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

A sign for a COVID-19 vaccination centre
Vaccine manufacturers are working on updated COVID-19 shots.
Image: Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
  • 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: Macau to reopen after no infections for 9 days; Confirmed cases decline in the Americas; Japan urges action over rising infections.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 578.2 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.4 million. More than 12.35 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The US government has announced a deal with Moderna for 66 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine updated for Omicron.

Japan has urged regional authorities to take steps to contain rising confirmed COVID-19 cases, which hit a record high last Thursday.

And on the same day, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Russia hit their highest daily total since 13 April.

Pfizer and BioNTech have started a mid-stage study of a modified version of their COVID-19 vaccine targeting the original strain as well as the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

The BA.5 Omicron subvariant was estimated to make up more than 80% of circulating COVID-19 variants in the United States in the week ending 23 July.

Lockdown has returned to a suburb of the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the coronavirus was first recorded – after new cases were detected.

Confirmed COVID-19 infections are falling in the United Kingdom, dropping by more than half a million in just one week to stand at 3.2 million, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

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. Macau to reopen city after no COVID-19 infections for 9 days

Macau SAR, China, is set to reopen public services and entertainment facilities, and to allow dining-in at restaurants after detecting no new COVID-19 cases for nine straight days. Beauty salons, fitness centres and bars will also be able to reopen from 2 August.

Health authorities will require residents to wear masks when they go out and to show a negative coronavirus test within three days to enter most venues.

"There have been no community infection cases in Macau for nine consecutive days ... and the risk of the spread of the coronavirus has been greatly reduced," the authorities say.

The former Portuguese colony has reported around 1,800 infections since mid-June, when its biggest coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of casinos and locked down most of the city.

3. COVID-19 cases fall in the Americas

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have decreased in the Americas for the first time in five weeks, the Pan American Health Organization said last week.

But its director, Carissa Etienne, warned that countries need to remain vigilant to COVID-19 and other diseases, including monkeypox. “Being healthy and safe from disease is an action, not a guarantee,” Etienne told a media briefing.

Despite an overall drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases, she warned that numbers remain high. Canada reported a 20% increase in new cases over the week to 27 July, while hospitalizations increased in Cuba, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sublineages are becoming dominant in the region, she said. But vaccine coverage remains much lower in the Americas than elsewhere.

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