(Reuters) – Australian authorities on Wednesday extended the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne for another three weeks, as they shift their focus to rapid vaccination drives and move away from a suppression strategy to bring cases down to zero.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* France aims to have administered a third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to some 18 million people by early 2022, a health ministry official said.
* New Zealanders visited beaches and queued for takeaway food on Wednesday as tough lockdown measures enforced to beat an outbreak of the Delta variant were eased for most of the country.
* China reported 19 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for Aug. 31, compared with 37 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.
* Two women have been charged with selling forged COVID-19 vaccination cards through an Instagram account and to enter the names of customers into New York state’s immunization database, prosecutors said.
* Idaho Governor Brad Little said he was reactivating the National Guard and directing up to 370 additional people to help hospitals as they were overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
* Brazil recorded 24,589 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 839 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said.
* Walmart became the latest U.S. retailer to say that it is ready to administer millions of COVID-19 booster vaccine doses this fall if U.S. health officials endorse such a shot to improve fading immunity against the coronavirus.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria is prioritising the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the official heading the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign said when asked whether the Sinopharm shot would be used in the country.
* Brazilian researchers have found that a molecule in the venom of a type of snake inhibited coronavirus reproduction in monkey cells, a possible first step toward a drug to combat the virus causing COVID-19.
* Asia’s factory activity lost momentum in August as a resurgence in coronavirus cases disrupted supply chains across the region, raising concerns faltering manufacturing will add to the economic woes caused by slumping consumption.* Australia’s economy was already slowing in the June quarter before wide-spread coronavirus lockdowns slammed everything into reverse, leaving the country in a desperate race to vaccinate in the hope of opening up to recovery by Christmas.
* Data showed Indian economy grew by a record annual pace of 20.1% last quarter, driven by a surge in manufacturing and a rebound in consumer spending, but infections from the Delta variant and slow vaccination rates in some states are likely to hurt growth.
* South Korea’s exports accelerated in August, towed by solid demand for memory chips, petrochemicals and other major items, with the trade ministry seeing only a limited impact from the Delta variant across the region.
* Japanese companies’ capital spending rose in the April-June quarter, the first increase since the start of the pandemic and a sign of revived corporate activity even as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases hit the services sector.
* Australian home prices rose at the fastest annual pace since 1989 in August as lockdowns weighed more on supply than demand, though months of blistering gains are increasingly putting housing beyond the reach of many.
* South Korea’s factory activity grew at a slower pace in August, as output contracted for the first time in 12 months and demand eased due to coronavirus infections across the region and continued supply chain disruptions.
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