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Ningbo-Zhoushan Port partially closes as virus surges

Covid-19 has killed more than 4.3M people and infected over 205M globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for August 12:

A VLCC oil tanker is seen at a crude oil terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port, Zhejiang province, China.
A VLCC oil tanker is seen at a crude oil terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port, Zhejiang province, China. (Reuters Archive)

Thursday, August 12

Ningbo-Zhoushan Port partially closes as virus surges

Authorities in China have suspended operations at a terminal in the world’s third busiest cargo port after a worker was infected with the virus.

The closure of a key terminal at the Ningbo-Zhoushan port on the east coast, which handled almost 1.2 billion tons in 2020, reflects China’s determination to squash its worst coronavirus outbreak in months no matter the economic costs.

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The worker at the port’s Meishan terminal tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday, Ningbo city officials said.

Finland’s infections hit new daily record

Finland has registered a record number of new infections in the space of a day, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said.

The total of 1,024 new infections beat a peak hit in March this year. Hospital admissions also increased.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced plans a week ago to make Finns show proof of vaccination before visiting restaurants and other leisure services, as well as to start vaccinating 12- to 16-year-olds.

France to share 670,000 vaccine doses with Vietnam

France will share 670,000 vaccine doses with Vietnam to help the Asian country tackle the virus, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

Russia reports record-high 808 deaths

Russia has reported a record-high 808 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours and 21,932 new cases, including 2,294 in Moscow.

Russia’s daily reported cases have gradually dipped from a peak in July that authorities blamed on the infectious Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.

Malaysia reports record 21,668 new cases

Malaysia has reported 21,668 new cases, a new daily record.

Malaysia has recorded more than 1.34 million cases overall.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 5,638

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 5,638 to 3,805,063, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 17 to 91,834, the tally showed.

South Korea considers mandating hospitals provide more ICU beds

South Korea is considering mandating its largest hospitals provide at least 1.5% of their intensive care beds for severe patients as such cases rise along with record new infections, two sources familiar with the plan.

While the country has a relatively low mortality rate – 0.98% as of Wednesday – the more contagious Delta variant and a rise in domestic travel over summer have contributed to a spike in severe coronavirus patients, many of them young and unvaccinated.

Severe cases jumped from 145 as of July 10 to 372 , official data showed. Of the severely ill patients, 62.1% were between aged 20 to 59.

Top Japan health advisor wants stricter measures

Japan’s top health advisor has said he would request stricter emergency measures for about two weeks to tackle a spike in cases in Tokyo and other areas.

Shigeru Omi told reporters the contagion should treated as a natural disaster and he called on the government to increase testing to find and contain the spread.

A few days after the end of the Tokyo Olympics, the capital reported 4,989 new daily cases, down slightly from record 5,042 last week. The new number of patients with serious symptoms increased to an all-time daily high of 218.

Mask wars overshadow opening of US schools

Top Republicans are battling school districts in their own states’ urban, heavily Democratic areas over whether students should be required to mask up as they head back to school, reigniting ideological divides over mandates even as the latest virus surge ravages the reddest, most unvaccinated parts of the nation.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has issued an executive order threatening to cut funding from school districts that defy a statewide ban on classroom mask mandates. He’s now suggesting his office could direct officials to withhold pay from superintendents who impose such rules anyway.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is threatening to withhold funding to schools in his state’s capital of Columbia over masking rules, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to enforce a similar order against mask mandates — despite large school districts around the state, including Dallas and Austin, promising to go ahead with classroom face covering requirements.

California mandates vaccines for all teachers

All teachers in California will have to be vaccinated against the virus or submit to weekly virus tests, the state’s governor announced as authorities grapple with exploding infection rates.

The number of people testing positive for the disease has surged across the United States in recent weeks, with the highly infectious Delta variant blamed for the bulk of new cases.

That has worried parents and educators as the most populous state in the country readies to send its largely unvaccinated children back into classrooms for the new school year.

Australia’s capital Canberra to enter virus lockdown

Australia’s capital Canberra has been ordered into a seven-day lockdown after a single case was detected in the city that has largely avoided virus restrictions.

About 400,000 people in the nation’s political hub will be under stay-at-home orders from 5:00 pm local time, joining millions more already under lockdown in Australia’s southeast.

Puerto Rico requires vaccinations in food, drink sector

Puerto Rico’s governor has announced that employees of restaurants or other enclosed places that serve food or drinks will have to get vaccinated, and customers will have to show a vaccination card or a negative virus test.

The new rules, which take effect August 23, come as the US territory faces a spike in infections blamed largely on the delta variant. Those who do not comply face up to six months in jail or up to a $5,000 fine.

“As governor, I have the responsibility … of taking the necessary measures to guarantee everyone’s health,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Sydney reportedly faces tougher lockdown as Delta outbreak grows

Police in Sydney will be given greater powers to enforce lockdown orders with additional military support to stem a growing outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, The Australian newspaper reported.

With the outbreak growing by the day despite seven weeks of lockdown, police would be empowered to stop residents using loopholes in restrictions to travel outside the city, the newspaper reported.

The move comes after several outbreaks in regional towns across New South Wales (NSW) state, of which Sydney is the capital, raising fears the virus is spreading out of control.

The state government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New Zealand to let in vaccinated travellers

New Zealand plans to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries from early next year as part of a phased reopening of its borders that were shut last year due to the pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

Ardern said the government will move to a new individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel from the first quarter of 2022 that will establish low-, medium- and high-risk pathways into the country.

Vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries can travel quarantine-free, while those from medium- and high-risk countries will have to go through a combination of quarantine measures ranging from self-isolation to spending 14 days in quarantine.

“We’re simply not in a position to a fully reopen just yet. When we move we will be careful and deliberate, because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as possible,” Ardern said in a speech at a forum about reconnecting New Zealanders to the world.

California becomes first US state to order teachers to get vaccine or test

California has become the first US state to require that its teachers and other school staff be vaccinated or regularly tested, a move Governor Gavin Newsom called “a responsible step” to ensure the safety of children.

The move comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s statewide ban on mask mandates hit its second legal setback after a judge in Dallas County temporarily blocked it from being enforced amid a nationwide rise in coronavirus cases.

Abbott and fellow Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida have faced defiance over their statewide orders that prevent local officials from deciding whether to require that masks be worn.

Masks have become a divisive issue, often splitting the country along political lines, despite near universal agreement among health experts that they can limit the spread of the virus.

Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases top 3 million

Mexico has reported 22,711 more cases, according to official data, pushing the total number of confirmed cases over 3 million.

Mexico also reported an additional 727 fatalities, bringing the overall death toll to 246,203.

All told, Mexico has now registered 3,020,596 coronavirus infections.

Brazil reports 975 deaths

Brazil has recorded 32,443 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, along with 975 deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 20 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 565,748, according to ministry data.

British ministers reportedly drawing up plans to cut thousands of civil service jobs

British ministers are drawing up plans to cut thousands of civil service jobs as part of a three-year review of government spending, The Times newspaper has reported.

The UK Treasury has told departments to identify cuts in day-to-day budgets before the spending review this autumn, the newspaper said, citing sources.

Ministers and officials have been told they need to reverse headcount increases as a result of Brexit and the coronavirus outbreak, according to the newspaper.

Civil service unions have been told most of the cuts will be achieved by not recruiting externally when officials leave jobs, The Times said.

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