Surge of Delta Variant: US brings back masks
People vaccinated against Covid-19 in high-risk parts of the United States should resume wearing masks indoors, the top health authority said, as countries around the world yesterday extended curbs struggling to suppress the Delta variant.
President Joe Biden said the announcement showed that America needs to "do better" on vaccinations, adding that a vaccine mandate for the country's more than two million federal workers was now "under consideration."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky cited new data that shows rare breakthrough cases involving Delta have an increased risk of onward transmission.
"In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings," she said.
As recently as last week, the CDC had defended its surprise decision in May that vaccinated people did not have to wear masks indoors in most circumstances.
In another setback, the White House on Tuesday also ordered all its staff to mask up again due to local transmission rates in Washington.
According to the latest CDC data, 63 percent of the country's more than 3,200 counties are experiencing substantial or high transmission.
Substantial is defined as being between 50 and 100 daily cases per 100,000 people over seven days, while high is defined as more than 100 daily cases per 100,000 over seven days.
SYDNEY EXTENDS CURBS
The coronavirus has killed at least 4,179,675 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP yesterday.
Millions of Sydney residents will spend another month in lockdown, authorities announced yesterday, citing a still-fast-growing coronavirus outbreak and stubbornly low vaccination rates.
Australia's biggest city had been due to exit five weeks of lockdown on July 30, but the restrictions will now remain in place until August 28 as case numbers continued to climb.
Daily cases in Tokyo topped 3,000 for the first time yesterday, as several neighbouring regions weighed emergency restrictions to tackle a surge in infections.
Tokyo, which is already under a virus state of emergency as it hosts the Olympics, reported 3,117 cases, and Governor Yuriko Koike called on people to avoid "unnecessary, non-urgent outings."
In Myanmar, junta authorities are seeking help from the international community to tackle the coronavirus, state media said yesterday, as the impoverished country looks beyond ally China in its struggle to beat back a new wave.
The nation has been in turmoil since the military took power in February, with many hospitals ill-equipped to cope with a surging caseload after many medical staff walked out in protest at the coup.
COVAX TO GET 250M JABS
Covax is expecting to receive 250 million donated Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next six to eight weeks, the World Health Organization said yesterday.
The influx of doses is a major boost for the scheme, which is aimed at ensuring poorer countries can access jabs and has so far delivered 152 million vaccine doses to 137 participating territories.
In a weekly operational update issued yesterday, the WHO said that at a recent UN Crisis Management Team meeting it "reported that there will be increased vaccine donations to the Covax facility, projecting an additional 250 million vaccines over the next six to eight weeks".
Covax is co-led by the WHO, the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with Unicef using its vaccine logistics expertise to handle the delivery flights.
Under Covax, the 92 poorest countries can access jabs for free, with donors covering the cost.
UK TO STAR VACCINE DONATION
Britain announced yesterday it will begin donating millions of coronavirus vaccine doses around the world, including to various Commonwealth countries, following its pledge to provide 100 million jabs globally by next June.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the ramped up rollout of an initial nine million inoculations, to get under way Friday, will go to Kenya, Jamaica and several Asian nations.
"They will go to countries, vulnerable places like Laos and Cambodia, partners like Indonesia, Malaysia (and) a range of Commonwealth countries from Kenya to Jamaica," he said.
"This demonstrates we're not just doing it because it's in our own interest. It shows global Britain as a life-saving force for good in the world."