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The number of Covid-19 infections recorded worldwide surpassed 200 million Thursday, according to an AFP count, as the pandemic intensifies around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region where the city Australian woman from Melbourne locked herself in again.
The highly contagious Delta variant has prompted the virus to come back with vengeance, with the number of daily cases recorded worldwide increasing 68% since mid-June.
But as more of the world gets vaccinated against the coronavirus – especially in wealthy countries – the death toll has increased at a slower rate, up 20% since early July, according to the tally from the ‘AFP.
In Australia, which initially pushed back the virus by closing its borders, nearly two-thirds of the 25 million people were stranded Thursday as the country struggles to quell an outbreak of Delta.
The country’s two largest cities have received a double whammy in their efforts to retain ‘Covid Zero’ status, with a record number of new cases in Sydney and Melbourne imposing their sixth lockdown.
Just over a week after the last Melbourne lockdown ended, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he had “no choice” to lock down the city and the rest of the state.
âNone of us are happy to be here, none of us,â he said, citing the danger posed by eight new âmysteryâ cases that had yet to be traced.
About two thousand protesters took to the streets chanting “more containment,” and police responded in large numbers, making arrests and using pepper spray to disperse the crowds.
– Southeast Asia ravaged –
The Delta variant is rampant in Southeast Asia, with Thailand registering 20,000 new daily cases for the first time on Wednesday – and again on Thursday.
The country has also announced 160 deaths in 24 hours, as exhausted mortuary workers struggle to cope with the accumulating bodies.
“I have seen our staff pass out on several occasions lately, so fatigue is definitely starting to set in and we are almost at our limits,” medical examiner Thanichet Khetkham told AFP.
Indonesia’s total death toll from Covid surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday after recording 1,739 of the 10,245 deaths worldwide, with the global toll exceeding 4.25 million.
The capital of Japan, Tokyo, recorded a new record number of daily cases with 5,042, just three days before the end of the Olympics.
Africa also recorded a new record with 6,400 deaths in the week to August 1, the highest number on the continent since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization said.
Habib Sagna, cemetery director in Dakar, Senegal, said that in a typical week they would hold six or seven funerals.
“But now we can do six or seven in one day,” he told AFP.
– Vaccine inequality –
The United States remains the country with the highest number of deaths and infections, but they said they eventually plan to start allowing the return of fully vaccinated foreigners.
A White House official said the US administration wanted to reopen to overseas visitors in a “safe and sustainable manner,” but without specifying a timeline.
On the other end of the spectrum, China, where the virus first emerged in December 2019, was tightening its borders after registering its newest cases in six months.
China’s immigration authority says it will stop issuing ordinary passports and other documents needed to leave the country in “non-essential and non-urgent” cases – but has not issued a blanket ban to travel abroad.
Greek authorities on Thursday announced new restrictions, including a curfew on the island of Zakynthos and the Cretan city of Chania to fight the upsurge in infections.
In Spain, the curfew in Barcelona and most of Catalonia has been extended by two weeks as hospitals are under pressure.
Also on Thursday, France became the latest country to announce that it will deploy a third booster of a Covid vaccine from September, joining Israel and Germany.
President Emmanuel Macron’s statement came just a day after the World Health Organization called on all nations to suspend booster injections until at least the end of September to help alleviate drastic inequalities in the distribution of drugs. doses between rich and poor nations.
“We really think it’s a wrong choice and we can do both,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
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