COVID digest: Melbourne to lift world's longest lockdown
Melbourne, Oct 21: Australia's Melbourne is preparing to come out of the world's longest lockdownon Thursday, even as cases near record levels. Since early August, residents in the country's second-largest city have been under the city's sixth lockdown to stop an outbreak fueled by the highly infectious delta strain.
Officials had promised to lift lockdowns once double-dose vaccinations for people over 16 exceeded 70% in the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the state had reached that target, with more restrictions set to ease.
"The longest road has been journeyed in Victoria and that long road really starts to open up tonight," Morrison told Seven News on Thursday.
Here is a summary of coronavirus-related news from around the world.
Europe was the only region in the world where cased increased, the World Health Organization said. In its weekly assessment, the UN health agency said there were about 2.7 million new cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week worldwide, similar to figures reported last week.
The WHO said the two regions with the highest incidence rates were Europe and the Americas. Globally, the US reported the most new cases, while Britain, Russia and Turkey accounted for the most cases in Europe.
Germany's public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 16,077 new infections, marking an increase of nearly 3,700 since last week, when 12,382 were reported.
The seven-day incidence also rose to 85.6 from 80.4 the previous day. The agency reported 67 additional deaths, bringing the total coronavirus-related deaths in Germany to 94,875 since the start of the pandemic.
Latvia went into a month-long lockdown on Thursday as the Baltic state battles a new wave of infections. Public life will be severely scaled back through November 15 in order to break the chains of transmission and reduce the "terrible overload" on the health care system, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening.
Only stores selling daily essentials will be allowed to open. Leisure, cultural, entertainment and sports venues must close. Restaurants must, meanwhile, switch to offering only takeaway and delivery services. People may only leave their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. with a valid reason. Only slightly more than half of the population is fully vaccinated.
Israel has confirmed a case of a sub-variant of the delta strain of the coronavirus previously reported in some European countries, its Health Ministry said.
"The variant AY 4.2. that has been discovered in a number of countries in Europe has been identified in Israel," the statement said.
An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier, the ministry said, adding that the case was identified at Ben Gurion Airport. The boy was quarantined and no further contacts have been discovered. Changes to entry requirements for visitors will also be considered, officials said.
India has administered 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, officials said on Thursday. The new figure marks a milestone for the South Asian country, where the delta variant fueled a devastating wave of the virus earlier this year.
Around 75% of India's total eligible population have received at least one dose, while nearly 30% have received both shots.
The country, which has a population of 1.4 billion people, is the second to distribute more than a billion doses, after China did so in June.
India has recorded more than 34 million cases and 450,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.