LONDON (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Iran says one person dying of COVID-19 every two minutes
One person is now dying from COVID-19 every two minutes in Iran, state TV said on Monday, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.
With authorities complaining of poor social distancing, state media say hospitals in several cities have run out of beds for new patients. Some social media users have criticised the clerical establishment over slow vaccinations, with only about 4% of the 83 million population fully inoculated.
Total deaths have reached 94,603, the ministry said, while cases rose by 40,808 in the past 24 hours to 4,199,537 in a fifth wave blamed on the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Australia expands lockdown
Australia expanded a lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country’s most populous state.
Tamworth, a farming town 414 km (257 miles) northwest of Sydney, and Byron Bay, a tourist spot about 770 km north of Sydney, will both enter a seven-day lockdown.
Neither Tamworth nor Byron Bay has yet recorded a COVID-19 case, but two infected people contravened travel bans and travelled there.
China reports more cases
China reported on Monday more COVID-19 infections in its latest outbreak of the disease, while some cities added rounds of mass testing in the bid to stamp out locally transmitted infections.
The Delta variant has been detected in more than a dozen cities since July 20, and officials have ordered local governments to keep close track of infections and close loopholes in control efforts.
“A laxity of mind should be firmly overcome,” the National Health Commission said on Sunday, calling for the outbreak to be curbed.
Hundreds of Philippine hospitals near full capacity
Nearly a fifth of hospitals in the Philippines are close to full capacity as a surge in infections, driven by the Delta variant, spreads across the Southeast Asian country, the health ministry said on Monday.
Coronavirus cases in the Philippines, a country of 110 million, have been growing at a rate of around 8,000 to 10,000 infections a day over recent weeks, above the daily average of 5,700 cases reported last month, according to official data.
“It is highly possible the cases will continue to rise even after ECQ,” health ministry spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said, referring to enhanced community quarantine, the classification used in the capital Manila and its surrounding areas for its strictest form of lockdown.
Florida can’t ban cruise ship’s ‘vaccine passport’ program
A U.S. judge has allowed Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to demand that passengers show written proof of coronavirus vaccination before they board a ship, dealing a major blow to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s effort to ban “vaccine passports.”
In a preliminary ruling issued on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami said Norwegian would likely prevail on its argument that the “vaccine passport” ban, signed into law by DeSantis in May, jeopardizes public health and is an unconstitutional infringement on Norwegian’s rights.
The judge blocked DeSantis from enforcing the law against Norwegian, allowing the cruise ship operator to proceed with a plan to resume port activity in Miami on Aug. 15.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)