At a 2-day G20 health ministers meeting in Rome over the weekend, officials passed a declaration voicing more COVID-19 support for poorer countries, but so far, no new pledges were announced.
In other news, global COVID-19 cases have topped 220 million, with continued surges in Southeast Asia and Oceania among the headlines.
Hopes remain for more pledges
At the Sep 5 and 6 meeting, health ministers grappled with several health issues, and three sessions were focused on COVID-19, according to the group. 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, including support for the World Health Organization (WHO). They agreed to work toward equitable distribution of vaccines and supported the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 40% of the world by the end of 2021.
When asked about new commitments during a briefing after the meeting, Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza said financial pledges risk being a “straightjacket” and that the more important element is political commitment toward global vaccination, according to Reuters. He also noted that more pledges could come during the leader’s meeting in late October.
Southeast Asia, Oceania grapple with COVID-19
In Vietnam, which is averaging about 13,000 cases a day, officials in Hanoi extended COVID-19 measures by 2 more weeks, with plans under way for a massive testing effort for the population of 8 million people, according to Reuters.
Case levels in Hanoi have been at about 50 a day, much lower than the hot spot around Ho Chi Minh City, but health officials are trying to prevent a much wider outbreak in the country’s capital. In other developments, the country sentenced a man to 5 years of prison for violating COVID-19 quarantine rules by traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Ca Mau province.
In Australia, cases in the hot spot Sydney area are still hovering around record highs, as vaccine uptake rises. The country’s other hot spot, Victoria state, reported 246 new cases today, similar to the day before.
As for some good news, Indonesia’s test positivity dropped below the WHO’s 5% benchmark, raising hopes that the country’s second surge is easing, according to Reuters.
More global headlines
- Health officials in Brazil suspended a Copa America soccer tournament match between Brazil and Argentina after three Argentine players were accused of breaking COVID quarantine protocols, according to CBS Sports. It’s unclear when or if the game will be completed.
- Chile has now approved China’s Sinovac vaccine for use in children older than 6 years.
- Over the weekend, the global COVID total topped 220 million, rising to 221,263,863 cases, along with 4,578,722 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.