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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of June 20 to June 26, Sydney cases rise amid partial lockdown

US FDA adds warning on rare heart inflammation to Pfizer, Moderna jabs

Central Station in Sidney: Authorities in Australia's New South Wales are signaling more restrictions may be imposed on the partially locked-down city as COVID-19 cases rise.   © 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 180,346,611, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 3,907,765.

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, June 26 (Tokyo time)

11:40 a.m. The Australian state of New South Wales reports 29 cases of local transmission, with the authorities signaling more restrictions may be imposed on partially locked-down Sydney as exposure sites have risen. Saturday's data takes the number of infections linked to the Bondi outbreak to 80.

11:33 a.m. The U.S. drug regulator has added a warning to the literature that accompanies Pfizer Inc /BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccine shots to indicate the rare risk of heart inflammation after its use.

10:40 a.m. China reports 25 new cases for Friday, compared with 24 a day earlier. All of the new infections were imported. China also reports 23 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 20 a day earlier.

4:35 a.m. The head of the World Health Organization chastises countries for their reluctance to share COVID vaccine doses with low-income nations.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation in Africa -- where new infections and deaths jumped by nearly 40% last week -- is "so dangerous" as the Delta variant spreads globally.

"The difference is between the haves and the have nots which is now completely exposing the unfairness of our world -- the injustice, the inequality, let's face it," he said. 

"The problem now is a supply problem, just give us the vaccines," Tedros said.

3:36 a.m. Japan will ask other countries to ease entry requirements for holders of its COVID-19 vaccination certificate while exploring reciprocal moves for incoming travelers as part of a push to revive international travel. 

2:25 a.m. Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has contracted COVID-19, according to the government. Mechichi received a vaccine last month.

12:49 a.m. Europe's medicines regulator approves the production of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine at an additional site in Italy, as it looks to speed up the supply of the shot in the European Union, reports Reuters.

Friday, June 25

5:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 562 new infections, slightly down from 570 a day earlier. The seven-day average for new cases in the Japanese capital stands at 455, up 17% from a week ago, raising concerns over a possible rebound in cases.

A woman receives a COVID-19 shot in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on June 25: Starting Sunday, arrivals from Bangladesh, Britain, Indonesia, Israel and Peru must quarantine for 14 days in centralized facilities.   © Reuters

4:00 p.m. Taiwan will tighten border controls to keep out the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, authorities say, requiring arrivals from five countries -- Bangladesh, Britain, Indonesia, Israel and Peru -- to be placed in centralized quarantine facilities for 14 days, starting Sunday. People coming from Brazil and India already face such quarantines, while all others must quarantine at home or in hotels for 14 days.

3:30 p.m. The Japanese government will begin a program to help its nationals living abroad return home to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccination centers will be set up at the Tokyo area's two major airports, Haneda and Narita, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says. More than 40,000 Japanese living in countries where it is likely to take a long time to get vaccinated have called on the government to offer shots in Japan, according to a survey by the Foreign Ministry. The shots will be free of charge, but people will have to pay their own travel expenses.

3:10 p.m. Taiwan reports 76 new domestic infections, down from 129 a day earlier.

2:30 p.m. A member of the Ugandan Olympics team who tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival in Japan has been infected with the fast spreading Delta variant, according to Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa.

1:30 p.m. India reports 51,667 new infections over the past 24 hours, down from 54,069 a day earlier, data from the health ministry shows.

11:30 a.m. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says Japan will donate 1 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each to Taiwan and Vietnam in July. Arrangements are also being made to send 1 million doses each of the AstraZeneca shot to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Japan will begin supplying 11 million doses in total to regions including Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia and the Pacific islands through the COVAX global vaccine program, starting in mid-July.

11:00 a.m. Downtown Sydney and the city's eastern suburbs, which include Bondi Beach, will go into a one week lockdown from midnight Friday as authorities struggle to contain a spike in the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant in the city. People who live or work in four local government council areas in Sydney have been ordered to stay at home except for urgent reasons, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

10:40 a.m. China reports 24 new cases for Thursday, down from 16 a day earlier. All the new infections were imported. The country also reported 20 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 18 a day earlier. China does not count asymptomatic cases as confirmed.

9:50 a.m. The virus that causes COVID-19 may have started spreading in China as early as October 2019, two months before the first case was identified in the central city of Wuhan, a new study shows. Researchers from Britain's University of Kent used methods from conservation science to estimate that SARS-CoV-2 first appeared from early October to mid-November 2019, according to a paper published in the PLOS Pathogens journal.

9:30 a.m. Myanmar's daily cases hit an annual high of 787, the state-run Global New Light newspaper reports, citing the junta-appointed Ministry of Health and Sports. This brings the country's total to 150,714 cases. Myanmar has also suffered 3,275 deaths.

 Doctors intubate a COVID-19 at a hospital in California in January: The U.S. FDA has granted emergency authorization to Actemra, used to treat patients receiving breathing assistance.   © Reuters

9:30 a.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the drug Actemra for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 adults and pediatric patients, the health agency says. The authorization was issued to Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche Holding AG. The drug can be used to treat patients who are receiving systemic corticosteroids and require supplemental oxygen, non-invasive or invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Thursday, June 24

8:46 p.m. Indonesia's pandemic situation has rapidly deteriorated as the nation confirmed a new daily high of 20,574 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a jump of more than 5,000 from the previous day. The figure takes Indonesia's cumulative cases to 2,053,995 -- by far the biggest among its Southeast Asian peers; 355 additional deaths were also reported, taking the total deceased to 55,949.

6:30 p.m. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is highly effective against the delta variant of COVID-19, a Pfizer official in Israel says. First identified in India, delta is becoming the globally dominant version of the coronavirus.

"The data we have today, accumulating from research we are conducting at the lab and including data from those places where the Indian variant, delta, has replaced the British variant as the common variant, point to our vaccine being very effective, around 90%, in preventing the coronavirus disease, COVID-19," Alon Rappaport, Pfizer's medical director in Israel, told local broadcaster Army Radio.

6:24 p.m. An Indonesian court jails hardline Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab for four years for spreading false information in a video saying he was healthy despite having tested positive for COVID-19. The verdict comes after an eight-month jail term handed last month to Rizieq, the spiritual leader of the outlawed Islamic Defender's Front, for breaching coronavirus curbs over several mass events, including his daughter's wedding, which was attended by thousands.

Japan will launch paper vaccine certificates by end-July, with view to provide digital versions by end of year.

6:00 p.m. Japan will start issuing COVID-19 vaccine certificates by late-July. Municipalities will be in charge of the administrative processes. Certificates will initially be issued on paper to allow overseas travel, rather than for domestic activities. Japan hopes to get a digital sytem up and running within the year so that users can have e-certificates on their smartphone apps.

To apply for the certificate, applicants need to submit information such as names, vaccination ticket number and passport information. They can do this via mail. Municipalities will check if the application matches information held in the VRS, or Vaccination Record System. Certificates will also show the brand of vaccine used.

5:10 p.m. Russia reports 20,182 new cases, the most confirmed in a single day since Jan. 24, amid a wave of infections that authorities blame on the delta variant and the slow progress of the vaccination program. Russia also confirmed 568 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg recorded the most deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

4:00 p.m. The head of Japan's Imperial Household Agency says he believes Emperor Naruhito is concerned that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics may cause a further increase in the number of coronavirus cases. "I believe (the Emperor) is concerned that while there are voices of anxiety among the public, the holding (of the events) may lead to the expansion of infections," Yasuhiko Nishimura said at a news conference.

Garuda Indonesia has cancelled planned flights connecting Bali and Japan.    © Reuters

3:05 p.m. Taiwan reports 129 new domestic infections, up from 104 a day earlier.

1:20 p.m. India reports 54,069 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 50,848 the previous day, bringing the cumulative total to 30.08 million. Fatalities jumped by 1,321 to 391,981.

11:30 a.m. Hong Kong will ban passenger flights from Indonesia starting Friday, deeming arrivals from the country an "extremely high risk" for the coronavirus. The Hong Kong government said late on Wednesday it was suspending flights after the number of imported COVID-19 cases from Indonesia crossed thresholds set by the global financial hub. Hong Kong has already banned arrivals from India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

11:00 a.m. Delta coronavirus variants are quickly spreading in Asia and casting doubts on prospects of restarting the movement of people and business activities in the face of accelerated vaccination efforts that only just took off.

10:30 a.m. Australia's New South Wales reports 11 new locally acquired cases, taking total infections in the latest outbreak to more than 40 as the state fights to contain the highly contagious delta variant in Sydney.

Health care workers prepare to vaccinate Aeon supermarket staffers in Chiba, Japan, on June 21.   © Reuters

8:00 a.m. The number of Japanese who have received a COVID-19 vaccine twice has topped the 10 million mark, with more than 34 million shots delivered so far, according to the government. The 10 million amounts to a little over 8% of the population, but the campaign has picked up recently ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23. The daily inoculation total is nearing the government's 1 million target, with many companies starting workplace inoculations.

6:10 a.m. The U.S. on Thursday will ship 3 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine to Brazil, the country with the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, a White House official says.

4:40 a.m. Vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer provide protection against the highly contagious delta and kappa variants of the coronavirus first found in India, according to a study by Oxford University researchers.

The study indicated that antibodies in the blood of vaccinated people can fight off the variants, following an analysis from Public Health England showing that the two vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization from the delta variant.

2:50 a.m. The share of COVID-19 infections caused by the more easily transmitted delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, has doubled in Germany in a week and is likely to gain more traction over other variants, the Robert Koch Institute public health agency says. Whole genome sequencing shows the delta variant now accounts for 15% of infections.

Wednesday, June 23

Despite surging cases of infections, Indonesia has no plans to tighten restrictions.    © Reuters

8:14 p.m. Indonesia records its highest daily new infection numbers again, with 15,308 cases. The country also reports 303 deaths. The Southeast Asian nation registered the previous daily peak on June 21.

Amid calls from the medical community for wider social restrictions, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, in an online national address, said the current neighborhood-level social restrictions are "still the most appropriate policy for the current context for controlling COVID-19, because it can run without shutting down the people's economy."

He also urged the public to get vaccinated. "If there is an opportunity to get a vaccine, do not refuse. No religion forbids vaccines because it's for our safety. Vaccines are the best [option] at this time," he said.

7:28 p.m. Around 40 cases of the "delta plus" strain -- a mutated version of the highly contagious delta variant that drove the much of the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India -- have been detected in the country, the health ministry says, amid concerns over a possible resurgence of infections in the South Asian nation.

7:27 p.m. The Japanese government will temporarily stop taking new applications for workplace vaccine rollouts against COVID-19 at 5 p.m. on Friday due to a flood of applications, Taro Kono, the minister who is in charge of vaccine campaigns, said Wednesday in a news conference.

The country may not be able to keep up with deliveries of Moderna vaccines used for workplace vaccinations, according to Kono. "We are receiving applications with considerable momentum," he said. "I want to stop the application here for the moment as the maximum amount of delivery per day has been reached."

5:00 p.m. The Myanmar junta's Ministry of Health reports 630 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of daily infections since the February coup. More than 149,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,267 deaths have been reported in Myanmar, as of June 23.

3:51 p.m. Taiwan will extend its coronavirus curbs for two weeks through July 12, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung says. The island has been battling a rise in domestic infections since May, after months of relative safety. The restrictions on gatherings meant to end on June 28. But, said Chen, "Although the overall trend has improved during this period, it has not met our requirements."

1:46 p.m. Direct flights from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to Beijing have been suspended until at least July 1, booking apps showed, ahead of celebrations for the Chinese Communist Party's founding on that date. China's most populous province, Guangdong, is battling a COVID-19 outbreak, with 170 confirmed local cases between May 21 and June 21. No new confirmed local cases were reported for June 22.

The Beijing Capital International Airport on May 9. Direct flights from Shenzhen have been suspended due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Guangdong Province.   © Reuters

1:14 p.m. India's cumulative caseload tops 30 million as it reported 50,848 new infections in the last 24 hours, up from 42,640 the previous day. Fatalities jumped by 1,358 to 390,660. Meanwhile, the country administered over 5.4 million COVID-19 vaccine shots since Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of doses given to people nationwide so far to 294.6 million.

11:46 a.m. New Zealand raises the COVID-19 alert level in its capital, Wellington, amid concerns that the city may have been exposed to the highly infectious delta variant that has triggered a fresh outbreak in Australia. Wellington will move to alert level 2, one level short of a lockdown, until midnight on Sunday as a precautionary measure to curb any potential outbreak after an Australian tourist tested positive for COVID-19 on returning to Sydney from a visit to Wellington over the weekend.

10:25 a.m. Thailand reports a new daily record of 51 COVID-19 fatalities, bringing total deaths to 1,744 since the pandemic started last year. The country, grappling with its third and most deadly outbreak, also reports 3,174 new infections, bringing total confirmed cases to 228,539. More than 85% of the new cases and deaths have come since April.

9:35 a.m. China reports 24 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Tuesday, compared with 25 on Monday. All of the new infections were imported cases, and there were no deaths. China also reports 21 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 27 a day earlier.

8:55 a.m. Passengers on two flights between Australia and New Zealand have been ordered to immediately isolate and undergo COVID-19 testing after authorities traced a traveler who tested positive in Sydney after visiting Wellington. The case, which adds to a growing coronavirus outbreak in Sydney, prompted New Zealand authorities to suspend quarantine-free travel to and from New South Wales state for three days from midnight on Tuesday.

8:01 a.m. The University of Oxford says it is testing the anti-parasite drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19, as part of a British government-backed study that aims to aid recoveries in nonhospital settings. Ivermectin resulted in a reduction of virus replication in laboratory studies, the university says, adding that a small pilot showed that giving the drug early could reduce viral load and the duration of symptoms in some patients with mild COVID-19.

4:10 a.m. India's health ministry now describes the "delta plus" variant as a "variant of concern."

The ministry cites the following characteristics for delta plus: increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

A healthcare worker checks temperatures door to door to safeguard children against the spread of the coronavirus on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India.   © Reuters

2:05 a.m. Zimbabwe expects to receive 2.5 million doses of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine by the end of this month, Reuters reports, citing remarks by the African nation's information minister

12:30 a.m. The Biden administration is unlikely to meet its goal of vaccinating 70% of adults in the U.S. against the coronavirus by July 4.

White House COVID czar Jeff Zients is set to announce progress in vaccination efforts and will say that 70% of adults over 30 have been vaccinated, according to remarks seen in advance, but it will take several weeks after July 4 to reach that goal for all adults.

Zients will note younger people are more reluctant to get the jab.

Tuesday, June 22

10:50 p.m. Lithuania will donate 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus vaccine to Taiwan, its government says. Read more here.

9:55 p.m. India has detected 22 cases of the new "delta plus" strain, a mutation of the delta coronavirus variant, the health ministry says.

The delta variant, a "variant of concern" that was first detected in India and became a key driver of the country's second wave of infections, has now been reported in 80 countries. Delta plus, currently a "variant of interest," has been found in India and nine other nations: the U.S., the U.K., Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan tells reporters.

India's delta plus cases -- 16 of them in Maharashtra state and the rest in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh -- look "fairly small in terms of numbers but we would not want this to assume significant proportions," Bhushan says. The health ministry has advised the three states on a public health response.

8:30 p.m. One of the most prominent faces in the Olympic host city's efforts to contain the coronavirus, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, is taking the rest of this week off to rest, public broadcaster NHK reports, saying she is suffering from excessive fatigue.

6:00 p.m. A U.S. donation of Moderna vaccine to Taiwan is a boost to President Tsai Ing-wen's government, which has suffered a drop in public approval and come under pressure to accept Chinese vaccines.

It is also a sign that the Biden administration is continuing to strengthen its relationship with Taiwan as the island deals with diplomatic, economic and military pressure from Beijing.

"Everyone knows that the donation by the U.S. is very significant," says Arthur Ding, a professor emeritus at the National Chengchi University in Taipei. Read more here.

Free vaccines against COVID-19 are now being offered to tourists in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, as well as to local citizens.   © Reuters

5:40 p.m. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is offering tourists free COVID-19 vaccinations that were previously restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders. There is no indication that the change applies to Dubai, the most populous emirate, or the other five emirates that make up the UAE. Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines.

5:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 435 new infections, up from 236 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases stands at 405, up 8% from a week ago.

5:20 p.m. Russia reports 546 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since February, amid a surge in new cases that authorities have blamed on the delta variant. The government's coronavirus task force confirms 16,715 new cases for the past 24 hours, including 6,555 in Moscow, taking the national case total to 5,350,919.

5:10 p.m. Lithuania will donate 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan, its government says. The country in May said it would open a trade representative office this year in Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. The vaccines, requested by Taiwan, will be transferred by the end of September. "We'd like to do more, but we do what we can," Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte says.

3:30 p.m. Taiwan reports 78 new domestic infections, up from 75 a day earlier.

1:39 p.m. India administers a record 8.6 million vaccine doses during the past 24 hours -- double the previous single-day high, achieved in early April. Credit is going to the federal government's revised inoculation policy that calls for free jabs for all of India's 940 million adults. Meanwhile, India reports 42,640 new infections and 1,167 deaths, bringing the country's totals to 29.98 million cases and 389,302 fatalities. This is the first time in three months that daily cases have fallen below 50,000.

11:40 a.m. Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, reports 10 new local infections, its biggest rise in nearly a week, prompting authorities to extend a mask mandate in Sydney for a week.

10:37 a.m. Tokyo stocks rebound from yesterday's sharp decline during morning trade, with the benchmark Nikkei Stock Average at one point jumping over 700 points, or 2.5%. Gains are seen across the board, especially in cyclical sectors like shipping companies. Investors were spooked last week over the U.S. Federal Reserve's hawkish outlook on raising interest rates, but fears seem to have eased as the market processes the Fed's guidance.

Tokyo stocks rebounded in morning trade on June 22 from the previous day's sharp decline, as market players processed U.S. Fed guidance hinting at higher interest rates sooner than expected. (photo by Tetsuya Kitayama)

9:50 a.m. China reports 25 new cases for Monday up from 17 a day earlier. Of the new cases, two were local infections in southern Guangdong province, while the rest were imported cases. The number of new asymptomatic infections rose to 27 from 19 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

9:05 a.m. Cuba says its three-shot Abdala vaccine against the coronavirus has proved 92.28% effective in last-stage clinical trials. The announcement came just days after the government said another homegrown vaccine, Soberana II, had proved 62% effective.

5:10 a.m. The U.S. has laid out a plan to share 55 million COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, with roughly 75% of the doses allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program. The other 25%, or roughly 14 million doses, will be shared with "regional priorities," including Colombia, Argentina, Iraq, Ukraine, the West Bank and Gaza, the White House said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation address in this file photo.   © Reuters

3:45 a.m. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte tells citizens he will put in jail those who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"You choose: vaccine, or I will have you jailed," Duterte says in a televised address following reports of low turnouts at several vaccination sites in the capital, Manila. The country is battling one of the worst outbreaks in Asia, accumulating over 1.3 million cases and more than 23,000 deaths.

"Don't get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country," Duterte says. "I'm just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government."

The message contradicts health officials, who say choosing to receive the vaccine is voluntary.

Duterte also defended his decision to keep schools closed.

3:11 a.m. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says all remaining lockdowns and curfews will be lifted in the country, starting July 1. At present, Turkey has a full lockdown on Sundays and curfews on all remaining days after 10:00 pm. Public transportation restrictions and curbs on inter city travel will be lifted as well. The number of daily cases in Turkey has fallen rom record high of above 60,000 in April to some 5,000.

Monday, June 21

6:51 p.m. Indonesia reports 14,536 new infections, its biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic and taking its overall cases past the 2 million mark.

Municipal workers carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim at a burial area in Jakarta on June 21.   © Reuters

6:30 p.m. Hong Kong's government says it will shorten the quarantine period for vaccinated people arriving in the city to seven days from 14 days provided travelers show sufficient antibodies against the coronavirus. Leader Carrie Lam says the new measures are only applicable to people who had their second vaccination dose at least 14 days before arrival. The rule change is due to take effect from the end of the month.

5:27 p.m. Olympic organizers decide to limit spectators to 10,000 or up to 50% of capacity per venue during the Tokyo Games, which open on July 23. The decision comes a day after the Japanese government lifted a state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the Olympics may be held without spectators if the COVID-19 situation worsens and he has to declare another state of emergency. Only Japan residents will be allowed to attend Olympic events.

5:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 236 new infections, down from 376 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in Japan's capital edged up by 3% from a week ago to 391.

A man receives an AstraZeneca shot at a Buddhist temple in New Taipei City as Taiwan's COVID transmissions slow.   © Reuters

3:20 p.m. Taiwan reports 75 new domestic infections, down from the previous day's figure of 107. It was the first time the daily figure has fallen below 100 since May 15, when the government raised the alert level for Taipei and its neighboring city in the wake of a sudden spike of 180 domestic cases.

2:10 p.m. Indonesia will tighten mobility restrictions in some areas for two weeks starting from Tuesday after a rise in cases, including limiting the number of workers in offices and barring religious activities at places of worship, a minister says. The country reported 13,737 new infections on Sunday, the highest daily rise since Jan 30, with deaths from the respiratory disease also rising.

1:15 p.m. New Zealand's medicines regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. "After careful consideration of the most up-to-date scientific and medical data available, Medsafe has announced provisional approval for our young people to be given the Pfizer vaccine," Ardern said in a statement.

1:05 p.m. Japan's benchmark Nikkei Stock Average falls sharply after indications that the U.S. Federal Reserve could move away from ultra-easy monetary policies sooner than expected. The Nikkei index dropped over 1,100 points, or 4%, at one point to its lowest level since May 17. The benchmark declined below the 28,000 mark, with shares in 97% of the index's 225 companies trading lower.

11:40 a.m. South Korea reports 357 new cases, down from 429 a day earlier and marking the lowest number of daily infections in three months. The country's cumulative total stands at 151,506 cases with 2,004 deaths.

11:38 a.m. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday is slated to begin no-cost COVID-19 vaccinations for all citizens over 18 years old -- about 940 million people. This takes over procurement of vaccines from the states, which had been struggling to arrange doses on their own.

10:30 a.m. China reports 17 new cases for Sunday, down from 23 a day earlier. Of the new cases, one was a local infection in southern Guangdong province, while the rest were imported cases. The number of new asymptomatic infections fell to 19 from 20 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

9:00 a.m. A coach in Uganda's Olympic team tested positive for COVID upon arrival in Tokyo on Saturday night. Uganda Olympic Committee President Donald Rukare says the coach, who has not been named, has no symptoms. The entire Uganda Olympic delegation had been fully vaccinated with two shots of AstraZeneca.

An employee at a unit of NTT Docomo receives a COVID-19 shot in Tokyo on Monday as part of the Japanese mobile carrier's workplace vaccination program. (photo by Masayuki Kozono)

7:00 a.m. Big Japanese companies and universities kick off workplace vaccinations as the government hopes to speed up the country's slow inoculation ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start on July 23. The total number of people to be vaccinated at their workplace should exceed 13.7 million. Japan downgraded the state of emergency in Tokyo and eight other prefectures on Monday as infections have slowed down.

4:00 a.m. The Philippines has signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, its biggest coronavirus vaccine deal to date. Deliveries of the vaccine will begin in late September, said Carlito Galvez, head of the government's COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

Sunday, June 20

7:39 p.m. Vietnam has received a shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China, plus 502,400 disposable syringes, the Health Ministry says. The Southeast Asian nation authorized the vaccine for emergency use in early June.

6:32 p.m. Indonesia reports 13,737 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily figure since Jan. 30, bringing cumulative cases there to nearly 2 million. The country also reports 371 new deaths, the most daily fatalities since early April, taking its cumulative death toll to 54,662.

5:07 p.m. South Korea will relax social distancing rules and allow private gatherings of up to six people in the greater Seoul area starting July 1, up from the current four, the government says. Ceilings will be lifted altogether outside greater Seoul. The announcement comes as South Korea had at least partly vaccinated 29.2% of its population as of Saturday, putting it on track to meet a target of 70% by September.

3:58 p.m. The Philippines has signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, CNN Philippines reports, citing the the government vaccine czar.

2:21 p.m. Some emergency medicine officers overseeing Tokyo Olympics venues are calling on the organizers to bar all spectators over COVID-19 risks, Reuters reports. Organizers are to decide as early as Monday whether to let domestic spectators attend the games. Foreign spectators have already been barred.

1:06 p.m. India reports 58,419 new COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily tally in nearly three months.

Saturday, June 19

9:05 p.m. Reuters reports that a senior U.S. administration official says the country will ship 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan on Saturday, more than tripling Washington's previous allocation of shots for the island.

According to the report, the 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna vaccine will leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan's China Airlines early on Saturday and arrive in Taipei on Sunday evening.

9:00 p.m. Indonesia will receive 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly made by Pfizer and BioNTech, with the first batch expected in August, a senior health ministry official says.

"Pfizer vaccines will start arriving from August, with shipments of between 7.5 million to 12 million doses per month," says Siti Nadia Tarmizi, adding that the supply is the result of a direct government purchase.

7:37 p.m. India's central government urges states to be careful in reopening from COVID-19 lockdowns to prevent a resurgence of infections in the hard-hit country. Indian states are easing restrictions as a second wave of coronavirus infections appears to abate.

However, the nation reports 60,753 new COVID-19 cases and 1,647 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to a government statement.

Since the easing of restrictions, crowds and traffic have filled the streets in cities across India, threatening another spike in infections in the world's second-most populous country.

5:10 p.m. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says all live public viewing events during the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in the Japanese capital will be canceled. After holding talks with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the governor tells reporters that some of the six venues planned to be used for the screenings will instead be used for COVID-19 vaccinations.

2:47 p.m. Cambodia reports 20 deaths from COVID-19, a record for a single day, as the country detects its first delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant.

2:20 p.m. The airport in China's southern city of Shenzhen enacts a rule that anyone entering the premises must show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours before entry. The instruction, posted on the airport's official WeChat page, follows an outbreak of new cases in southern China since late May that has seen lockdowns in certain neighborhoods and the cancellation of flights.

China reported 30 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland for June 18, up from 23 infections a day earlier, the country's health authority says. Of the new cases, six are local infections in southern Guangdong Province, while the rest are imported cases, the National Health Commission says.

12:25 p.m. Argentine laboratory Richmond says it has produced almost half a million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, the first made in Argentina, according to Reuters. The vaccines await approval from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology and Russia's Gamaleya Institute for their release, Richmond says in a tweet.


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

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