COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this week

A woman walks a dog while wearing a protective face mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the SoHo section of Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 7, 2021.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 is estimated to make up 80% of circulating variants in the United States. Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Joe Myers
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  • This weekly COVID-19 news roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top COVID-19 news stories: Australia battles fresh Omicron wave; WHO warning over rising cases in Europe; US President Joe Biden tests positive.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 570.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.38 million. More than 12.3 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New Zealand is experiencing its highest COVID-19 death rate, as the country battles a wave of the Omicron strain of the virus.

US President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but was continuing to work while in isolation.

New confirmed COVID-19 cases hit a record in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday of last week. It's the first time daily confirmed infections in the city have exceeded 30,000.

Germany's vaccine advisory panel will be expanded to include more experts on pandemics, following some criticism about the speed of the recommendations the panel gave during the COVID-19 pandemic.

China's southern megacity of Shenzhen has vowed to "mobilize all resources" to curb a slowly spreading COVID-19 outbreak. It has ordered strict implementation of testing and temperature checks, and lockdowns for COVID-affected buildings.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 18 and above.

It comes as the BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 has been estimated to make up nearly 80% of circulating variants in the United States.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries Image: Our World in Data
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2. Australia battles fresh Omicron wave

Australia is tackling a fresh wave of the highly contagious Omicron variants. The country's daily COVID-19 death toll topped 100 for the first time on Saturday, and today (25 July) it reported a record number of hospital admissions.

About 5,450 Australians were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 on Monday. More than 1,000 retirement homes have suffered outbreaks, the government said.

The country is reporting its highest daily numbers since its first Omicron wave earlier this year, with 89 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday and 90 on Wednesday. Just over 55,600 new cases were recorded on Thursday, the highest since 18 May.


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3. European health officials need to tackle rising COVID-19 cases: WHO

Countries in Europe need to accelerate vaccine uptake and bring back mask-wearing to tackle rising COVID-19 cases, otherwise they risk needing stricter measures later in the year, a World Health Organization (WHO) official has warned.

In an interview with Reuters, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge urged countries to take action now to avoid overwhelming health systems in the autumn and winter as Omicron subvariant BA.5 continues to spread rapidly.

Close to 3 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in Europe in the week beginning 11 July, accounting for nearly half of all new cases globally.

"There is a rise in cases ... amidst a society which is functioning almost as before," Kluge said. He stressed the need for "pandemic stabilizers" – such as a second booster dose ahead of the expected variant-specific vaccines in the autumn, as well as the promotion of mask-wearing and better ventilation.

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