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Countries Struggle with COVID-19 Spike

People queue in line to wait for the coronavirus testing at a Public Health Center in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021.
People queue in line to wait for the coronavirus testing at a Public Health Center in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021.

South Korea recorded a record number of new coronavirus infections for a third straight day, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Saturday.

The country also recorded its highest-ever number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the 24-hour period ending Friday, with 1,378 infections. The previous record, set Thursday, was 1,316 new COVID-19 cases, the KDCA said.

Overall, South Korea has had 166,722 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,038 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

To combat the rise in cases, South Korea said, beginning Monday, it would enact its toughest coronavirus controls ever. Those measures include advising people to stay home as much as possible and to limit social gatherings to a total of four people before 6 p.m. and no more than two people after 6 p.m., according to a Reuters report.

The Johns Hopkins Vaccine Tracker said the country of 52 million has administered more than 21 million vaccine doses. The KDCA said 11% of South Korea’s population is completely vaccinated while about 30% have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, which is dealing with an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus, recorded its largest rise in new cases of locally acquired infections – with 50 new cases in a 24-hour period, according to Reuters.

Overall, there are now 489 cases of the highly infectious delta variant in the state, which has a population of more than 8 million people. The capital city, Sydney, which has a population of 5 million, is in the third week of a hard lockdown that is set to end July 16.

"The only conclusion we can draw is that things are going to get worse before they get better," state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a televised briefing on Saturday, according to Reuters. "I think it is pretty clear that unless we reduce that level of people in the community that are infectious, we won't be able to turn things around as quickly as we can or as quickly as we should."

Australia has been largely successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 due to aggressive lockdown efforts, posting just 31,017 total confirmed cases and 910 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. However, it has proved vulnerable to fresh outbreaks due to a slow rollout of its vaccination campaign and confusing requirements involving the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the dominant vaccine in its stockpile.

Overall, Australia has administered nearly 9 million doses of vaccine to its population of more than 25 million people, according to Johns Hopkins.

Indonesia also is struggling with a rise in coronavirus cases, including the highly infectious delta variant, and has sought emergency supplies, including oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

"I asked for 100% of oxygen go to medical purposes first, meaning that all industrial allocations must be transferred to medical," Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response, said. "We are racing against time, we have to work fast."

Overall, Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous country, has reported more than 2.4 million infections and 64,631 fatalities from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures, according to an Associated Press report.

Other countries are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases related to the delta variant of the coronavirus. The Catalonia region of Spain plans to reimpose coronavirus curbs to slow the outbreak, such as requiring nightclubs to close this weekend and requiring a negative COVID-19 test for people wanting to join outdoor activities involving more than 500 people, according to an Agence France-Presse report Saturday.

"The pandemic has not ended, the new variants are very contagious, and we still have significant segments of the population that are not vaccinated," Patricia Plaja, a spokeswoman for the regional government told a news conference, AFP reported.

Also Saturday, Russia reported 25,082 new coronavirus cases and a record 752 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Reuters.

Globally, there have been 186 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The U.S. leads the world with 33.8 million COVID-19 cases and 606,993 virus-related deaths.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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