The Red Cross says a surge of coronavirus infections with the delta variant is overwhelming hospitals in Southeast Asia and outpacing vaccinations.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also warned that a widening global divide in vaccinations is slowing Southeast Asia’s efforts to battle the pandemic.
Thailand is reporting nearly 10,000 new infections daily, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Vietnam have surged past 2,000 a day, almost 10 times more than in early June.
Malaysia shut down a mass vaccination centre on Tuesday after more than 200 medical staff and volunteers tested positive for the coronavirus. The closure was the first of a vaccination centre and came as the country’s new confirmed infections breached five figures on Tuesday, hitting a record 11,079.
Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it was difficult to determine if the infections occurred at the centre, while stressing that swift government action had stopped the cluster.
He urged people who were vaccinated at the centre from Friday onward to isolate themselves for 10 days in case they develop symptoms.
Deaths double in Malaysia despite lockdown
Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state bordering Kuala Lumpur, is the worst hit by the pandemic. It accounted for nearly half of Tuesday’s new cases, partly because of increased virus screening amid a tight lockdown.
The Malaysian government has struggled to contain the pandemic, which has worsened despite a lockdown since June 1. Total confirmed cases have soared by 50 per cent since June 1 to 855,949, while deaths have more than doubled to more than 6,200.
Hospitals, especially in Selangor, have been overwhelmed, with some patients reportedly being treated on the floor due to a lack of beds and corpses piling up in mortuaries.
Vaccinations have picked up, with 11 per cent of Malaysia’s population now fully inoculated. At least a quarter of the country’s 32 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Indonesia also logged a new record high on Tuesday, with the Health Ministry reporting 47,899 confirmed cases.
The daily virus count topped 40,427 cases on Monday. Hospitals are already bursting beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out, leaving individuals to cope with caring for sick friends and relatives at home. The surge in new cases is attributed to the highly transmissible delta variant.
At least 451 people who tested positive have died while self-isolating in their homes since last month, according to LaporCovid-19, an independent virus data group that keeps track of deaths at home. It noted many go unreported.
It says an average of 45 COVID-19 patients in self-isolation died at home each day in the capital Jakarta, citing data from the Jakarta Health Agency.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 12:34 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of Tuesday evening, Canada had reported 1,421,451 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 5,076 considered active. The country’s COVID-19 death toll stood at 26,450. More than 43.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to a CBC News tally.
British Columbia reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and no deaths.
In the Prairies, Alberta officials said the province had seen three more deaths and 35 more cases on Tuesday. In Saskatchewan, 27 new cases and zero deaths were tallied Tuesday. Manitoba reported one death Tuesday and 25 new cases.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, five new cases of COVID-19 were reported on a second ship anchored in Conception Bay on Tuesday. There were no new cases on land.
The only other new cases across Atlantic Canada on Monday and Tuesday were recorded in Nova Scotia. The province reported one new case on Monday and another case on Tuesday. There were no cases reported in New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island either day.
Across the North, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories both reported no new cases on Tuesday. Yukon reported four new cases, as organizers of the Adäka Cultural Festival cancelled the event for a second year due to the territory’s current outbreak.
In Quebec, health officials reported 54 new cases and no deaths on Tuesday.
Ontario on Tuesday reported seven additional deaths and 146 new cases of COVID-19.
“My brother is double-vaxxed, his wife is double-vaxxed, I am. You’d think that at some point if you present your certificate then one person at least could come in and visit and be part of the consultation,” says Oksana Kuryliw. <a href=”https://t.co/OF48cNc52c”>https://t.co/OF48cNc52c</a>
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Tuesday evening, more than 187.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than four million.
In Europe, nearly one million people in France made vaccine appointments in a single day, as the president cranked up pressure on everyone to get vaccinated to save summer vacation and the French economy. People younger than 35 made up 65 per cent of the new appointments. President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that vaccination would be obligatory for all health-care workers by Sept. 15 and held out the possibility of extending the requirement to other parts of the population.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that more people needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before restrictions could be lifted, following news that England will scrap nearly all curbs beginning next week. On July 19, England will lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to physically distance, in what one German official called “a highly risky experiment.”
In Africa, South Africa’s Health Department said on Tuesday that violent protests had disrupted the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and essential health-care services such as the collection of chronic medication by tuberculosis, HIV and diabetes patients.
The department said in a statement that it was temporarily closing some vaccination sites, noting that anyone with an inoculation scheduled in an area affected by ongoing unrest was advised to defer their vaccination.
In the Americas, El Salvador’s Congress voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to impose a 90-day ban on sporting events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings because of a surge in coronavirus cases. Face masks will be mandatory at any public event still allowed.
Officials reported 2,284 new cases in the first 10 days of July, 35 per cent more than in the same period of June.
In the Middle East, the death toll from a catastrophic blaze that erupted at a coronavirus hospital ward in southern Iraq the previous day rose to 92 on Tuesday, Iraqi medical officials said. Officials said scores of others were also injured in the fire that torched the coronavirus ward of al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the city of Nasiriyah on Monday.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea had recorded 1,440 new COVID-19 cases as of 9 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported, the country’s highest daily total — though vaccinations among the elderly and other vulnerable groups has limited serious infections.
–From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:45 p.m. ET