At a two-day meeting of G20 health ministers in Rome over the weekend, officials adopted a statement expressing more support for COVID-19 for poorer countries, but so far none new engagement has not been announced.
In other news, global COVID-19 cases topped 220 million, with continued increases in Southeast Asia and Oceania among the headlines.
Hopes remain for more promises
At the September 5-6 meeting, health ministers faced several health issues and three sessions focused on COVID-19, according to the group. The topics included steps and tools to better prepare for the next pandemic.
In a final declaration, the G20 health ministers reaffirmed their commitment to global solidarity, in particular by supporting the World Health Organization (WHO). They agreed to work for equitable distribution of vaccines and supported WHO’s goal of vaccinating 40% of the world by the end of 2021.
Asked about the new commitments in a briefing after the meeting, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the financial commitments risked being a “straitjacket” and that the most important element was the commitment global immunization policy, according to Reuters. He also noted that other promises could emerge at the leaders’ meeting in late October.
Southeast Asia and Oceania grapple with COVID-19
In Vietnam, which averages around 13,000 cases per day, authorities in Hanoi have extended COVID-19 measures for another 2 weeks, with plans underway for a massive screening effort for the population of 8 million people, according to Reuters.
The number of cases in Hanoi has been around 50 per day, far below the hot spot around Ho Chi Minh City, but health officials are trying to prevent a much larger outbreak in the nation’s capital. In other events, the country has sentenced a man to 5 years in prison for breaking COVID-19 quarantine rules while traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Ca Mau province.
In Australia, cases in the hot spot Sydney area still hover around record highs, as vaccine uptake increases. The country’s other hotspot, the state of Victoria, reported 246 new cases today, like the day before.
As for the good news, Indonesia’s testing positivity has fallen below the WHO benchmark of 5%, giving hope that the country’s second surge will subside, according to Reuters.
More Global Headlines
- Health officials in Brazil have suspended a Copa America soccer tournament match between Brazil and Argentina after three Argentinian players were accused of violating COVID quarantine protocols, according to CBS Sports. It is not known when or if the game will be over.
- Chile has now approved the Chinese vaccine Sinovac for use in children over 6 years old years.
- Over the weekend, the global COVID total topped 220 million, reaching 221,263,863 cases, as well as 4,578,722 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins online dashboard.