The Latest: Chinese city near Myanmar imposes virus lockdown
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.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— As Tokyo Olympics approach, virus worries rise in Japan
— Australia denies interfering in rollout of Chinese vaccine in Papua New Guinea
— England cricket squad in isolation after virus outbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
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.
LONDON — An outbreak of the coronavirus in England’s one-day international squad forced it into isolation on Tuesday.
Tests on Monday, a day after the team’s last ODI against Sri Lanka in Bristol, revealed seven infections among three players and four staff. None were named.
The squad has gone into isolation dating from Sunday, the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement.
The six-match limited-overs series against Pakistan, starting on Wednesday with the first ODI in Cardiff, was still going ahead.
England planned to name a new squad on Tuesday to be captained by Ben Stokes.
“We have been mindful that the emergence of the delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio-secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said. “We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall wellbeing of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions.”
BERLIN — Germany is easing strict rules on travel from Britain, Portugal and some other countries that were imposed because of the rise of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
Germany’s national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said late Monday that Britain, Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal will be removed from the country’s highest risk category of “virus variant areas” effective Wednesday. They will move into the second-highest category of “high-incidence areas.”
The U.K. had been in the top risk category since May 23, and was joined last Tuesday by Russia and Portugal, one of Germany’s partners in the European Union.
Airlines and others are restricted largely to transporting German citizens and residents from “virus variant areas,” and those who arrive must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Germany will donate 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to countries in the western Balkans region “as soon as possible.”
Germany said in late May that it was prepared to donate a total of 30 million doses to poorer countries before the end of this year.
Merkel said Monday that most of those doses will be given to the U.N.-backed COVAX program to get vaccines to needy nations, but 3 million will be given directly to the western Balkan countries. She spoke after a video meeting with leaders from the region.
She didn’t give a specific timeline for the donations.
MADRID — Some regions in Spain are reinstating nightlife restrictions only weeks after dropping them, part of an attempt to stem a spiraling number of coronavirus infections among unvaccinated young people.
Fearing that the surging virus could strain healthcare services, health officials in several parts of the country are also hurrying to reach people under 30 with COVID-19 vaccines. Spain’s strict vaccination rollout has so far focused on older, more vulnerable groups.
On Friday, the 14-day contagion rate among those ages 20 to 29 years was nearly three times the national average.
The virus has also spread among teenagers as a result of trips and parties to celebrate the end of the school year.
MOSCOW — Officials in Moscow say early trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine have started in the city among children ages 12 to 17.
Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Monday that 100 volunteers have been recruited who haven’t been previously infected with the coronavirus and don’t have health issues that would prevent them from getting the shots. Rakova said the youths will receive a small dose of Sputnik V than what is usually administered for adults.
The new trial comes as Russia faces a sharp surge in coronavirus infections and struggles to ramp up its low vaccine uptake. As of last week, only 23 million people, or just over 15% of the country’s 146-million population, have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is requiring foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated as one of the entry requirements as the country tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Ganip Warsito, National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation Chief, says that starting on Tuesday, both foreigners and Indonesian nationals entering the country have to show digital or physical proof that they have been fully vaccinated.
The obligation to show vaccination cards can be excluded in some cases, including diplomatic visas and service visas, and during official visits at ministerial level.
The government is also extending the quarantine time for foreign travelers from five days to eight days.