COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 12 July

Police officers conduct a security sweep of the Tokyo Olympic Main Press Center in Tokyo, Japan July 12, 2021.   REUTERS/Edgar Su - RC2QIO9X1CA1
Tokyo has entered a state of emergency ahead of the Olympics.
Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su - RC2QIO9X1CA1
  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Lockdowns extended in South Africa, Sydney; Tokyo enters state of emergency; Boris Johnson urges for caution as restrictions lifted in UK.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 186.8 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.03 million. More than 3.42 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

South Africa extended tight COVID-19 rules on Sunday for another 14 days, maintaining restrictions that include a ban on gatherings, a curfew, and a ban on the sale of alcohol. The worst-hit country on the African continent, South Africa is in the grip of a third wave.

The prospect of an extended lockdown in Sydney loomed on Monday as Australian health officials reported yet another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases for the year, fuelled by the Delta variant. Case numbers have been at record levels for at least three days.

Thailand implemented its toughest coronavirus restrictions in more than a year on Monday in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, with new curbs on movement and gatherings imposed and widespread suspensions by airlines and bus firms.

South Korea reported 1,100 new coronavirus cases for 11 July, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Monday, as the country's toughest anti-COVID curbs take effect in Seoul in an attempt to quell its worst-ever outbreak.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged for caution as he prepares to remove nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England from 19 July. In a statement released on Sunday, he said: "Cases will rise as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear. Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress."

Scientists at Imperial College London have found a pattern of rogue antibodies in the blood of a small number of people with 'long Covid', which could lead to a simple blood test for the condition, according to the BBC.

A 90-year-old Belgian woman who died from COVID-19 in March had contracted two variants of coronavirus at the same time, which is believed to be the first documented case of its kind, a scientific congress and Belgian media said on Sunday.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people.
How daily COVID-19 cases are rising and falling across the globe.
Image: Our World in Data

2. Tokyo enters state of emergency

Olympic host city Tokyo entered a fresh state of emergency on Monday, less than two weeks before the Games begin, amid worries whether the measures can stem a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Tokyo recorded 614 new cases on Sunday, the 22nd straight day of week-on-week gains.

The Games, postponed from last year because of the pandemic, run from 23 July to 8 August, while the state of emergency – the capital's fourth – lasts until 22 August, shortly before the Paralympics begin.

Organizers last week announced that spectators would be banned from nearly all venues and officials are now asking residents to watch on TV.

"We would ask people to support athletes from home," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on a Sunday TV programme.

World No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic said on Sunday he was "50-50" about competing at the Tokyo Olympics following the decision to ban fans from attending and limits on the number of people he can take to the Games.

Some of the sport's biggest names, including Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios and Serena Williams have already announced they will skip the Games.

Japan has recorded more than 815,440 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths. Only about 28% of the population has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

3. Ardern to chair APEC meeting on COVID-19

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will chair an informal meeting of leaders from countries in the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC this week to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects, APEC host New Zealand said Monday.

It will be the first time that APEC leaders have held an additional meeting before their formal gathering, due in November, and reflects the desire to address the impact of the pandemic, Ardern said in a statement.

"APEC economies have suffered their biggest contraction since the Second World War over the past year, with 81 million jobs lost. Responding collectively is vital to accelerate the economic recovery for the region," Ardern said.

"I will be inviting discussion on immediate measures to achieve more coordinated regional action to assist recovery, as well as steps that will support inclusive and sustainable growth over the long term," she said.

The meeting will be held virtually on 16 July.

There have been more than 50 million cases of COVID-19 within APEC's borders, with more than 1 million deaths. APEC-wide GDP contracted by 1.9% in 2020.

The 21-economy group, which includes the United States, China and Japan, agreed in June to review trade barriers and expedite the cross-border transit of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods, but stopped short of a broad commitment to remove tariffs.

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