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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Aug. 8 to Aug. 14, Japan rushes oxygen distribution

China fully vaccinates 55% of population; Nepal to receive 4m Moderna doses

An ambulance in Nagoya: New COVID-19 cases in Japan reach another record high on Aug. 13. (Photo by Takashi Uema)

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 206,157,208, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 4,344,673.

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 14 (Tokyo time)

3:00 a.m. An independent advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has voted unanimously to recommend a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as a booster shot for immunocompromised people. The CDC is expected to endorse the panel's action later in the day, NPR reports.

12:00 a.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.

The agency's decision, made on Thursday night local time, comes a day before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's independent advisory committee was to consider and vote on whether to recommend the boosters.

Friday, Aug. 13

10:05 p.m. New coronavirus cases in Japan reach a record high of more than 20,000 on Friday, defying attempts to contain the spread of the delta variant.

Tokyo alone accounts for 5,773 cases. More than 10,000 of the new infections are concentrated in the capital and three adjacent prefectures: Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga tells reporters the virus has put Tokyo's health care capacity "in an extremely difficult situation." He says authorities are working quickly to secure locations to administer oxygen to homebound COVID-19 sufferers.

In total, 16 prefectures are at new daily highs, showing the virus is spreading nationwide.

The latest wave "has reached a stage where individual prefectures and local governments will struggle to bring the situation under control," the National Governors' Association says in an emergency statement.

A makeshift COVID-19 vaccination site in Beijing's Haidian district.   © Reuters

9:00 p.m. Nepal will receive 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine financed by the World Bank, the multilateral lender says.

The Himalayan nation is only the second country to have completed agreements with global vaccine alliance GAVI to secure jabs against coronavirus, according to the World Bank.

With a population of around 29 million, Nepal has logged over 725,000 cases of COVID-19 so far in the pandemic.

"Nepal is an early mover in utilizing the COVAX cost-share scheme, and I am pleased to note that we have finalized an arrangement, despite very challenging circumstances, to bring safe and highly effective vaccines to Nepal," Umesh Shrestha, Minister of State for Health and Population, is quoted as saying.

5:13 p.m. The Philippines reports 13,177 new infections, the highest daily tally since the record 15,310 cases logged on April 2. This brings the total number of infections to 1.713 million. An additional 299 fatalities, the most since April, were also reported, taking the death toll to 29,838. Metro Manila on Friday entered its second week of lockdown to slow the spread of the delta variant, which has partly fueled the latest surge in infections.

5:07 p.m. South Korea signs a deal to buy 30 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 2022, and the government urges people to cut holiday travel amid a worsening fourth wave of infections and a slow inoculation campaign. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum asked companies to be flexible about allowing people to work from home and urged those returning from vacation to get tested, especially before returning to work.

4:23 p.m. China has administered 1.83 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Thursday, according to its National Health Commission, fully inoculating 777 million people, or 55% of the population. Health authorities have set a target of 70% by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity.

1:47 p.m. The Malaysian economy grows 16.1% on the year in the second quarter of 2021, the central bank announced on Friday. But at the same time, the bank issued a reality check by sharply cutting its full-year gross domestic product growth target to 3.0% to 4.0%, versus the initial 6.0% to 7.5% range.

12:15 p.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems. A few other countries, such as Israel and Germany, plan to or have already administered the third shot to avoid another crisis due to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

12:01 p.m. The Philippines will extend a ban on travelers from India and nine other countries to the end of August because of concerns posed by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, the presidential spokesperson said on Friday. Authorities in the Philippines are scrambling to contain a jump in cases to a four-month high, with infections staying above the 12,000 mark for a second straight day on Thursday. Hospitals in some areas anearing capacity.

10:17 a.m. The Australian state of New South Wales reports 390 locally acquired cases, its biggest daily increase, and officials warn infections could surge. "Unfortunately this trend will continue for at least the next few days," state Premier Gladys Berejiklian says in Sydney. Authorities also report two new deaths, taking the total number of deaths in the state's latest outbreak to 38.

COVID-19 patients gather at a field hospital in Bangkok. Thailand reports a record number of cases for a second day in a row on August 13.   © Reuters

9:54 a.m. Thailand reports 23,418 new infections, a record high for a second day in a row, bringing the cumulative total to 863,189. The nation also reports 184 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 7,126.

Thursday, Aug. 12

5:04 p.m. The Philippines reports 12,439 new infections, up from 12,021 yesterday, bringing its total cases to 1.7 million. An additional 165 fatalities were also recorded, taking its death toll to 29,539.

5:00 p.m. Japan's infectious disease experts on Thursday called for the need to cut foot traffic in Tokyo by half from the level in early July, with the capital seeing an alarming rise in coronavirus infections.

A few days after the end of the Tokyo Olympics, the capital reported 4,989 new daily cases on Thursday, down slightly from a record of 5,042 last week. The new number of patients with serious symptoms increased to an all-time daily high of 218.

4:50 p.m. Police in northern Vietnam have arrested a businessman for making and selling hundreds of fake negative COVID-19 test certificates, as the Southeast Asian country battles its worst outbreak yet.

4:33 p.m. Malaysia reported 21,668 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new daily record. The Southeast Asian nation has recorded more than 1.34 million cases overall.

4:05 p.m. France will share 670,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses with Vietnam to help the Asian country tackle the virus, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Thursday.

1:10 p.m. India reports 41,195 new infections in the last 24 hours -- up from 38,353 the previous day -- bringing the cumulative total to 32.08 million. Deaths jumped by 490 to 429,669. Meanwhile, the country vaccinated over 4.4 million people since Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of doses administered nationwide to about 523.7 million.

11:28 a.m. Australia's capital Canberra announces a snap one-week lockdown starting Thursday evening after reporting its first locally acquired case in more than a year. Australia is battling to control the delta strain that has plunged two of its largest cities -- Sydney and Melbourne -- into hard lockdowns.

9:51 a.m. New Zealand plans to begin allowing quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries early next year as part of a phased reopening of its borders. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the government in the first quarter of 2022 will move to an individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel that will establish low-, medium- and high-risk pathways into the country.

Students draw in class at an elementary school in the U.S. state of Kentucky. California becomes the first U.S. state to require that teachers be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19.   © Reuters

8:37 a.m. California becomes the first U.S. state to require teachers and other school staff be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19, a move Gov. Gavin Newsom calls "a responsible step" to ensure the safety of children. In Texas, meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide ban on mask mandates hit its second legal setback as a judge in Dallas County temporarily blocks enforcement amid a nationwide rise in cases.

4:55 a.m. A Turkish study of more than 30 million vaccinated citizens indicates that the highest level of protection was seen in people who received three doses of inactive vaccines, rather than in those who received two doses of inactive vaccines and one booster shot of an mRNA vaccine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says.

While the minister avoided specifying brand names, he was referring to the vaccines now available in Turkey: the Chinese inactive vaccine CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech and the mRNA offering developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Read more here.

4:45 a.m. The New York Stock Exchange will require coronavirus vaccinations for access to its trading floor starting Sept. 13.

The vaccine mandate, first reported by CNBC, will allow exceptions for religious and medical reasons.

1:30 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reassures pregnant women on receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

12:30 a.m. Hong Kong flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways remains wary of the impact of travel restrictions and the fast-spreading coronavirus delta variant on the carrier's revival, despite posting a smaller first-half loss on Wednesday.

"The pace and timing of recovery continue to be highly uncertain," Chairman Patrick Healy told an online press briefing. "We are not yet seeing significant signs of meaningful improvement." Read more here.

Wednesday, Aug. 11

6:00 p.m. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has signed a resolution calling for urgent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The government is now vowing to bring the situation in the southern commercial hub under control before Sept. 15 as the pandemic weighs on foreign investment over fears about the economy. Read more here.

At this site in Manila, people can get vaccinated 24/7, as the country tries to fight the pandemic.   © Reuters

5:14 p.m. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of the Hayat-Vax COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in the United Arab Emirates. The Hayat-Vax vaccine is identical to the Sinopharm vaccine from China, and will be administered to people aged 18 and above, FDA chief Rolando Enrique Domingo told Reuters.

The Philippines is facing rising infections, reporting 12,021 new infections on Wednesday, the highest since April 10, bringing its total to 1.69 million cases. Of those, 81,399 are "active." An additional 154 fatalities were also recorded, taking its death toll to 29,374.

4:53 p.m. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is around 83% effective against the delta variant of coronavirus, lower than previously thought, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Wednesday. Authorities blamed a surge in coronavirus cases in June and July on the more contagious delta variant and the population's reluctance to get vaccinated despite shots being widely available. The vaccine's developers in June said Sputnik V was around 90% effective against the delta variant.

1:37 p.m. Singapore upgrades its growth projection for this year to a range of 6-7%, from the previous 4-6%, with a roughly 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate enabling plans to gradually reopen more of the economy. That would bring economic output for 2021 above the 2019 level. The city-state's economy contracted 5.4% last year.

12:57 p.m. India reports 38,353 new infections in the last 24 hours, significantly up from the nearly five-month low of 28,204 the previous day, bringing the country's total caseload to 32.04 million. Deaths jumped by 497 to 429,179. The cumulative tally of infections crosses 32 million -- the second-highest worldwide, after the United States.

10:19 a.m. Australian authorities extend a lockdown in Melbourne for another seven days until Aug. 19 as authorities fight to get on top of the highly infectious delta variant. "If we were to open, then we would see cases akin to what is happening, tragically, in Sydney right now," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

9:40 a.m. New Zealand designates Indonesia and Fiji as very high-risk countries due to escalating COVID-19 case numbers, and COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said travel from them is limited to New Zealand citizens, their partners and children, and parents of dependent children who are citizens. Other travelers are required to spend 14 days outside Indonesia before flying to New Zealand, he said.

A Seoul coronavirus testing site in July. South Korea's daily cases have now surpassed 2,200 for the first time.   © Reuters

8:59 a.m. South Korea's daily new cases hit a record high of 2,223, up from 1,540 a day ago, raising the cumulative total to 216,206, with 2,135 deaths. The government asked people to stay at home during the upcoming long weekend to stop the outbreak.

4:25 a.m. Citigroup employees at its New York headquarters and other offices "will be expected to return at least two days a week and vaccination is required" starting Sept. 13, head of human resources Sara Wechter says.

"Given the increased number of employees returning to these buildings, and the delta variant in the U.S., we are taking this approach to ensure a safe workplace," Wechter says in a LinkedIn post.

The announcement follows JPMorgan's statement that employees will be asked to wear masks indoors as U.S. banks look to bring workers back to the office.

Citi's vaccine requirement will apply to offices in New York and other states in the northeast tri-state area, as well as Chicago, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia, she says.

2:01 a.m. New Zealand should not significantly reopen its borders further until at least early 2022, when "as many New Zealanders as possible have been vaccinated," a government-appointed panel says in a report.

Tuesday, Aug. 10

6:05 p.m. Bangladesh begins vaccinating thousands of Rohingya Muslims in the world's largest refugee settlement amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in the country. Around 48,000 Rohingya, aged 55 and above, will be inoculated between Tuesday and Thursday with the help of the United Nations agencies, Mahbubur Rahman, the chief health official in Cox's Bazar district, said.

1:24 p.m. India reports 28,204 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, the lowest since March 16, according to government data. India's overall case load touched 32 million, the health ministry data showed. Deaths increased by 373 overnight, pushing the tally to 428,682.

South Korea, with a tally of 213,987 infections and 2,134 deaths, has fully vaccinated 15.4% of its population of 52 million, largely using doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.   © Reuters

12:34 p.m. South Korea gives vaccine developer SK Bioscience the green light for a Phase 3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate at a time when a spurt in infections is fueling demand for vaccines and creating shortages. The clinical trial of GBP510, the candidate for the South's first domestic vaccine, will weigh its immunogenicity and safety against AstraZeneca's vaccine, drug safety minister Kim Gang-lip told a news conference.

Komatsu Otani High School's Nio Kinoshita recites the athletes' pledge to open the 103rd summer baseball tournament in the western city of Nishinomiya on August 10.   © Kyodo

11:25 a.m. The summer edition of the national high school baseball tournament, Japan's iconic amateur sporting event, opens. After last year's tournament was canceled, this one is being held under strict protocols to avoid outbreaks. Only people associated with the 49 teams will be allowed to enter Koshien Stadium, in Nishinomiya, western Japan.

11:09 a.m. The Philippine economy grew 11.8% year-on-year in the April-June quarter, ending a 15-month pandemic-induced recession. In the same period last year, gross domestic product shrank by a record 17%, as the government fought the first wave of COVID-19 infections with strict lockdown measures.

10:45 a.m. China reports 143 new cases for Monday, up from 125 a day earlier. China's latest clusters are mainly driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, officials have said. Among the new confirmed infections, the highest number China has reported since Jan. 20, 108 were locally transmitted, up from 94 a day earlier, while the remainder were imported, the National Health Commission said. Most local infections were in the eastern province of Jiangsu and the central province of Henan.

10:11 a.m. Australia's New South Wales reports 356 locally acquired cases, its biggest daily rise, as officials scramble to contain the virus that has now spread to the northern parts of the state. Of those with infections reported on Tuesday, at least 57 have spent time in the community while infectious, the state's health department said in a statement. Authorities also said four people died from the virus, taking total deaths in the state from the latest outbreak to 32. Neighboring Victoria reports a slight rise in new cases.

6:47 a.m. America's Inovio Pharmaceuticals is focused on launching a global late-stage trial of its vaccine candidate next month, top boss Joseph Kim says, with the drug developer expecting data in the first half of next year. The global trial will initially focus on Latin America, Asia-Pacific and regions in Africa, the company said. In May, Inovio said it would begin the study of INO-4800 this summer, after the candidate was found to be safe, well-tolerated and produced an immune response against the coronavirus in a mid-stage clinical trial.

6:27 a.m. Canada will extend its ban on arriving passenger flights from India to Sept. 21, the federal transport ministry says. The ban was first imposed on April 22 and has already been rolled over several times. The measure does not apply to cargo flights or medical transfers.

2:20 a.m. The U.S. military will by mid-September seek to make vaccinations mandatory for all service members. Pentagon officials say the aim is for the Food and Drug Administration to have given the Pfizer shot full approval by then. President Joe Biden would have to sign off on an order to mandate the vaccinations. The timing could be moved up if the FDA approves the vaccine sooner.

1:00 a.m. France says the number of COVID-19 patients in critical care rose by 111, the largest daily increase since early April. New cases continue to rise in the country, driven largely by the delta variant.

Monday, Aug. 9

2:12 p.m. India reports 35,499 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from 39,070 the previous day, bringing the country's total to 31.97 million. Deaths rose by 447 to 428,309. The daily case count is the lowest in nearly a week. On Aug. 3, India reported 30,549 infections.

10:25 a.m. New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reports 283 locally acquired cases of COVID-19, up from 262 a day earlier. Total infections in the latest outbreak from the highly infectious delta variant neared 5,500 for the state, according to Reuters.

Medical staff at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Sydney: the capital of New South Wales reported 283 locally acquired cases of COVID-19, up from 262 a day earlier.    © Reuters

1:21 a.m. The leader of America's second-largest teachers union backs mandatory vaccinations for educators as the highly transmissible delta variant complicates the resumption of in-person learning.

"Ninety percent of the teacher members have actually gotten the vaccine" already, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten says on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday local time. "But I do think that the circumstances have changed and that vaccination is a community responsibility. And it weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can't get vaccinated."

The AFT will reconsider this week a policy passed last October that supports voluntary vaccination, she says.

Sunday, Aug. 8

9:08 p.m. Vietnam reports a record 9,690 daily new cases, up from the 7,334 of Saturday.

7:49 p.m. Malaysia will relax restrictions for the fully vaccinated in eight states that meet such criteria as reduced case numbers and higher vaccination rates, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says.

The measures take effect Tuesday and cover dining in at restaurants, participation in noncontact individual sports outdoors, and engaging in intrastate tourism involving homestays and hotels, among other allowed activities.

5:33 p.m. The Philippines logs 9,671 daily new cases and 287 deaths, its highest number of daily fatalities since April.

Cumulative cases have reached about 1.66 million, while the death toll has climbed to 29,122.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo confirms 4,066 daily new cases, topping 4,000 for a fifth consecutive day. The capital reported 1,359 daily new cases on July 23, the day of the Olympics' opening ceremony, with the public fearing that cases could hit record highs during the Games.

1:14 p.m. India reports 39,070 daily new cases, taking its cumulative tally to about 31.93 million. Deaths rose by 491, taking total fatalities to 427,862.

12:43 p.m. Twenty-six people associated with the Olympics test positive, the organizing committee says on the Games' final day, with the cumulative total reaching 430 since the start of July. No athletes tested positive for the third day in a row.

Sixteen of the 26 are contractors, while five are members of the media, three are volunteers, one is "Games-concerned personnel," and one is an employee of the organizing committee. None of the 26 was staying in the Olympic Village, but 19 are residents of Japan.

Saturday, Aug. 7

10:53 p.m. More than a thousand Thai anti-government protesters clash with police, as they demonstrate against the government's failure to handle coronavirus outbreaks and its impact on the economy.

Dozens of police officers in Bangkok use water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to stop a march toward Government House, the office of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The demonstrators threw pingpong bombs, stones and marbles, a police spokesperson says.

At least two civilians and three officers suffered injuries in the clashes. "We want Prayuth to resign because people aren't getting vaccines," says a 23-year-old male protester, who only gave his first name "Aom," for fear of repercussions.

5:47 p.m. China increases measures to protect its capital Beijing, as an uptick in coronavirus cases driven by the more infectious delta variant spread across multiple cities in the country.

The National Health Commission reports107 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for Aug. 6, compared with 124 a day earlier. Those currently outside Beijing in higher risk areas should temporarily postpone their return, and others should provide a negative COVID-19 test, according to details of a Saturday meeting by local officials reported by the Beijing Daily. Epidemic prevention measures at railways, highways and airports should be strengthened, they say.

5:15 p.m. India approves Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya says in a tweet.

The pharmaceutical giant had applied for emergency use approval of its vaccine. The shot will be brought to India through a supply agreement with domestic vaccine maker Biological E Ltd, J&J has said.

5:09 p.m. The Philippines' Health Ministry records 11,021 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day case increase in almost four months, and 162 additional deaths. The new numbers push total confirmed infections in the Philippines to almost 1.65 million, while deaths have reached 28,835.

4:46 p.m. Tokyo confirms 4,566 new COVID-19 cases, topping 4,000 for the fourth day in a row, as the pandemic appears to show no signs of abating amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, while the capital is hosting the Olympics.

11:40 a.m. Australia reports a record for new daily cases, as the highly infectious delta variant runs rampant through the country's most populous states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. About 15 million people in the three states, or 60% of Australia's population, are under strict lockdown. Five deaths were also reported. NSW reported 319 new local cases, the most since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. Sydney and neighboring regional centers spanning 200 km of coastline have been under a stay-at-home order for six weeks now.

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

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