Coronavirus latest: Chicago adds Delta-variant hotspots Missouri and Arkansas to advisory list

Pop star Olivia Rodrigo will meet with President Joe Biden and chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci at the White House on Wednesday as part of the administration’s effort to promote Covid-19 vaccination among young people. Rodrigo, a singer and actor, will also record videos about the importance of young people getting vaccinated.

Qatar is to allow fully vaccinated travellers to enter the Gulf state without the need for quarantine as it ramps up tourism plans ahead of next year’s Fifa world cup. A new set of measures would make visiting Qatar “as easy as possible” while maintaining precautions against coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday.

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More than 1.7m people in France have booked to receive the Covid-19 vaccine since President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday evening that access to cafés, restaurants and other venues would be restricted to those who have “health passports”. Before midnight, more than 900,000 bookings for vaccinations were made, while a further 800,000 people made a booking during the day on Tuesday, according to the Doctolib medical appointment booking website.

The threat of restaurants and other venues only being accessible to those with “health passports” has resulted in a jump in vaccination appointments in France © Bloomberg

Rich nations are paying more for scarce Covid-19 vaccine doses, aggravating the inequitable distribution of jabs, according to the head of the World Trade Organization. Covax, the United Nations-backed programme that aims to provide Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, was struggling to do so because of supply scarcity, WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Tuesday.

The UK’s vaccination drive is showing signs of slowing ahead of the planned lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England next week. The government estimates that 87 per cent of the adult population (45m people) have received at least one dose, with two-thirds (34m) having completed their vaccine regimen.

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South Africa will temporarily shut vaccination sites due to risk of violence, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as the country’s rollout buckles under days of the worst looting and rioting in decades. Some sites would close out of a “precautionary principle” if they were damaged or in areas affected by the violence, which has swept Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, two of South Africa’s most populous provinces, the ministry said.

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US small businesses are struggling to find workers, and many plan to increase pay in an attempt to staff up as the economy recovers. Some 46 per cent of small business owners said in June that they had job openings they could not fill, far above the historical average of 22 per cent, according to a monthly survey of members by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Scotland is to delay a return to the office and workplaces over concerns about high coronavirus case numbers, but will press ahead with the easing of other restrictions next week, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said. In a statement to the Scottish parliament ahead of Scotland’s move to the lowest “Level Zero” restrictions on July 19, Sturgeon made clear her devolved government would take a more cautious approach than that taken by the UK government for England.

Covid-related absences in English schools have hit a record high, as increasing numbers of students have come into contact with suspected cases of coronavirus. The Department for Education said on Tuesday that pandemic-related pupil absence in state schools is increasing and is at its highest rate since schools reopened in March 2021.

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