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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Aug. 22 to Aug. 28, China calls US report on origin not credible

Japan serious cases hit 2,000 despite curbs; Thailand opens up to spur economy

The Chinese embassy in Washington says the report wrongly claims China is hindering a global investigation into the pandemic.   © Reuters

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the coronavirus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Cumulative global cases have reached 215,337,677, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 4,484,247.

For more information about the spread of COVID-19 and the progress of vaccination around the world, please see our interactive charts and maps.

-- Global coronavirus tracker charts

-- Status of vaccinations around the world

-- World map of spreading mutated strains

-- Distribution, duration, safety: challenges emerge in vaccine race

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UPDATES CLOSED

Saturday, Aug. 28 (Tokyo time)

11:58 a.m. The Chinese Embassy in Washington says a U.S. intelligence community report on the origins of COVID-19 "is not scientifically credible" and wrongly claims China is hindering a global investigation of the pandemic, according to Reuters.

5:18 a.m U.S. intelligence agencies remain divided on the origins of the coronavirus but believe China's leaders did not know about the virus before the start of the global pandemic, according to results released Friday of a review ordered by President Joe Biden.

2:40 a.m. Turkey's daily deaths near the highest level since mid-May, reaching 244, according to official government data.

The rise in daily deaths since mid-July has been among the sharpest among peers in Europe and the Middle East.

2:00 a.m. U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations top 100,000 to reach an eight-month high.

A total of 101,433 patients were hospitalized, more than doubling in a month, as a resurgence of the coronavirus spurred by the highly contagious delta variant strains the nation's health care system.

Friday, Aug. 27

11:15 p.m. The European Union moves to reinstate COVID travel restrictions like quarantine and testing requirements for unvaccinated citizens of the U.S. and five other countries, Reuters reports.

The decision on new EU travel restrictions for foreigners would become final on Monday should no EU country object, according to diplomatic sources.

In addition to the U.S., Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon and North Macedonia would be removed from the safe travel list.

5:50 p.m. Thailand will lift most coronavirus restrictions on retail and dining from next month and permit gatherings of up to 25 people in Bangkok and other high-risk areas. Easing restrictions and adjusting virus containment measures were necessary to revive the economy safely, the COVID-19 task force said, as the country battles its worst COVID outbreak and struggles to ramp up vaccinations, with only 1 in 10 people inoculated so far.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 4,227 new cases, down from 4,704 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new infections in the capital is 4,184, 11.4% lower than a week ago.

4:15 p.m. Myanmar will vaccinate its minority Rohingya people in Rakhine state, according to government spokesman Zaw Min Tun. During a news conference, the spokesman said the Rohingya were "our people as well," adding that the vaccination program "will not leave anyone behind."

4:08 p.m. Hong Kong has canceled its annual Oct. 1 fireworks display to mark China's National Day for the third year in a row. Authorities cited the COVID pandemic, though the city has experienced almost no cases of local transmission in recent weeks. The display was also canceled last year because of COVID, while anti-government protests were cited as the reason the year before.

3:00 p.m. The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition in Japan rose to 2,000 as of Thursday, up from 1,974 a day earlier, hitting a record high for a fifteenth straight day. Japan this week placed eight more prefectures, including Hokkaido and Aichi, under a state of emergency as the government struggles to stop the delta variant surge, which has put added stress on the nation's hospitals.

Nurses in protective suits take care of a seriously ill COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Tokyo on Aug. 6.   © Kyodo

2:40 p.m. New Zealand extends pandemic restrictions by four days, after which they will be eased, although businesses and schools will stay shut and Auckland will remain under lockdown. The country had been largely virus-free, barring a small number of cases in February. But that changed last week after an outbreak of the delta variant, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order a nationwide lockdown.

1:46 p.m. India records 44,658 infections in the last 24 hours, down from 46,164 the previous day, bringing the country total to 32.6 million. Deaths rose by 496 to 436,861. India has vaccinated 7.95 million people since Thursday morning, bringing the number of doses administered to over 612 million. Of the adult population of 944 million eligible for vaccination, 50% have received one dose while 15% have received two.

12:42 p.m. Contaminated Moderna vaccine was only shipped to Japan, the Spanish manufacturer for the U.S. company says. "The detection of this particulate matter refers to certain vials of one product lot distributed exclusively in Japan," Spanish pharma Rovi said.

The dark shops in this Sydney mall are a sign that Australia's economy is on the road to a sharp contraction this quarter.   © AP

11:00 a.m. Australia's retail sales dropped 2.7% in July from June as coronavirus lockdowns shut shops and services in Sydney. The government data offers further evidence that the economy is set to contract sharply this quarter amid the delta outbreak. The decline was the sharpest this year and even worse than market forecasts of a 2.3% tumble.

10:50 a.m. New Zealand reports 70 new cases in the community, up from 68 a day earlier and taking the total number of cases in the latest outbreak to 347. All are in the epicenter of Auckland. The announcement comes ahead of a decision later in the day on whether the nationwide lockdown, which ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, will be lifted or extended.

9:30 a.m. Australia's cabinet is set to meet on Friday as the federal government looks to convince states to proceed with a national plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions and do away with lockdowns once the country reaches a vaccination rate of 70% to 80%. Virus-free Queensland and Western Australia states have hinted they may delay reopening given persistently high new daily case numbers in Sydney as a Delta outbreak rages on even after two months of lockdown.

4:30 a.m. Taiwan will hand out stimulus coupons to consumers again this year, boosting the amount to 5,000 New Taiwan dollars ($179) and encouraging dining and lodging now that the island has eased COVID-19 restrictions. Taipei will earmark a special budget of about NT$120 billion to fund this year's benefits -- enough to provide one set of vouchers for each of the island's roughly 24 million people.

African and Asian nations will be the main recipients of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines being shipped by WHO.   © Reuters

2:20 a.m. England will add Thailand and Montenegro to its "red list" of destinations that require travelers to quarantine in a hotel on their return, the government says. Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the Azores will be added to England's "green list" of places that do not require travelers to quarantine on return. All changes will take effect on Monday.

12:01 a.m. The World Health Organization plans to ship 100 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 shots by the end of next month as part of its coronavirus vaccination program, with most going to African and Asian countries, Reuters reports, citing a WHO document.

The new additions to the COVAX program are expected to help it deliver on a pledge to provide 2 billion doses this year. Cutbacks in exports from major vaccine supplier India have put COVAX far behind that goal.

Thursday, Aug. 26

All Nippon Airways suspended vaccination on Thursday after having administered 4,700 shots of a Moderna batch that is feared to have been contaminated. (photo by Karina Noka)

5:30 p.m. Workplace inoculations by some Japanese companies have been disrupted as Japan suspended the use of 1.6 million doses of Modera's vaccine due to reports of contamination. All Nippon Airways said about 4,700 shots of the halted Moderna lot had been used and it stopped all vaccination planned for Thursday. NEC has also suspended vaccination at its head office.

5:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 4,704 new cases, up from 4,228 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in the capital, however, fell by 8.8% from a week ago to 4,774, raising the possibility that the rapid spread of the latest outbreak led by the delta variant may have peaked.

3:00 p.m. Vietnam will deploy troops to the major manufacturing hub of Binh Duong Province to help contain 50,000 new coronavirus infections expected over the next two weeks. Binh Duong is adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City -- a virus hotspot -- and has so far recorded 81,000 cases, a third of which were detected in the past week.

Vietnam soldiers deliver food to areas under lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City on Aug. 24.   © Reuters

2:01 p.m. India reports 46,164 new infections in the last 24 hours, up from 37,593 the previous day, pushing the country's caseload to 32.56 million. The southern state of Kerala accounted for 31,445 of the new infections. Meanwhile, deaths jumped by 607 nationwide to 436,365. On the vaccination front, India has inoculated over 8 million people since Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of doses administered to 603.85 million.

1:31 p.m. Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party decides to hold its presidential election on Sept. 29, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expected to face rivals, including former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. The election is effectively a vote for deciding the country's leader as the LDP controls the powerful lower house. Suga's ratings have sunk below 30% as Japan battles its worst wave of COVID-19 infections.

A sign congratulating vaccine recipients is shown at a clinic in Sydney on Aug. 25.   © Reuters

1:00 p.m. Australia's daily cases top 1,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, as two major hospitals in Sydney set up emergency outdoor tents to help deal with a rise in patients. New South Wales state, the capital of which is Sydney, reported 1,029 locally acquired cases, exceeding the previous record of 919 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 969 were detected in greater Sydney, up from 838. Sydney is struggling to stamp out a surge in the fast-spreading delta variant after two months under lockdown.

12:00 p.m. South Korea reports 20 COVID-19 deaths for Wednesday, the highest daily toll this year, as the number of severe cases more than doubled since the current and worst wave of infections began in July. While total mortality rates remain low at below 1% and no major strains on the health care system have been reported yet, South Korean authorities have been trying to secure more ICU beds for severely ill patients as their numbers rise. The country reported 1,882 new cases for Wednesday, bringing the total to 243,317.

11:45 a.m. New Zealand reports 68 new cases, up from 62 a day earlier and taking the total number of people infected in the latest delta outbreak to 277. Of the total cases, 263 are in Auckland and 14 in the capital, Wellington. The outbreak has prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to order a strict national lockdown. On Thursday, Ardern said, "Lockdown is having an impact, but delta is very tricky. We do need to be incredibly vigilant."

Medical workers on Aug. 26 administer a COVID-19 test outside a clinic in Auckland, which is taking the brunt of New Zealand's delta outbreak.

11:40 a.m. The Chinese city of Nanjing has resumed commercial flights, with the first taking off for the eastern city of Qingdao, according to a state TV report. Nanjing closed its airport on July 23 after a cluster of cases of the highly transmissible delta variant cropped up.

10:03 a.m. The Bank of Korea raises its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to 0.75%, making it the first major central bank in Asia to hike rates since the onset of the pandemic. The BOK's decision to lift the rate from a record low level was its first tightening of policy since November 2018. The move, aimed at cooling the property market as household debt surges, was forecast by 16 of 30 analysts surveyed by Reuters.

5:00 a.m. Delta Air Lines says employees will have to pay $200 more every month for their company-sponsored healthcare plan if they choose to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. The move to add a surcharge to health insurance contributions is the latest tactic by corporate America to push employees to get the shots to fight the pandemic. A number of U.S. companies, including Delta competitor United Airlines, have mandated shots to protect operations from the highly contagious delta variant.

3:30 a.m. About 1.6 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine have been taken out of use in Japan because of contamination, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says.

Several vaccination centers have reported that vaccine vials contained foreign matter, according to an announcement Thursday from the ministry, which says it will seek to minimize the impact of the withdrawal on the country's inoculation program.

Takeda Pharmaceutical handles distribution of the U.S.-developed Moderna vaccine in Japan.

1:45 a.m. Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech have started the process of seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a third dose of their coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot. The booster from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant and its German partner is intended for people 16 and older.

On Monday, the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to be granted emergency-use authorization in the U.S. A third dose was granted similar authorization in August for certain patients with weakened immune systems.

1:20 a.m. Delta Air Lines has told employees that their monthly health insurance premiums will rise $200 unless they are vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. carrier has stopped short of requiring its workers to take a COVID-19 shot.

Indonesia adds Russia's Sputnik-V to its list of vaccines authorized for use in the country.   © Reuters

Wednesday, Aug. 25

8:00 p.m. Japan has extended its coronavirus state of emergency to eight more prefectures, bringing the total to 21 and putting just under half the country under restrictions on business and social activity.

4:19 p.m. Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency says it has issued an emergency use authorization for Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine, adding it to a list of vaccines it has earlier approved -- Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Indonesia has fully vaccinated 32.6 million people so far, while 58 million others have received their first shot, representing 12 % and 21% of the population respectively.

1:54 p.m. The chairman of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, Guo Guangchang, says an mRNA vaccine co-developed by a subsidiary and Germany's BioNTech is still undergoing approval by Chinese authorities. Guo did not indicate when the vaccine will be approved, other than saying the process is progressing well.

1:29 p.m. India reports 37,593 new cases in the last 24 hours, significantly up from 25,467 the previous day, pushing the country's total to 32.5 million. Deaths rose from 354 a day ago to 648, bringing the total to 435,758.

12:45 p.m. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday will open an office of America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Vietnamese capital as the Southeast Asian nation scrambles to suppress COVID-19 outbreaks in its economic hub Ho Chi Minh City. The opening of the Southeast Asia Regional Office of the CDC is scheduled to be announced in the afternoon following Harris' meeting with Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

People line up outside a COVID-19 vaccination center in Sydney on August 16. "We need to increase ... vaccine coverage levels," says Kerry Chant, New South Wales' chief health officer.   © Reuters

12:02 p.m. Sydney's COVID-19 cases rise to a daily record, putting parts of the health system under "severe pressure," officials say as they urge the unvaccinated to go in for shots to help curb hospitalizations. Despite two months of lockdowns, New South Wales reports 919 new cases, taking Australia's daily case numbers to a new high of just below 1,000. A total of 113 people in the state are in intensive care, with 98 of them unvaccinated.

10:14 a.m. New Zealand has 62 new COVID-19 cases in the community, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said, taking the total number of cases in the latest outbreak to 210. So far 12 of these cases are in the capital Wellington, while the rest are in the largest city, Auckland, he said.

8:40 a.m. Australia's federal government warns state leaders that current emergency economic supports may be withdrawn when the country hits a vaccination rate of 70% to 80%. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged states and territories to stick to a four-stage national reopening plan agreed to last month, as some have suggested delays given persistently high new daily case numbers in Sydney. "I wouldn't use the term sanctions," Frydenberg told broadcaster Seven News, "but there should be no expectation on behalf of premiers and chief ministers that our emergency economic support will continue at the scale that it is currently when we reach 70-80%."

8:00 a.m. Japan's health ministry is working to approve at-home use of the COVID-19 antibody cocktail available to inpatients, as the country's surge in new cases forces many hospitals to reserve beds only for the sickest. The treatment, developed by U.S.-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is believed to reduce the risk of severe symptoms and death by 70%. It is geared toward patients with mild to moderate symptoms, and it is largely administered via IV drip to high-risk groups like the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

5:30 a.m. Goldman Sachs tells employees that everyone entering its offices from Sept. 7, including clients, will need to be fully vaccinated.

Employees not fully vaccinated will have to telecommute. Fully vaccinated employees will also undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

Masks will be required in common areas.

3:30 a.m. Japan's health ministry is working to approve at-home use of the COVID-19 antibody cocktail available to inpatients as the country's surge in new cases forces many hospitals to reserve beds only for the sickest.

Tuesday, Aug. 24

7:20 p.m. Japan looks to expand the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and 12 other areas to eight more prefectures. The government plan will put Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima under the restrictions on business and social activities from Friday until Sept. 12.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met with cabinet members including Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan's COVID-19 response, to discuss the move, with a decision to be made at a task force meeting on Wednesday.

5:30 p.m. Hawaii Gov. David Ige urges travelers to only make essential business trips to the islands amid a surge in COVID cases. "It is not a good time to travel to the islands," the governor says, highlighting restaurant restrictions, limited access to rental cars and other difficulties. "We are seeing more COVID patients in our hospitals, and ICUs are filling up."

Hawaii, which has been offering quarantine-free vacations to all visitors who are either vaccinated or test negative for the virus, is now asking tourists not to come.   © Reuters

5:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 4,220 new cases, up from 2,447 a day earlier. The Tokyo Paralympic Games is set to kick off later in the day amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. The seven-day average of new infections in the capital is 4,636, up 2.4% from a week ago.

Rising COVID cases in Shanghai have helped disrupt the supply of in-vehicle components using semiconductors to Mazda plants.   © Reuters

2:30 p.m. Mazda says it will suspend operations at its headquarters plant in Hiroshima Prefecture and its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture from today. Night shifts have already been suspended from Aug. 23. Air cargo flights from Pudong Airport in Shanghai have been halted due to rising COVID infections, which has disrupted the supply of in-vehicle components using semiconductors.

2:02 p.m. India posts 25,467 new cases in the last 24 hours, slightly up from 25,072 the previous day. The country's total cases are now at 32.47 million. Deaths rose by 354 to 435,110. India vaccinated about 6.4 million people since Monday morning, bringing the total number of doses administered nationwide to 589 million.

10:30 a.m. The pandemic last year pushed 75 million to 80 million people in emerging Asian economies into extreme poverty, defined as living below $1.90 per day, the Asian Development Bank says. The latest estimate, which comes as a setback to the region's sustainable development agenda, covers 35 economies, including China, India, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea.

10:15 a.m. New Zealand records 41 new cases, taking the total number of infections in the country to 148, the director-general of health says. Of the new cases, 38 are in Auckland and three in Wellington.

All's quiet in Sydney as Australia shifts its pandemic strategy to fully vaccinating 70% to 80% of the population older than 15, up from the current 30%.   © Reuters

8:50 a.m. Australia can proceed with its reopening plans when the country reaches 70% to 80% vaccination levels, the government's pandemic adviser said, even as some states hinted they may not ease border curbs if Sydney fails to control its delta outbreak. The Melbourne-based Doherty Institute said the country's focus must shift to limiting the number of deaths and hospitalizations from its current zero-cases strategy when at least 70% of the country's population above age 16 is fully vaccinated. Currently, 30% of Australia's adult population has been fully vaccinated while 53% have had at least one dose.

8:00 a.m. With the Summer Paralympics ready to begin Tuesday amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the wake of the Olympic summer games, organizers face an even more urgent need to prevent infections to protect athletes who are at greater risk of developing severe complications if infected. As in the earlier games, fans will almost entirely be barred from attending events. Testing is a key measure. Over 4,000 athletes are expected to take daily saliva tests with the same requirement in place for personal care assistants, who help Paralympians in close contact.

1:00 a.m. New York City will require public school teachers and staff to get vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio says, as part of a push to get more residents inoculated and slow the spread of the delta variant. All 148,000 staff members in the largest U.S. school district must get at least one dose of a vaccine by Sept. 27 as part of the mandate.

Monday, Aug. 23

11:40 p.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine that earned emergency-use authorization in December.

The two-dose vaccine, approved for use in people 16 and older, is the first coronavirus shot to receive full validation in the U.S. Public health officials hope the action convinces more unvaccinated Americans that Pfizer's shot is safe and effective, as vaccine hesitancy among some Americans hinders the U.S. response to the pandemic.

The Pentagon, in response to the news, says it is prepared to require that all personnel be vaccinated.

A beach cafe in Bali: Indonesia eases mobility restrictions as hospital bed occupancy rates drop across the nation.   © Reuters

9:35 p.m. Indonesian President Joko Widodo eases mobility restrictions covering the metropolitan areas of Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, as well as several other regions on the densely populated island of Java. Bali is also included in the easing. Starting Tuesday, malls may accept visitors up to 50% of capacity, with longer operating hours. Mosques and churches will reopen at 25% capacity, and export-oriented industries can conduct full operations.

Bed occupancy rates nationwide have dropped to an average of 33% due to steady declines in infections over recent weeks, Widodo says. Indonesia reports 9,604 new infections in the past 24 hours, the lowest daily figure since mid-June, and 842 new deaths. The country has reached 3,989,060 cases cumulatively, with 127,214 deaths.

6:30 p.m. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stresses again that COVID-19 booster shots should be delayed as priority should be given to raising vaccination rates in countries where only 1% or 2% of the population has been inoculated. If vaccination rates are not raised globally, stronger variants of the coronavirus could develop, so vaccines intended as booster shots should be donated to countries where people have not received their first or second doses, he said.

5:00 p.m. The Tokyo metropolitan government has opened a facility to provide oxygen support to COVID-19 patients with relatively mild symptoms to ease the strain on the medical system. The oxygen station, which has 130 beds and is staffed by three doctors and 25 nurses, will run around the clock. It is designed to treat patients who have been asked to recuperate at home but who experience concerns over breathing. Tokyo reported 2,447 new cases on Monday, down from 4,392 a day earlier. As of Sunday, more than 39,000 patients in Tokyo are recovering at home or elsewhere without hospital admission.

4:58 p.m. The Philippines reports a record 18,332 new infections, bringing its total number of cases to 1.86 million, of which 130,350 are active. An additional 151 deaths were also recorded, pushing its total to 31,961.

2:03 p.m. India reports 25,072 new infections in the last 24 hours, down from 30,948 the previous day and the lowest daily count in over five months. The country's cumulative cases are now at 32.45 million. Deaths rose by 389 to 434,756.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes a question during a COVID-19 update on Aug. 19.   © AP

1:30 p.m. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland's COVID lockdown will be extended until Aug. 31 as the delta outbreak rolls on. The country reported 35 cases on Monday, taking the total number of infections in the current outbreak to 107. The health ministry says 33 new cases are in Auckland and two in Wellington. The country has been under a strict lockdown since Aug. 17, after the first COVID case in six months was reported in Auckland.

11:15 a.m. China reports no locally transmitted cases for the first time since July, offering more signs that the current outbreak which began late last month may be tapering off. The outbreak was driven mainly by infections first detected among airport workers in the eastern city of Nanjing on July 20. More than 1,200 people have been infected. The outbreak has spurred local authorities to impose tough measures, including mass testing for millions of people to identify and isolate carriers.

8:58 a.m. Taiwan has joined a small group of the world's COVID-19 vaccine producers as it rolled out a new domestic vaccine made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. President Tsai Ing-wen was one of the first Taiwanese to receive a dose of the vaccine. The rollout has been met with relatively little fanfare because of misinformation shared on social media and criticism from the opposition Kuomintang.

4:00 a.m. Israel's health ministry says a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine has significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older in Israel compared with those who received two shots. Among people aged 60 and over, the protection against infection provided from 10 days after a third dose was four times higher than after two doses. A third jab for over 60-year-olds offered five to six times greater protection after 10 days with regard to serious illness and hospitalization. Israel started administering third jabs to over 60-year-olds on July 30. On Thursday it dropped the age of eligibility for a booster to 40.

A man receives his third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Jerusalem on Aug. 15.   © Reuters

Sunday, Aug. 22

10:07 p.m. South Korea reports 1,628 daily new cases, down from the day-earlier 1,880 and marking the first dip into the 1,600s since late July. But the decline is attributable to less testing over the weekend, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Cumulative confirmed cases total 236,366.

Current social distancing measures will be extended until Sept. 5, starting Monday. Restaurants and cafes will have to close an hour earlier, at 9 p.m.

9:00 p.m. Moderna is supplying South Korea with 7.01 million doses of its vaccine by the first week of September, following a government request to speed up delivery.

These will consist of 1.01 million doses expected to arrive Monday, then another 6 million to be supplied sequentially, according to the health ministry.

South Korea received 1.3 million doses in early August. Moderna had said at the time that it could supply less than half the 8.5 million doses originally planned for the month.

8:45 p.m. Filipino workers vaccinated in their home country will be allowed to enter Hong Kong starting Aug. 30, Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello says. Previously, only those vaccinated in Hong Kong were allowed entry, he says in a news release.

Bello, who tested positive last week as an asymptomatic case, says Hong Kong has agreed to let in workers who show validated vaccination certificates from the the Philippines' Bureau of Quarantine.

8:30 p.m. Vietnam reports 11,214 new cases, mostly in Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province. The country's coronavirus death toll has risen to 8,277.

6:50 p.m. Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says he will invite the opposition onto the government's special COVID-19 committee. In a televised address the day after his swearing-in, he announces the purchase of 6 million vaccine doses to arrive in early September.

5:30 p.m. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reports 4,392 new cases, a record for a Sunday. Patients with severe symptoms have increased by one from Saturday to 271.

10:24 a.m. New Zealand reports 21 new community cases, bringing the number of cases associated with the community outbreak to 72. Twenty of the new cases are in Auckland, the largest city, and one is in the capital, Wellington.

The Pacific nation of about 5 million is under strict lockdown until midnight Tuesday as the outbreak has widened beyond the two key cities.

10:12 a.m. Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reports 830 locally acquired new cases as the pandemic continues to surge despite increasing containment efforts. The tally breaks the old 24-hour record of 825, reported a day earlier. Three more people have died, bringing deaths to 71 since June 16 and 127 since the start of the pandemic. Of the 557 cases currently admitted to hospitals, 94 are in intensive care.

Saturday, Aug. 21

8:38 p.m. Vietnam reports 11,321 coronavirus infections, a record daily tally. Most of the new cases were detected in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring province of Binh Duong, the health ministry said. The country has recorded 336,700 infections and at least 7,540 fatalities overall.

6:34 p.m. Panic buying is seen across Ho Chi Minh City as a plan to place residents on lockdown in the city are set to take effect on Monday. Vietnam's commercial hub is the epicenter of the country's worst outbreak. Long queues of people are seen outside markets and shelves at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City are emptying, witnesses and state media report.

"It's looking chaotic," a resident tells Reuters.

4:30 p.m. Australian police arrest hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne and Sydney, and seven officers were hospitalized as a result of clashes, as the country saw its highest ever single-day rise in COVID-19 cases.

2:40 p.m. Authorities in Shanghai quarantine hundreds of people in a bid to halt a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in the city after infections were detected in cargo workers at its airport, the municipal government says. Some 120 people deemed close contacts of the infected five workers at Pudong Airport are placed into quarantine, along with hundreds of others deemed secondary contacts.

10:30 a.m. New Zealand records 21 new cases, bringing infections associated with the current community outbreak to 51, officials say. Of the 21 new cases, 18 are in Auckland and three are in Wellington.

10:20 a.m. Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reports a record 825 locally acquired daily COVID-19 infections, up from 644 cases seen in the previous day. There were three deaths reported overnight from the current outbreak of the highly transmissible coronavirus delta variant, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

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To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.

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