Authorities in Sydney, Australia, extended a lockdown by four weeks Wednesday after the one currently in place failed to curb an outbreak that is believed to have begun with an unmasked, unvaccinated airport driver one month ago.
The lockdown had been scheduled to end in three days' time, but the stay-at-home order will now remain in place until August 28 due to a persistently high number of cases of the delta variant.
What was supposed to be a quick lockdown for the city of five million is now one of Australia's longest. Sydney logged 177 new cases Tuesday, up from 171 Monday.
In England, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced the removal of quarantine restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers arriving from Europe and the US from August 2.
Visitors will still need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival and the vaccine must be one approved by the US or in Europe.
The UK will start rolling out 100 million vaccines it plans to donate to Commonwealth and Asian countries, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday.
Raab said Kenya and Jamaica would get vaccines first along with "vulnerable places like Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia."
Germany's Robert Koch Institute reported 2,768 new coronavirus cases in the country Wednesday.
Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Twitter that more than half of all Germans are now fully vaccinated.
Italy has approved the use of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for those aged 12-17 in the country.
The country's drug regulator, AIFA, on Wednesday said they have accepted a European Medicines Agency (EMA) decision from last week, clearing the vaccine for that age group.
Norway's government on Wednesday said that it was again postponing the near-complete lifting of its coronavirus restrictions, planned for early August, due to the rise of the delta variant.
Health Minister Bent Hoie said: "There is a concerning development in several European countries as a result of the delta variant, also in countries with a higher vaccine coverage than in Norway, such as the UK and the Netherlands."
In the United States thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has increased its projected revenue for 2021 to $33.5 billion (€27 billion) in sales, which it splits evenly with co-manufacturer BioNTech of Germany.
The revised earnings forecast comes as second-quarter profits nearly doubled. The company's CEO Albert Bourla said more than one billion doses of the vaccine had already been delivered.
The White House is considering mandating proof of vaccination for America's 4.2 million federal workers nationwide, including members of the military.
US President Joe Biden told a reporter: "That's under consideration right now."
The White House is undergoing a policy review this week and will announce its decision after its conclusion. On Wednesday, White House staff will begin masking up again as the country sees a surge in cases, especially in areas with large numbers of unvaccinated individuals.
Currently, the US is averaging more than 57,000 new cases a day and hospitalizations have soared.
The US Homeland Security Department on Wednesday said all of its employees, regardless of vaccination status, will need to wear a mask indoors and physically distance.
DHS, which has more than 240,000 employees, cited the White House Office of Management and Budget "instructions to ensure the safety of our workforce" and other agencies including the Energy Department are also following suit.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday said the pandemic continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates.
PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said cases have more than doubled in the United States over the last week, mainly among unvaccinated people.
In Japan, the governors of three prefectures neighboring Olympic host Tokyo will ask the federal government to declare states of emergency due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the capital, a cabinet minister was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has urged younger people to get vaccinated, saying their activity "holds the key" to slowing down the rate of infections.
"Please make sure to avoid nonessential outings and observe basic anti-infection measures," Koike advised, according to the AP.
On Wednesday, authorities logged a record high of 3,177 new cases in the Japanese capital. Some 16 of those new cases were tied to the Olympics, for a total of 169 Games-related cases since July 1.
South Korea has logged a record daily high of 1,896 new coronavirus cases. About a third of those infections were outside the capital.
Seoul remains at the center of the outbreak and there is currently a ban in place on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. as the country experiences its fourth wave.
The president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, kicked off the country's vaccine campaign by getting a J&J jab alongside the prime minister, the chief justice, and other leaders. She urged Tanzanians to get vaccinated and expressed confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Hassan assumed power after the former president, John Magufuli, died in March. He had insisted COVID-19 could be cured with such do-it-yourself remedies as prayer and steam inhalation.
Officials have changed course since Magufuli's death and now urge mask wearing and social distancing in the country of 58 million.
on, ar/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)