The Russian capital Moscow recorded the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus in a single day, and Indonesia had the highest number of cases in a single day as countries in the Asia-Pacific region extended or re-implemented restrictions in response to a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
The pandemic has now killed nearly 4 million people worldwide. Vaccination campaigns have reduced the number of infections in many wealthy countries, but the Delta variant of the virus remains a cause for concern.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Sunday, Delta has been launched in 85 countries/regions and is the most infectious of all COVID-19 strains found so far.
Nonetheless, in most parts of Europe and the United States, as the vaccination program has achieved results, restrictions on daily life are being relaxed, even though Russia is struggling to deal with the deadly third wave of the epidemic.
Rising cases in Russia
Moscow recorded 144 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours on Sunday, the second day St. Petersburg hit the highest number before.
St. Petersburg has hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is scheduled to host the quarter-finals on Friday. The maximum number of spectators is half, but it still exceeds 26,000.
Since mid-June, driven by the Delta variant, there has been a surge in new infections throughout Russia.
After removing most of the anti-virus restrictions at the end of last year, Moscow officials are pushing for vaccination of Russians who are skeptical of vaccines.
“In order to stop the pandemic, one thing needs to be done: rapid, large-scale vaccination. No one has invented any other solutions,” Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on Saturday.
The Delta variant is also increasing fresh outbreaks in Southeast Asia and Australia where authorities have brought back or extended restrictions.
More than five million Sydney residents endured their first full day of a two-week lockdown on Sunday.
Restaurants, bars and cafes were shuttered and stay-at-home orders were issued, leaving the city centre virtually deserted.
“Given how contagious this strain of the virus is, we do anticipate that in the next few days case numbers are likely to increase even beyond what we have seen today,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
More than 110 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Sydney since a driver for an international flight crew tested positive in mid-June for the Delta variant.
The surge has been a shock for a place that had returned to relative normality after months with few local cases.
“The Northern Territory is now facing its biggest threat since the COVID crisis began,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.
Similar spikes in infections have been seen across Southeast Asia, with Indonesia setting a new daily infection record of more than 21,000.
Hospitals are flooded with patients in the capital Jakarta and other COVID-19 hotspots across the region’s hardest-hit nation.
Thailand will from Monday reimpose restrictions on restaurants, construction sites and gatherings in the capital Bangkok.
The country’s latest wave began in April when a cluster was found in upscale Bangkok clubs.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has said he plans to fully reopen the country by October, but this would require hitting a target of vaccinating 50 million Thais in four months.
Newspaper columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk said that Thailand’s vaccine launch has been plagued by delays.
“Only about 10% of the population received the first injection, and only 4% received the second injection,” he told Al Jazeera.
In neighbouring Malaysia, the Prime Minister announced that the nationwide blockade will last for about a month, but he did not give a date for lifting the restrictions.
His government has previously stated that as long as the number of infected people decreases, the use of intensive care beds decreases and the vaccination rate increases, strict restrictions will be relaxed in phases.
Bangladesh also stated that it will implement a new Nationwide blockade Starting from Monday, the office will be closed for one week, and only medical-related transportation is allowed.
The announcement prompted tens of thousands of migrant workers to flee the capital, Dhaka, and the blockade would cut off their sources of income.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of infections declined in May, but started to rise again this month, with more than 5,000 new cases on Sunday and 119 deaths from the pandemic.
Dr. Mushtuq Husain, a medical adviser to the government of Bangladesh, said that the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country is increasing.
He told Al Jazeera: “Everything will be shut down [from July 1], So the transition chain will be put down. The number of cases is expected to decline in two weeks, and the number of deaths in three weeks. “
At the same time, AstraZeneca and Oxford University started a new trial on Sunday to test an improved vaccine against the Beta variant, which first appeared in South Africa.
The design of this new vaccine, called AZD2816, uses the same basis as AstraZeneca’s main vaccine, but with minor genetic changes to the Spike protein based on the Beta variant.