What you need to know about the coronavirus right now


(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

New Zealand reports first death linked to Pfizer vaccine

New Zealand on Monday reported what authorities said was the country’s first recorded death linked to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The information was released by the health ministry following a review by an independent COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring board of the death of a woman after receiving the vaccine. The ministry’s statement did not give the woman’s age.

The board considered that the woman’s death was due to myocarditis, which is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the statement said. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that can limit the organ’s ability to pump blood and can cause changes in heartbeat rhythms.

A weary Australia plans reopening as death toll hits 1,000

As Australia’s COVID-19 deaths exceed 1,000, a grim toll but modest by global standards, a country that has used relentless lockdowns now faces perhaps its biggest health policy challenge of the pandemic – how to reopen. Australia plans to start easing restrictions once 70% of those aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, expected late in the year. After 80% comes a gradual reopening of international travel, according to the government-backed plan modelled by the Melbourne-based Doherty Institute.

The lesson for Australia is that mask-wearing should not be discarded as restrictions ease and that classrooms should be better ventilated to protect students from the airborne virus, said epidemiologist Raina MacIntyre.

More data needed, Japan says on mixed use of vaccines

Japan’s top government spokesman, Katsunobu Kato, said on Monday there was not enough data yet to actively promote the mixed use of COVID-19 vaccines, and that further information was needed before reaching any decision on the matter.

The comment comes after Taro Kono, minister in charge of Japan’s vaccination programme, said on Sunday Japan is looking into the possibility of mixing shots of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine with those developed by other drugmakers in a bid to speed up its vaccine rollout.

Fauci backs vaccine mandate for U.S. schoolchildren

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said on Sunday he supports COVID-19 vaccine mandates for children attending schools as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in cases in the nation.

Currently, children under 12 are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But Fauci, in a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week” program, said there should be enough data by early October for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider whether the shot is safe for children under that age.

Thailand to allow local flights in COVID-risk areas

Thailand will allow some domestic flights to and from Bangkok and other high risk areas for COVID-19 to resume from Sept. 1, the country’s aviation authority said Sunday, to help boost economic activity. Local flights can fly at up to 75% capacity and passengers will have to follow travel conditions at destinations such as presenting proof of vaccinations and COVID-19 testing results, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in a statement.

The announcement follows the easing of tough curbs in 29 high-risk provinces from next month, including allowing more provincial travel and the reopening of shopping malls, as the government tries to revive a struggling economy hit by the outbreak.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)