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‘Catastrophic situation’ in Tunisia amid Covid-19 surge

Novel coronavirus has infected more than 185 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest Covid-related developments for July 8:

Tunisian medics attend to patients at a gym that was converted to deal with a surge in new COVID-19 infections in the east-central city of Kairouan on July 4, 2021.
Tunisian medics attend to patients at a gym that was converted to deal with a surge in new COVID-19 infections in the east-central city of Kairouan on July 4, 2021. (AFP)

Thursday, July 8:

Tunisia’s health care system ‘collapses’ due to Covid-19

Tunisia’s health care system is collapsing due to the coronavirus, with intensive care departments full and doctors overburdened by a rapid outbreak of cases and deaths, the Health Ministry has said.

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“We are in a catastrophic situation … the health system collapsed, we can only find a bed in hospitals with great difficulty,” ministry spokesperson Nisaf Ben Alaya said on Thursday.

“We are struggling to provide oxygen … doctors are suffering from unprecedented fatigue,” she said, adding “the boat is sinking” and calling on all Tunisians to unite in efforts to combat the pandemic.

Tunisia recorded near 10,000 new coronavirus cases and 134 deaths on Wednesday, a daily record since the start of the pandemic, as concerns grow that the country will not be able to control the pandemic.

After successfully containing the virus in the first wave last year, Tunisia is grappling with a rise in infections.

It imposed a lockdown in some cities since last week, but rejected a full national lockdown due to the economic crisis.

The total number of cases has climbed to around 465,000 and more than 15,700 deaths.

France tells citizens to avoid Spain, Portugal over Delta variant

French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has advised French people to avoid Spain and Portugal for their summer holidays, due to risks tied to the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant.

“To those who have not yet booked their holidays, I say avoid Spain and Portugal as destinations. It is a prudent advice, a recommendation,” Beaune told France 2 TV.

The ministry later specified that “travel to Spain and Portugal and anywhere else in Europe remains authorised…We are sending a message of caution on Portugal and Catalonia which are strongly impacted by the Delta variant.”

Spain’s health minister warned on Wednesday that young people can develop severe cases of Covid-19 and asked for their co-operation in taming an infection rate that has more than doubled in a week as the Delta variant tears through unvaccinated younger adults.

Scrambling to bring the contagion under control, the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia will shut down nightclubs from Friday, just weeks after opening them.

England relaxes quarantine rules for vaccinated returning citizens

UK residents returning to England from the United States and most European countries will soon no longer have to self-quarantine if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the government has announced.

The quarantine change will start from July 19, when the government hopes to remove virtually all coronavirus restrictions in England.

The travel industry hailed the step as vital for its recovery.

However, the broader plans to ease social distancing, mask-wearing and other virus curbs face growing criticism due to a surge in infections of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Under the existing rules, British-based travellers arriving from “amber” nations – the middle tier in the government’s Covid-19 risk ranking – must quarantine at home for 10 days on their return.

The list of countries comprises various countries around the world, including parts of Asia, the United States and most of Europe including tourist hubs France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

Travellers will still be required to get tested 72 hours before departure and on the second day following their return.

Spain races to vaccinate young people as infections surge

As the coronavirus swept across Europe last year, Spain was among the worst affected countries in the region: soaring death rates, hospitals overrun, and millions confined to their homes as a national lockdown took hold.

Vaccines have offered desperately-needed respite, but infection rates are on the rise again among young people who cannot get their hands on hard-to-come-by jabs.

Healthcare workers are now racing to inoculate people in their 20s, even if those contracting coronavirus are not showing strong symptoms.

Failing to get cases under control could allow the pandemic to spin out of control among the general population – especially as new, highly-transmissible versions like the Delta variant take hold on the continent.

To date, Spain’s vaccine campaign has largely focused on the elderly and the vulnerable – around 64 percent of people in Spain have received at least one vaccine dose

But that rate drops to just 14.4 percent among those in their 20s.

US stocks fall amid worries over growth, Delta strain

Wall Street stocks have tumbled on global growth worries in light of dropping bond yields and rising instances of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond fell below 1.3 percent, extending a trend from recent weeks as inflation fears ebb.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.4 percent at 34,184.56.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent to 4,292.60, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.7 percent to 14,420.68.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq had ended at records on Wednesday.

US jobless claims edged higher to 373,000, seasonally adjusted, in the week ending July 3.

That was 2,000 more than the previous week’s report, which was the lowest reading since the Covid-19 crisis began.

Japan declares emergency in Tokyo throughout Olympics

Japan’s government has announced a new virus state of emergency stretching throughout the Tokyo Olympics, as reports said organisers could bar fans from almost all events at the Games.

“We will impose the state of emergency in Tokyo,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a government meeting on infection measures. “The period will be until August 22.”

Russia records 24,818 new cases, 734 deaths

Russia has reported 24,818 new cases, including 6,040 in Moscow, amid a wave of infections blamed on the infectious Delta variant.

The coronavirus task force also reported 734 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, close to a record high. Russia has confirmed 5,707,452 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began

Virus outbreak straining Fiji’s medical system

Fiji’s medical system is showing signs of strain as a coronavirus outbreak grows. The Pacific island nation reported a record 791 new daily cases and three deaths.

The Ministry of Health says that due to the increase in cases, it will no longer test people for the virus in their homes in and around the capital. The ministry has also suspended all pregnancy services in and around Suva until July 26, saying people experiencing pregnancy emergencies or labor should go directly to Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

Fiji has reported 59 deaths since the outbreak of the delta variant in April, although officials aren’t counting 19 of those as virus fatalities because the patients had serious pre-existing conditions.
Home to 940,000 people, Fiji had reported just two deaths before that.

South Korea eyes semi-lockdown in Seoul as cases hit daily record

South Korea has reported its biggest daily rise in new cases and a top health official warned the numbers may nearly double by the end of July, even as the country considers imposing a semi-lockdown in hard-hit Seoul.

The 1,275 cases in the 24 hours to midnight on Wednesday, reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), exceeds the number of daily cases reported at the peak of the country’s third wave in December.

Around 80 percent of the 1,275 locally transmitted cases were recorded in the greater Seoul area, comprising the capital, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon city, KDCA data showed.

Health authorities said Seoul would meet the criteria for Level 4 social distancing measures with a three-day streak of new case numbers above 389, the daily average from July 1-8.

Given the city recorded 545 new cases on Wednesday and 577 on Tuesday, that requirement could be reached with Thursday’s numbers, which will be announced on Friday.

China administered 1.342 bln doses of vaccines by July 7

China has administered about 10.7 million doses of vaccines on July 7, taking the country’s total to 1.342 billion doses, data from the National Health Commission showed.

Vaccines rushed to Sydney as outbreak spirals

Australia’s prime minister has announced 300,000 vaccine doses will be rushed to Sydney, as the country’s largest city struggled to bring a Delta outbreak under control.

As a citywide lockdown entered its third week, there were signs of the outbreak spiralling, with a record increase of 38 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Scott Morrison said the situation in the city was “very serious” and urged five million Sydneysiders not to give in to fatigue and obey stay-at-home orders.

The outbreak has nearly reached 400 cases, and is spreading quickly across the largely unvaccinated city, putting Australia’s Covid-zero status at serious risk.

“We have come so far over these last 18 months, and now’s the time to keep pressing forward. Now is not the time to give in to that frustration,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Police announced they would be bolstering patrols in the city’s southwest to enforce lockdown rules as case numbers rise.

Despite several outbreaks, Australia has managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic through snap lockdowns, intensive contact tracing, and effectively shutting its borders to the rest of the world.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 970 – RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 970 to 3,733,519, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 31 to 91,141, the tally showed.

India reports 45,892 new cases in last 24 hours

India has reported 45,892 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to data from the health ministry, with active cases at 460,704.

US cases rising rapidly as Delta dominates

Covid cases are rising rapidly in the United States as the highly contagious Delta variant dominates and vaccinations stagnate, according to official data.

The seven-day-average of new cases was 13,859 as of July 6, up 21 percent compared to two weeks earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cases attributed to the most recent days might rise further because of a reporting lag following the July 4 holiday weekend.

The spike comes as the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than any previous strain, accounted for around 52 percent of cases in the two weeks ending July 3, according to the CDC.

Despite having among the highest availability of vaccines of any country, America’s immunisation campaign has dropped off steeply since April.

Brazil adds 1,648 more deaths

Brazil has registered 54,022 new Covid cases and 1,648 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry has said.

This brings the total in Brazil to nearly 18.9 million cases and 528,540 deaths.

Tunisia reports record 134 fatalities in one day

Tunisia has recorded 9,823 new coronavirus cases and 134 deaths, a daily record since the start of the pandemic, the health ministry has said, as concerns grow that the country will not be able to control the pandemic.

Intensive care wards are almost full, health authorities said, adding the situation was catastrophic. The vaccination campaign has been very slow.

Delta variant becoming dominant in Germany

Germany’s disease control centre has said that the delta variant of the coronavirus has become dominant in the country and continues to quickly spread.

The Robert Koch Institute says according to their latest analysis, 59 percent of new infections were caused by delta by the end of last month. The centre says in its weekly report Wednesday, the Delta variant had nearly doubled within one week.

Some 33.2 million people, or 39.9 percent, are fully vaccinated in Germany. More than 47.5 million people, or 57.1 percent, have received their first shot.

Mexico sees over 8,500 new cases

Mexico has reported 8,507 new confirmed Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, as case numbers rose amid signs of a surging pandemic and a slow vaccination rollout in the country.

The daily jump in cases marks the highest level of infections since Feb. 24, according to official data, and follows nearly 8,000 additional Covid-19 infections posted by the Health Ministry on Tuesday.

The ministry on Wednesday also confirmed 234 additional fatalities, bringing Mexico’s total since last year to 2,558,369 infection s and 234,192 deaths, according to the data.

Russia detains medical worker for selling fake vaccine certificates

Russian police has said they had detained a health worker in the Kaliningrad region for allegedly selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates.

Moscow and several Russian regions have resorted to tough measures to encourage people to get inoculated, including by making vaccination mandatory to hold certain jobs.

The measures have driven some people towards an online black market to purchase vaccination certificates, a development authorities in Moscow say they are following closely.

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