By The Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 711 new cases of the coronavirus as infections continued to grow in the greater capital area.
It was the third straight day of over 700 and the highest daily jump for a Monday since early January, when the country was enduring its worst wave of the virus.
Usually a smaller number of cases are reported at the start of the week, due to reduced testing on weekends, and the country’s caseload may grow faster over the next few days.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said around 550 of the new cases came from the populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials delayed a planned easing of social distancing measures to cope with a rise in transmissions.
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Cases were also reported in most of the major cities and towns across the country, including Busan, Daejeon and the North and South Gyeongsang provinces.
Health experts have relaxed concern over relaxed attitudes on social distancing and criticized the government for sending wrong signals by announcing plans to allow for larger gatherings and longer indoor dining hours.
Prime Minster Kim Bu-kyum during a virus meeting on Sunday urged public vigilance and tighter implementation of preventive measures. He criticized labor unionists for going ahead with an anti-government march attended by thousands in Seoul on Saturday despite official pleas to cancel the gathering.
The government had planned to relax social distancing restrictions nationwide at the start of July, raising the cap on private social gatherings from four to six people and allowing restaurants to extend indoor dining by two hours until midnight.
But officials in Seoul and nearby areas have held off the new rules as infections rose.
The country has so far reported 160,795 cases, including 2028 deaths. About 30% of the population have received at least one dose of vaccines.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
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— Europe in vaccination race against COVID-19′s delta variant
— Iran reimposes virus restrictions as delta variant spreads
— England hopes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon lift mask requirements
— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
President Joe Biden says the American people are closer than ever to declaring independence from a deadly virus.
The president made the comments Sunday at a July Fourth celebration at the White House.
He told the crowd of service members and first responders to think back to where this nation was a year ago and think about how far the nation has come.
During the brief and optimistic comments, Biden said that thanks to the power of science, the country is seeing a return to normal and the return of economic health.
But he warned that the nation has not defeated the virus, and he encouraged those who have not been vaccinated to get their shots. He said the vaccines are important for the nation to avoid where it was a year ago. The crowd at the upbeat event was chanting “Biden, Biden, Biden” as he came out to address them.
MOSCOW — Russia on Sunday reported more than 25,000 new cases of coronavirus infection, the largest number since January, as the country faces a sharp surge over the past month.
The national coronavirus task force said 663 patients died, down from the previous day’s 697, which was a record high.
The tally of 25,142 new cases was more than 2.5 times as high as daily new infections in early June. Moscow, St. Petersburg and the region surrounding Moscow accounted for about half the nationwide total cases.
Although the Kremlin says authorities are not discussing a lockdown, Moscow has imposed restrictions including requiring restaurant and bar patrons to show a code certifying they have been vaccinated or received a negative PCR test.
Throughout the pandemic, Russia has recorded 5.61 million infections and 137,925 deaths.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is requiring foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated as one of the entry requirements as the country tries to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Ganip Warsito, National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation Chief, said Sunday that starting on July 6, both foreigners and Indonesian nationals entering the country have to show digital or physical proof that they have been fully vaccinated.
The obligation to show vaccination cards can be excluded in some cases, including diplomatic visas and service visas, and during official visits at ministerial level.
The government is also extending the quarantine time for foreign travelers from five days to eight days.
Indonesia recorded 27,233 new COVID-19 cases and 555 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. It brings the total to 2,284,084 cases and 60,582 death tolls as of Sunday.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s health ministry on Sunday gave permission to re-open restaurants, hotels and indoor sports centers that had remained closed for several weeks due to a surge in the COVID-19 cases.
Gyms, salons and barber shops are also allowed to re-open the under new guidelines issued on Sunday.
But places of worship, cinemas, casinos and night clubs will continue to be closed.
However, the health ministry said the relaxed restrictions will be reviewed after two weeks.
The easing of some of the coronavirus restrictions came a week after Sri Lanka came out from a monthlong lockdown.
Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase of positive cases and deaths since April. The increases were attributed to celebrations and shopping by people during the traditional new year festival.
Sri Lanka’s total number of positive cases has reached 264,057 with 3,191 confirmed fatalities.
WASHINGTON — America’s top infectious disease expert says about 99.2% of recent COVID-19 deaths in the United States involved unvaccinated people. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable.”
He tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” it’s frustrating “where you have a formidable enemy” in the coronavirus and “yet we do have a countermeasure that’s highly, highly effective. And that’s the reason why it’s all the more sad and all the more tragic why it isn’t being completely implemented in this country.”
Fauci cites the reasons for opposition to the vaccine by some Americans, whether it’s “ideological” or whether some “are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science.”
He says the country does “have the tools to counter” the pandemic and he’s asking people to “put aside all of those differences and realize that the common enemy is the virus.”
Fauci notes the United States is “very fortunate” that it has “enough vaccines to vaccinate essentially everybody in the country. And there are people throughout the world who would do anything to get vaccines.”
The United States has registered over 605,000 deaths in the pandemic, the highest national toll in the world.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation on Saturday reported five additional COVID-19 cases and two more deaths.
A statement released by tribal officials said the additional deaths increased the tribe’s pandemic death toll to 1,356.
The statement did not provide an updated count of total cases among residents of the sprawling reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Tribal officials did not immediately respond to a query but a statement released Friday by the tribe had said that the number of positive cases stood at 31,012.
OAKLAND, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against the coronavirus. The vaccinations are part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine developed and donated by a New Jersey company.
Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the zoo, said none of the animals have gotten the virus, but they wanted to be proactive. Tigers, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions and ferrets were the first to receive the first of two doses. Next are primates and pigs.
The San Diego Zoo started inoculating primates with the Zoetis vaccine in January after a COVID-19 breakout among a troop of gorillas.
According to a press release, Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses for animals living in nearly 70 zoos, as well as more than a dozen conservatories, sanctuaries, academic institutions and government organizations located in 27 states.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia will ease a coronavirus lockdown in five states next week in a bid to allow a quicker reopening of its economy.
The country has been under a national lockdown since June 1, the second in over a year that has severely bruised its economy.
The government initially said the lockdown will only be eased if daily infections fall below 4,000 and at least 10 percent of Malaysia’s population has been vaccinated. But Finance Minister Zafrul Aziz said Saturday states can now slowly reopen if they fulfil certain criteria.
He said states will be assessed based on the average number of infections per 100,000 people over seven days, as well as their intensive care capacity and vaccination rate.
Defense Minister Ismail Sabri said restrictions will be eased Monday in five states that have met the target, with more businesses such as barbers, computer outlets and bookshops allowed to reopen.
NEW DELHI — Indian company Bharat Biotech says its late-stage testing of a COVID-19 vaccine has shown an overall efficacy of 77.8% and effectiveness against all variants.
The company in a statement says it is now in discussions with the World Health Organization to obtain emergency use listing for its vaccine, marketed as COVAXIN.
The results set at rest questions raised by health experts over Bharat Biotech’s vaccine when it was given emergency use authorization by the Indian government in January. They felt that the company didn’t have enough clinical trials, making it almost impossible for the firm to have analyzed and submitted data showing that its shots are effective.
The company says the vaccine has already received emergency use authorizations in 16 countries including India, the Philippines, Iran and Mexico. Millions of Indian also have been inoculated.
It says the late-stage trial showed the vaccine was 93.4% effective against severe symptomatic COVID-19 and showed effectiveness of 77.8% against symptomatic COVID-19. The data also demonstrated 65.2% protection against the delta variant, first identified in India.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is offering a holiday stipend from mid-July to mid-August to anyone who’s been vaccinated and will restrict access to soccer stadiums to those who have received their shots or have obtained a negative test 72 hours prior to a match to encourage young people to get innoculated.
The Cypriot government announced late Friday a string of incentives designed to spur a sizeable portion of the population that haven’t stepped up to be vaccinated. Officials say some 70% of those under 40 haven’t received their shots.
Other incentives include counting the day that government and private sector workers opt to get vaccinated as a bonus day off and offering an honorary five-day leave to army conscripts who choose to get the jab.
The government also is requiring bar and restaurant patrons or anyone attending large gatherings such as weddings to display either a Safepass indicating that they’re fully vaccinated, or to present a negative test taken within 72 hours.
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