COVID-19 is spreading to rural areas in Zimbabwe, where health facilities are sparse, so the government is resuming the lockdown. People will need letters from their employers to authorize them to leave their neighborhoods. The Associated Press has the story:
Delta variant spreading in Africa causes Zimbabwe to resume strict lockdown
(AP) Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages.
Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localized lockdowns in hotspot areas, and bans on inter-city travel.
The country’s information minister announced the virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a Cabinet meeting that most people must stay at home, similar to restrictions on movement adopted in March last year when towns and cities became almost deserted.
People will now need letters from employers to justify why they must venture out of their neighborhood.
Zimbabwe is one of more than 14 African countries where the delta variant s quickly spreading. The delta variant was first identified in India.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Tokyo Olympics approach, virus worries rise in Japan
— Bangladesh hits record 11,525 daily virus cases
— Israel to ship 700K Pfizer doses to South Korea in swap deal
— Unending grief of COVID-19 deaths causing problems for some
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
DENVER — The Denver Zoo will begin vaccinating some of its animals for COVID-19 as early as next week.
Zoologists say they have been working with the veterinary vaccine company Zoetis to receive doses for the animals, and primates and carnivores will be first on the list.
KMGH-TV reports the veterinary vaccine is being developed separate from the ones for human use.
Transmission is rare between humans and other species, but there have been several documented cases of COVID-19 in large cats, monkeys and certain rodent populations.
Veterinary scientists don’t think common house pets like cats or dogs are in significant danger of catching COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the rise of a more transmissible COVID-19 variant in the U.S. “should cause everybody to think twice.”
Speaking Tuesday at the White House as he outlined his administration’s summer plans to boost vaccinations, Biden said the delta variant first identified in India is now responsible for a majority of new virus cases in much of the country.
“It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice, and it should cause reconsideration especially among young people,” he said, referencing the demographic least at risk of negative outcomes from the virus.
Biden says the surest way for Americans to protect themselves and their loved ones is to get vaccinated. He said the White House was working with state and local partners to support hyper-local vaccination drives in communities with low uptake.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Declining demand for coronavirus vaccinations in Romania has prompted authorities to close 117 vaccination centers and to reduce the schedule at 371 others, health officials said Tuesday.
“In the previous week we re-evaluated the efficiency of fixed vaccination centers. About 80% of fixed vaccination centers vaccinate less than 25% of the vaccination capacity allocated to each stream,” national vaccination committee chief Valeriu Gheorghita said at a press conference Tuesday.
The number of daily vaccinations in Romania has consistently dropped from a mid-May peak of around 120,000 a day to less than 20,000 a day over the last week. Just 24% of people in Romania — a country of more than 19 million — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The number of daily coronavirus infections in recent weeks has dropped to record lows, but Gheorghita warned Tuesday of a possible resurgence due to the delta strain, which was first identified in India.
If a resurgence increased demand for vaccines, he said, the closed vaccine centers could quickly resume activities.
Authorities have reported more than a million infections since the pandemic began and 34,021 have died.
NIXA, Mo. — As the coronavirus surges in Missouri, a group opposed to masking and other public safety measures have gathered enough signatures to force a vote on whether to recall a mayor in a hard-hit region, even though the requirements have long since expired.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that Nixa voters will have the option to recall Mayor Brian Steele at a special election set for Nov. 2.
Nixa, which has about 21,000 residents, is located about 10 miles (16.09 kilometers) south of Springfield, where hospitals are overflowing with COVID-19 patients.
Health officials are blaming low vaccination rates and the delta variant, first identified in India, for the surge. Just 44.8% of the state’s residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, compared to 54.9% nationally.
And the rate is even lower in southwest Missouri. Christian County, where Nixa is located, has a vaccine rate of 35.2%. Some nearby counties have rates in the teens.
PHOENIX — Arizona’s confirmed pandemic death toll reached 18,000 on Tuesday with 21 more deaths. There were 900 confirmed coronavirus cases after the three-day July 4 holiday weekend.
As of Sunday, Arizona ranked 12th highest among U.S. states in total COVID-19 deaths since Jan. 21, 2020. It’s sixth highest in the number of deaths per 100,000 population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Monday, the state reported no additional deaths after only four on Sunday. The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily deaths registered at 9.4, down from 10.7 on June 20, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Arizona’s confirmed pandemic case total reached 897,910 on Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases increased in the past two weeks from 423 on June 20 to 492 on Sunday.
Nearly 50% of the population has had at least one dose of vaccine.
MOSCOW — Russian authorities allowed vaccinated Russians and those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months not to get tested for the virus upon arrival from abroad.
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit another daily record on Tuesday, with authorities reporting 737 more deaths and 23,378 confirmed cases.
Those who are not vaccinated and haven’t had coronavirus recently will be required to take a test within three days of arrival and self-isolate until receiving the results. The amended regulations, announced Tuesday by the country’s public health agency Rospotrebnadzor, will take effect on Wednesday. The rules in place since May 1 mandated all Russians to take two coronavirus tests within five days of arrival.
The eased regulations come amid reports of state and private testing facilities being overwhelmed with the increased demand. The daily tally of confirmed infections has more than doubled in the past month, soaring from around 9,000 in early June to over 23,000 this week. As of last week, only 23 million people in Russia — just over 15% of the country’s 146 million population — have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force has reported more than 5.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a total of 139,316 deaths in the pandemic. The actual numbers are believed to be higher.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh has reported 11,525 positive cases, the highest in a day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Another 163 people died in the last 24 hours, raising the total number to 15,392, according to the government. Bangladesh’s cases of new infections increased last month when the delta variant — first discovered in India — hit the country’s border regions in the northern and southwestern Bangladesh.
Bangladesh shares a large border with India and health experts say the actual number of both infections and deaths is likely higher. The country is facing a crisis in vaccination after India stopped exports of AstraZeneca shots because of its own outbreak in April. Bangladesh has a deal to get 30 million doses from India’s Serum Institute.
Only 4 million Bangladeshis have been vaccinated in a country of 160 million people. Authorities are hoping to start a new mass vaccination campaign with China’s Sinopharm and other vaccines.
LONDON — 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 U.K., 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. However, “some protective measures — including enhanced hygiene and ventilation — will remain in place.”
The government plans to remove mandatory mask requirements and other restrictions across society on July 19, the date by which all adults are expected to have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The U.K. has not yet decided whether to vaccinate children and teens under 18.
LONDON — Britain’s government says it is scrapping rules for self-isolation for those who are fully vaccinated starting mid-August, as the country prepares to lift most remaining coronavirus restrictions.
Currently, people who are notified they’ve come into close contact with someone who tested positive must enter self-isolation for 10 days. Health Secretary Sajid Javid says this rule no longer applies starting Aug. 16 to anyone who has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Young people under 18 years old will no longer need to isolate unless they test positive — a change that will come as a big relief for families with school children who have had to repeatedly isolate and miss school because of reported cases in their classes.
Javid says those who have come into close contact with an infected person will instead be advised to take a test as soon as possible. Officials are looking into removing the need for isolation after travelling abroad for fully vaccinated people, he added.
“Step by step, jab by jab, we’re replacing the temporary protection of restrictions with the long-term protection of vaccines,” he said.
Britain on Monday announced plans to scrap laws requiring face masks and social distancing on July 19.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — In Myanmar, the military has declared war on health care workers.
Medics were early and fierce opponents of the military’s takeover of the nation’s government in February. Security forces are arresting, attacking and killing medical workers and have dubbed them enemies of the state.
Medics have been driven underground amid a global coronavirus pandemic and the country’s already fragile health care system is crumbling. Myanmar is now one of the most dangerous places on earth for health care workers, with 240 attacks this year. That’s nearly half of the 508 globally tracked by the World Health Organization and by far the highest of any country.
The military has issued arrest warrants for 400 doctors and 180 nurses, with photos of their faces plastered over state media like “Wanted” posters. They are charged with supporting and taking part in the “civil disobedience” movement.
Since the military’s takeover of the nation of 54 million, security forces have killed at least 890 people and 5,100 people are in detention.
BEIJING — A Chinese city bordering Myanmar is stepping up efforts to fight a third coronavirus outbreak after several locally transmitted cases were reported this week.
Ruili, located in the southwestern province of Yunnan, has initiated mass testing and imposed a lockdown to prevent people from entering or leaving the city unless they can prove their travel is necessary, according to the local government.
More than 230,000 test samples have been collected since Monday, and the Jiegao border community was named a medium-risk area on Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The large number of exchanges along the border at Ruili and Myanmar’s difficulties in handling the pandemic have made it particularly difficult to control new transmissions. Strict anti-pandemic measures have largely prevented local cases in other parts of China over recent months, leaving the country’s death toll from the pandemic static at 4,636 among almost 92,000 reported cases, according to official statistics.
MOSCOW — Coronavirus deaths in Russia have hit another daily record, with authorities reporting 737 more fatalities amid a rapid rise in infections.
Russia’s coronavirus task force on Tuesday reported 23,378 new coronavirus cases. The daily tally of confirmed infections has more than doubled in the past month, soaring from around 9,000 in early June to over 23,000 this week.
Despite the surge, the Kremlin has said there are no plans to impose another lockdown. Russia had one nationwide lockdown in the spring of 2020 that lasted six weeks, and the government has since resisted shutting down businesses.
The coronavirus task force has reported over 5.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a total of 139,316 deaths in the pandemic. The actual mortality rate is believed to be higher.
JERUSALEM — Israel is sending 700,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to South Korea in exchange for a future shipment of vaccines from South Korea to Israel.
Under the deal, Israel will transfer the Pfizer vaccines to South Korea in an effort to inoculate more of the Asian nation’s citizens this month. South Korea will send the same number of doses to Israel as early as September, the officials added.
“This is a win-win deal,” Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in his statement.
Jung Eun-kyeong, South Korea’s top infectious disease expert, confirmed the deal. She said the Seoul government will continue to pursue swap deals with other countries.
Both countries are reporting a surge in new infections. South Korea topped 700 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the fourth straight day on Tuesday. Israel was seeing the most new infections in three months, with the delta variant driving the trend, the government says.
TOKYO — The pressure of hosting an Olympics during a still-active pandemic is beginning to show in Japan.
The Tokyo games begin July 23, with organizers determined they will go on, even with a reduced number of spectators or possibly none at all. While Japan has made remarkable progress to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, the drive is losing steam because of supply shortages.
With tens of thousands of visitors coming to a country that is only 13.8% fully vaccinated, gaps in border controls have emerged, highlighted by the discovery of infections among the newly arrived team from Uganda, with positive tests for the highly contagious delta variant.
As cases grow in Tokyo, so have fears that the games will spread the virus.
“We must stay on high alert,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters on July 1. Noting the rising caseloads, he said “having no spectators is a possibility.”
Organizers, the International Olympic Committee and others are expected to meet this week to announce new restrictions because of the fast-changing coronavirus situation.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s interior ministry says the country is immediately closing a key border crossing into Afghanistan to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Twitter that the Torkham border will be closed for all types of movement of people until further guidance from the country’s National Command and Operations Center, which oversee Pakistan’s response to coronavirus.
Pakistan’s top health official reported Monday an uptick in new COVID-19 cases and the country’s positivity rate for the coronavirus over the previous seven days.
Pakistan has reported 964,490 confirmed cases among 22,452 death from coronavirus since last year.
SYDNEY — New South Wales officials plan to announce on Wednesday whether Sydney’s two-week lockdown will be extended beyond Friday.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian flagged the pending decision while reporting 18 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections in Sydney in the latest 24-hour period. She said the decision would be made on health advice.
Last week, almost half Australia’s population was locked down with cities on the east, west and north coast tightening pandemic restrictions due to clusters of mostly the delta variant, which is thought to be more contagious.
But Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has had the biggest number of infections and will be the last to emerge from lockdown.
Australia’s relatively-low vaccination rate is blamed for lockdowns being triggered by relatively small clusters.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city which has accounted for most of Australia’s 910 COVID-19 deaths, on Tuesday reported its sixth day without a single locally-acquired case.