Sydney, Vietnam Impose Tighter COVID-19 Lockdowns

More stringent COVID-19 containment measures were being imposed in Sydney, Australia, starting Saturday, as cases of infections continued to rise in the third week of a citywide lockdown.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Saturday the new restrictions would take effect at midnight local time Saturday and remain in effect until the end of July.

Officials ordered the shutdown of building sites and non-essential retail businesses, restrictions that also apply to Sydney’s surrounding communities in New South Wales.

Residents in the Sydney suburbs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool are prohibited from traveling outside their communities unless they are health care workers or emergency responders.

Vietnam is also reportedly imposing new restrictions as it grapples with its worst COVID-19 outbreak to date.

The government announced Saturday that it would impose two-week travel restrictions in 16 southern provinces beginning Monday, according to Reuters.

“The curbs are to protect people’s health,” the government reportedly said in a statement.

In the United Kingdom, every adult has been offered a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine before the country reopens Monday. So far, 87.8% of adults have received at least one shot.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the reopening will go forward even though new infections are at their highest level since January, driven by the delta variant.

Among those infected is the U.K.’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, who leads the country’s coronavirus response. Javid said Saturday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating.

One U.K. COVID-19 restriction that won’t be lifted Monday is on travelers from France, thanks to concerns about the beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Travelers arriving from France must isolate for up to 10 days upon entering Britain even if they are fully vaccinated. However, fully vaccinated travelers from most of the rest of Europe can forgo quarantining as of Monday as planned.

Elsewhere, the first of 11,000 athletes are just starting to arrive for the Summer Olympic Games that are set to kick off next week in Tokyo, but there is worry that the Games could become a superspreader event after an unidentified person inside the Olympic Village tested positive for the coronavirus. The person is reportedly not an athlete, but someone from abroad helping to organize the games.

“The case is one of 15 new positive results among games participants and workers reported on Saturday, the highest daily count since the committee started compiling figures on July 1,” Kyodo news service reported.

“There have been a total of 45 COVID-19 infections announced by organizers since July 1,” according to Kyodo.

In the United States, three Texas state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, even though they had been vaccinated, the Texas State House Democratic Caucus said on Saturday.

The lawmakers left their state and flew to Washington to block passage of new, restrictive voting laws in their state.

Two of the lawmakers met Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris. In a statement Saturday, Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders said the vice president and her staff were fully vaccinated and “were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive.”

“We are taking these positive confirmations very seriously,” Texas state Representative Ron Reynolds told MSNBC. “We’re following all CDC guidelines and … we are going to make sure that we don’t expose anyone.”

The U.S. is experiencing a 70% rise in COVID-19 cases and a 26% rise in deaths, according to Reuters. The highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people is largely responsible for the outbreak.

Four states with low vaccination rates were responsible for 40% of last week’s new cases, but cases have risen in all 50 states, officials said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday that last week the U.S. had a daily average of 26,000 new cases. She said the outbreak has become “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Later Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden repeated Walensky’s assessment, saying, “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”

A group of international government advisers say they are concerned about England’s plans to lift virtually all its pandemic restrictions Monday. The advisers believe that would leave Britain susceptible to new coronavirus variants, possibly transforming the country into a superspreader location.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Saturday that there have been more than 4 million global COVID-19 deaths. Nearly 190 million cases have been confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins.

Source: Voice of America