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Coronavirus digest: Melbourne extends lockdown amid delta outbreak

Coronavirus digest: Melbourne extends lockdown amid delta outbreak

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Australian authorities on Monday extended a coronavirus lockdown in Victoria state despite a slight drop in new infections.

Victoria state premier, Daniel Andrews, said he would not lift lockdown rules as cases were still being detected in the community. 

"It would be perhaps a few days of sunshine and then there is a very high chance that we'd be back in lockdown again. That's what I'm trying to avoid," Andrews said. The lockdown in Victoria was due to end on Tuesday.

The decision means Australia's two most populous cities, Victoria's capital Melbourne and New South Wales' Sydney, will remain under tight COVID-19 lockdown.

Victoria state reported 13 new cases on Monday. New South Wales, which imposed new restriction on Saturday, reported 98.

The two states have extended lockdowns in the past month as restrictions failed to contain an outbreak of the delta variant.

Australian authorities on Monday also canceled British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins' visa after she boasted on social media about breaking strict hotel quarantine rules. 

Asia

South Korea's military recorded its biggest coronavirus infections cluster to date, with 80% of personnel aboard an anti-piracy mission off the coast of East Africa testing positive.

Authorities suspect the cluster of 247 cases may have started when the destroyer docked in the Gulf of Aden to load goods late last month.

For nearly two weeks, South Korea has recorded more tha 1,100 new COVID cases a day as the country battles an outbreak triggered by a surge of the delta variant.

Singapore's Health Ministry has advised unvaccinated people to stay home as much as possible for the next few weeks amid fears of another COVID-19 outbreak.

On Sunday, Singapore recorded 88 new locally transmitted COVID infections — its highest daily toll since August 2020. The recent surge in cases is linked to karaoke bars and a fishery port.

"We are concerned that there remain cryptic transmission chains which might continue to spread within our community. The porous nature of wet markets makes contact tracing and isolation less straightforward," the ministry said late Sunday, "strongly" advising unvaccinated people, especially the elderly, to isolate.

As of July 17, Singapore administered 6,726,540 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 4,136,551 individuals, according to the Health Ministry.

Taiwan authorized the emergency use and production of Medigen Vaccine, Biologics Corp's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Reuters news agency reported.

The move comes as a major step for Taiwan as it plans to develop its own jab.

Although Medigen has not finished clinical trials or made efficacy data available, Taiwan's Health Ministry said studies so far have shown the jab to be "no worse than" the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

The ministry said there were no major safety concerns during clinical trials of Medigen's vaccine.

Medigen had to present a monthly report on safety for the vaccine candidate, which is designed for people aged over 20, who will get two shots 28 days apart, Taiwan's Health Ministry said.

The Tokyo Olympic Games continue to be a polarizing force in Japanese society. Top sponsor Toyota has announced it will pull TV advertisement related to the Tokyo Games due to concerns surrounding the event.

The move appears to be driven by the company's fear of having its image shaken in Japan. Most Japanese oppose staging the event during the current COVID situation, according to a survey published Monday.

Tokyo Games organizers have insisted on Monday that the Olympic Village is "a safe place to stay" as reports of COVID clusters come to the surface.

On Monday, authorities said Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic tested positive for COVID.

Europe

England scrapped most coronavirus restrictions at midnight, despite criticism by scientists and opposition parties.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended lifting lockdown measures. "If we don't do it now, then we'll be opening up in the autumn, the winter months, when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather," said Johson, who is self-isolating after his health minister was infected.

The move includes allowing nightclubs and other indoor venues to run at full capacity. The British government also scrapped legal mandates covering the wearing of masks and working from home.

In Germany, the seven-day incidence of new coronavirus cases has continued to rise, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infections diseases reported.

The RKI said on Monday Germany's incidence rate was 10.3, up from 6.4 a week ago.

In the past 24 hours, the RKI recorded 564 new COVID infections and one death.

Authorities in France suspect arsonists may be behind a fire at a COVID vaccination center in the southwest of the country on Sunday morning.

Around 114,000 people protested across France on Saturday against stricter vaccination rules in the country

The mayor of the town of Urrugne, Philippe Aramendi, said there was "no doubt" the fire had been set intentionally, saying that flammable liquid had been poured outside the tent housing the facility. The fire brigade was able to quickly put out the flames and the tent has only been partially destroyed.

Another vaccination center in the southeast of France was vandalized and tagged with anti-vaccination grafiti on Friday.

fb, on/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) 

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