Domestic and international airlines suffered the worst year on record in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic slashed passenger traffic by more than 60 percent and global carriers lost more than $125 billion, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a report on Tuesday.
“At the depth of the crisis in April 2020, 66 percent of the world’s commercial air transport fleet was grounded as governments closed borders or imposed strict quarantines. A million jobs disappeared,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in a press release explaining the report.
About 1.8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2 percent compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019. Connectivity between airports fell by a similar percentage, as airlines canceled routes and reported net losses of $126.4 billion, the report said.
The decline in air passengers in 2020 was the largest recorded since data tracking airline passengers was first complied in 1950, the report added.
Air freight provided some relief for the beleaguered industry, with industry-wide cargo traffic having recently returned close to pre-pandemic levels following a 9.7 percent year-on-year drop in 2020, according to the report.
The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Greece has dropped significantly as the August holiday season begins, Greek Ekathimerini newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to the news outlet, about 45,000 vaccinations were administered nationwide on Monday. This is a drop to an average of 60,000 to 70,000 doses administered in the previous two weeks.
So far, Greece has administered at least 10 million doses of COVID vaccines. About 48% of people are fully vaccinated in the country, while 43% have received at least one dose.
In its attempt to vaccinate the vast majority of its population, the government is launching a vaccination campaign for hotel workers to assist employees at big hotels get vaccinated.
In mid-May, the fire department mandated that all members of its special disaster unit be vaccinated, as part of their duty requires traveling overseas to assist in disaster zones.
New York City will mandate proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms, Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce on Tuesday, the Ne York Post reported.
Dubbed the "Key to NYC Pass", the initiative will be part of the city’s efforts to curb the latest increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The European Commission's recognition of COVID-19 certificates issued in San Marino does not equate to authorization of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which has been used by the European microstate, a spokesperson for the National Institute of Health (ISS) told Sputnik on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said that the European Commission had approved COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued in San Mario, where 90% of the population has been vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine.
"This decision is of a technical nature. It does not imply recognition of Sputnik V, it is about a digital signature. Our green pass with a QR code is now readable in European apps," the ISS said.
It added that all Sammarinesi who received the vaccine now have an active digital certificate. It can be downloaded online or be printed out.
"We have had them [certificates] for several weeks now. Europe has had it since yesterday. The signature of the [commission] chairman Ursula von der Leyen under the document is dated July 30. Thus, they recognized that the technical characteristics of our certificate correspond to European ones," the ISS added.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has been reviewing Sputnik V since March 4. However, several European countries, including San Marino, Slovakia and Hungary, have already approved its use without waiting for EMA authorization.
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday will deliver remarks around the delivery of 110 million COVID-19 vaccines to over 60 countries with another half a billion Pfizer jabs are set to begin shipping at the end of August, White House said.
“Today, the [US] President [Joe Biden] will announce that the U.S. has now donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries,” White House said in a release on Tuesday. “Starting at the end of this month, the Administration will begin shipping a half a billion Pfizer doses that the United States has pledged to purchase and donate to 100 low-income countries in need.”
The Biden Administration has worked closely with COVAX and a range of regional partners like the African Union and the Caribbean Community to deliver the vaccines, the release said.
Only fully vaccinated Hongkongers will be allowed to board flights from Russia starting August 9, the Russian consulate general in Hong Kong said on Tuesday.
The region changed the classification of countries proceeding from their COVID-19 infection risk, dividing them into three groups – high, medium and low - instead of five as it was before. Russia is placed in the high-risk group.
"Those Hong Kong residents who spent more than two hours in Russia during the last three weeks can register for a flight to Hong Kong only in case of the full inoculation (except for accompanied people at the age of less than 12 years)," the statement on Facebook said.
According to the general consulate, all individuals arriving in Hong Kong from high-risk countries have to quarantine for 21 days, during which they must undergo four COVID-19 tests. After the quarantine, travellers have to self-monitor during seven subsequent days and undergo another compulsory testing on the 26th day of arrival.
A negative result of a PCR test taken 72 hours before the flight in both Chinese and English is still required during registration for the flight.
Hong Kong has so far registered over 11,900 COVID-19 cases and 212 deaths caused by the disease.
Japanese government is planning to toughen requirements for hospitalization of COVID-19 patients, taking to hospitals only those who are seriously ill or at risk of becoming so, Japanese health minister Norihisa Tamura said on Tuesday.
"Mostly those whose lives are threatened will be hospitalized," Tamura stated at a press conference.
The new measures are aimed at containing the spread of a highly contagious Delta COVID-19 strain and preventing collapse of health care system, the official explained.
Other groups of patients will isolate at home or in special hotels if there is no opportunity for self-isolation.
The health minister also asked medical centers and private clinics across the country to enhance monitoring measures and increase home care staff.
Japan is witnessing an unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases. On 31 July, Japan registered 12,341 COVID-19 infections – a record number since the outbreak of the pandemic. In Tokyo, where the Summer Olympics kicked off on 23 July, the daily increase is also hitting records, with over 4,000 cases detected on 31 July.
The state of emergency is in place in Osaka, Tokyo, Okinawa, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba until 31 August.
Russia registered 22,010 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 23,508 the day before, taking the overall tally to 6,334,195, the federal response centre said on Tuesday.
"Over the past day, 22,010 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 1,799 cases (8.2%) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the rate of increase fell to 0.35%.
Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 1,952 daily infections, down from 3,330 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 1,910 cases, down from 1,914, and the Moscow region with 1,540 cases, down from 1,596.
The response centre reported 788 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 785 the day before, raising the country's total death toll to 160,925.
In the same 24 hours, 18,963 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 14,893 the day before, bringing the total to 5,659,746.