Covid-19 pandemic has infected at least 195 million people and killed more than 4.1 million around the world. Here are updates for July 26:

An Iraqi boy sells medical masks at a popular market in central Baghdad, as the country records 12,180 Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours.
An Iraqi boy sells medical masks at a popular market in central Baghdad, as the country records 12,180 Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. (AFP)

Monday, July 26:

Iraq records over 12,000 infections

Iraq has recorded 12,180 infections over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, the highest number the country has detected in a day so far in the pandemic.

More than 1.5 million people have now tested positive and 18,347 have officially died in Iraq, where the health infrastructure is dilapidated and much of the 40 million population remains sceptical of vaccines.

Rwanda extends lockdown amid Delta variant spike

Rwanda has extended a lockdown in the capital Kigali and eight other districts as it battles a surge in infections caused by the Delta variant.

A 10-day lockdown imposed on July 17 in Kigali and the districts of Burera, Gicumbi, Kamonyi, Musanze, Nyagatare, Rubavu, Rwamagana, and Rutsiro was due to end on Monday.

However, the government announced late on Sunday that the restrictions will remain in place until at least July 31.

Greece will start vaccinating 12-15 yr-olds in August

Greece will open vaccinations to youngsters aged 12-15 in August, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias has told local television.

Vaccination for this group has been approved and will be optional, he said.

The programme is expected to start from Friday.

NYC orders vaccines or weekly tests for all public workers

New York City will require all of its municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — to get vaccines by mid-September or face weekly testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced.

The rule is expected to affect about 340,000 city employees, making the city one of the largest employers in the US to take such action. 

While it isn't a vaccine mandate — no workers will be forced to take a shot — officials hope the inconvenience and discomfort of weekly tests will persuade many to overcome a reluctance to get inoculated.

Bhutan vaccinates most of population after donations

Bhutan has inoculated most of its eligible population with second doses of vaccinations in a week, in a speedy rollout hailed by UNICEF as a "success story" for international donations.

More than 454,000 shots were administered over the past week in the remote Himalayan kingdom — just over 85 percent of the eligible adult population of more than 530,000 people — after a recent flood of foreign donations.

Mauritius sees surge in cases

The Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius has seen a dramatic surge in infections over the past week, but almost all are symptom-free, officials said.

Mauritius recorded 1,067 new cases last week — about a third of the 3,528 declared since the virus was first detected there in March 2020, according to official figures.

Senegal's overwhelmed in capital as virus surges

Senegal's Health Ministry has said that hospitals in the capital Dakar were "close to saturation" due to a surge in patients, with overworked medical personnel facing burnout.

The West African country has suffered a third wave of virus infections in recent weeks, with cases rising from a few dozen a day late last month to about 1,700 in July.

Health authorities have registered most of the new cases in Dakar, a city of over three million people.

Iran's daily caseload exceeds 30,000 in new high

Iran's daily caseload has crossed the 30,000 mark for the first time, its health ministry said, marking a second record daily high within a week.

In the past 24 hours, Iran registered a record 31,814 new infections to bring its total number of positive cases since the start of the pandemic to 3,723,246.

It also recorded 322 additional deaths, taking the total to 89,122.

Indonesia loosens Covid-19 curbs

Small shops, streetside restaurants and some shopping malls have reopened in coronavirus-battered Indonesia after the government loosened a shutdown despite warnings it could unleash another Covid-19 wave.

President Joko Widodo said that a partial lockdown imposed in early July would continue until August 2 even as the highly infectious Delta variant tears across the vast archipelago nation, which has overtaken India and Brazil to become the global pandemic epicentre.

But restrictions on many small businesses, including traditional markets and ubiquitous open-air eateries known as warungs, were loosened even in the worst-hit areas.

Shopping malls and mosques in less affected parts of the Muslim majority nation also got the green light to open their doors to limited crowds and shorter hours.

Offices were still under shutdown orders, although there have been widespread reports of employers flouting earlier lockdown rules.

Indonesia to receive 45 million doses of vaccine in August

Indonesia is expecting to receive 45 million more doses of vaccines in August, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a virtual news conference.

They will include vaccines from Sinovac, Moderna and Pfizer, he said.

Budi also said that hospital bed occupancies have gone down in its capital city of Jakarta, but are rising outside of Java island.

Pakistan reports highest daily cases in 2 months

Pakistan has reported more than 3,700 new cases, the highest single-day toll since May 22, as the Delta variant is spreading across the country, according to official data.

In the past 24 hours, the country registered 3,752 additional infections, bringing the caseload to over 1 million, the Health Ministry count showed.

On May 21, Pakistan recorded 4,007 cases that slowly declined to 663 on June 21, but has seen spikes again since July 6.

The fatalities also rose as the country reported 32 more deaths, raising the total number to 23,048, while 927,599 people have so far recovered.

The authorities already warned that Pakistan could move to the fourth wave if the public avoids following safety precautions.

China reports 76 virus cases, highest daily rise since January

China has reported 76 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily rise since January, including 40 domestic transmissions prompting authorities to test millions in eastern Jiangsu province.

Beijing has a zero-risk approach to the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. It locks down cities and performs mass testing whenever small clusters appear.

"Of the 40 domestic cases, 39 were from Jiangsu province and one from Liaoning," the national health commission said in a statement, adding there had been no new deaths.

Tens of thousands of people are under lockdown in Jiangsu's provincial capital Nanjing as authorities test the city's 9.2 million residents for a second time after an outbreak linked to its airport last week.

Singapore says almost 80 percent of population to be fully vaccinated by September

Almost 80 percent of Singapore's population will be fully vaccinated against by early September, the city state's health minister Ong Ye Kung said.

About 54 percent of the country had already received both doses of an mRNA vaccine, Ong told parliament. Singapore has approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna .

South Korea says Moderna has informed it of vaccine production issue

South Korea has been informed by Moderna of a production issue involving its vaccine, a health ministry official told a briefing. 

Heathrow Airport calls for UK to open up to vaccinated travellers

Britain's Heathrow Airport has called on the government to open up the country to vaccinated travellers from the European Union and United States from the end of this month to help fuel a travel recovery after another torrid six months.

Heathrow, which before the pandemic was the busiest airport in Europe, said that fewer than four million people travelled through it in the first half of 2021, a level which would have been surpassed by 18 days worth of 2019's traffic.

"The falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions," Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said in a statement.

For the six months to June 30, Heathrow posted an adjusted loss before tax of $1.08 billion (787 million pounds), compared to the 471 million loss for the same period last year which was only half affected by the pandemic.

Kazakhstan reports record daily cases

Kazakhstan reported 6,637 new cases, a daily record for the Central Asian nation which is once again tightening restrictions to curb the fresh spike in infections.

The government also reported 84 cases of pneumonia with negative PCR tests which were likely to be caused by Covid-19.

Most infections were reported in the former Soviet republic's two biggest cities, Almaty and Nur-Sultan, where authorities last week limited the working hours of businesses such as restaurants and shopping malls and closed some venues altogether such as indoor swimming pools.

About 5.1 million people have received at least one vaccine shot in the country of 19 million which borders Russia and China, and 3.3 million have been fully inoculated. 

India reports 39,361 new cases

India reported 39,361 new cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

India's total cases now stand at 31.4 million, according to a Reuters tally, making it the second-most affected country after the United States. 

The death toll rose by 535 deaths in the last 24 hours, with the total reaching 420,551, health ministry data showed.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 958

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 958 to 3,756,856, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 3 to 91,527, the tally showed. 

Olympics: Tokyo Games organisers report 16 new Games-related cases

Tokyo Olympics organisers have reported 16 new Games-related cases, bringing the total number since July 1 to 148.

The Games, which officially opened on Friday, are being held without fans as infections have been on the rise in recent weeks, with Tokyo recording 1,763 cases on Sunday. 

French parliament OKs restaurant COVID pass, vaccine rules

France's parliament has approved a law requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers.

Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns.

The law requires all workers in the health care sector to start getting vaccinated by September 15, or risk suspension. It also requires a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and some other public venues.

It initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone 12 and older starting September 30.

To get the pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus. Paper or digital documents will be accepted. The law says a government decree will outline how to handle vaccination documents from other countries.

Meanwhile, around 160,000 people protested around France earlier on Saturday against a special Covid-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Many marchers shouted “liberty!” and said the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.

Brazil registers 476 deaths

Brazil has registered 476 new coronavirus deaths, the health ministry said, bringing the total in the Latin American nation to 549,924.

Cases rose by 18,129 to 19,688,663.

Ghana aims to receive 18 million vaccine doses by October

Ghana hopes to receive over 18 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines before October as it struggles to contain a third wave of infections, President Nana Akufo-Addo has said in a speech.

Cases of Covid-19 are rising fast in parts of West Africa, in part due to the arrival of the Delta coronavirus variant which is considered more transmissible than other variants.

The increase has provided a conundrum for African countries, most of which have escaped the levels of infection and serious illness seen in other regions. Many are reluctant to enter lockdown because of the impact on the economy but at the same time have been unable to procure vaccines at the pace of richer countries.

"Our nation is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections," Akufo-Addo said. "These increased infections have largely been driven by the Delta variant."

Over 101,000 people in Ghana have caught coronavirus and over 800 have died since the pandemic began.

To combat a rise in infections, Ghana's government is in the process of buying 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the African Medical Supplies Platform in the third quarter of this year, the president said.

This would be supplemented by 1 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the United States, nearly 230,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the African Union and 249,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Kingdom in the same period.

South Africa 'largely' passes third wave peak, eases restrictions

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the country had "largely" passed the peak of its third coronavirus wave and eased restrictions, including a ban on alcohol sales.

The African country worst hit by the virus went back into a partial lockdown last month to stem a surge in Covid-19 cases widely attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Ramaphosa said the average number of daily new infections had stood around 12,000 over the past week, a 20 percent drop from the previous week.

While new daily cases have declined steadily in the most populous Gauteng province – the third wave's epicentre – infections are still rising in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces, he cautioned.

But Ramaphosa still announced the easing of restrictions on gatherings, in-country travel and alcohol sales with almost immediate effect. A nighttime curfew remains in place and face masks are still mandatory, he added.

To date South Africa has recorded over 2.3 million coronavirus cases – more than a third of all recorded cases in Africa – of which at least 69,775 have been fatal.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies