Covid-19 travel update: UK off Spain's curb-free list, Vietnam to resume flights
Hong Kong banned flights from the UK amid rising infections, while Spain took visitors from the country off its restriction-free travel list. Close to half of Australia’s population is now in lockdown as the nation struggles to contain a spread of the delta variant.
Officials are preparing to scrap an isolation requirement for schoolchildren in England who come into contact with a positive case, amid criticism of the disruption it’s causing. Infections continue to climb in Tokyo with less than a month before the scheduled start of the Olympic Games in the Japanese capital. The 7-day average of new cases is 22% higher.
Vietnam’s economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City will maintain social distancing measures for an undetermined time because of a growing outbreak. Meanwhile, daily infections in India fell to the lowest since March.
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Singapore Cases Stay Low (5:15 p.m. HK)
Singaporean officials identified five new local cases, staying within range of the previous day’s figures, as the government speeds up its vaccination program. All cases detected were linked to earlier infections.
Tokyo Cases Climb Ahead of Olympics (4:33 p.m. HK)
Tokyo reported 476 confirmed cases on Tuesday, as new infections continue to tick up in the Japanese capital with less than a month to go before the scheduled start of the Olympic Games. The 7-day average of new cases is now 22% higher than what it was a week ago.
Although the Olympics are set to go ahead with domestic spectators capped at 10,000 guests, or 50% of venue capacity, that decision could be scrapped if serious Covid cases increase and the medical system becomes strained. Jiji reported that Tokyo will suspend part of the Olympic Torch relay due to start July 9 in the outskirts of the city because of concern about the virus spread.
Gauteng Vulnerable Due to Low Earlier Cases (3:38 p.m. HK)
The severity of the third wave of infections in Johannesburg and the rest of South Africa’s commercial hub of Gauteng may be due to a comparatively low rate of previous infections, according to a blood sample survey.
“We saw comparatively very low antibody levels among donors who presented in Gauteng as compared to other provinces, especially when you consider population density,” said Karin van den Berg, medical director of the South African National Blood Service. “This could indicate that Gauteng was more insulated from the initial waves of the virus and may in part explain the devastating spread of the virus through Gauteng.”
Polish Minister Sees Risk of 4th Wave (3:19 p.m. HK)
Poland expects a new wave of infections in the second half of August, following the course the virus has taken in the U.K., Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said in an interview with Radio Puls. In previous waves, Poland saw infections soar about two months after they peaked in the U.K.
The government hopes that vaccinations will help reduce the scale of hospitalisations, which should potentially allow for reduced restrictions, the minister said. It’s considering mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers and the elderly.
England Schools Look to End Isolation Rule (3:15 p.m. HK)
British officials are preparing to scrap the 10-day self-isolation requirement for schoolchildren in England who come into contact with a positive case. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has come under increasing pressure from parents and Conservative backbenchers to reform the rules due to the disruption the isolation is causing.
“We are conducting trials of daily contact testing as a possible alternative to self-isolation,” Schools Minister Nick Gibb said on Sky News. An announcement on the change will be made before July 19, he said. Another policy being considered is extending the school day by half an hour, Gibb said.
Shots Halt in Worst-Hit African Nation (3 p.m. HK)
In Namibia, which has Africa’s fastest-growing Covid-19 epidemic, vaccines are running out, hospitals and mortuaries are overwhelmed and the blame game has begun. First-time inoculations have been stopped as there are only enough doses to complete courses, and the government is being criticized by politicians and its own medical experts.
“Systems in the hospitals are under severe pressure, including staff who are overworked and not performing at their best,” said Gordon Cupido, head of internal medicine at the Katutura State Hospital in the capital, Windhoek. “The human cost is tremendous, often patients are dying unnoticed.”
Delta Accounts for Half of German Cases (2:50 p.m. HK)
The delta variant of the coronavirus likely accounts for about 50% of cases in Germany and authorities are pushing to rapidly increase the number of people fully vaccinated to help check its spread, according to Chancellery Minister Helge Braun.
Germany already has the strictest inbound travel rules in Europe -- including a requirement to quarantine for 14 days -- for travelers arriving from countries designated virus-variant areas, and the interior ministry is ready to introduce spot checks at the borders if needed, Braun said in an interview with ZDF television.
Spain Takes UK Off Restriction-Free List (2:40 p.m. HK)
Travellers from the UK to Spain will have to either certify full vaccination or provide a negative virus test, according to announcement published in Spain’s official gazette Tuesday.
Order backtracks on previous decision, announced in May, that placed UK on restriction-free travel list. The decision announced in May had never been put in place because “the qualitative data, specifically regarding the presence of virus variants, weren’t considered favourable,” according to the gazette.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had announced a reversal in policy for travellers from UK yesterday.
Germany Wants Fewer Fans in Soccer Stadiums (2:50 p.m. HK)
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer appealed to the U.K. government to reduce the number of fans allowed into London’s Wembley stadium for Tuesday’s European Championship match between England and Germany.
It’s “irresponsible” if tens of thousands of people come together in a confined space in countries where the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading, Seehofer said in an interview with the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
The “benchmark” of 20% capacity -- or about 14,500 fans -- allowed for Euro soccer matches in Munich could also apply for other venues in the championships, he said. According to European soccer’s governing body UEFA, around 45,000 fans will be allowed into Tuesday’s match, or about half the stadium’s capacity.
Daily India Cases Fall to Lowest Since March (1:00 p.m. HK)
India added 37,566 new Covid-19 cases Tuesday, the lowest one-day surge since March 18 which was just before the deadly second wave hit the South Asian nation. The overall tally of coronavirus infections is now just a little over 30 million, making it the world’s second-largest outbreak after the U.S.
As many as 329 million vaccine doses have been administered so far as the government races to curb a possible third wave amid the discovery of a new mutation of the highly-transmissible delta variant.
Thailand Ready to Tackle Outbreak: Minister (12:30 p.m. HK)
Thailand will limit the movement of foreign tourists to smaller islands that it’s initially throwing open to vaccinated foreign visitors in the event of a flareup in local coronavirus infections, a minister said.
Phuket, Samui and Phi Phi -- among the first places to welcome inoculated tourists without quarantine before a wider national reopening -- are all smaller islands and will allow authorities to quickly curb movement if community transmission spikes, Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said. He ruled out the closing of borders to combat any virus clusters stemming from the reopening.
Vietnam Mulls Slow Resumption of Flights (12:20 p.m. HK)
Vietnam can gradually resume regular international flights by year-end as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines accelerates domestically and globally, VietnamPlus news website reported, citing a report sent to Ministry of Transport by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Half of Australia’s Population in Lockdown (11:10 a.m. HK)
More than 12 million Australians -- close to half of the population -- are now in lockdown as the nation struggles to contain a spread of the delta coronavirus variant.
On Tuesday, Brisbane became Australia’s fourth regional capital city to restrict movement outside of homes except for essential reasons such as shopping and exercise for at least three days, less than 24 hours after a similar move in Perth. They followed Sydney and Darwin, which over the weekend announced longer lockdowns of up to two weeks.
Los Angeles County Recommends Indoor Masking (10 a.m. HK)
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health strongly recommended people wear masks indoors in public places -- regardless of vaccination status -- as a precautionary measure against the Delta variant.
In the week ending June 12, Delta variants comprised of nearly half of all variants sequenced, L.A. County -- the nation’s most populous -- said in a statement.
New Zealand to Reopen Travel Bubble (9:45 a.m. HK)
New Zealand will reopen its quarantine-free travel bubble with the Australian states of Tasmania, Victoria, ACT and South Australia from July 4, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins says at news conference.
The pause on travel from New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia remains, and will be reviewed on July 6.
Ho Chi Minh City Extends Curbs (9:30 a.m. HK)
Vietnam’s economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City will maintain Covid-19 social distancing measures for an undetermined time starting Tuesday amid a growing coronavirus outbreak across the metropolis, newspaper Tuoi Tre reported, citing Deputy Mayor Duong Anh Duc at a Monday press conference.
Ho Chi Minh City, which began its anti-virus measures May 31, reported 3,492 local virus cases as of this morning out of the nationwide tally of 12,736 patients from late April, according to data from the health ministry.
Restrictions include shuttering of establishments from gyms to karaoke bars and restricting public transportation, ride-sharing services and taxis.
Indonesia to Start Vaccinating Teens (8:00 a.m. HK)
Indonesia will start offering Covid-19 vaccination to those aged 12 to 17 years old, after last week extending the inoculation to all adults in order to curb a worsening virus resurgence.
“The food and drug regulator has issued an emergency use of authorization for Sinovac vaccine to be applied on teens,” President Joko Widodo said in a press briefing on Monday.
Malaysia Unveils $36 Billion Package (7:50 a.m. HK)
Malaysia unveiled a 150 billion ringgit ($36 billion) package to help people through a nationwide lockdown that was extended for a second time with Covid infections still elevated.
The plan includes a 10 billion ringgit direct fiscal injection and will result in the government disbursing 10 billion ringgit in cash aid to the people by the end of the year, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. The announcement marks the fourth stimulus package announced by the government this year.
US Says Don’t Travel to UAE, Uganda (5:45 a.m. HK)
The US increased its travel warning for the United Arab Emirates and four African countries to the highest risk level, telling residents not to go to those nations because of Covid-19.
The UAE has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, but daily new cases have continued to hover around 2,000 since March. Liberia, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia have all experienced recent outbreaks and were put in the same Level 4 category as the UAE, according to a State Department statement.
The revisions follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has also led to the lowering of advisories for countries such as Mexico, Canada, Japan and Ireland.