Russia reported the highest daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020, while Australia saw a surge in infections even as its Victoria state towards easing COVID-19 restrictions. The UK, meanwhile, reported over 45,000 daily cases, with the infection being prevalent in children.
Here are the developments on the pandemic from across the globe:
Russia on Thursday recorded the highest daily numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, a rapidly surging toll that has severely strained the nation’s health care system. The government’s coronavirus task force reported 31,299 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 986 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The country has repeatedly marked record daily death tolls over the past few weeks as infections surged amid a slow vaccination rate and lax enforcement of measures to protect against the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday that about 43 million Russians, or just about 29% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, were fully vaccinated. Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the need to speed up the vaccination rate, but he also has cautioned against forcing people to get vaccine shots.
Despite the mounting toll, the Kremlin has also ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one during the first months of the pandemic, which badly crippled the economy and dented Putin’s ratings, while delegating the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.
Russia called on pension-age doctors who quit during the pandemic for safety reasons to return to their jobs amid the soaring number of cases.
Coronavirus case numbers in Australia’s Victoria state surged to 2,297, the highest daily infections in the country since the pandemic began last year. Officials said that 11 COVID-19 deaths were also recorded in the latest 24-hour period.
The number of cases on Thursday, up from 1,571 the day before, is the highest for any Australian state or territory since the pandemic began. Most new cases were detected in Melbourne, but the city’s night curfew will also be lifted, while businesses can reopen with strict social distancing rules, according to the roadmap. More curbs will be relaxed when vaccination levels reach 80% and 90%.
But officials said Thursday the state will open up from pandemic restrictions as planned when the 70% double dose vaccination rates for people age 16 and older are reached sometime next week.
State Premier Daniel Andrews says the case numbers will be “less relevant” once the vaccination target is reached. “We will deliver the (reopening) road map … You get vaccinated and we will open up and I do what I say,” Victoria Premier Andrews said, speaking during a media briefing in Melbourne, the state capital.
New Zealand reported its biggest rise in COVID-19 infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in Auckland, raising prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions in the country’s largest city beyond next week.
Some 1.7 million people in Auckland are under strict stay-home orders until Monday as officials look to stamp out the Delta outbreak.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said, “Now is not the time for complacency.” He urged residents in Auckland to strictly follow the level-three rules, under which most people are required to stay at home unless they have urgent reasons to go out.
South Korea reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections for the 100th consecutive day as the outbreak continued to spread in the country. Health officials said 1,580 of the 1,940 new cases reported Thursday are in the Seoul metropolitan region.
The capital area has been under South Korea’s toughest social distancing measures short of a lockdown since July. Private social gatherings of three or more people are banned after 6 pm unless all participants are fully vaccinated.
Officials say people’s frustration with social distancing is becoming an increasing challenge and hope the improving vaccination rate will allow more flexible measures soon.
Britain recorded more than 45,000 daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, with infections particularly prevalent among children. 157 virus-related deaths were reported Thursday, taking Britain’s confirmed total to 138,237, Europe’s second-highest tally.
Government figures show 45,066 people tested positive for the coronavirus, the highest since July 20. Much of the recent increased cases in the UK is among children after their return to school. The rollout of vaccines among older children is widely considered slower than hoped.
There’s also been a rise in hospital treatment for COVID-19, though the proportion is lower than previous waves of the pandemic after the rollout of vaccines.
Japan’s government will begin preparations to restart a popular subsidised travel programme that was suspended late last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday.
In a news conference, Kishida also said he will deliver a stimulus package worth “several tens of trillion yen” that includes spending to promote domestic development and production of vaccines and COVID-19 drugs.
The Indonesian resort island of Bali reopened for international travelers for the first time in more than a year Thursday if they’re vaccinated, test negative, hail from certain countries, quarantine and heed restrictions in public.
However, foreign visitors may be slow to arrive. No international flights to Bali were scheduled on the first day of the reopening and a tourism official forecast travel would pick up in November.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister who leads the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali, said visitors will have to follow stringent rules at hotels, in restaurants and on beaches.
China, where new proposed team will soon visit to probe the origins of COVID-19, warned against what it called possible “political manipulation” and said it would support the World Health Organisation’s efforts.
Beijing was accused of withholding raw data on early cases during a visit by a WHO team in February and has since resisted calls for further investigation, saying the US and others were politicizing the matter.
(With agency inputs)