Coronavirus digest: Sydney brings in army to enforce lockdown | News | DW | 30.07.2021

Visit the new DW website

Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.

  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages
Advertisement

News

Coronavirus digest: Sydney brings in army to enforce lockdown

Australia's largest city has drafted military personnel to help enforce its latest lockdown amid an outbreak of the delta variant. Follow DW for the latest.

 A man walks past caution tape blocking an eating area during lockdown in Sydney

New South Wales police cordoned off downtown Sydney with multiple checkpoints to prevent a planned anti-lockdown protest

The Australian city of Sydney will draft in the army on Monday to enforce its toughest lockdown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities have ordered 5 million people to stay at home amid a surge in cases of the delta variant, first discovered in India.

Mask-wearing is mandatory outdoors and residents can only travel 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from their home for shopping or exercise, according to the New South Wales government website.

Sydney police officers speak with health workers at a locked down building where positive cases have been detected

Australian authorities have been concerned about people breaking the rules amid a series of anti-lockdown protests

But from Monday, as many as 300 Australian army personnel will visit the homes of those who have tested positive to ensure they are respecting quarantine rules.

The move had been mooted earlier in the week prior to Friday's announcement.

"The sheer volume of increase over the last week [means] the level of compliance [enforcement] has gone from hundreds into thousands," said New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller. 

The latest figures on case numbers are available from Wednesday. They show there were 237 new infections across New South Wales in the previous 24-hour period.

Australian soldiers in Melbourne

Soldiers were also deployed in Melbourne last year to enforce a coronavirus lockdown

Australia has adopted a tough stance on curbing the spread of the virus since the start of the pandemic, with its borders effectively closed to the world.

Citizens or permanent residents returning from abroad, are required to self-isolate in a state-run hotel and are subjected to strict testing requirements.

The Australian government's website says "there is a ban on all overseas travel" unless "an exemption has been granted."

Watch video 01:18

Australians protest lockdown measures

Rising infections in Australia saw New Zealand suspend an agreed "travel bubble" on July 23 for two months.

Here's a look at the latest coronavirus news in other parts of the world:

Asia-Pacific

Japan will expand the coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo to neighboring areas and the western city of Osaka amid rising infections as the country hosts the Olympics.

A government panel agreed to place Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, as well as Osaka, under a state of emergency from Monday until August 31.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday announced the emergency coronavirus measures as cases in Tokyo, for instance, doubled over the past week. "Infections are expanding in the Tokyo and western metropolitan areas at an enormous speed that we have never experienced before," Suga said, warning the country's medical system faced potential collapse.

The measures are already in place in Tokyo. Rules affecting the southern island of Okinawa will be extended until the end of August.

Watch video 01:44

Anti-Olympics protests as COVID cases rise

Authorities in the Philippines are also concerned about the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Harry Roque, chief spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said the capital, Manila, would go into a local lockdown from August 6 to August 20.

Dine-in services in restaurants will not be allowed, and religious gatherings will be suspended during the period, Roque said.

Personal care services, such as salons and barber shops, will only operate at 30% capacity.

Watch video 02:01

COVID jabs for Thailand's Buddhist monks

Thailand received its first doses of BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US government on Friday.

The arrival of 1.5 million shots comes as the Southeast Asian country battles its biggest COVID-19 outbreak to date.

Since April, the country has been tackling a surge in infections driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Hospitals in the capital, Bangkok, have been pushed to the brink.

Elsewhere in Thailand, Thammasat University Hospital, north of Bangkok,  is having to store the bodies of COVID-19 victims in refrigerated containers, because facilities are overwhelmed.

It is a measure it had to resort to during the 2004 Tsunami. The country is experiencing its worst coronavirus outbreak to date. On Saturday, there were 18, 912 new cases and a record of 178 new deaths.

Police in Malaysia are questioning five leaders of an anti-government protest group for allegedly ignoring a coronavirus lockdown.

The demonstrators were calling for the country’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to step down because of his handling of the pandemic.

Muhyiddin was also accused of breaking protocol by not getting King Abdullah to sign-off the scheduled end of eight months of emergency rule on Sunday.

Police had to stop protestors from flocking to a nearby plaza in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The country is experiencing a spike in cases, recording almost 18,000 and 207 deaths on Monday and Tuesday.

Human rights activists accused Myanmar on Friday of "weaponizing" the COVID-19 pandemic to crush the opposition and bolster the ruling junta's own power.

Supplies of medical oxygen are running low, but rights groups allege that key medical stocks are being directed to government supporters and military-run hospitals.

Watch video 02:14

Myanmar's oxygen supplies run dangerously low

"They have stopped distributing personal protection equipment and masks, and they will not let civilians who they suspect are supporting the democracy movement to be treated in hospitals, and they're arresting doctors who support the civil disobedience movement,'' said Yanghee Lee, the UN's former Myanmar human rights expert.

China is among those countries scrambling to contain the worst outbreak in months.

Health officials are blaming the infectious delta variant for the surge it is experiencing in infections.

"The main strain circulating at present is the delta variant, which poses an even greater challenge to virus prevention and control work," spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC) Mi Feng said at a press briefing.

China reported 328 infections in July, which almost equals the number of local cases from February to June.

Vietnam will be extending stricter measures on movement in Ho Chi Minh City's business district, along with 18 cities and provinces in the south of the country. The restrictions will be in place for another two weeks as it battles its worst outbreak.

Vietnam has largely managed to contain the virus since the pandemic began, but is now experiencing a surge in infections.

The country reported 8,624 new infections late on Saturday, with most of those cases picked up in the south.

North America

In the United States, The New York Times reported the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the delta variant of the coronavirus to be as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness.

The newspaper said it had obtained an internal CDC document which said the variant was also more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines.

But the data shows jabs are still highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and deaths.

Meanwhile, US regulators have moved to stop hundreds of thousands of unused COVID-19 doses from being thrown away. The Food and Drug Adminstration has sent a letter to single-shot jab maker Johnson & Johnson saying their vaccines remain safe and effective for at least six months if stored correctly.

Doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

US regulators have extended the expiry date of thousands of coronavirus shots

That means existing stocks will now expire in six weeks time as President Joe Biden urges more Americans to get vaccinated.

Late on Thursday, Biden also announced new rules that will force federal workers to get vaccinated. They will be asked to sign forms attesting they have taken both jabs. If not, they will be required to wear face masks and undergo weekly tests.

"Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say, 'if I'd just got the vaccine,'" Biden said in a televised address.

In New York City, those wishing to visit Broadway shows or attend the New York's Metropolitan Opera will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks during performances. The same rules will apply to all performers and staff at the Met as well as all 41 theaters on Broadway.

Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, as well as children under 12, will be required to present a negative test on Broadway, where the rules will apply at least through October. Children under 12 will not be allowed to enter the Met, whose rules will remain in place throughout the duration of the 2021-2022 season.  

Europe

Beginning Sunday, Germany will require all unvaccinated travelers entering the country to present a negative COVID-19 test.

The new rules apply to those entering the country by air as well as over land and sea. The move is an attempt to keep infections from spiking as vacationers return home.

Last week, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) — Germany's authority on infectious disease — said that one-in-five new infections had come from abroad, noting that nearly 500 infections were registered among travelers returning from Spain and Turkey.  

Meanwhile, Germany’s health ministry plans to no longer foot the bill for rapid coronavirus tests.

"Health Minister Jens Spahn already said weeks ago that he thinks it is conceivable for the government to stop offering free tests to

unvaccinated people at a later date,'' the ministry told the German news agency DPA. An exact date is yet to be set.

German citizens and residents have been eligible to receive free tests since March. The tests are considered to have been a crucial part of Germany’s reopening strategy.

Get jabbed and grab more holiday: Ministers in the Czech Republic approved the latest effort to boost vaccine uptake on Friday.

State employees who get both vaccine doses will be granted an extra two days of vacation, said Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

"The aim is to have maximum vaccination, to protect ourselves against infection from abroad," Babis said. "This is the main task: inoculate, inoculate, inoculate."

The EU country of 10.7 million reported that 10.19 million doses of vaccines had been administered as of Thursday, with 4.74 million people fully vaccinated.

Middle East

Holidaymakers will be able to return to Saudi Arabia from August, 1 provided they are fully vaccinated, the state news agency reported on Friday.

It comes after a 17-month closure of the kingdom's borders to stem coronavirus infections.

But restrictions on visitors undertaking the umrah, a pilgrimage undertaken by millions of observant Muslims every year, remain in place.

Authorities have limited numbers in 2021 to 60,000 pilgrims who already live in Saudi Arabia. 

jf,js/sri (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)