(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Biden mandates widespread COVID shots
President Joe Biden took aim on Thursday at vaccine resistance in the United States, announcing policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations and pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly.
The new measures, which Biden set out in remarks from the White House, would apply to about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers.
Los Angeles County school officials ordered COVID-19 vaccinations for all students aged 12 and over on Thursday, the largest school district in the United States to take that dramatic step.
Australia’s daily cases near 2,000
Australia’s daily cases topped 1,900 for the first time in the pandemic on Friday as an outbreak fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant continued to gain ground in locked-down Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities.
Australia is in the grip of a third wave of infections, with the Delta outbreak forcing officials to ditch their zero-COVID strategy in favour of suppressing the virus.
They now aim to begin easing tough restrictions after reaching a higher proportion of the population with double-dose vaccinations.
Auckland cases drop again
New Zealand reported 11 new cases on Friday, all in locked down Auckland, its biggest city, as the country looks to limit the spread of the Delta variant.
The latest daily number was down from the 13 infections recorded on Thursday and the lowest any day this week, taking the total number of infections from the current outbreak, which started in mid-August, to 879.
The government will decide on Monday whether to ease or extend the tight lockdown in Auckland.
Singapore holds off on restrictions
Singapore is trying to live with COVID-19 and sees no need to tighten restrictions to address a spike in cases, but will hold off on more reopening moves while monitoring for increases in severe cases, officials said on Friday.
Singapore’s new daily infections have risen sharply recently and hit 450 on Thursday, the most in a year, after containment measures were eased as part of a phased reopening upon vaccination of 80% of its population.
“This rapid and exponential rise in daily infections that we are experiencing now is what every country that seeks to live with COVID-19 has to go through at some point,” health minister Ong Ye Kung told a media briefing.
Vietnam to reopen resort island to foreign tourists
Vietnam plans to reopen the beach-fringed island of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists from next month, authorities said, as the country looks at ways to revive an economy suffering from extended lockdowns.
The island, 10 km (6 miles) off the coast of Cambodia, is expected to open for a trial period of six months, the government said in a statement issued late on Thursday.
Vietnam, which is currently shut to all visitors apart from returning citizens and investors, had managed to contain the virus for much of the pandemic but in the past three months has faced a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)