The Latest: S. Korea clamps down amid virus spike
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported more than 1,000 coronavirus cases for the sixth straight day as the greater capital area entered stringent social distancing restrictions to slow transmissions.
The 1,100 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were the highest ever for a Monday, when the daily increase is usually smaller because of reduced tests during the weekends.
More than 780 of the cases were from capital Seoul and nearby Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, areas where officials have enforced the country’s strongest social distancing measures starting Monday.
Private social gatherings of three or more people will be prohibited from 6 p.m., nightclubs and churches will be shut down, and visitors will be banned at hospitals and nursing homes.
South Korea has added more than 12,100 cases this month alone, brining its caseload to 169,146, including 2,044 deaths. The country last week set record daily increases for three straight days through Saturday, when it reported 1,378 new cases.
The viral surge is a worrisome development in a country where only 30.4% among a population of 51 million have received their first doses of vaccines.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— South Africa ramps up vaccine drive, too late for this surge
— Myanmar caught off guard as cases surge, oxygen dwindles
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Authorities in Bangladesh say the country has registered the highest number of COVID-19 casualties and positive cases in a single day.
The news comes amid concern that the coronavirus pandemic could worsen over the next seven days.
The government’s Directorate General of Health Services said that 230 people died and 11,874 tested positive on Sunday. That’s a single-day record on both counts.
About 100,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 10 days.
Experts say if the present trend continues already overwhelmed hospitals would struggle to provide treatment.
Bangladesh has been under a nationwide lockdown since July 1. But new records of positive cases are being reported everyday.
Overall, Bangladesh has reported more than 1 million positive cases, including 16,419 deaths, in the nation of 160 million people.
MOSCOW — Russia’s daily tally of confirmed coronavirus infections has exceeded 25,000 for the third day in a row.
Authorities reported 25,033 new cases Sunday.
Russia has been facing a sharp rise of contagions in recent weeks, with daily new infections increasing from around 9,000 in early June to over 25,000 on Friday. For the first time in the pandemic, the daily death toll exceeded 700 on Tuesday. It’s remained at that level ever since, with 749 new deaths registered on Sunday.
Officials blame the surge on the spread of the delta variant. They’re seeking to boost vaccine uptake, which has remained lower than in many Western countries. As of Wednesday, about 27 million Russians, or just 18.5% of the 146-million population, have received at least one shot of a vaccine, and 18.5 million, or 12.6%, have been fully vaccinated.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s planning minister is encouraging the country’s 27 million citizens who are over 50 to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Asad Umar also heads the national body tasked to control coronavirus. He said people over 50 are vulnerable to serious health effects.
Umar in a tweet Sunday said that 5.6 million people, or 20.6% of those in Pakistan in that age group, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The federal body recorded a slight hike in the positivity rate. It’s asking residents to wear masks and maintain social distance at public places.
Authorities report 27 additional death and 1,980 more cases of the virus in a single day. That brings the country’s tally of deaths due to COVID-19 to 22582 and number of total confirmed cases to 973,284.
CAIRO — Health officials say Libya has seen an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases amid a slow vaccination program and concerns about the highly infectious delta variant.
The number of new cases in the oil-rich country has risen more than six times since July 1, according to daily figures from Libya’s National Center for Disease Control.
“We are facing an unprecedented situation,” said Tareq Gibrael, a senior physician at the center. “The constantly rising curve of new cases shows that we are bracing for a third wave, especially now that the delta variant is spreading in neighboring countries. We are in a very tough position.”
On Saturday, the North African country recorded 2,854 new cases, up from 719 a week earlier. So far, Libya has recorded more than 200,000 total cases, including 3,232 deaths. The actual figures are believed to be much higher given the scarcity of testing and the depletion of the country’s health care system after almost a decade of civil war.
LONDON — Britain’s vaccines minister says that people in England are expected to continue wearing masks indoors from July 19 even though the legal requirement to do so would be dropped.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm Monday whether most coronavirus restrictions including social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing will be lifted the following week as widely expected.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said new guidance will be issued Monday on mask-wearing. He said there will be “an expectation of people to wear masks indoors, in crowded places, on public transport” instead of a legal requirement.
The U.K. is seeing a sharp surge in coronavirus cases. It’s partly driven by the more transmissible delta variant and partly by increased social mixing with the easing of lockdown rules. New cases now stand at over 34,000 a day. But deaths and hospitalizations have remained low and broadly stable.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister says the country has struck a deal with Pfizer to receive a fresh batch of coronavirus vaccines in August to help with its drive to vaccinate teenagers.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that the agreement to advance delivery of new vaccines to Aug. 1 to “ensure from this moment a continuous supply of vaccines in the state of Israel.”
Bennett said that the country had vaccinated over 200,000 people in recent weeks. Many of them were teenagers. The country is trying to halt a fresh outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant. Children under age 12 aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.
Israel has vaccinated over 61% of its 9.3 million citizens with at least one dose, and almost 56% with two doses, the vast majority with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The Health Ministry has recorded a steady climb in new infections in recent weeks, most of them among unvaccinated young children. Most new infections have been mild cases of coronavirus.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Three million doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived in Indonesia.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the Moderna vaccine will be used as a third dose for health care workers.
Sadikin said that “the plan for this vaccine, apart from (being) the first and second injections for the Indonesian people, we will specifically use it for the third booster injection for Indonesian health workers.”
Many health care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine.
JOHANNESBURG — New infections in South Africa have risen to record levels in recent days.
It’s part of a rapid rise across the continent. And experts say the surge here hasn’t yet peaked.
South Africa has reimposed several restrictions to fight the new wave. They include shutting restaurants and bars and limiting alcohol sales.
Its vaccination drive is also finding its feet after several stumbles. But experts say it’s too late to reduce the deadly impact of the current spike.
South Africa is instead rushing to vaccinate enough of its 60 million people to blunt the impact of the next surge.
TOKYO — The mayors of two Tokyo islands have asked the metropolitan government to take the planned Olympic torch relay off public roads amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The torch relay in Tokyo, which started on Friday, has been taken off all public roads except for those on islands, because of rising cases in the Japanese capital.
Kyodo News agency reported that the mayors of Oshima and Hachijo have asked the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to take the torch off public roads in their areas, citing rising virus cases.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo.
Olympic officials last week barred all fans from venues in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.
Tokyo reported 950 new cases on Saturday. That is the highest level since early May. Japan has reported about 816,000 cases and 15,000 deaths during the pandemic.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has received a further 2 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine.
The country is aiming to vaccinate nearly everyone above 30 years old by September.
Sri Lanka has relied on China for most of its vaccination program.
Authorities are currently focusing on vaccinating the elderly and those connected with the tourism sector.
Sri Lanka has reported 273,031 cases including 3,467 deaths during the pandemic.
BANKGOK — Myanmar is facing a a rapid rise in COVID-19 patients and a shortage of oxygen supplies.
The situation comes as the country is consumed by a bitter and violent political struggle since the military seized power in February after ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar had weathered last year’s surge by severely restricting travel and securing vaccines from India and China. Her ouster came less than a week after the first jabs were given to health workers.
People shunned military hospitals after the takeover and medical workers spearheaded a popular civil disobedience movement.
Myanmar’s new rulers have ordered oxygen plants to work at full capacity including converting industrial oxygen for the needs of patients.