Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.2 million people and infected more than 198.3 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for July 31:

Health care workers move a dead body to a container after a hospital morgue overwhelmed by Covid-19 deaths begun to store bodies in refrigerated containers, Pathum Thani, Thailand, July 31, 2021.
Health care workers move a dead body to a container after a hospital morgue overwhelmed by Covid-19 deaths begun to store bodies in refrigerated containers, Pathum Thani, Thailand, July 31, 2021. (Reuters)

Saturday, July 31:

As cases surge, Thai hospital uses containers to store bodies

A Thai hospital morgue overwhelmed by Covid-19 deaths has begun storing bodies in refrigerated containers, resorting to a measure it last took in a devastating 2004 tsunami, as the country grapples with its biggest coronavirus outbreak.

At Thammasat University Hospital near the capital Bangkok, a 10-freezer morgue usually handles up to seven autopsies a day. But the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic means it now has to deal with more than 10 bodies daily.

Hospitals in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces are running out of capacity due to the surge in infections.

Turkey administered over 73.13M vaccine shots so far

Turkey has administered more than 73.13 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, according to figures.

The country continues its intensive vaccination campaign to curb the spread of coronavirus, as everyone age 18 and over is eligible for vaccine shots.

According to Health Ministry data, over 40.98 million people have gotten their first dose, while more than 27.26 million are fully vaccinated.

Turkey is also administering a third Covid-19 vaccine shot, and 4.88 million such doses have been given.

To date, 66.03 percent of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose.

The ministry also confirmed 22,332 new infections and 79 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, while as many as 5,107 more patients recovered.

Thousands protest against Covid-19 health pass in France

Thousands of people have protested in Paris and other French cities against a mandatory coronavirus health pass for entry to a wide array of public venues, introduced by the government as it battles a fourth wave of infections.

Protesters injured three police officers in Paris, a police spokesperson said.

It was the third weekend in a row that people opposed to President Emmanuel Macron's new Covid-19 measures have taken to the streets, an unusual show of determination at a time of year when many people are focused on taking their summer break.

Italy reports 16 deaths, 6,513 new cases

Italy reported 16 coronavirus-related deaths, down from 18 the day before, the health ministry has said, and the daily tally of new infections fell to 6,513 from 6,619.

Italy has registered 128,063 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.35 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 1,85 1 on Saturday, up from 1,812 a day earlier.

There were 25 new admissions to intensive care units, up from 20 on Friday and the total number of intensive care patients increased to 214 from a previous 201.

Some 264,860 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, up from a previous 247,486, the health ministry said.

Germany may not pay for tests of unvaccinated

Germany’s government plans to stop covering the cost of rapid coronavirus tests, according to the nation’s health ministry.

“Health Minister Jens Spahn already said weeks ago that he thinks it’s conceivable for the government to stop offering free tests to unvaccinated people at a later date,” the ministry told the German news agency dpa. No exact date has been set.

The confirmation comes after a report in the Bild newspaper, which said the government would stop paying for tests as soon as everyone has had the opportunity to receive two doses of vaccine, meaning late September or early October.

Britain's cases down by 33 percent over past week

Britain has reported 26,144 new cases of Covid-19, government data showed, meaning the fall in cases between July 25 and July 31 stood at 33% compared with the previous seven days.

A further 71 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, taking the seven-day increase to 9.2%.

A total of 46.81 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus by July 30 and 38.13 million people had received a second dose.

Vietnam to extend lockdown throughout southern region

Vietnam will from Monday extend strict curbs on movement in its business hub Ho Chi Minh City and another 18 cities and provinces throughout its south for another two weeks to help combat its worst Covid-19 outbreak, the government has said.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam is facing a rapid spread of infections that has led to movement restrictions in around one-third of the country. It has registered a total of 145,000 cases and 1,306 deaths, 85 percent of which were recorded over the past month.

Russia reports 23,807 infections

Russia has reported 23,807 new coronavirus cases, including 3,514 in Moscow, taking the national tally of infections to 6,265,873.

Russia's coronavirus task force said that 792 more deaths of coronavirus patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, raising the country's death toll to 158,563.

UK urges pregnant women to get vaccinated given variant risks

British health authorities have urged more pregnant women to get coronavirus jabs after a national study found the Delta variant appeared to increase their risk of severe symptoms.

England's top midwife has urged pregnant women to get the jab as new data showed an increase in severe illness among pregnant women hospitalised with virus symptoms.

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, wrote to GPs and midwives urging them to encourage expectant mothers to get a jab.

Pakistan locks down Karachi amid new surge

Pakistani authorities have imposed a lockdown in the southern Sindh province, including the commercial hub of Karachi and other urban centres, amid an alarming increase in cases.

The lockdown began on Saturday and is set to last until August 8, despite opposition from the federal government and the local business community.

Nationwide, Pakistan reported 65 deaths and 4,950 new virus cases in the past 24 hours. The South Asian country has reported 1,029,811 confirmed cases and 23, 360 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Bangladesh workers rush back despite virus surge

Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers have rushed back to major cities, besieging train and bus stations, after the government said export factories could reopen despite a deadly wave.

With the economy badly hit by the pandemic, the government excluded the factories that supply top brands in Europe and North America from a nationwide lockdown order.

Authorities had ordered factories, offices, transport and shops to close from July 23 to August 5 as daily infections and deaths hit record levels.

Rwanda lifts lockdown on capital

Rwanda's government has ordered the lifting of a lockdown on the capital Kigali and eight other districts even though cases are still on the rise.

The new measures will run from August 1-15, the government said in a statement after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Friday.

Movement between Kigali and other provinces and districts of the country can resume, but a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in place.

All social gatherings are still banned and schools and churches remain closed, but weddings are allowed with a limit of 10 guests.

Tokyo daily infections hit record high as Olympics continue

Newly reported cases in Olympic host city Tokyo have surged to a record high of 4,058, the metropolitan government said, exceeding 4,000 for the first time and overshadowing the Games.

Amid intensifying concerns, Tokyo Olympics organisers said they had revoked accreditation of a Games-related person or people for leaving the athletes' village for sightseeing, a violation of measures imposed to hold the Olympics safely amid the pandemic.

Russia reports over 23,800 new cases

Russia has reported 23,807 new cases, including 3,514 in Moscow, taking the national tally of infections to 6,265,873.

Russia's coronavirus task force said that 792 more deaths of patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, raising the country's death toll to 158,563.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 290,000 deaths from April 2020 to May 2021.

China reports 55 new cases as Delta variant spreads

China has reported 55 new cases in the mainland for July 30, compared with 64 cases a day earlier, the health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement 30 of the new infections were local cases, compared with 21 the previous day. There were no new deaths.

The other 25 cases were imported infections originating overseas.

Demo demands Malaysia PM quit over pandemic response

Hundreds of young people in Malaysia have rallied in central Kuala Lumpur, demanding the country's prime minister resign over what they view as his mismanagement of the pandemic.

Public anger has built up against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's unelected government, which took power in March 2020, as infections in Malaysia grew nearly eight-fold to more than 1 million despite a virus emergency in January and a lockdown since June 1.

Total deaths in Malaysia have soared to nearly 9,000. Daily cases surpassed 10,000 on July 13 for the first time and set a record Wednesday of nearly 17,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins count.

WHO urges action to suppress Covid before variants emerge

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is a warning to the world to suppress the virus quickly before it mutates again into something even worse, the WHO has said.

The highly-transmissible variant was first detected in India. It has now surfaced in 132 territories and is partly to blame for an 80 percent rise in coronavirus deaths in Africa over the past four weeks, the World Health Organization said.

"Delta is a warning: it's a warning that the virus is evolving but it is also a call to action that we need to move now before more dangerous variants emerge," the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: "So far, four variants of concern have emerged – and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread."

Though Delta has shaken many countries, Ryan said proven measures to bring transmission under control still worked.

"The same measures that we have applied before will stop that virus," notably physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and avoiding long periods indoors in poorly ventilated, busy places.

"They are stopping the Delta strain, especially when you add in vaccination.

But we need to work hard," he said.

Tedros said that on average, infections increased by 80 percent over the past four weeks in five of the six WHO regions.

Thailand reports daily record of new coronavirus cases and new deaths

Thailand has reported a daily record of 18,912 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country's total accumulated cases to 597,287. 

The country also reported 178 new deaths, also a daily record, taking total fatalities to 4,857.

Mexico records 19,346 more cases, 459 deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has recorded 19,346 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 459 fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,829,443 and the reported death toll to 240,456.

Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane to enter lockdown

Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane and other parts of Queensland state will enter a snap Covid lockdown from Saturday as authorities race to contain an emerging outbreak of the Delta strain.

Millions of residents in the city and several other areas will be placed under stay-at-home orders from Saturday afternoon for three days, state Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

Brazil reports 40,904 new cases, 963 deaths 

Brazil has recorded 40,904 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 963 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 19.8 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 555,460, according to ministry data. 

Study: Vaccinated people can carry as much virus as others

In another dispiriting setback for the nation’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, scientists who studied a big Covid-19 outbreak in Massachusetts concluded that vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.

Health officials on Friday released details of that research, which was key in this week's decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the US where the delta variant is fuelling infection surges.

The authors said the findings suggest that the CDC's mask guidance should be expanded to include the entire country, even outside of hot spots.

The findings have the potential to upend past thinking about how the disease is spread. Previously, vaccinated people who got infected were thought to have low levels of virus and to be unlikely to pass it to others. But the new data shows that is not the case with the delta variant.

Disney mandates vaccines for on-site US employees

Walt Disney has announced it was making vaccination mandatory for all its on-site salaried and non-union hourly employees in the United States, as the highly infectious Delta Covid-19 variant drives a resurgence in cases.

Disney added that they would require any newly hired employees to be fully vaccinated before beginning their employment.

This news comes as major tech companies including Alphabet's Google, Facebook, and Uber this week said that all of its US employees must get vaccinated to step inside their offices.

Health authorities on Tuesday said Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should go back to wearing masks in indoor public places in regions where the coronavirus is spreading rapidly.

Uganda eases Covid curbs as admissions fall

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ordered an easing of a six-week Covid lockdown following a dramatic reduction in serious cases of the disease.

Infections had soared during a second wave driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant but since the lockdown, the authorities say daily admissions of severe and critical patients dropped from a daily peak of 204 to 50 currently.

Under the new measures, most public and private transport is set to resume from Monday, although bus operators were ordered to limit passengers to 50 percent of vehicle capacity.

Schools and places of worship are to stay closed and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in force but the number of employees allowed to go to their offices will increase from 10 to 20 percent of the workforce.

According to health ministry figures, Uganda has registered 93,927 Covid cases of which 2,690 have been fatal, although privately senior clinicians say the true number of deaths is likely to be much higher.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies