The UN chief is concerned about COP26’s failure

On Thursday, UN chief Antonio Guterres said that the current climate situation was “a one-way ticket for disaster”. He emphasized the need to “avoid a failure” at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

According to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which reached the COP21 summit, global warming should be kept well below 2°C and ideally closer to 1.5°C. However, the current data as per UN estimates indicated “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 degrees celsius on the cards.

Antonio Guterres said, “the present indications show a pathway of at least 2.7 degrees heating above pre-industrial levels, and that’s obviously a one-way ticket for disaster”. He added that the carbon pollution of a few countries had brought humanity to its knees and they bear the greatest responsibility.

The G20 leaders are scheduled to meet in Rome and are aware of their economies which are responsible for four-fifths of the planet’s carbon pollution. He warned that if they do not stand up, then humanity is headed for terrible human suffering. Guterres asked the United States and China to do more than what they have announced so far.

The meeting is to be held between 31 October and 12th November in Glasgow is seen as a crucial step to aim at the emission target to slow global warming worldwide

Australia To Set Travel Bubble With Singapore Within Next Week

From next week, Australia plans for a travel bubble with Singapore and allows quarantine-free flights to start from November.

Mr. Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister confirms the statement on Friday regarding the bubble for fully vaccinated travelers to visit the country. International students and business travelers will initially get the preference to apply for the same from November 23. The nation will allow tourists to enter the country from December.

Mr. Morrison said, “We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore. We are opening up and are in the final stages of completing an arrangement with the Singapore government.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that he was delighted regarding Australia’s decision to allow entry to visa holders from Singapore. He further added that he had encouraged Australia’s prime minister to do so during his visit to Singapore in June.

The two nations hope to progressively rebuild international travel and will share the details soon. Sydney and Melbourne have allowed quarantine-free entry to fully vaccinated international visitors from November 1.

The UK Reports New Mutation of Delta Variant

On Tuesday, the United Kingdom Official data reported a new mutation of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is found in the country. The new variant dubbed as “Delta Plus” is found in some quarters that contain a mutation that can cause a greater survival chance.

The experts do not believe that the new variant to be responsible for the continuing high number of daily coronavirus infections within the nation. On Monday, the country had hit its highest record since July with 49,156 new cases of coronavirus cases.

In the latest technical briefing document by the UK, Heath Security Agency said, “New sublineages of the Delta are regularly identified and designated. One recently designated sublineage is AY.4.2”. It further added that the Delta sublineage newly designated as AY.4.2 is noted to be expanding in England which assessment has commenced. Some small numbers of new cases are also seen like Delta E484K and Delta E484Q”.

Experts suggest that the new variant is not yet considered a variant of concern. The first cases of new variants came to light in July 2021, which is slowly increasing. These new variants are likely to be up to 10 percent more transmissible as compared to Alpha and Delta which were 50 to 60 percent transmissible.

The WHO is planning to buy antiviral pills called Covid-19 at a cost of $10

The World Health Organization-led program aims to buy antiviral Covid-19 pills for US$10. Meck & Co’s experimental pill molnupiravir is among the other drugs to be included to treat patients with mild symptoms.

WHO is ensuring that poorer countries get fair access to the vaccine shots, tests, and medications against the virus. It aims to secure antiviral drugs for these countries. Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) is the document that outlines the goals till September next year. The ACT-A says that the program wishes to deliver 1 billion COVID-19 tests to the poorer countries and procure drugs to treat nearly 120 million out of 200 million patients worldwide. This data is estimated to be achieved in the next 12 months.

The organization wants to shore up supplies of drugs and test at a comparatively lower price. WHO has lost the vaccine race to wealthy nations who scooped up a huge share of the vaccine supply around the world which left the poorer countries with very few jabs available.

According to the officials, the draft is still under consultation and declined any comment before it is finalized. The estimate of the price of drugs, treatment, and tests will account for the program’s biggest expenses.

The US Raises Singapore’s Level 3 to Level 4 for Covid-19 Travel Alert

On Monday, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed Singapore as “very high” in their list of risk travel destinations. As per the CDC, Singapore rose from Level 3 to its highest risk Level 4 under its Travel Notices.

The notice cited: “Level 4: Very High Level of Covid-19 in Singapore”, which was followed by advice to “avoid travel to Singapore” for the US residents. The CDC said, “because of the current situation in Singapore, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants”. The notice asked the travelers to follow recommendations or requirements in Singapore while traveling and wear a mask along with staying six feet apart from others.

Singapore has reported 2,553 new cases on Monday of Covid-19 infections. It included 2,008 new cases in the community, 544 in migrant worker dormitories, and one imported case. Recently, the nation has announced the expansion of a quarantine-free travel scheme for fully vaccinated travelers.

The first Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flight will land on Wednesday in Singapore as the next step of Singapore’s re-opening borders.

Mecca Grand Mosque Opened For Visitors, Drops Social Distancing

On Sunday, the Mosque in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia re-opened for the public. It operated at full capacity for the first time with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The workers at the mosque removed the markings from the floor that was used to guide people about social distancing in and around the mosque. It was built around the Kaaba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims pray from around the world. The Saudi official said, “this is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Mosque at full capacity”.

The nation is slowly opening up and has started welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists since August 1. As the measure for social distancing was lifted by the authorities, it was made mandatory for visitors to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

It was also announced by the country that it is ready to accept pilgrims wanting to make the Umrah pilgrimage. In July, only 60,000 of the residents were allowed to visit Hajj. The national authorities said the use of masks in most open spaces is no longer mandatory.

The US to lift the ban on the land border for fully vaccinated travelers

The United Nations is all set to reopen its land border from next month, for fully vaccinated travelers. The country plans to lift its nineteen-month freeze to nonessential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US has heavily limited travel to the essentials between Canada, Mexico, and the US, such as a vehicle, rail, or ferries. Both Canada and Mexico have pressured the US government for months to lift the restriction on travel for those people who have separated from their families.

On Wednesday, the government plans to announce the rule regardless of the reason to travel, starting in early November. A similar easing of restriction will be seen in the next month for air travel into the county. The date is not fixed yet for both by the officials.

On Tuesday evening, the senior administration officials previewed the new policy on the condition of anonymity to be discussed before the formal announcement. The recent decision was an outcome of last month’s announcement that the US will end country-based travel bans for air travel and rather will need vaccination for foreign nationals seeking to enter via airplane.

Those who plan to enter illegally will be subjected to expulsion under Title 42 authority first invoked by former President Donald Trump.

The Thai government plans to lift the quarantine on vaccinated travelers from Singapore and nine other countries

The government of Thailand plans to lift quarantine for fully vaccinated air travelers from Singapore and nine other countries from November 1. They plan to scrap the ban with the hope to rebuild its battered tourism sector.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a televised broadcast on Monday that he asked the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CSA) and the Ministry of Public health to “urgently consider” within this week regarding the allowance for visitors from “low-risk” countries to enter Thailand without going through the process of quarantine. They will have to present a negative result for their PCR test that will be done before travel and when they reach Thailand. Mr. Prayut said, “ After which, they will be free to move around Thailand in the same way that any Thai citizen can do”.

The countries to get a green signal are Singapore, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the list is yet to be finalized at a CCSA meeting later this week. The country’s tourism sector used to make up a fifth of its national income, but due to travel restrictions, it has caused its earnings to plummet.

COVID-19 extra shots for people with weaker immune systems: WHO experts

On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) vaccine adviser suggested people with weaker immune systems should be offered an additional dose of all authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

The UN health agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) also suggested that people over 60 who received full vaccination with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should also e offered an additional third COVID-19 dose of the vaccine. However, the experts cleared that they are not suggesting any so-called booster shots/doses for the population at large.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and AstraZaneca have all received WHO approval to use COVID-19 in an emergency situation during pandemics.

Whether to list India’s Bharat Biotech jab as an emergency use product is nearing a decision. Last week SAGE held a four-day meeting to review the latest data on a range of vaccines for coronavirus and other diseases.

The group said, “sage recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO EUL (emergency use listing) COvid-19 vaccine as part of an extended primary series”. “These individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease”.

COVID’s “New Normal” for Singapore’s ambitious quarantine-free travel plan

Singapore is all set to open up its border for more countries for quarantine free travel as the city-state seeks to rebuild its status as an international aviation hub. The country is preparing itself to reach a “new normal” to live with COVID-19.

The island will open up its border from October 19 to fully vaccinated people from eight countries including Britain, France, Spain, and the United States. According to the government, travelers for these nations will not have to quarantine themselves if they pass their COVID-19 tests. The nation took this major step to resume its international links.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government will achieve a new normal and can lighten restrictions when the number of cases stabilizes, even if it continues to be in the hundreds. According to him, it might take them three to six months to reach the target. He also added that even after the surge in cases stabilizes, they may still see future surges, especially if there are new variants. The nation may have to tap the brakes again if the cases grow too fast for protecting their healthcare system and healthcare workers.