The Latest: Indonesia faces virus surge, shortage of oxygen

Regional News

A Sri Lankan army soldier prepares to administer a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Sri Lankan health authorities on Wednesday began rolling out doses of the Pfizer vaccine for those who have received only the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Health officials were compelled to use Pfizer as the second dose due to a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines.
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is facing a coronavirus surge as hospitals grapple with soaring cases amid widespread shortages of oxygen.

The country registered 1,040 confirmed deaths on Wednesday, the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitals are already beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out, leaving individuals to cope with caring for sick friends and relatives at home.

“This is our critical period during the next two weeks,” says Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response.

In the capital, daily burials have increased 10-fold since May, said Ngabila Salama, head of surveillance and immunization at the Jakarta Health Office. Of the 369 COVID-19 deaths in Jakarta reported Saturday, 45 people died at home, she said.

Overall, Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has reported nearly 2.4 million infections and almost 63,000 confirmed deaths. Both numbers are considered undercounts because of low testing and tracing measures.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— South Korea’sdaily cases jump to 1,200 amid slow vaccination

— WHO warns Coronavirus rising in easternMediterranean region

— New York City honors essential workers at paradeup Canyon of Heroes

— Ahead of Olympics, Tokyo daily virus cases highest since mid-May

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemicand https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal says the coronavirus is gaining ground again in France because of the delta variant.

He says cases increased by 20% from last week and warned against the risk of a “rapid” new peak in infections.

The upward trend is especially strong amid people between ages 20 to 29, and in the Paris region, southeastern France and Brittany.

The more infectious delta variant is estimated to represent more than 40% of new infections, twice last week’s proportion, Attal says. Confirmed infections remain relatively low nationwide, at about 2,300 per day, compared to more than 35,000 during the March-April peak.

Attal strongly encouraged the French to get vaccinated. More than 34 million people, or 51% of the population, have received at least one shot of vaccine.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is requiring vaccinations or negative tests to enter restaurants, bars and other venues amid a surge of infections, primarily among younger people.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas says 90% of new coronavirus cases are among those who have neither been fully vaccinated nor received at least one shot, leading to an increase in hospitalizations of patients with serious symptoms.

Hadjipantelas says for the remainder of July, a maximum of 350 people who present a so-called “SafePass,” indicating that they’ve either been vaccinated, tested or recovered from the coronavirus. They will be permitted in bar, club and restaurant indoor areas.

That number increases to 500 people for outdoor areas at those venues. The owners of these establishments will be responsible for applying the new restrictions while police will be conducting regular inspections.

These restrictions also apply to theaters, cinemas, places of worship, art galleries and sports venues – except soccer stadiums.

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TOKYO — Tokyo is reporting 920 new coronavirus cases, the highest since mid-May, two weeks ahead of the Olympics.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held a meeting with key ministers to discuss coronavirus measures. Suga noted Tokyo’s upsurge and vowed “to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

Suga says he’ll make a final decision on reinstating the state of emergency on Thursday after consulting with a panel of experts. A state of emergency in Tokyo just before the games on July 23 would mean Olympic officials abandon plans to have local spectators or lower capacities at venues.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, urged authorities to quickly take tough measures ahead of the Olympics and summer vacations when many people tend to be more active.

“The period from July to September is the most critical time for Japan’s COVID-19 measures,” he says.

Only 15% of the Japanese were fully vaccinated. Japan has reported about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths.

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BEIRUT — World Health Organization officials warn coronavirus infections have been on the rise in the 22 countries of the eastern Mediterranean region after two months of steady decline because of increased international travel and limited vaccination.

The region, which includes the Gulf, North African, and Asian countries, has registered over 11 million infections and more than 220,000 deaths since last year. Iran has been the worst impacted by the pandemic, followed by Iraq.

WHO region director Ahmed Al-Mandhari says another spike is likely in the summer as countries struggle to keep their borders open and their economies active. Despite efforts to contain the virus, a higher weekly average of new cases has been reported across the region compared to the same time last year, he said.

There’s been limited distribution of vaccines and the delta variant has been detected in 13 of the 22 countries.

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NEW YORK — The people who helped get New York City through the coronavirus pandemic will be honored with a parade up the Canyon of Heroes.

City officials say the event Wednesday will honor a range of people, including workers in health care, transportation, education and infrastructure. The parade is kicking off at Battery Park and traveling up Broadway in lower Manhattan, the iconic stretch known as the Canyon of Heroes.

“Here are some of the folks who made history in New York City’s toughest hour,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Previous parades have honored world leaders, celebrities and winning sports teams. The last parade before the pandemic honored the U.S. women’s soccer team after their 2019 World Cup win.

City officials say the parade’s grand marshal will be Sandra Lindsay, a health care worker who was the first person in the country to get a COVID vaccine shot.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Starting Friday, Slovakia will require travelers from any country to quarantine on arrival unless they are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Slovakia is gradually reopening dozens of border crossings previously closed amid measures to contain the delta coronavirus variant. The measure became effective on Monday. Slovak authorities are tightening border checks at the remaining crossings to enforce the travel restrictions.

Some 30 crossing have been closed, drawing protests at home and in neighboring countries, which include EU members Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. All people traveling to Slovakia from any country must register online before they cross the border.

Slovakia registered 45 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus cases ticked up worldwide last week even as the weekly count of COVID-19 deaths dropped to the lowest level since October.

The U.N. health agency, in its latest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic, says its 53-country European region reported a “sharp increase” — 30% — in infection incidence, while Africa registered a 23% rise in mortality from COVID-19 during the period.

All WHO regions except the Americas — one of the hardest-hit regions — and southeast Asia posted an increase in deaths over the last week, the agency said in a statement.

More than 2.6 million new coronavirus cases were reported between June 28 and July 4, a slight increase on the previous week, while the tally of deaths registered over the week declined 7% to 54,000, WHO says. That was the lowest such weekly figure since October.

WHO says most new cases were reported in Brazil and India — though weekly case counts in those two countries were declining — as well as Colombia, followed by Indonesia and Britain, which each tallied a weekly increase in cases.

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BEIJING — Chinese authorities locked down a city bordering Myanmar on Wednesday, shutting most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home as a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 expanded.

Another 15 cases were found in Ruili in the last 24 hours, on top of six in the previous two days, health authorities in southwestern Yunnan province said. In addition, two people without COVID-19 symptoms have also tested positive for the virus.

The lockdown shut down all businesses and public institutions except hospitals, pharmacies and essential shops such as grocery stores, according to a notice posted online. It affects the urban part of Ruili, which like most Chinese cities includes surrounding rural areas in its jurisdiction.

Myanmar is battling a large outbreak with limited resources to contain it. The Southeast Asian nation reported 3,602 new cases in the last 24 hours, state media said Wednesday, its highest daily total since the pandemic began.

Ruili lies across a river from the city of Muse in Myanmar’s Shan state. Chinese anti-virus measures have dealt a blow to the active cross-border trade between the two countries, China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper reported earlier this week.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka is administering Pfizer shots to people who were left waiting after receiving their first AstraZeneca doses earlier this year.

Mixing two vaccines is still being studied for its effectiveness, but Sri Lanka health officials approved it due to a severe AstraZeneca shortage.

Sri Lanka received 26,000 doses of Pfizer on Monday as the first batch of 5 million shots to be received this year. It started rolling them out Wednesday to residents 55 and older in the capital Colombo.

About 384,000 people were fully vaccinated before Sri Lanka ran out of AstraZeneca doses with 540,000 people only partially vaccinated.

Channa Jayasumana, the state minister overseeing pharmaceuticals, said getting Pfizer as the 2nd dose was optional and a consignment of AstraZeneca vaccine was expected this month.

Sri Lanka also has used Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik V to vaccinate people against COVID-19.

Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase of coronavirus infections and deaths since April. It has recorded 266,499 cases with 3,268 fatalities overall.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand medical regulators have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, after earlier in the year approving the Pfizer vaccine.

But New Zealand’s government intends to stick with its plan of primarily using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the population of 5 million.

The provisional approval for the J&J vaccine by regulator Medsafe applies to adults aged 18 and over and will need to be signed-off on by the Cabinet, which will likely happen next month.

New Zealand has an agreement to buy 2 million doses of the J&J vaccine. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says having a second vaccine will provide increased flexibility and it could be used in emergencies or in locations that are hard to reach.

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SYDNEY — A two-week-old pandemic lockdown in Australia’s biggest city is being extended for another week due to the vulnerability of a population largely unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Wednesday that health experts recommended pushing the lockdown in Sydney on to midnight July 16.

The decision means most children in Sydney and some nearby communities will not return to school next week following their mid-year break.

Only 9% of Australian adults are fully vaccinated, heightening fears that the delta variant of the coronavirus could quickly spread beyond control.

There have been more than 300 coronavirus infections in Sydney linked to a limousine driver who tested positive June 16. He is thought to have been infected while transporting a U.S. flight crew from the airport.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is reporting more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, a level unseen since the worst of its outbreak in December as it slips into another virus surge with most of its people unvaccinated.

The 1,212 new cases reported Wednesday came close to South Korea’s largest daily increase during the pandemic, on Christmas Day, when officials listed 1,240 new cases.

The government had planned to raise the cap on private social gatherings from four to six people and allow restaurants to extend indoor dining by two hours starting this month. But officials in Seoul and nearby areas have held off as infections rise.

Just 30% of South Korea’s people have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum says officials will consider tougher social distancing rules if transmissions continue to grow over the next two or three days.

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages.

Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localized lockdowns in hotspot areas, and bans on inter-city travel.

The country’s information minister announced the virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a Cabinet meeting that most people must stay at home, similar to restrictions on movement adopted in March last year when towns and cities became almost deserted.

People will now need letters from employers to justify why they must venture out of their neighborhood.

Zimbabwe is one of more than 14 African countries where the delta variant s quickly spreading. The delta variant was first identified in India.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the rise of a more transmissible COVID-19 variant in the U.S. “should cause everybody to think twice.”

Speaking Tuesday at the White House as he outlined his administration’s summer plans to boost vaccinations, Biden said the delta variant first identified in India is now responsible for a majority of new virus cases in much of the country.

“It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice, and it should cause reconsideration especially among young people,” he said, referencing the demographic least at risk of negative outcomes from the virus.

Biden says the surest way for Americans to protect themselves and their loved ones is to get vaccinated. He said the White House was working with state and local partners to support hyper-local vaccination drives in communities with low uptake.

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