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G20 warns Covid variants threaten global recovery

Covid-19 has infected more than 186 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for July 10:

People queue in line to wait for the coronavirus testing at a Public Health Center in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021.
People queue in line to wait for the coronavirus testing at a Public Health Center in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021. (AP)

Saturday, July 10:

Variants, vaccine shortfalls raise risks, says G20

An upsurge in new coronavirus variants and poor access to vaccines in developing countries threaten the global economic recovery, finance ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies warned on Saturday.

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The G20 gathering in the Italian city of Venice was the ministers’ first face-to-face meeting since the start of the pandemic. Decisions include the endorsement of new rules aimed at stopping multinationals shifting profits to low-tax havens.

That paves the way for G20 leaders to finalise a new global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% at a Rome summit in October, a move that could recoup hundreds of billions of dollars for public treasuries straining under the Covid-19 crisis.

A final communique said the global economic outlook had improved since G20 talks in April thanks to the rollout of vaccines and economic support packages, but acknowledged its fragility in the face of variants like the fast-spreading Delta.

“The recovery is characterised by great divergences across and within countries and remains exposed to downside risks, in particular the spread of new variants of the Covid-19 virus and different paces of vaccination,” it read.

While G20 nations promised to use all policy tools to combat Covid-19, the Italian hosts of the meeting said there was also agreement to avoid imposing new restrictions on people.

Russia’s virus deaths hit another pandemic high

Russia reports 752 coronavirus deaths, a national record of pandemic-related fatalities over a 24-hour period, as the country battles a third wave.

Russia has now set seven new pandemic highs for Covid-19 deaths in the last 12 days as it fights a surging outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant and a sluggish vaccination campaign.

Record cases in South Korea for 3rd day in a row

Seoul reported 1,378 new cases, a record high for the third day in a row as South Korea prepares to impose its highest-level curbs in the greater capital area next week.

The country had previously been held up as a model of how to combat the pandemic, with the public largely following social distancing and other rules, but it was slow to start its vaccine roll-out due to supply shortages.

Fans banned at more Olympic venues

Japan’s northern Fukushima and Hokkaido regions have banned spectators from Olympic competitions in their areas, expanding unprecedented steps to hold the Games mostly behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

The announcements by their regional governors reversed a decision Thursday evening by Olympic organisers to save competitions outside the greater Tokyo area for live viewing.

UK records 32,367 new cases, 34 deaths

Britain on Saturday reported 32,367 new Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, government data showed.

That compared with 35,707 cases and 29 deaths reported a day earlier.

EU delivers doses to vaccinate 70% of adults

The European Union has delivered enough vaccine doses to member states to reach a target to fully vaccinate at least 70 percent of adults in the bloc, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

Von der Leyen, who had tweeted on May 9 that the EU was on track to meet its goal of inoculating 70 percent of adults by summer, urged EU countries to increase vaccinations and said about 500 million doses would be distributed across the union by Sunday.

Indonesia gasping for medical oxygen as Covid cases soar

Just two months ago, Indonesia was coming to a gasping India’s aid with thousands tanks of oxygen.

Today, the Southeast Asia country is running out of oxygen as it endures a devastating wave of cases and the government is seeking emergency supplies from other countries, including Singapore and China.

A shipment of more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other health devices arrived from Singapore on Friday, followed by another 1,000 ventilators from Australia, said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response.

Beside those donations, Indonesia plans to buy 36,000 tons of oxygen and 10,000 concentrators, devices that generate oxygen, from neighbouring Singapore, Pandjaitan said.

He said he is in touch with China and other potential oxygen sources. The US and the United Arab Emirates also have offered help.

Sydney reports record daily rise in cases

Australia’s New South Wales state reported its biggest daily rise in locally acquired infections this year, with authorities warning that worse may yet to come for Sydney, which is in a three-week hard lockdown.

There were 50 new cases of community transmission in the country’s most populous state, up from 44 a day earlier, the previous 2021 record high.

This brings the outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant to 489 cases.

Of Saturday’s cases, 26 were people who had spent time in the community while they were infectious, deepening concerns that the lockdown of more than 5 million people in Sydney and surroundings will be extended.

India records more than 1,200 new deaths

India registered more than 1,200 virus deaths in the last 24 hours, according to official figures.

With a total of 1,206 news deaths, virus-related fatalities have reached 407,145, according to the Health Ministry.

The country has registered less than 1,000 daily deaths in the past few days.

A statement by the ministry said 42,766 new cases were registered during the last 24 hours.

Pakistan registers over 1,800 new cases

Pakistan has confirmed over 1,828 new cases, more than 1,737 registered a day before, the Health Ministry said.

Another 35 people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, taking the overall numbers to 971,304 cases, 22,555 related deaths and 912,295 recoveries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the nation to follow safety precautions, terming the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, “the biggest concern”.

Entertainment venues in England to make customers use vaccination passports

Entertainment venues in England will force customers to use so-called vaccination passports from autumn to prove they have had either both doses of a vaccine or a negative test the day before, The Times newspaper reported.

Certificates will be required for customers to enter bars, restaurants and nightclubs under plans to tackle a fourth wave, the newspaper said.

The government plans to lift capacity restrictions on pubs, restaurants and other public events on July 19 in England.

Arab countries pledge aid as Tunisia struggles with pandemic

Several countries promised to help Tunisia fight the coronavirus as the North African country recorded its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, putting its health care system under severe stress and depleting oxygen supplies.

President Kais Saied said in a statement that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had pledged to send vaccinations and whatever medical equipment Tunisia needed.

Libya also pledged to send medical aid, the president’s office said in a separate statement. Officials and local media said that Kuwait, Turkey and Algeria had promised to help.

Qatar had already sent a military plane with a field hospital on board, including 200 medics and 100 respirators.

South Korea reports third consecutive record high new cases

South Korea has posted its highest-ever number of new daily infections in the last 24 hours, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, the third consecutive day of record highs in new infection cases.

Starting on Monday, coronavirus curbs will be tightened to the strictest level possible in Seoul and neighbouring regions for the first time, South Korea said, as the streak of record new cases fanned concern.

The country reported 1,378 new cases as of midnight Friday, up from Thursday’s previous record of 1,316 a day.

Saudi Arabia approves Moderna vaccine

Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority has approved Moderna Inc.’s vaccine for use in the kingdom, the state news agency (SPA) said.

The authority added that after this approval, authorities will start procedures to import the two-dose vaccine, the news agency said.

Saudi Arabia had earlier approved the use of the Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Pakistani authorities recommend banning air travel for unvaccinated

Pakistan’s top body overseeing the pandemic response recommended on Friday that anyone who did not hold a Covid-19 vaccination certificate should not be allowed to travel by air after August 1.

The guidance by the National Command and Operation Centre would need the federal government’s approval, and came as the country’s leadership warned a fourth wave of the pandemic was beginning and dangerous variants of the virus, including the Delta variant, had been detected.

Brazil case count tops 19 million

Brazil registered 57,737 new Covid-19 cases and 1,509 new deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed.

This means the total case count in Brazil has now exceeded 19 million, and the country has recorded 531,688 deaths.

Mexico reports over 9,000 new cases

Mexico has reported 9,319 new confirmed Covid-19 infections, according to data from the health ministry, as case numbers continued to rise this week amid signs of a resurgence in the pandemic.

The ministry also registered 217 additional fatalities, bringing Mexico’s total tally to 2,577,140 infections and 234,675 deaths, according to the data.

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