South Africa to Make Pfizer Shots; Indonesia Curbs: Virus Update

Singapore shut its Marina Bay Sands casino for two weeks after detecting a Covid cluster, adding to outbreaks linked to karaoke nightclubs and a fishery port that prompted renewed social restrictions.

Indonesia tightened rules across the country after a record daily toll of 1,383 deaths, with curbs in Java and Bali now equivalent to previous emergencies. In Australia, Queensland’s border with New South Wales will close from 1 a.m. Friday to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading. Cases in Sydney jumped.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged more Americans to get vaccinated as the pandemic is only raging among those who haven’t taken shots. Data in Texas showed the vast majority of Covid fatalities among the unvaccinated. The American Hospital Association backed medical centers mandating Covid vaccinations for healthcare workers.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

Thailand, South Korea Report Record Cases (8:54 a.m. HK)

Thailand reported 13,655 new infections on Thursday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, taking the nation’s cumulative cases to 453,132, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

South Korea reported a record 1,842 cases as health authorities added 270 sailors infected on a Navy destroyer conducting anti-piracy operations in the Middle East. The sailors were flown back to the country Tuesday. Excluding the ship outbreak and imported cases, local transmissions fell to 1,533 from 1,726 a day earlier.

Queensland to Close New South Wales Border (8:51 a.m. HK)

Queensland’s border with New South Wales will close from 1 a.m. Friday to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading, state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a tweet.

In New South Wales, Sydney’s daily Covid cases hit their highest number since the city’s current outbreak began and are expected to keep rising. The city of almost 6 million people recorded 124 new cases in the community Thursday, fueled by the highly-contagious delta variant. Infections have reached 1,648 cases since the outbreak began in mid-June.

Read: Australia’s Covid Cases Rise With Half of Country in Lockdown

Biden Says Pandemic Only Among Unvaccinated (8:48 a.m. HK)

President Joe Biden urged more Americans to get vaccinated, saying that the coronavirus is only raging among those who have not received their shots and that those under 12 years old will be able to get inoculated “soon.”

“We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination,” Biden said Wednesday night during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati.

Covid Shots for Chilean Children Under 12 (8:40 a.m. HK)

Chile expects to start offering Covid-19 vaccinations to children under the age of 12 by September, as the nation presses ahead with one of the world’s fastest inoculation campaigns.

The government’s procurement plans include shots for youth in that age range, Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yanez said in a Bloomberg TV interview. Jabs from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. are a candidate for when the inoculation drive expands, given their efficacy against the virus and safety record, he said.

Singapore Closes Casino as Cluster Forms (6:45 a.m. HK)

The Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore will shut for two weeks after authorities detected a Covid cluster, the latest to emerge after an outbreak at a fishery port that made the government reimpose social restrictions.

Eleven Covid cases have been linked to the casino owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., prompting the decision to close until August 5 for deep cleaning to break the spread of the virus, the Health Ministry said in statement on Thursday.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

New Orleans Ask Residents to Wear Masks Indoors (6:40 a.m. HK)

The City of New Orleans asked residents to wear a mask indoors when with people who are not members of their immediate family. Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno cited “alarming transmission data” in the last two weeks.

“People who continue to refuse to take the lifesaving COVID vaccine are now also putting the entire community in jeopardy,” Avegno said, according to an emailed statement. “We must take action now to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant.”

India’s Actual Death Toll (6:20 a.m. HK)

India’s actual death toll from Covid-19 could range between 1.3 million to a staggering 5 million, with even the most conservative estimate putting its tally at more than double the U.S., the highest recorded in the world so far.

The numbers, derived from research models and local authority data, range from three to 10 times the country’s official count, adding to evidence that the true cost of India’s outbreak has been massively under-reported.

Texas Fatalities Mostly Among Unvaccinated (5:48 a.m. HK)

In Texas, 99.5% of the 8,787 people who died due to Covid-19 from Feb. 8 to July 14 were unvaccinated, the Texas Tribune reported, citing preliminary numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Some 0.5% — 43 people — died after “breakthrough infections,” which the department defines as people who contracted the virus two weeks after being fully vaccinated, the Tribune said. The rate of deaths has slowed dramatically since vaccines became widely available in April, it said.

Texas reported the most confirmed infections in more than three months and hospitalizations climbed. There were 3,621 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily total since April 13, department figures showed. Hospitalizations have more than doubled so far this month and now stand at 3,566.

More than 51,000 Texans have died from the virus, although no new fatalities have been reported in four of the past five days.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

Hospital Group Backs Vaccine Mandate (5:08 a.m. HK)

The American Hospital Association backed medical centers mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for health-care workers.

The group said hospitals mandating vaccinations should provide exemptions for medical reasons. Hospital workers were among the first in the U.S. to be offered the inoculations and an increasing number of hospitals have been requiring them for employees.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

Breakthrough Cases Expected at White House (5 a.m. HK)

The White House is likely to record breakthrough Covid cases “statistically speaking” because there are more than 2,000 people on its grounds every day, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. Officials continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say masks aren’t required for fully vaccinated people.

President Joe Biden hasn’t had to change his behavior or self quarantine, Psaki added. Her comments came a day after she confirmed a fully inoculated staff member had tested positive for Covid. She has said there have been other breakthrough Covid cases among vaccinated White House staffers but hasn’t provided details.

Ivory Coast to Buy 3.5 Million J&J Doses (3:10 p.m. NY)

Ivory Coast plans to buy 3.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines by December, while neighboring Burkina Faso received a donation of 150,000 J&J shots from the U.S. despite concerns about the inoculation’s side effects.

NYC to Require Vaccines for Health Workers (12:55 p.m. NY)

New York City will begin requiring Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing of all workers in its public hospitals and clinics in an attempt to slow an increase in cases.

The highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India, now makes up 69% of tested cases in New York City, data show. Delta has driven a recent increase in cases, especially among the unvaccinated.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

About 60% of the city’s more than 42,000 public hospital employees have been vaccinated, according to Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive officer of the system. Citywide, 65% of all adults have received their shots.

Zambia Takes Delivery of J&J Doses (10:30 a.m. NY)

Zambia on Wednesday took delivery of 151,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the U.S. through the World Health Oranization-backed Covax facility.

The single-dose vaccine is the third to be used in the southern African nation, after it earlier began inoculations using AstraZeneca and Sinopharm shots. Zambia has reported 188,573 cumulative coronavirus cases and 3,162 deaths.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

Indonesia Shifts to Variable Curbs (8:37 a.m. NY)

Indonesia will use a four-level movement-restriction strategy that varies from city to city based on how badly affected they are, before a plan to begin easing the curbs next week.

The government will start to remove the limits on July 26 if the number of new virus cases continues to decline, said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto. Java and Bali are placed at the highest levels of 3 and 4, with rules that are equivalent to the previous emergency curbs.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has become a new epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic. It had its deadliest day in the outbreak so far, with 1,383 people dying from the disease on Wednesday even as new cases eased to the lowest in two weeks. Hospitals across the country remain overwhelmed as the highly transmissible delta variant rages through the nation.

Singapore Closes Casino, Indonesia Tightens Rules: Virus Update

Pfizer Joins With Biovac for Africa Shots (7:15 a.m. NY)

Pfizer Inc. reached an agreement to start production of its vaccine at a facility in Cape Town to deliver more than 100 million doses annually to African nations. Pfizer and its German vaccine partner, BioNTech SE, signed a letter of intent with Biovac Institute, a company partially owned by the South African government, to manufacture the shots.

The companies expect to bring Biovac’s Cape Town-based facility into their broader coronavirus vaccine supply chain by the end of 2021, and to begin producing finished doses in 2022. At full capacity, Biovac is expected to produce more than 100 million doses a year, all of which would be distributed to the more than 50 member states of the African Union. The financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

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