Russia fights COVID as Asia-Pacific tightens restrictions Coronavirus pandemic news


Moscow, the Russian capital, has recorded the worst number of daily deaths from coronavirus and Indonesia has recorded the highest number of cases in a day, as countries in the Asia-Pacific region extended or re-imposed restrictions to deal with new waves of COVID-19 infections.

The pandemic has killed nearly four million people worldwide. Vaccination actions have reduced the number of infections in many rich countries, but the Delta variant of the virus remains a concern.

Delta is in 85 countries as of Sunday and is the most contagious of all COVID-19 strains identified to date, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, much of Europe and the United States manage to curb daily life as vaccination programs pay off, even as Russia faces a third deadly wave.

Cases in Russia are on the rise

Moscow on Sunday recorded 144 deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, a day after St. Petersburg set the previous highest figure.

St. Petersburg has hosted six matches of Euro 2020 and on Friday, it will be planned to organize quarterfinals, with a maximum number of spectators in the middle, but with more than 26,000 people.

Russia as a whole has experienced an explosion of new infections since mid-June caused by the Delta variant.

The rise comes as Moscow officials are pressuring Russians skeptical of the vaccine to be inoculated after lifting most antivirus restrictions late last year.

“One thing is needed to stop the pandemic: rapid, large-scale vaccinations. No one has invented another solution, “Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Saturday.

The increase in Russia comes as Moscow officials are pressuring Russians skeptical of the vaccine to be inoculated [Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters[

The Delta variant is also increasing fresh outbreaks in Southeast Asia and Australia where authorities have brought back or extended restrictions.

More than five million Sydney residents endured their first full day of a two-week lockdown on Sunday.

Restaurants, bars and cafes were shuttered and stay-at-home orders were issued, leaving the city centre virtually deserted.

“Given how contagious this strain of the virus is, we do anticipate that in the next few days case numbers are likely to increase even beyond what we have seen today,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

More than 110 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Sydney since a driver for an international flight crew tested positive in mid-June for the Delta variant.

The surge has been a shock for a place that had returned to relative normality after months with few local cases.

“The Northern Territory is now facing its biggest threat since the COVID crisis began,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

Restrictions reimposed

Similar spikes in infections have been seen across Southeast Asia, with Indonesia setting a new daily infection record of more than 21,000.

Hospitals are flooded with patients in the capital Jakarta and other COVID-19 hotspots across the region’s hardest-hit nation.

Thailand will from Monday reimpose restrictions on restaurants, construction sites and gatherings in the capital Bangkok.

The country’s latest wave began in April when a cluster was found in upscale Bangkok clubs.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has said he plans to fully reopen the country by October, but this would require hitting a target of vaccinating 50 million Thais in four months.

Thailand’s latest wave began in April when a cluster was found in Bangkok [Rungroj Yongrit/EPA]

Pravit Rojanaphruk, a newspaper columnist, said the deployment of vaccines in Thailand has been plagued by delays.

“Only about 10 percent of the population received their first dose, while only four percent received the second injection,” he told Al Jazeera.

In neighboring Malaysia, the prime minister announced that a nationwide shutdown would be maintained for about a month and gave no date for the removal of the restrictions.

His government had previously said that strict phase-out limits would be reduced, provided there was a decrease in infections, the use of intensive care beds and an increase in vaccination rates.

Bangladesh also said it would impose a new one national blockade from Monday, with offices closed for a week and only medical transportation allowed.

The announcement caused tens of thousands of migrant workers to leave the capital Dhaka, where the closure will cut off their sources of income.

People walk with their belongings before boarding a ferry while authorities ordered a new closure to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Bangladesh [Munir Uz Zaman/AFP]

Infections declined in May, but began to rise again this month, with more than 5,000 new cases and a maximum pandemic of 119 deaths on Sunday, according to the health ministry.

Dr Mushtuq Husain, medical adviser to the government of Bangladesh, said the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths was increasing in the country.

He told Al Jazeera: “Everything will be closed [from July 1], so that the transition string will be put. In two weeks, a decrease in the number of cases is expected and in three weeks a decrease in the number of deaths. “

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford began new trials on Sunday to test a modified vaccine against the beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa.

The new vaccine, known as AZD2816, has been designed using the same base as the main feature of AstraZeneca, but with small genetic alterations to the spike protein based on the Beta variant.

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