World passes 4 mn Covid deaths as Asia battles fresh outbreaks

Indonesia is facing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia

More than four million people have now died of Covid-19 infections, the WHO said on Wednesday, as many richer nations prepared to loosen restrictions even as countries in Asia battle surging infections.

Indonesia has become a global hotspot, with hospitals having to turn away patients, authorities forced to import oxygen supplies and a record 1,040 deaths reported on Wednesday.

He said some countries with high vaccination coverage were “relaxing as though the pandemic is already over”, while others have seen sharp spikes in cases because of highly-transmissible variants and a “shocking inequity” in access to vaccines.

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The government has expanded restrictions across the archipelago following earlier clampdowns on the capital Jakarta and some other areas.

The new restrictions apply to dozens of cities and extend across the vast nation of nearly 270 million people, which has been hammered by the highly infectious Delta variant that was first detected in India.

“This Delta strain is a game changer, it’s extremely transmissible,” said Gladys Berejiklian, premier of New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital.

“It’s still scary that the virus is out there,” said Menno De Moel, 44, at a vaccination centre in Sydney where he was getting his first shot.

– Olympic impact –

Officials announced Wednesday that the Olympic torch relay had been scrapped on Tokyo’s roads to prevent crowds.

But in London, the Euro 2020 football tournament’s semi-finals and final are set to be held this week with 60,000 fans permitted at Wembley Stadium, despite Britain facing a new surge in infections.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of most virus restrictions, such as face masks and indoor social distancing, in England. Other UK nations — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are moving more slowly.

As some countries peel back Covid restrictions, the WHO sounded alarm over a lack of funding to fight the pandemic.

Even in wealthier nations with successful inoculation programmes, authorities are wary of a resurgence and have kept some restrictions in place, such as the requirement for face masks on flights in the United States.

“It was bad. First, they were yelling. They were cursing,” witness Malik Banks told local station WSOC-TV.


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