SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has set a new high in daily coronavirus cases for the third straight day as officials prepare to enforce the strongest social distancing restrictions in the greater capital area where transmission have surged following months of complacency.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Saturday that more than 1,000 of the 1,378 new cases were from capital Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, a region where officials from Monday will clamp down on private social gatherings of three or more people from 6 p.m. Nightclubs and churches will close, visitors will be banned at nursing homes and hospitals and weddings and funerals will be limited to family-only gatherings.
Dozens of new cases were each reported in major cities and regions across the country, including Busan, Daejeon, Ulsan, South Chungcheong Provine and South Gyeongsang Province.
After adding 9,700 cases in July alone, the country’s caseload is now at 166,722, including 2,038 deaths.
The surge is a worrisome development in a country where just over 30% in a population of 51 million have been administered their first doses of coronavirus vaccines.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— CDC: Vaccinated teachers and students in U.S. don’t need masks
— Lockdowns in Asia as some nations see 1st major virus surges
— Afghanistan getting vaccine doses donated by United States
— Spain, Portugal frustrated by shifting virus travel policies
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SAN FRANCISCO — California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall, despite new guidance issued Friday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings inside school buildings.
Ahead of new school guidelines expected next week, health officials in California said Friday that requiring face coverings will allow all schools to reopen this fall for full in-person instruction.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says that not all schools can accommodate physical distancing of at least 3 feet or more, so the best preventative measure is indoor masking.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas has reported its biggest surge in COVID-19 cases in more than three months with the faster-spreading delta variant becoming a growing public health issue.
Some of the biggest numbers of new cases per capita over the previous two weeks were in counties bordering Missouri. That state has had new cases spike recently because of the delta variant. Both Kansas and Missouri also have seen vaccinations slow amid some residents’ resistance to getting vaccinated.
Kansas health department data showed that the state had an average of 275 new COVID-19 cases a day for the seven days ending Friday. That was the highest seven-day average since March 26.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon’s $1 million COVID-19 vaccine jackpot winner is a fine arts student at Oregon State University.
Gov. Kate Brown handed Chloe Zinda a check on Friday.
Zinda, who is from McMinnville, says she plans to use the money to pay off student loans, pursue her dream as an artist and open her own studio.
As the state crawled towards its vaccination target of 70% of adults partially or fully vaccinated in the state, the governor announced a list of incentives in May and June for people who got their shot. Among the prizes were vacation packages and $100 gift cards.
But the largest prize was $1 million. Adults who received at least their first shot were automatically entered to win the jackpot.
There are also $10,000 prizes in each of Oregon’s 36 counties and people between the ages of 12 and 17 have a chance to win one of five $100,000 scholarships.
Officials say the winners will be announced in the coming weeks.
PHOENIX: Arizona on Friday reported 921 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, the biggest daily increase in two months, as the coronavirus continued to spread among unvaccinated people.
The additional cases along with six additional COVID-19 deaths reported Friday increased the state’s pandemic totals to 899,829 cases and 18,009 deaths.
The daily case report was the largest since Arizona reported 939 on May 8, and cases have ticked upward over the past month.
Unusually large daily case reports often occur after holiday weekends slow data collection or after public health officials clear data backlogs that occur for various reasons.
However, Friday’s case bulge didn’t reflect any delayed reporting of any significance and came during “an uptick of cases of late,” Department of Health Services spokesman Steve Elliott said in an email. “Cases being reported now are almost entirely among those who aren’t vaccinated.”
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling daily case average rose over the past two weeks from 473.1 on June 23 to 508.7 on Wednesday. The rolling average of daily deaths rose from 9.4 to 10.8 during the same period.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations continued to range between 500 and 600, with 535 virus patients occupying hospital beds as of Thursday.
JACKSON, MISS. -- Officials with the Mississippi Department of Health are advising that people who are 65 and older and those with chronic underlying medical conditions refrain from attending indoor mass social gatherings for the next few weeks because of a rising number of cases of coronavirus in the state — particularly the highly-transmittable delta variant.
“Our collective under-vaccination in the state has put us all at risk, especially the most vulnerable,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Friday during a virtual press briefing.
Mississippi ranks among the last U.S. states for the total number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 at 31% fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health. Just over 996,500 people in Mississippi are fully vaccinated.
Department of Health officials advised Friday that vulnerable people avoid indoor mass gatherings whether or not they are vaccinated, through at least July 26. They also advised that people who are not vaccinated wear a mask when in public settings.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said there has been a “modest” increase in cases and hospitalizations from coronavirus during the last few weeks, most of which are delta variant cases. He said he expects that to increase further as the weeks go on if people refuse to be cautious.
“It’s a disturbing and concerning trend that we’re seeing,” he said. “We’re certainly moving in the wrong direction.”
THE HAGUE — The Dutch government has reinforced measures to contain the coronavirus after a spike in new cases driven by the delta variant.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte says bars must close at midnight again starting this weekend and for much of the summer, while discotheques and clubs must fully close. “No fun, but necessary,” says Rutte.
The decisions came following a large increase in new infections, particularly among young people, rising to a level not seen since early May. Daily positive tests in the Netherlands increased to almost 7,000 cases, up from barely 1,000 a few weeks ago.
Along with early and full closures, social distancing will be reinforced. The measures are expected to last until Aug. 13.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani’s national body tasked to control coronavirus on Friday says it will be mandatory for all employees working for the private sector to get vaccinated before July 31.
Pakistan asked all adult students to get vaccinated before Aug. 31. In a statement, National Command and Operation Center also announced a ban on air travel for unvaccinated people starting Aug. 1.
Pakistan has already asked government employees to ensure their vaccination against the coronavirus this month.
Authorities say these measures were aimed at containing the steady surge in cases.
The latest development comes hours after Pakistan said there were clear signs that the fourth wave of coronavirus infections is starting in the Islamic nation. Pakistan has reported 969,476 confirmed cases and 22,520 virus-related deaths.
Albuquerque, N.M. — The University of New Mexico is encouraging students, faculty and staff get vaccinated against the coronavirus before returning to campus in August, but no longer plans to require it.
University President Garnett Stokes says in a campuswide email that vaccinations are key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus and the university is working toward a 100% vaccination rate.
However, the vaccine remains under emergency use authorization by the federal government, the university noted in a statement Thursday.
The university previously proposed a vaccine requirement, and a draft of the policy was posted to UNM’s website.
UNM officials continue to urge those who aren’t vaccinated to continue to wear a mask.
NEW YORK — U.S. health officials say vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new guidelines Friday. The changes come after a growing national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in recent months in COVID hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.
The nation’s top public health agency is not advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible kids.
The guidance generally leaves it to local officials to figure out how to ensure the unvaccinated are using precautions while letting those who are fully protected go mask-free. The biggest questions will be at middle schools where some students are eligible for shots and others aren’t.
At some of the nation’s largest school districts, widespread mask-wearing is expected to continue this fall. In Detroit’s public schools, everyone will be required to wear a mask unless everyone in the classroom has been vaccinated. Philadelphia will require all public school students and staff to wear masks inside buildings, even if they have been vaccinated. Masks won’t be mandated in Houston schools.
LONDON — The U.K. has seen daily coronavirus infections hit a near six-month high as coronavirus spreads among younger age groups.
Government figures Friday showed another 35,707 confirmed lab cases, the highest daily tally since Jan. 22 with more than 40,000 reported cases.
The recent spike has been due to the more contagious delta variant and mostly occurred among younger people, many of whom have yet to receive a first dose of vaccine.
With all remaining restrictions on social contact to be lifted in England on July 19, cases are expected to continue marching higher. The British government has said the daily case rate may hit 100,000 this summer, which would be a new high.
There is growing evidence the number of people requiring hospitalization and dying from COVID-19 are picking up pace, though not at the same rate as infections.
BANGKOK — Officials in Thailand have announced a seven-hour curfew and other restrictions for the capital and nine other provinces to try to slow a growing number of cases and deaths in a coronavirus surge.
People living in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces, along with four in the country’s far south, must stay at home from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., not hold gatherings of more than five people and avoid unnecessary travel.
The restrictions take effect on Monday. The greater Bangkok area will have more restrictions, including school closings.
Health authorities on Friday announced 9,276 new cases, bringing the confirmed total to 317,506. Seventy-two new deaths were confirmed for a total of 2,534. More than 90% of the cases and deaths have occurred since early April.
The spread has been fueled by the more contagious delta variant and a slow vaccination drive.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The Indonesia government announced it will use doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through the COVAX Facility.
Many health care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine. Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin says health workers will become the priority group, especially because of the new variants.
“We have not reached the vaccination target. So, it is important for us to give the third vaccination dose to the health care workers as they face the virus every day. We should protect them so they can focus on working,” he says.
The 4 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine are scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Sunday. The government is planning to start the third dose of vaccination next week.
Indonesia Food and Drug Monitoring Agency also announced the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna.