Novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 4.2 million lives infecting at least 19.6 million people around the world. Here are updates for July 29

Daily infections in Turkey have surged in recent weeks from a low of 4,418 on July 4.
Daily infections in Turkey have surged in recent weeks from a low of 4,418 on July 4. (AA Archive)

Thursday, July 29:

Britain warns Covid could infect half Myanmar in next two weeks

Britain's UN ambassador has warned that half of Myanmar's 54 million people could be infected with Covid-19 in the next two weeks as Myanmar's envoy called for UN monitors to ensure an effective delivery of vaccines.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military ousted an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias. 

The United States, Britain and others have imposed sanctions on the military rulers over the coup and repression of pro-democracy protests in which hundreds have been killed.

Turkey's daily Covid-19 cases dip slightly, still above 22,000

Turkey's new coronavirus cases amounted to 22,161, dipping slightly from a day earlier when they hit the highest level since early May, according to the Health Ministry data that also showed a daily death toll of 60 people.

Daily infections have surged in recent weeks from a low of 4,418 on July 4. 

On Wednesday there were 22,291 cases. 

Pakistan to bar unvaccinated public sector staff, teachers

Pakistan will ban air travel for anyone without a Covid-19 vaccine certificate from August 1 and will require all public sector workers to get vaccinated by August 31, the government announced along with a host of other restrictions.

From August 31, unvaccinated staff will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants or shop ping malls, said Asad Umar, who heads National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military-run body that oversees the pandemic response, at a joint news conference with the health minister in Islamabad.

Teachers and students above 18, public transport and retail staff will also be required to get vaccinated, they said.

Pakistan has seen coronavirus infections soar, dominated by Delta variant, and its poor health infrastructure is under extreme pressure.

Britain reports 31,117 daily Covid-19 cases, 85 deaths

Britain has reported 31,117 Covid-19 cases, an increase on the 27,734 reported a day earlier and a second consecutive rise in the daily total after cases fell each day over the previous week, government data showed.

Britain also reported 85 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, compared with 91 on the previous day.

Australia track and field athletes isolating

Multiple members of Australia's Olympic track and field team were placed in isolation after a positive coronavirus case involving US pole vault world champion Sam Kendricks, Athletics Australia said.

The Athletics Australia statement did not say how many Australian athletes were isolating. 

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 3,520 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 3,520 to 3,769,608, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 10 to 91,702, the tally showed.

Mexico posts 19,028 more cases, 537 deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry recorded 19,028 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 537 fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,790,874 and the reported death toll to 239,616. 

Emergent to resume J&J vaccine production at Baltimore plant

Emergent Biosolutions (EBS.N) said it would resume production of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) vaccine at its troubled Baltimore facility, where operations were stopped in April after millions of doses were found to be contaminated.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, cited a letter from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) saying the agency had no objections with the plant resuming manufacturing. 

US authorities in April halted operations at the Baltimore plant following a discovery that ingredients from AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) Covid-19 vaccine, also being produced there at that time, contaminated a batch of J&J's vaccines.

China reports 49 new cases amid Delta outbreak in Nanjing

China reported 49 new Covid-19 cases, down from 86 a day earlier, according to the national health authority, amid an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant in the eastern city of Nanjing.

Local infections accounted for 24 of the cases that were detected on Wednesday, down from 55 the previous day, the National Health Commission said.

Most of the local cases were reported in the eastern province of Jiangsu, it said, where Nanjing is the provincial capital.

India reports 43,509 new virus infections

India reported 43,509 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the government said in a statement.

Cambodia to impose lockdowns in areas bordering Thailand

Cambodia is set to launch a lockdown in eight provinces bordering Thailand, in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.

Prime Minister Hun Sen signed an order for the lockdown, which bans people from leaving their homes, gathering in groups and conducting business, except for those involved in operating airlines.

Border checkpoints with Thailand will also be closed except to allow for the transport of goods and in emergencies, Hun Sen said, adding the lockdown was due to run until August 12. 

World pole vault champion Kendricks out of Olympics after Covid positive

Two-time world pole vault champion Sam Kendricks was ruled out of the Tokyo Games after testing positive for coronavirus, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed.

Kendricks won back-to-back gold medals at the 2017 and 2019 world championships and was one of the main contenders for the title in Tokyo along with Swedish world record holder Armand Duplantis.

The charismatic 28-year-old, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is now in isolation, the USOPC added.

Two Games-related virus cases hospitalised

Two Games-related people from overseas with Covid-19 have been hospitalised but neither case is serious, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said. 

MLB Nationals game postponed for Covid-19 tests, tracing

Four players and eight staff members for the Washington Nationals tested positive for Covid-19, forcing postponement of their scheduled Major League Baseball game at Philadelphia.

The decision to push the game back to Thursday as part of a doubleheader against the Phillies came to allow time for more testing and contact tracing, according to an MLB statement.

Testing in the wake of Turner's positive result showed three other players and eight staff members had contracted Covid-19 and were forced to quarantine.

India’s Morepen makes first test batch of Russia’s Sputnik V shot

Indian drug manufacturer Morepen Laboratories has begun production of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for marketing the shot internationally, said.

The first test batch made by the Indian manufacturer in the state of Himachal Pradesh will be shipped to Gamaleya, the Moscow institute which developed the vaccine, for quality controls, RDIF said in a statement.

Britain reports 27,734 daily cases, first rise in a week

Britain reported 27,734 Covid-19 cases, an increase on the 23,511 reported a day earlier and a first rise in the daily total after seven consecutive days of lower cases, government data showed.

Britain also reported 91 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, compared with 131 on Tuesday.

Google and Facebook say on-campus workers must be vaccinated

Google and Facebook said workers returning to offices will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in the latest move by firms and US government agencies.

Google will make campuses off-limits to unvaccinated employees and extend its global work-from-home option through October 18, according to chief executive Sundar Pichai.

Implementation will be adapted to local conditions, including vaccine availability, according to the Silicon Valley based tech titan.

Virus deaths, cases on rise in Arab countries

Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Libya announced more coronavirus cases and deaths as they continued efforts to contain the disease.

Jordan’s Health Ministry said in a statement that 1,055 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. The latest cases took the country’s total to 768,382.

Another 21 virus-caused deaths were recorded, taking the death toll to 10,000.

Meanwhile, 661 more people won the battle against the coronavirus, taking the recovery tally to 749,025.

Blinken pledges to supports WHO probe into Covid origins

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in Kuwait where he pledged his support to the UN agency's investigation in China into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The US supports the @WHO plans for additional studies into Covid-19 origins, including in (the People's Republic of China), to better understand this pandemic and prevent future ones," Blinken tweeted after arriving in the Gulf Arab state.

The meeting with Tedros had not been on the US diplomat's published schedule.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Blinken "stressed the need for the next phase (of the investigation) to be timely, evidence-based, transparent, expert-led, and free from interference."

Thailand reports daily record of 17,669 cases

Thailand has reported a daily record of 17,669 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 561,030 since the start of the pandemic last year.

The country also reported a record 165 Covid-19 deaths, also a daily record, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,562.

Australia's New South Wales reports biggest daily caseload

New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reported its biggest daily rise in Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began as residents of state capital Sydney face another month under tough curbs to stamp out an outbreak of the Delta variant.

A total of 239 locally acquired cases were detected, up from 177 a day earlier.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said vaccinations alone would not bring an end to a Covid-19 lockdown in Sydney.

Morrison hoped the extended lockdown and tougher curbs on movement enforced in the worst affected regions of Sydney could contain the "incredibly virulent" Delta variant.

New Zealand gives provisional nod to AstraZeneca vaccine

New Zealand's health regulator Medsafe has granted provisional approval for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older, acting minister for Covid-19 response, Dr Ayesha Verrall, has said.

New Zealand secured 7.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through an advance purchase agreement with the company last year.

The country has only been using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine so far.

Cuba says Iran to start producing one of its vaccines

Iran will next week become the first country outside of Cuba to start producing one of the Communist-run island's homegrown Covid-19 vaccines on an industrial scale.

Iran and Cuba will produce millions of doses of Soberana 2 in the Middle Eastern country under the name PastuCovac, Finlay Institute chief Vicente Vérez Bencomo said during a visit to Tehran this week, according to Cuban state-run media.

The allies are under fierce US sanctions that they say have long encumbered access to medicines and medical inputs, motivating them to be self reliant. Both have produced a raft of experimental Covid-19 vaccines.

Preliminary Cuban data from late-phase clinical trials suggests its Soberana 2 and other most advanced Covid-19 vaccine Abdala are among the world's most efficient, with more than 90 percent efficacy, although critics say they will remain skeptical until it publishes the figures in international, peer-reviewed journals.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies