Singapore expands quarantine-free travel; free Covid tests ‘could be scrapped’ – reports

In Brazil, deaths have topped 600,000, according to government data released on Friday. Despite this, bars in the country’s financial center, Sao Paulo, are full again, as social distancing is no more.

So far the country has not faced the predicted destruction of another wave from the delta varient. The country’s average daily death toll has hovered around 500 for a month, down sharply from more than 3,000 in April, AFP reports.

Almost 45% of the population is fully vaccinated, and a booster shot is being administered to the elderly. A greater percentage of Brazilians are at least partially vaccinated compared to Americans or Germans, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.

Marcelo Queiroga, Brazil’s fourth health minister since the pandemic hit, suggested in a press conference on Friday that masks should not be mandatory. “Why would I pass a law to force people to use condoms? Don’t even think of it,” he said.

Rio’s mayor has announced plans to bring back the city’s massive New Year’s Eve party on Copacabana beach.

Some analysts remain worried about delta’s potential to spread. Among them is Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials. He believes authorities are taking a risk by reopening too much and announcing celebrations, and that Brazil may soon see more hospital admissions.

“The pandemic has waned, but 500 deaths per day is far from good. And we don’t even have half the population fully vaccinated,” Lago said. “We just don’t know enough and we have this horrific milestone to contemplate now.”

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