(Bloomberg) — South Korea and Thailand both announced record daily infections as the coronavirus continues to spread in Asia. Sydney’s month-long lockdown will be extended by at least another four weeks.
U.S. health officials returned to tighter guidelines for the use of masks, advising that fully vaccinated individuals wear them in public indoor settings in places where the virus is spreading rapidly. President Joe Biden said he’s weighing a requirement for federal workers to get vaccinated.
Texas posted its biggest daily jump in new cases and hospitalizations in almost five months. India reported its lowest daily count since a second wave driven by the delta variant started more than four months ago.
Sydney’s Lockdown to Be Extended for 4 Weeks (9:05 a.m. HK)
Sydney’s month-long lockdown will be extended by at least another four weeks, with Australian authorities failing to flatten an outbreak of daily Covid-19 cases that on Wednesday surged to another record.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the lockdown has been extended until at least August 28. The restrictions began on June 26, when 12 new cases were recorded in the local community. The city’s outbreak has since swelled — fueled by the spread of the highly-contagious delta variant — with 177 more cases recorded on Wednesday, she told reporters.
South Korea’s Daily Coronavirus Cases Hit A Record (8:40 a.m. HK)
South Korea reported a record number of new coronaviruscases over the last 24 hours, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. Cases hit 1,896 versus 1,365 the previous day,
About 35% of the population, or 17.9 million people, have received at least one vaccine dose, while 13.6% of the population completed vaccination.
Thailand Reports Record New Covid Cases (8:35 a.m. HK)
Thailand reported 16,533 new infections on Wednesday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, taking the nation’s cumulative cases to 543,361, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
The country reported 133 fatalities and 10,051 recoveries.
Phuket Tourism Experiment Risks Suspension (8:30 a.m. HK)
A flareup in coronavirus cases in Phuket, Thailand’s first tourism hotspot to waive quarantine for vaccinated foreign visitors, is threatening to scuttle the experiment seen as a model for other tourism-reliant nations to reopen borders.
The resort island reported 125 new Covid-19 cases during the week ending July 27, higher than the government-set threshold of 90 weekly cases that could trigger a temporary suspension of the program. In response, local authorities closed public schools and shopping malls and banned gatherings of more than 100 people from Tuesday to stem the virus from spreading further.
South Korea Says Delayed Vaccine Supply to Resume Next Week (8:00 a.m. HK)
South Korea and Moderna held an online meeting late Tuesday and Moderna agreed to resume delayed vaccine supply from next week, said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum.
Singapore Local Virus Cases Stay Well Above 100 (7:45 a.m. HK)
Singaporean authorities found 136 locally-spread coronavirus cases, the government said Tuesday, marking over a week of daily tallies exceeding a hundred.
Fifty-five of these new cases are currently unlinked, raising concerns of undetected spread in Singapore even as the government imposed measures last week to curb transmission risk with banning dining-in and limiting social interactions to groups of two.
L.A. Push for Mandatory Vaccines for City Employees (7:30 a.m. HK)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced they would push for mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for City employees, beginning with a requirement that workers either submit proof of vaccination or a weekly negative test.
Washington Post to Require Vaccinations (5:44 p.m. NY)
The Washington Post will require employees to prove they are vaccinated, joining the ranks of companies that are mandating workers get inoculated against Covid-19 as caseloads rise.
The newspaper, owned by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, will require employees to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination “as a condition of employment” when they return to the office in September, Publisher Fred Ryansaid in a memo to staff.
Ford Reinstates Mask Mandate at Some Plants (5:42 p.m. NY)
Ford Motor Co. is reinstating mask requirements for some workers to slow an aggressive new strain of the coronavirus, telling employees Tuesday that it’s mandating face coverings at facilities in Missouri and Florida.
The company also is ordering U.S. employees planning international business travel to be vaccinated against Covid-19, Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said in an emailed statement. The move comes after General Motors Co. reinstated a mask mandate at a Missouri factory last week and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reverted to tighter mask guidelines.
Texas Cases Jump Most Since March (4:45 p.m. NY)
Texas posted its biggest daily jump in new cases and hospitalizations in almost five months. The Lone Star state detected 6,517 new virus cases, a level of infection not seen since the first week of March, state health department data showed. Meanwhile, 4,982 hospital beds were occupied by virus patients, the highest tally since March 5.
Intensive-care units are filling up in the hardest-hit parts of the state, including adjacent to the border with Louisiana, where the pandemic is once again rampant and straining some medical facilities. Two of Texas’s 22 trauma service zones are creeping toward the 15% intensive-care unit threshold that Governor Greg Abbott months ago pegged as the tipping point for reimposing anti-virus controls on movement and businesses.
Republican Senators Rip CDC Mask Change (4:30 p.m. NY)
Biden Eyes Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers (3:50 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden said he is weighing a requirement for federal workers to get vaccinated as the highly contagious delta variant spreads throughout the U.S.
A vaccine mandate for federal workers is “under consideration,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday after visiting the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
U.K. to Welcome Vaccinated Tourists: FT (2:30 p.m. NY)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected announced on Wednesday that fully vaccinated tourists from the European Union and U.S. can travel to England, according to the Financial Times, which cited government officials briefed on the discussions. The change could take effect as early as next week, the newspaper said.
Moderna Cites Foreign Manufacturing Delays (11:30 a.m. NY)
Moderna Inc. said its Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing partners outside the U.S. are “facing delays” due to laboratory testing issues that occurred in recent days.
While the problem has been resolved, it has slowed release of Moderna’s vaccine to markets outside the U.S., a company spokeswoman said in an email.
The problem will cause short-term adjustments to vaccine delivery outside the U.S., she said in the email. Shares fell as much as 4.5% in New York trading on Tuesday.
U.S. Returning to Tighter Mask Guidelines (11:20 a.m. NY)
U.S. health officials will return to tighter guidelines for the use of masks, advising that fully vaccinated individuals wear them in public indoor settings in places where the virus is spreading rapidly as part of a response to the spread of the delta variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend that teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, according to a preview of guidance to be released later today. Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with prevention strategies in place, the preview said.
Ireland to Offer Shots for Kids 12 to 15 (11:05 a.m. NY)
Ireland will offer vaccines to children age 12 to 15, the government said Tuesday. “This will be reviewed from a planning, operational and clinical perspective in the coming days,” it said in a statement. The shot is already available to anyone over 16. The move comes amid an acceleration of the vaccination program in the face of the delta variant: 69% of the population is now fully inoculated. Ireland will also double the number of people allowed to attend weddings to 100.
Dutch Weekly Cases Drop Almost 50% (9:15 a.m. NY)
Weekly cases in the Netherlands fell almost 50%, while hospital admissions rose to 538, the highest since mid-June, the national health service reported. There were 37,343 cases in the week ending July 27, down from 69,731. The government on Monday said a ban on multiday events such as music festivals will be extended until at least Sept. 1.
Israel Allows Shots for Ages 5-11 at High Risk (9:09 a.m. NY)
Israel will allow vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 who are at high risk of falling seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. The Health Ministry didn’t issue a blanket recommendation for vaccine use in the age group, instead listing conditions such as obesity and chronic severe lung disease as prerequisites.
Johnson Warns U.K. to Remain Cautious (8:08 a.m. NY)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned against drawing “premature conclusions” after new cases in the U.K. dropped for a sixth day, saying people must remain “very cautious.”
Government officials and scientists point out that the latest numbers don’t yet reflect the impact of lifting virtually all pandemic restrictions in England on July 19. Given the lag between infections and hospitalizations, it will take some weeks before lower case numbers translate into easing pressure on the National Health Service.
Indonesia Marks Another Deadliest Day (6:25 a.m. NY)
Indonesia marked another grim record as 2,069 people died from Covid-19 over 24 hours. The Southeast Asian country has been reporting the highest number of deaths worldwide in recent days.
The delta variant has crippled the country’s health-care system and depleted supply of oxygen tanks. Indonesia’s number of new confirmed cases reached a three-week low Monday before rebounding to 45,203 on Tuesday.
Iran Posts Second Day of Record Infections (6:24 a.m. NY)
Iran reported a record number of daily new cases for the second straight day at 34,951. The death toll rose for a fourth day to 357, the highest in 10 weeks, the latest health ministry data showed. The country has reported 89,479 fatalities and over 3.7 million known infections.