As nations across the Asia-Pacific region yesterday extended or reimposed restrictions to tackle fresh waves of infections, Moscow recorded its worst daily COVID-19 death toll so far.
The COVID-19 pandemic has now killed close to 4 million people worldwide, but vaccination drives have brought down infection numbers in many wealthy countries.
However, the Delta strain of the virus remains a concern, as the variant is now in 85 countries and is the most contagious of any COVID-19 strain identified, the WHO has said.
In much of Europe and the US curbs on daily life are easing as vaccination programs bear fruit, although Russia is grappling with a deadly third wave.
Moscow yesterday recorded 144 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, a day after Saint Petersburg set the previous highest figure.
Saint Petersburg has hosted six UEFA Euro 2020 soccer matches and is due to host a quarter-final on Friday, with spectator numbers capped at half, but still upward of 26,000 people.
Russia as a whole has seen an explosion of infections since the middle of this month driven by the Delta variant, which is also feeding fresh outbreaks in Southeast Asia, where authorities have brought back or prolonged restrictions.
From today, Thailand is reimposing restrictions on restaurants, construction sites and gatherings in Bangkok.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he plans to fully reopen the country by October, but this would require vaccinating 50 million people in four months.
In Malaysia, the prime minister announced that a nationwide lockdown in place for about a month already would continue, and he gave no date for the lifting of restrictions.
His government had previously said the strict curbs would be eased in stages, as long as there was a drop in infections, intensive care bed use and a rise in vaccination rates.
In Bangladesh, tens of thousands of migrant workers yesterday fled the capital, Dhaka, on the eve of a tightened lockdown that would curtail most economic activity and confine people to their homes.
Ferries have been operating on overdrive, with some running 24 hours a day and cramming more than 1,000 people onto each trip.
A senior Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corp official said that at least 50,000 people had left the city by ferries yesterday alone.
Infections declined last month, but started to rise again this month, with just more than 6,000 daily cases on Thursday and 108 deaths on Friday, the health ministry said.
Meanwhile, British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock resigned on Saturday after revelations he broke government COVID-19 restrictions during an affair with a close aide, with former British chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid taking up the role.
The frontman for the UK’s response to the pandemic quit in a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“We owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance,” he wrote.
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