The Latest: Mask-wearing expected in England beyond July 19
LONDON — Britain’s vaccines minister says that people in England are expected to continue wearing masks indoors from July 19 even though the legal requirement to do so would be dropped.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm Monday whether most coronavirus restrictions including social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing will be lifted the following week as widely expected.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said new guidance will be issued Monday on mask-wearing. He said there will be “an expectation of people to wear masks indoors, in crowded places, on public transport” instead of a legal requirement.
The U.K. is seeing a sharp surge in coronavirus cases. It’s partly driven by the more transmissible delta variant and partly by increased social mixing with the easing of lockdown rules. New cases now stand at over 34,000 a day. But deaths and hospitalizations have remained low and broadly stable.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— South Africa ramps up vaccine drive, too late for this surge
— Myanmar caught off guard as cases surge, oxygen dwindles
Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister says the country has struck a deal with Pfizer to receive a fresh batch of coronavirus vaccines in August to help with its drive to vaccinate teenagers.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that the agreement to advance delivery of new vaccines to Aug. 1 to “ensure from this moment a continuous supply of vaccines in the state of Israel.”
Bennett said that the country had vaccinated over 200,000 people in recent weeks. Many of them were teenagers. The country is trying to halt a fresh outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant. Children under age 12 aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.
Israel has vaccinated over 61% of its 9.3 million citizens with at least one dose, and almost 56% with two doses, the vast majority with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The Health Ministry has recorded a steady climb in new infections in recent weeks, most of them among unvaccinated young children. Most new infections have been mild cases of coronavirus.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Three million doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived in Indonesia.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the Moderna vaccine will be used as a third dose for health care workers.
Sadikin said that “the plan for this vaccine, apart from (being) the first and second injections for the Indonesian people, we will specifically use it for the third booster injection for Indonesian health workers.”
Many health care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine.
JOHANNESBURG — New infections in South Africa have risen to record levels in recent days.
It’s part of a rapid rise across the continent. And experts say the surge here hasn’t yet peaked.
South Africa has reimposed several restrictions to fight the new wave. They include shutting restaurants and bars and limiting alcohol sales.
Its vaccination drive is also finding its feet after several stumbles. But experts say it’s too late to reduce the deadly impact of the current spike.
South Africa is instead rushing to vaccinate enough of its 60 million people to blunt the impact of the next surge.
TOKYO — The mayors of two Tokyo islands have asked the metropolitan government to take the planned Olympic torch relay off public roads amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The torch relay in Tokyo, which started on Friday, has been taken off all public roads except for those on islands, because of rising cases in the Japanese capital.
Kyodo News agency reported that the mayors of Oshima and Hachijo have asked the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to take the torch off public roads in their areas, citing rising virus cases.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo.
Olympic officials last week barred all fans from venues in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.
Tokyo reported 950 new cases on Saturday. That is the highest level since early May. Japan has reported about 816,000 cases and 15,000 deaths during the pandemic.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has received a further 2 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine.
The country is aiming to vaccinate nearly everyone above 30 years old by September.
Sri Lanka has relied on China for most of its vaccination program.
Authorities are currently focusing on vaccinating the elderly and those connected with the tourism sector.
Sri Lanka has reported 273,031 cases including 3,467 deaths during the pandemic.
BANKGOK — Myanmar is facing a a rapid rise in COVID-19 patients and a shortage of oxygen supplies.
The situation comes as the country is consumed by a bitter and violent political struggle since the military seized power in February after ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar had weathered last year’s surge by severely restricting travel and securing vaccines from India and China. Her ouster came less than a week after the first jabs were given to health workers.
People shunned military hospitals after the takeover and medical workers spearheaded a popular civil disobedience movement.
Myanmar’s new rulers have ordered oxygen plants to work at full capacity including converting industrial oxygen for the needs of patients.