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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of August 1 to August 7, Australia daily cases reach 2021 high

Thailand posts record 21,838 new cases; JPMorgan tells US staff to mask up

Demonstrators protest a lockdown called to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Melbourne, Australia, on August 5, 2021.   © 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 201,271,096, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 4,273,744.

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



Saturday, Aug. 7 (Tokyo time)

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.

10:17 a.m. China reports 107 new confirmed cases for Aug. 6, compared with 124 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission. Of the new infections, 75 were locally transmitted, down from 80 a day earlier. Most of the local cases were in the eastern province of Jiangsu. China also reports 32 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, down from 58 a day earlier.

10:00 a.m. Thailand reports 21,838 cases and 212 deaths, both record highs, data from the country's COVID-19 task force shows. The country's cumulative infections are now at 736,522, with total fatalities at 6,066.

3:05 a.m. JPMorgan Chase, a front-runner among American corporations wanting employees to return to the office, has told its entire U.S. staff to mask up on the job, regardless of vaccine status.

"These revised safety measures and requirements are being put in place to help protect everyone -- those who are vaccinated and those who aren't -- and we will continue to closely monitor the situation as it unfolds," the Financial Times reports, citing an internal memo.

Tokyo's Haneda Airport: A traveler from Peru in July 2021 became the first case of the lambda variant detected in Japan.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. Japan has reported its first case from the coronavirus's lambda variant, which was first reported in Peru.

The variant was detected in a woman in her 30s who arrived at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on July 20 -- three days before the Olympics' opening ceremony -- after traveling to Peru. Japan's health ministry reported the case on Friday.

First documented in Peru this past December, lambda is designated a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization -- a lower level than "variants of concern," including delta.

According to Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases, lambda shows mutations that may change the effectiveness of vaccines, but too little is known about it at this point. The variant has been detected in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Friday, Aug. 6

6:30 p.m. Japan's cumulative total of coronavirus cases has topped 1 million as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread in many parts of the country. The development comes as many prefectures in Japan have seen their daily cases hit record highs in recent days. The country's capital and Olympic Games host city Tokyo has confirmed 4,515 new cases -- its second highest daily tally -- amid growing concerns about a potential collapse of the medical system.

5:36 p.m. The Philippines reports 10,623 new infections, the highest daily count since mid-April, bringing the total number of cases to 1.638 million, of which 74,297 are "active." The country also added 247 fatalities, taking the death toll to 28,673.The new report by the country's Department of Health comes as Metro Manila, home to around 13 million people, entered a two-week strict lockdown on Friday aimed at containing the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

5:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 4,515 new cases, down from the record high 5,042 posted a day earlier but still the second-highest daily tally for the Japanese capital. Meanwhile, the western prefecture of Osaka reported a record-high 1,310 new cases, highlighting the growing nationwide outbreak driven by the delta variant.

4:09 p.m. Chinese COVID-19 vaccine makers are preparing to apply to drug regulators for clinical trials involving booster shots that they say will be effective against variant strains spreading worldwide, according to local media. Sinovac Biotech chairman Yin Weidong told a forum Thursday that his company will soon submit applications for clinical testing and emergency use for a new vaccine against the delta and gamma strains. Similarly, Sinopharm said on Wednesday that it has discovered a neutralizing antibody against the delta variant, which was found in recent new cases of infection in China. Chinese health authorities said existing vaccines have been effective in reducing COVID-19 infection and preventing severe illness.

 A person  disinfects a street as Hanoi extends its COVID-19 lockdown: The restrictions will remain in place until Aug. 22, the state Vietnam News Agency reports.   © Reuters

3:40 p.m. Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, will extend coronavirus restrictions until Aug. 22, the state Vietnam News Agency reports, after authorities warned of new clusters detected in the city. Hanoi has, in the past two weeks, ordered people to stay at home and halted all nonessential activities, but a threefold rise in infections led by the delta variant has prompted the city to extend the curbs, which were due to end on Saturday. The city reported 21 new cases on Friday and has recorded nearly 1,600 cases since late April.

1:04 p.m. India logs 44,643 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 42,982 the previous day, pushing the country total to 31.86 million. Deaths rose by 464 to 426,754. Meanwhile, the country has vaccinated about 5.8 million people since Thursday morning, bringing the total number of doses administered nationwide to more than 495 million.

12:00 p.m. South Korea will extend its social distancing curbs by two weeks, as the government battles COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide driven by the delta variant, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum says. Seoul and surrounding areas have banned private gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m., and all gatherings of more than four people are prohibited in the rest of the country. The country reported 1,704 cases for Thursday, bringing the total to 207,406 infections, with 2,113 deaths.

11:30 a.m. U.S. news network CNN fired three employees for coming to the office unvaccinated against COVID-19 last week, according to an internal memo sent to staff. In the note seen by Reuters, President Jeff Zucker told employees that the company has zero-tolerance policy for such breaches and requires all to be vaccinated to come to office or to work in the field with other employees.

"Everyone from news, sports and studios who comes in now and going forward must be vaccinated. We have been clear about this for months, so there should be no confusion," according to the memo.

10:30 a.m. Australia's state of New South Wales reports record new infections for the second straight day, as state capital Sydney neared its seventh week of a hard lockdown to contain an outbreak of the delta variant. New South Wales reports 291 locally acquired cases, most of them in Sydney, exceeding the previous daily high of 262 hit a day earlier.

Health care workers move a dead body in Pathum Thani, Thailand, on July 31: The country reported 21,379 new cases and 191 deaths on Aug. 6, both daily records.   © Reuters

10:00 a.m. Thailand reports 21,379 new cases and 191 deaths, both daily records, data from the country's COVID-19 taskforce shows. The new cases brought total infections to 714,684 and total fatalities to 5,854 since the pandemic began last year.

9:50 a.m. China reports 124 new cases for Thursday, up from 85 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 80 were locally transmitted, compared with 62 local cases a day earlier. China also reported 58 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 54 a day earlier.

9:10 a.m. Daily new COVID-19 cases have climbed to a six-month high in the U.S., with more than 100,000 infections reported nationwide, as the delta variant ravages Florida and other states with lower vaccination rates. The seven-day average of new reported cases reached nearly 95,000, a fivefold increase in less than a month, Reuters data through Wednesday showed.

4:10 a.m. Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is about 93% effective through six months after the second dose. However, given the delta variant's impact and expectations that antibody protection will eventually wane, the company expects booster shots will be needed this winter. Moderna, along with Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which make a similar messenger RNA-based vaccine, have been advocating for booster shots, even as public health officials call for more evidence that they are needed.

1:45 a.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will strive to provide 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in 2021, state broadcaster CCTV reports. In his written message to an international COVID-19 vaccine cooperation forum, Xi also said China would donate $100 million to the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme, according to the CCTV report.

Travelers arrive at Kennedy International Airport in New York. The U.S. is considering requiring foreign travelers to show proof of vaccination to enter the country.    © Reuters

12:59 a.m. The White House says it is considering requiring foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated as it plans to eventually reopen international travel.

Thursday, Aug. 5

10:11 p.m. Manila sees thousands rush to COVID-19 vaccination sites across the city a day before a two-week lockdown is imposed on the capital and other areas. Photos on social media show people jostling one another as long lines form outside vaccination centers, prompting police intervention. Only 10.3 million people in the Philippines, or 9.3% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

5:03 p.m. Tokyo reports another daily record of 5,042 new cases, jumping from the previous record of 4,166 posted a day earlier despite being under a state of emergency. Driven by the highly infectious delta variant, the seven-day average of new cases in the Olympic city stands at 3,646 -- 64% higher than a week ago. Experts predict the seven-day average for the capital will top 10,000 on Aug. 18.

1:34 p.m. Indonesia's economy grew for the first time in five quarters in the April-June period, recording its strongest expansion in at least a decade. Indonesia's real gross domestic product rose 7.07% in the second quarter from a year earlier, data from the country's statistics agency shows.

1:25 p.m. India logs 42,982 new infections in the last 24 hours, slightly up from 42,625 the previous day, pushing the cumulative caseload to over 31.8 million. Fatalities rose by 533 to 426,290.

A vaccination clinic at the Bankstown Sports Club on Aug. 3 as Sydney experiences an extended lockdown.   © Reuters

11:20 a.m. Sydney reports 259 new cases -- a daily record for Australia's largest city -- as a weekslong hard lockdown struggles to contain the highly contagious delta strain. Four of the five people who died were unvaccinated, and the other had gotten at least one dose, New South Wales state health authorities said. They implored residents to get inoculated as early as possible.

11:00 a.m. Thailand reports another daily record of 20,920 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 693,305. It also reports 160 additional fatalities, bringing total deaths to 5,663.

11:00 a.m. The Tokyo Organizing Committee reports 31 new COVID-19 infections among Olympics-concerned personnel. That brings the total cases to 353. An artistic swimming athlete from Greece residing in the Olympic Village is included in the new count.

10:10 a.m. China reports 85 new cases for Wednesday, down from 96 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 62 were locally transmitted, compared with 71 a day earlier. China also reports 54 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 27 a day earlier.

A boy gets swabbed at a county mobile COVID-19 testing site in Palmetto, Florida, on Aug. 2. The U.S. leads the world with over 35 million cumulative infections.   © Reuters

10:00 a.m. Global COVID-19 infections surpass 200 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, reaching another grim milestone in the pandemic, which is still expanding rapidly, driven by the highly infectious delta variant. The U.S., which faces a resurgence of infections even after a majority of people got vaccinated, leads the world with over 35 million, followed by India with over 31 million and Brazil with over 20 million.

9:30 a.m. Japan proposes expanding emergency restrictions to eight more prefectures to fight a surge in COVID-19 cases as worries grow about strains on the nation's medical system in the Olympic host city of Tokyo and elsewhere. Officials have warned that infections were surging at an unprecedented pace, driven by the delta variant, as new cases hit record highs in Tokyo.

12:15 a.m. The World Health Organization is calling for a halt on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September, says its head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as the gap between vaccinations in wealthy and poor countries widens.

The call for a moratorium is the strongest statement yet from the U.N. agency at a time when countries deliberate the need for boosters to combat the fast-spreading delta variant.

"I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it," Tedros added.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world should refrain from giving fully vaccinated people new shots in order to get at least 10% of the population in every country vaccinated.   © Reuters

Wednesday, Aug. 4

4:54 p.m. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirms a record 4,166 daily COVID-19 cases as Tokyo struggles to contain a resurgence despite being under its fourth COVID state of emergency, since July 12. The latest tally tops the 4,058 cases reported on Saturday. The capital's seven-day rolling average of infections also rose to a record 3,478.7 per day, up 78% from the previous week.

4:04 p.m. The chairman of Thailand's Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG) says a deal to import 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to happen, despite his earlier claim that it was close. Thailand is battling its biggest COVID-19 outbreak yet and has been racing to secure vaccines. Last month, THG Chairman Boon Vanasin said talks to clinch a deal with BioNTech were nearly concluded, but both Pfizer and BioNTench said they were not in talks with THG.

"Our problem is that we are unable to import it because it has to come through a government agency," Boon said during an interview with the MCOT television station. "I think we won't be able to do it."

1:29 p.m. India reports 42,625 new cases in the last 24 hours, a jump from the previous day's 30,549, pushing the cumulative total to 31.77 million. Deaths rose from 422 a day before to 562, bringing the total to 425,757.

An elderly man as he receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Mumbai on Aug. 2: On Aug. 4, India reported 42,625 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from the previous day's 30,549.   © Reuters

11:06 a.m. A man in his 20s died at home in Sydney, becoming one of Australia's youngest coronavirus victims, authorities said. The unvaccinated man was 13 days into a period of home isolation after testing positive when his health rapidly deteriorated, the authorities said. He lived with one person who had been hospitalized with the virus. Health leaders say the death highlights the importance of getting vaccinated. They have set a target of having half of Sydney's population inoculated before lifting the city's lockdown by the target date of Aug. 28.

10:19 a.m. Macao has launched an aggressive testing system after the Chinese territory confirmed four new cases on Tuesday, its government said in a statement on Wednesday. Forty-one nucleic acid testing stations have been set up across the city; they are to operate nonstop for at least three days, the estimated time required to test Macao's population of 600,000. The gambling hub has registered 59 corona cases and no deaths so far, according to Hong Kong government data.

10:09 a.m. Australia's New South Wales reports 233 locally acquired transmissions, up from 199 a day earlier, as the state battles the highly infectious delta strain. Of the newly infected, at least 47 spent time in the community while infectious, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

9:33 a.m. Thailand reports 20,200 new cases and 188 additional deaths, the highest daily increases so far during the pandemic. The new numbers bring total infections to 672,385 and deaths to 5,503, data from the health ministry's website shows.

Volunteers finish up converting an air cargo warehouse into a COVID-19 field hospital at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok on July 28.   © Reuters

1:10 a.m. A massive loss reported by Japan Airlines on Tuesday brings into sharp relief the industry's lopsided recovery, with U.S. carriers bouncing back quickly and Japanese and European peers continuing to bleed red ink. Read more here.

12:50 a.m. New York City will require proof of at least partial vaccination for indoor use of restaurants, fitness facilities and entertainment venues, Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

These are businesses "where you see leaders in the private sector already saying clearly, 'Vaccination is the answer -- we need these strong, clear mandates,'" de Blasio tells a news conference.

The "first-in-the-nation approach" will be phased in "over the coming weeks" and apply to both workers and customers, the mayor says.

A street market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in February: An official said all 12 million residents will be tested for COVID-19, after three new cases of the delta variant were found in the city.   © Reuters

Tuesday, Aug. 3

7:20 p.m. Macao has detected its first COVID-19 cases in more than a year, according to local media, raising fears of a community outbreak. Authorities have declared a "state of immediate prevention" after a family of four tested positive. Until this week, the Chinese territory had not found any cases since April 2020.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 3,709 new cases, up from 2,195 a day earlier, as the Olympic host city battles the recent wave of infections driven by the delta variant. The seven-day average of new cases in the capital is 3,337, 89.3% higher than a week ago, adding to pressure on the area's hospitals.

3:20 p.m. The central Chinese city of Wuhan will test all of its 12 million residents for the coronavirus, an official says. Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, had reported no local cases since mid-May last year. But on Monday, authorities confirmed three new cases of the delta variant. The new cases in Wuhan, along with infections in the nearby cities of Jingzhou and Huanggang since Saturday, were linked to cases found in the city of Huaian in Jiangsu province.

1:28 p.m. India reports 30,549 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from 40,134 the previous day, pushing the country total to 31.73 million. Deaths rose by 422 to 425,195. Meanwhile, the country has vaccinated more than 6.1 million people since Monday morning, bringing the total number of doses administered nationwide to 478.5 million.

Japan has released the names of three Japanese nationals it says broke quarantine rules after returning from overseas in line with a "name and shame" policy to combat the spread of COVID-19.   © Reuters

11:00 a.m. Japan has carried out a threat to publicly shame people not complying with coronavirus border control measures, releasing the names of three people who have broken quarantine rules after returning from overseas. The health ministry said late on Monday the three Japanese nationals named had clearly acted to avoid contact with authorities after recently returning from abroad. The announcement, the first of its kind, sparked a flurry of speculation among Twitter users about the details of those identified, such as their jobs and locations.

10:20 a.m. Australia's state of New South Wales reports 199 locally acquired cases, slightly down from 207 a day earlier, as officials scramble to bring under control an outbreak of the delta variant in state capital Sydney. Of the new cases, at least 50 spent time in the community while infectious.

9:50 a.m. China reports 90 new cases for Monday, compared with 98 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 61 were locally transmitted, up from 55 a day earlier. China also reports 41 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 60 a day earlier.

Qantas Airways will furlough about 2,500 employees for two months, as new COVID-19 restrictions across Australia stifle demand for domestic flights.   © Reuters

9:00 a.m. Qantas Airways says about 2,500 employees will be furloughed for two months, as fresh COVID-19 restrictions across Australia keep a lid on demand for domestic flights. The decision will directly impact domestic pilots, cabin crew and airport workers, mostly in New South Wales, the airline says, adding that no job losses were expected from the move.

7:15 a.m. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken a COVID-19 test after picking up a "seasonal sniffle" from her 3-year-old daughter, the government spokesman says.

Ardern will step back from her duties for the day due to the sickness, and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will take on the responsibilities.

3:30 a.m. About 70% of four Americans over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Joe Biden had originally aimed to administer at least one dose to 70% of U.S. adults by July 4. The agency said 180,762,301 people had received at least one dose, while 164,919,666 people, or 49.7% of the total population, were fully vaccinated.

3:10 a.m. Wearing masks indoors in New York City is now strongly recommended but not required for people who have received the coronavirus vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio says, as infections continue to rise.

"We thought that was the right balance," de Blasio tells WABC. "We still want to respect the fact that vaccination does give you different opportunities and rights than unvaccinated people."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the same day urged local governments to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which urge vaccinated people to "wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission."

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, left, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren livestream about the expiration of the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions from the steps of the Capitol.   © Reuters

1:00 a.m. Many American families face the threat of being kicked out of their homes after the federal moratorium on residential evictions expired over the weekend and Congress was unable to take action. Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted.

Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the moratorium on evictions through Oct. 18. But it is unclear whether the White House has the authority to do so without congressional action.

1:00 a.m. Indonesia extends its mobility restrictions across major cities in densely populated Java, Bali and elsewhere.

The partial lockdowns that have been in place since July 3 will be extended for at least another week through next Monday, President Joko Widodo says in an evening address.

12:30 a.m. Germany plans to offer vaccine booster shots to older people and people with underlying health conditions starting in September, several media outlets report, citing a draft plan.

Tokyo is struggling to keep COVID cases down as the capital city hosts the 2020 Olympics.   © Kyodo

Monday, Aug. 2

5:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 2,195 new cases, marking the highest daily count for a Monday, as Japan expanded the state of emergency to three prefectures neighboring the capital as well as Osaka. The high number on a Monday is particularly significant, given that fewer cases tend to be reported over the weekend and the count at the start of the week had typically been lower than other days.

The Olympic host city is struggling to contain the recent wave of infections driven by the delta variant. The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo is now at 3,214, 106,9% higher than a week ago.

Shoppers crowd a market despite the spread of the coronavirus in Mumbai, India, on July 28, 2021.   © Reuters

2:00 p.m. India reports 40,134 new infections in the last 24 hours -- down from 41,831 the previous day but marking the sixth straight day with over 40,000 cases -- bringing the country total to 31.7 million. Deaths jumped by 422 to 424,773.

1:30 p.m. Japan's blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average jumps higher during Monday afternoon trade, at one point rising over 500 points, or 2%, as investors rush to buy the dip following a sharp decline in stocks last week. While concerns over rising coronavirus infections still linger, market participants are also eager to buy shares of companies announcing upbeat first-quarter earnings.

11:50 a.m. South Korea reports 1,219 new cases, down from 1,442 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 201,002 cases. Daily cases in the country were above the 1,000 mark for the 27th straight day as the government struggles to stop the outbreak led by the delta variant.

11:00 a.m. Tokyo 2020 reports 17 new infections among Olympics-related personnel. No athletes were included. That brings the total number of cases to 276. The cumulative number of screening tests is now more than 450,000.

People walk through Shinagawa Station at the start of the workday amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Tokyo on Aug. 2.   © Reuters

10:00 a.m. Three prefectures near Tokyo -- Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama -- and Osaka have entered into a COVID-19 state of emergency due to a recent surge in cases led by the delta variant. They joined Tokyo and Okinawa amid fears of a medical system collapse during the Olympics. The emergency will be in effect through Aug. 31. Establishments serving alcohol or offering karaoke in the areas are asked to suspend their business. Those not serving liquor are requested to close by 8 p.m.

9:45 a.m. China reports 98 new cases for Sunday, up from 75 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 55 were locally transmitted, compared with 53 a day earlier. China also reports 60 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 37 a day earlier.

9:20 a.m. A snap three-day lockdown in Australia's third-largest city Brisbane and some neighboring regions will be extended until Sunday, as officials asked for more time to contain an outbreak of the delta variant. Queensland state, of which Brisbane is the capital, detected 13 new locally acquired cases, up from nine a day earlier. The lockdown was due to end on Tuesday evening but is now scheduled to run until Aug. 8.

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a baby to be tested for COVID-19 in Medan, Indonesia. (Antara Foto via Reuters)

5:57 a.m. Indonesia extends restrictions outside Java by another week, local media report on Sunday, citing a senior Home Affairs Ministry official. The highest level of restrictions continues until Aug. 9 for regions outside Java categorized as "Level 4." These areas have a high level of infections and hospital bed occupancy rates.

Sunday, Aug. 1

6:25 p.m. Thailand extends tighter containment measures in the capital and high-risk provinces until the end of August, government sources say, to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the country deals with its biggest outbreak to date. Restrictions such as travel curbs, mall closures and curfews will be expanded to 29 provinces from 13. Restaurants in malls will be allowed to open only for deliveries.

3:57 p.m. Cambodia will offer a booster shot against COVID-19, switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese vaccines in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country. Prime Minister Hun Sen extends inoculations to those ages 12-17 and says a third dose will be offered to between 500,000 and 1 million frontline workers as a priority.

11:57 a.m. China reports 75 new COVID-19 infections as cities begin introducing strict curbs to halt an increasingly severe outbreak of the delta variant. The number of new mainland cases, reported as of July 31, was up from 55 confirmed a day earlier. These include 53 domestically transmitted infections across eight provinces, bringing the total number of domestic cases in the past 10 days to 284 across 14 provinces and municipalities.

Saturday, July 31

9:20 p.m. Overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths amid Thailand's biggest outbreak, a hospital near Bangkok has begun storing bodies in refrigerated containers.

The 10-freezer morgue at Thammasat University Hospital normally handles seven autopsies a day, but the latest wave of the pandemic forces it to cope with more than 10 bodies daily. Almost 20% of bodies with an unidentified cause of death later test positive for COVID-19, a hospital director says.

Thailand reports 18,912 new cases and 178 new deaths. The latest figures, both daily records, bring the total number of cases to 597,287 and fatalities to 4,857. Authorities say the delta variant accounts for more than 60% of infections in the country and 80% of the cases in Bangkok.

9:10 p.m. Vietnam will impose strict curbs on movement in 19 southern cities and provinces for another two weeks starting Monday as the country battles its worst COVID-19 outbreak.

6:00 p.m. Two male judoka from Georgia are ejected from the Tokyo Olympics for leaving the athletes village to go sightseeing in violation of COVID-19 protocols, a spokesperson for the country's Olympic committee says. It is the first time participants have been stripped of accreditation since the Games began July 23, the organizing committee says.

The two are silver medalists Vazha Margvelashvili and Lasha Shavdatuashvili, according to the spokesperson.

The "playbook," which codifies rules for Tokyo Olympics participants, states that athletes "must only leave your accommodation to go to official games venues and limited additional locations that you have outlined in your activity plan, as defined by the list of permitted destinations."

Athletes are prohibited from walking around the city and visiting tourist areas, shops, restaurants, bars or gyms, and they must not use public transport, according to the playbook. It lists warnings, temporary or permanent withdrawal of accreditation and disqualification as potential penalties for offenders.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo reports 4,058 new COVID-19 cases, topping 4,000 daily for the first time. The record comes a day after Japan decides to extend states of emergency to three prefectures near Olympic host Tokyo as well as the western prefecture of Osaka.


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

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