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

A medical worker takes a swab sample at a nucleic acid testing station, following a COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China
Mass COVID-19 testing will take place in Shanghai.
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter
  • 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: Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 make up 70% of US COVID-19 cases; Chinese cities order fresh COVID-19 curbs; Sweden warns over summer COVID-19 cases.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 555.4 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.35 million. More than 12.14 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer for delivery of the Paxlovid pill used to treat COVID-19.

Australia has announced an expansion of the rollout of fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines as it grapples with a rise in hospital admissions fuelled by new Omicron subvariants.

Sweden's health minister warned on 7 July that the country is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and healthcare systems can expect to feel pressure over the summer.

A rise in COVID-19 infections has seen Cyprus reintroduce face masks a month after removing the requirement.

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy exceeded 100,000 last week for the first time since early February.

Ireland is planning extensive COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes amid concerns about a winter surge in both diseases.

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12-15. It had previously been available under an emergency use authorization.

Macau, SAR, will shut almost all its commercial and industrial businesses - including its casinos - for a week from today (11 July), in an effort to slow a spread in COVID-19 cases.

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

2. Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 make up 70% of US COVID-19 cases

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron are now estimated to make up a combined 70.1% of the COVID-19 variants in the United States, according to data released on 5 July by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They were added to the World Health Organization's monitoring list in March and designated as variants of concern by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

It comes as the World Health Organization gave us more detail last week about the emergence of a new potential Omicron sub-variant - BA.2.75.

3. Chinese cities order fresh COVID-19 restrictions

Cities across China are introducing new COVID-19 restrictions - from business pauses to lockdowns - in an effort to halt new infections. The city of Shanghai will hold another round of mass testing after detecting the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.

The highly-transmissible BA.5, which is driving outbreaks in many countries outside China, has shown signs of greater ability to escape vaccine-triggered antibody reactions than some other Omicron subvariants, health officials have said.

In Qinyang, in the central province of Henan, nearly 700,000 residents are in lockdown, while new COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced in the cities of Lanzhou, Danzhou and Haikou.

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