deaths: officials




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Pfizer says Covid vaccine 90% effective in younger children



Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease among children aged 5-to-11, the company said in a document released Friday that put forward its case for authorization.

The new data was published on the website of the Food and Drug Administration, which has called an advisory panel of independent experts to meet Tuesday to vote on whether to green light the shot.

“VE (Vaccine Efficacy) against laboratory-confirmed symptomatic Covid-19 occurring at least 7 days after Dose 2 in evaluable participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection was 90.7%,” the document said.

There were no cases of severe Covid and no cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but serious post viral condition.

Pfizer argued that “although the mortality rate for Covid-19 in children is substantially lower than that in adults, Covid-19 was among the top 10 leading causes of death for children 5 to 14 years of age between January and May 2021 in the US.”

There were no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis — inflammation or inflammation around the heart — but there were not enough study volunteers to be able to detect highly rare side effects. 

This is the first time Pfizer has released an efficacy estimate for its Covid vaccine in younger children, along with a detailed dataset.

Throughout the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies have been making major announcements through press releases with scant data, a situation that has frustrated some experts.

The administration of President Joe Biden has said it stands ready to roll out shots for the country’s 28 million 5 to 11-year-olds as soon as the vaccine is authorized by science agencies. 

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Originally published as Pfizer says Covid vaccine 90% effective in younger children




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