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 man receive a dose of the Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in a mobile clinic during a vaccination campaign organised by the Ministry of Health, after the increase in the number of people infected with the Coronavirus in Baghdad, Iraq on August 10, 2021.
A man receive a dose of the Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in a mobile clinic during a vaccination campaign organised by the Ministry of Health, after the increase in the number of people infected with the Coronavirus in Baghdad, Iraq on August 10, 2021. (AP)

Thursday, August 12

US ships more than 500,000 doses of vaccine to Iraq

The US government will ship just over 500,000 vaccine doses to Iraq, with the shots due to arrive in the Middle Eastern country on Saturday, a White House official said.

President Joe Biden first disclosed the plans last month during a White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in which the two leaders agreed the United States would end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.

The United States plans to provide Iraq with 503,100 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Iraq under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program, the official said.

Turkey administers over 81.4M doses

Turkey has administered over 81.48 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, according to official figures released. 

The country continues its intensive vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as everyone 16 and over is eligible for vaccine shots. 

According to the Health Ministry, over 43.31 million people have gotten their first doses, while more than 31.81 million are now fully vaccinated.

The ministry also confirmed 22,261 new infections and 138 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, while as many as 15,685 more patients recovered.

Former Myanmar strongman Than Shwe suffering from virus

The former longtime military ruler of Myanmar, Than Shwe, has been diagnosed with the virus and is expected to remain hospitalised for two weeks, an official said.

Than Shwe, 88, was admitted along with his wife to the Thaik Chaung military hospital in the capital, Naypyitaw, about three or four days ago after they both tested positive, a hospital employee said.

Palestinians get 150,000 doses of Pfizer virus vaccine

The Palestinian Authority said it had taken delivery of 150,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, amid an upsurge of cases in the occupied West Bank.

A Health Ministry statement from the Ramallah-based PA said that of four million doses ordered from the pharmaceutical giant, one million have been received so far.

The rest should be delivered in batches by the end of the year, it added.

Italy reports over 7,200 new cases

Italy has reported 30 deaths against 31 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 7,270 from 6,968.

Italy has registered 128,334 deaths 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 4.42 million cases to date.

Britain reports over 33,000 cases

Britain has recorded 33,074 new cases and 94 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus.

That compares with 29,612 new cases and 104 deaths on Wednesday. 

US health secretary mandates jabs for health care staff

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has mandated its health care workforce to get vaccinated, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra announced.

Staff at the Indian Health Service (IHS), focused on American Indians, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be impacted by this decision, according to an HHS statement.

Those affected include over 25,000 employees, contractors, trainees, and volunteers whose duties put them in contact or potential contact with patients at an HHS medical or clinical research facility.

Vietnam concerned over vaccine supply as cases near record

Vietnam's government has said it was facing a tense situation over rising cases and a shortage of vaccines, as the country saw another day of near-record cases from its longest and most severe outbreak yet.

Most of the 9,667 new infections were in the epicentre Ho Chi Minh City and its neighbouring industrial provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai. 

The Health Ministry said there were 326 new deaths, taking overall fatalities to 4,813.

Cambodia starts vaccine booster drive to shore up defence

Cambodia has started offering vaccine booster shots in a renewed public health drive after managing to inoculate more than half of its population.

One of Asia's poorest countries, Cambodia is offering the AstraZeneca vaccine as a third shot to those who have received the inactivated virus vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac, with the aim of bolstering immunity against the Delta variant.

South Korea turns testing booth contactless

A South Korean hospital has upgraded a testing booth to become a mobile contactless clinic that can test people and enable telemedicine for basic treatment.

Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital says it has developed the one-stop clinic to protect staff and free them from the burden of wearing full-body protective gear in the sweltering heat.

Patients enter rooms that seal automatically to reduce the spread of pathogens. Nurses reach patients through windows fitted with rubber gloves, while doctors can speak remotely through video systems.

Kenyan oxygen maker to double production to meet demand

Kenya's oxygen production firm Hewatele is doubling production this year to keep up with surging demand from hospitals that are treating critically ill patients, the company has said.

Demand for the commodity has more than doubled to 880 tonnes from 410 tonnes before the pandemic, the ministry of health said, causing a steep shortage due to lack of installed capacity.

The East African nation is confronting a severe fourth wave of infections that is putting pressure on health facilities.

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.

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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies