July 21 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Japan’s women’s softball team got the Tokyo 2020 Olympics off to a winning start for the hosts on Wednesday, a boost for the pandemic-postponed Games that the World Health Organization sees as “a celebration of hope” even as COVID-19 cases surge.
The opening ceremony on Friday will be a scaled-down affair, a “sobering” performance, Marco Balich, longtime opening ceremonies executive producer, and now a senior advisor to the Tokyo ceremonies executive producer, told Reuters in an interview.
South Korea reported a daily record of 1,784 coronavirus cases for Tuesday, breaking a mark set last week, as the authorities struggled to get on top of a surge in outbreaks linked to the Delta variant.
Transmission rates have been kept relatively low across the country despite no lockdowns thanks in part to aggressive testing and tracing, but the fourth wave of infections is proving particularly hard to contain as the unvaccinated fall victim to the Delta strain. New distancing rules are expected to be announced by Sunday.
Australia’s two largest states reported sharp increases in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a blow to hopes that lockdown restrictions would be lifted with more than half the country’s population under stay-at-home orders.
A year and a half into the pandemic, some 13 million Australians are under hard lockdown, raising pressure on the federal government which has seen its polling at its lowest in a year due to a sluggish immunisation program. Just over 11% of the population is fully vaccinated.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is the cause of more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases, but the authorized vaccines remain more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, said top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci during U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Life expectancy in the United States fell by a year and a half in 2020 to 77.3 years, the lowest level since 2003, primarily due to the deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday.
Indonesia extended its pandemic-linked restrictions to July 25 as the number of coronavirus infections remained high, aiming for a gradual easing of curbs next week if infections drop, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.
COVID-19 cases in Indonesia are currently among the highest in the world due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, despite the imposition this month of the strictest restrictions on the movement of people so far during the pandemic.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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