Novel coronavirus has infected more than 185 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest Covid-related developments for July 7:
Wednesday, July 7:
WHO says world at perilous point in pandemic
More than four million people have now died of Covid-19 infections, the WHO has said, as many richer nations prepared to loosen restrictions even as countries in Asia battle surging infections.
Indonesia has become a global hotspot, with hospitals having to turn away patients, authorities forced to import oxygen supplies and a record 1,040 deaths reported on Wednesday.
“The world is at a perilous point in this pandemic,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling the four-million figure an underestimate of the true toll.
He said some countries with high vaccination coverage were “relaxing as though the pandemic is already over”, while others have seen sharp spikes in cases because of highly-transmissible variants and a “shocking inequity” in access to vaccines.
UK daily cases surpass 30,000 for first time since January
Britain has reported 32,548 cases of Covid-19, the first time the figure has surpassed 30,000 since January as the government looks set to ease almost all coronavirus measures later this month.
An additional 33 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were also registered, according to official data.
Italy reports 1,010 new cases
Italy has reported 14 coronavirus-related deaths against 24 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 1,010 from 907.
Italy has registered 127,718 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eight-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.27 million cases to date.
Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 1,234 on Wednesday, down from 1,271 a day earlier.
CoviVac vaccine effective against Delta variant
The developer of CoviVac, one of Russia’s vaccines against Covid-19, has said that it is effective against the highly infectious Delta variant, TASS news agency reported.
Russia is trying to contain a rise in cases and deaths and has introduced mandatory vaccination in Moscow and some other regions for a wide group of citizens, mainly using Sputnik V, Russia’s flagship shot, the first of four domestic vaccines to be registered.
Aidar Ishmukhametov, general director of the centre that developed CoviVac, said studies had showed it was equally effective against the Delta strain as against the Alpha strain of the virus.
The developer in early June said CoviVac was more than 80 percent effective against Covid-19.
Russia’s coronavirus task force said on Wednesday 725 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, just shy of the record daily rise in deaths, and taking the national death toll to 140,041.
Vietnam’s biggest city sees panic-buying over virus lockdown fears
Anticipation of stricter movement curbs triggered panic-buying in Vietnam’s economic hub Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre of its coronavirus outbreak, while media reported unrest at a city jail where dozens of inmates were infected.
The health ministry said outbound travellers from the city of 9 million people would be subjected to a week of quarantine and testing at their destinations, a day after dozens of flights were suspended to control the spread.
Shelves at the supermarkets were being emptied since late Tuesday, witnesses said, in preparation for tighter measures, as the country reported more than 1,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time.
“They have bought everything, and now I can’t buy any food for my kids, not even eggs,” said a witness, who asked to be referred to by one name, Huong.
Resident Truong Thi Ngoc said wet markets had closed and finding food was difficult.
“Many of the shelves are completely empty, and I’m very worried about the situation,” Ngoc said.
Turkmenistan makes vaccination mandatory
Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said it was making vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over as the former Soviet region of Central Asia reported a fresh spike in new cases.
Turkmenistan has reported no cases but introduced a number of restrictions such as setting out requirements for wearing face masks.
Neighbouring Kazakhstan made vaccinations mandatory for a wide range of public and private sector employees last month, following the example of Russia.
Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said in an announcement published by state media that exceptions would only be made for those with medical contraindications to inoculation. The gas-rich nation has procured vaccines from Russia and China.
Indonesia reports record deaths of more than 1,000
Indonesia reported 34,379 new infections and 1,040 new deaths, both daily records, data from the country’s Covid-19 task force showed.
It was the third consecutive day of record new infections in Indonesia and the fourth straight day for record deaths, which brought total infections to 2,379,297 and fatalities to 62,908.
Russia reports 23,962 new cases, 725 deaths
Russia reported 23,962 new cases, including 5,621 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,682,634.
The government virus task force said 725 people had died of virus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 140,041.
The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths from April 2020 to April 2021.
China administered total of 1.33B doses of vaccines by July 6
China administered around 13.25 million doses of vaccine on July 6, taking the total to 1.33 billion doses, data from the National Health Commission showed.
Indonesia expands nationwide virus curbs
Indonesia has expanded nationwide coronavirus curbs to battle its deadliest Covid-19 wave yet, as the death toll rocketed with the government warning that the worst may be yet to come.
The new restrictions would apply to dozens of cities and extend from Sumatra island in the west to easternmost Papua as the highly infectious Delta variant rips across the Southeast Asian archipelago after battering densely populated Java.
“Cases are also rising in other regions and we need to pay attention to the availability of hospitals” there, said senior minister Airlangga Hartarto, who added the government has decided to extend the restrictions until July 20.
The country’s hospitals are buckling under the pressure as a wave of sick patients flood the overwhelmed healthcare system.
This week the government rolled out new virus curbs in the hard-hit capital Jakarta, across Java and on holiday island Bali as it reported Tuesday a record 31,189 new infections and 728 deaths, as much as seven times the daily mortality rate less than a month ago.
Southeast Asia’s worst-hit nation could see cases soar to more than 50,000 a day, authorities warned Tuesday.
Singapore to ease more virus curbs
Singapore will further loosen coronavirus restrictions from next week, including allowing up to five people to dine at restaurants, its health ministry said.
Restrictions will further ease around the end of July when at least half of the population are expected to be fully inoculated. That will include more liberal social measures for those vaccinated, like gatherings of up to eight people, the ministry said.
Fiji police deliver groceries, toilet paper amid spike
Fiji has started distributing groceries to some households as it urges people to stay at home amid rising infections of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.
Authorities posted pictures on social media of bags of supermarket supplies – including packaged food and toilet paper – being delivered to homes around the capital, Suva, as they reinforced calls for people to obey social distancing rules and get vaccinated.
Police and a supermarket “delivered household packs to Fijians in targeted lockdown areas and home isolation”, the government said on Twitter as part of a publicity blitz on Covid-19 safety.
The deliveries were mostly being made in poorer neighbourhoods. “We are here to ensure that Fijians get assistance,” the government said.
Since the pandemic began, the country of less than a million people has reported 39 deaths, but most have come since the emergence of the Delta variant in April and case numbers have risen to more than 500 a day, according to the latest figures on Tuesday.
The government has said some patients are seeking treatment too late and the main hospital’s mortuary was full. Some victims were also dying at home, it said.
India reports 43,733 new cases in last 24 hours
India has reported 43,733 new cases in the last 24 hours, data from health ministry showed, with active cases at 459,920.
New Zealand gives tentative OK for 2nd vaccine
New Zealand medical regulators have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, after earlier in the year approving the Pfizer vaccine.
But New Zealand’s government intends to stick with its plan of primarily using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the population of 5 million.
The provisional approval for the J&J vaccine by regulator Medsafe applies to adults aged 18 and over and will need to be signed-off on by the Cabinet, which will likely happen next month.
New Zealand has an agreement to buy 2 million doses of the J&J vaccine.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says having a second vaccine will provide increased flexibility and it could be used in emergencies or in locations that are hard to reach.
South Korea considers reimposing restrictions as cases surge
South Korea has reported its second highest number of daily new cases ever, just days after it began easing social distancing restrictions in some parts of the country, buoyed by an accelerated vaccine rollout.
With the majority of the 1,212 new cases coming from densely populated Seoul, officials extended movement curbs in the capital and surrounding regions for at least another week and are considering pushing restrictions back up to the highest level.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the country’s fourth wave of the virus, fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant, was spreading rapidly, especially among unvaccinated people in their 20s and 30s.
Kim urged people in that demographic to get tested preemptively “to protect not just yourself, but everyone in your family, friends, school and the country.”
Virus lockdown in Sydney extended another week
A two-week-old pandemic lockdown in Australia’s biggest city is being extended for another week due to the vulnerability of a population largely unvaccinated against the coronavirus.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Wednesday that health experts recommended pushing the lockdown in Sydney on to midnight July 16.
The decision means most children in Sydney and some nearby communities will not return to school next week following their mid-year break.
Only 9% of Australian adults are fully vaccinated, heightening fears that the delta variant o f the coronavirus could quickly spread beyond control.
There have been more than 300 coronavirus infections in Sydney linked to a limousine driver who tested positive June 16. He is thought to have been infected while transporting a U.S. flight crew from the airport.
Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 985 – RKI
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 985 to 3,732,549, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 48 to 91,110, the tally showed.
US sending 1.5M vaccines to Guatemala, 2M to Vietnam
The Biden Administration will send 1.5 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to Guatemala and two million to Vietnam, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.
“Both Guatemala and Vietnam will be receiving Covid vaccine doses from the Biden-Harris Administration,” Psaki said.
US President Joe Biden has committed to sharing 80 million US-made vaccines with countries around the world.
Brazil registers 1,780 new deaths
Brazil has registered 62,504 new Covid-19 cases and 1,780 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry has said.
This brings the total in Brazil to nearly 19 million cases and 526,892 deaths.
Mexico reports nearly 8,000 more cases
Mexico reported 7,989 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 269 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,549,862 infections and 233,958 deaths, according to health ministry data published on Tuesday.
WHO recommends Roche, Sanofi drugs for virus patients
The World Health Organization has recommended using arthritis drugs Actemra from Roche and Kevzara from Sanofi with corticosteroids for Covid-19 patients after data from some 11,000 patients showed they cut the risk of death.
A WHO group evaluating therapies concluded treating severe and critical Covid patients with these so-called interleukin-6 antagonists that block inflammation “reduces the risk of death and the need for mechanical ventilation”.
According to the WHO analysis, the risk of dying within 28 days for patients getting one of the arthritis drugs with corticosteroids such as dexamethasone is 21 percent, compared with an assumed 25 percent risk among those who got standard care.
For every 100 such patients, four more will survive, the WHO said.
Moreover, the risk of progressing to mechanical ventilation or death was 26 percent for those getting the drugs and corticosteroids, compared with 33 percent in those getting standard care. The WHO said that meant for every 100 such patients, seven more will survive without mechanical ventilation.
Zimbabwe returns to strict lockdown as cases surge
Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of Covid-19 amid vaccine shortages, the country’s information minister has announced.
Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localised lockdowns in hotspot areas, and a ban on inter-city travel. The virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.
To try to contain the spread, most people must stay at home, similar to restrictions on movement adopted in March last year when towns and cities became almost deserted, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
People will now need letters from employers to justify why they must venture out of their neighbourhoods “with immediate effect,” said Mutsvangwa.
UK to scrap virus rules for schools
The British government is scrapping coronavirus rules for schools that have seen hundreds of thousands of pupils sent home to self-isolate.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says starting July 19, schools will no longer group children in class or year-group “bubbles,” with all members of the group sent home if one person tests positive for the coronavirus.
With infections climbing in the UK, the system has led to major disruption for schools and families. On July 1, 471,000 children in England were self-isolating because of potential contact with a virus case at school.
Williamson says in mid-August, close contacts of children who test positive will no longer have to self-isolate. He said the government plans to lift social distancing rules and other educational restrictions for the start of the new school year in September.