COVID-19 SUMMARY: Global cases to exceed 200m in next 3 weeks, U.S. border to remain closed until at least 21st Aug, record high cases and deaths continue in South East Asia


21st July 2021 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 169,262,431 with 3,515,664 deaths as of 11.30pm today.

China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Beijing started COVID-19 vaccination for minors aged between 12 and 17.

So far, about 5,014,300 doses of vaccines have been administered under the Vaccination Programme in Hong Kong.

Taiwanese Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung on Wednesday said that an announcement will be made within the next two days as to whether the limit on gatherings will be lifted if and when Level 3 restrictions are lowered next week. The Tzu Chi Foundation signed a purchase contract with Shanghai Fosun for 5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine and a donation agreement with the Taiwan government on Wednesday, an Executive Yuan spokesperson announced at an online press conference.


The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus over the coming months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Wednesday. The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, has now been recorded in 124 territories – 13 more than last week. It already accounts for more than three-quarters of sequenced specimens in many major countries, the WHO said.

The Geneva-based organisation said overall, 3.4 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the week to Jul 18 – up 12 per cent on the week before. “At this rate, it is expected that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks,” said the WHO.

After reviewing recent data and experiences from other countries, Danish Health Authority (SST) recommended in a press release Wednesday vaccination against COVID-19 for pregnant and breastfeeding women. “A number of countries have gradually gained extensive experience in vaccinating pregnant and breastfeeding women with the mRNA vaccines from BioNtech-Pfizer and Moderna… Data from these countries show consistently that the vaccines are very effective and safe for both the pregnant and the unborn child as well as for breastfeeding,” said the press release.

Last week, more than 23,000 kids caught COVID-19, which is nearly double what was reported at the end of June, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday. Children represent nearly 16% of weekly reported cases.

Many experts have suggested local vaccination mandates could be an important strategy for boosting the vaccination rate and bringing the virus under control.Starting in August, workers at New York City hospitals and health clinics will be required to either get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson, Bill Neidhardt

U.S. and Canada

With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading, particularly among unvaccinated Americans, it may be time to hit the “reset button” on pandemic response and for much of the country to put masks back on, an expert said.

About 28% of the US population, or more than 91 million people, lives in a county considered to have “high” COVID-19 transmission, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 48.7% of the total US population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the CDC — a number far below the 70% to 85% health experts have estimated it would take to slow or stop the spread. Cases are surging in the US. The country averaged 37,055 new cases a day across a week as of Tuesday — 54% higher than the prior week and more than two and a half times the average recorded about two weeks ago (13,665), according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least 21st Aug, according to a renewal order issued by the American government Wednesday.

In a notice pre-published in the U.S. Federal Register, the government says while vaccination rates have improved, opening the land border to non-essential travel still poses too high a risk.

Rest of the world

Russia registered 23,704 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours as the Delta variant continued to spread, taking the nationwide tally to 6,030,240, the official monitoring and response centre said Wednesday.

 Sri Lanka has received over 10 million COVID-19 vaccines so far, State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana was quoted by local media as saying on Wednesday.

Tokyo reported 1,832 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily spike since 16th Jan, surging by nearly 700 and topping the figure a week ago for the 32nd consecutive day, with 4,192 new cases nationwide until 5.27pm local time, local media reported Wednesday.

COVID-19 cases among Olympic delegates are on the rise and roughly 15 per cent of those staying on site are unvaccinated, prompting warnings from medical experts about potential ripple effects if the world’s largest sporting event doesn’t clamp down on virus transmission.Set to begin on Friday with the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Olympic Games were touted as safe and secure by organisers, but have so far been plagued by infections among athletes, hotel workers, and others involved with the event — and those participating have not been required to get a vaccine. At least 67 cases have been detected among those accredited for the Games since most athletes and officials began arriving on 1st July, officials said on Tuesday. The head of the Tokyo organising committee didn’t rule out cancelling the event entirely if cases began to spike.

A South African firm will begin producing the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the first time that the shot will be produced in Africa, Pfizer announced Wednesday. The Biovac Institute based in Cape Town will manufacture the vaccine for distribution across Africa, in a move that should help address the continent’s desperate need for more vaccine doses amid a recent surge of cases.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported on Wednesday 6,560 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,524,449.

Singapore reported 179 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections as of noon on Wednesday, with 130 cases linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster and eight belonging to the KTV lounges cluster.

There are now 451 cases linked to the Jurong Fishery Port/Hong Lim Market & Food Centre cluster, making it the largest active cluster in the country.

Vietnam reported 5,357 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, including 5,343 locally transmitted and 14 imported, according to the country’s Ministry of Health. The new infections brought the total tally in the country to 68,177 with 370 deaths, the ministry said.

Indonesia on Wednesday recorded 33,772 newly-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,383 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry said. This has been the highest daily number of fatalities the country ever reported since the outbreak of the pandemic. Based on the latest data, the total of coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian country is 2,983,830, while the COVID-19-related death toll has increased to 77,583. An additional 32,887 recovered patients were discharged from hospitals, raising the total number of recoveries to 2,356,553. The virus has spread to all the country’s 34 provinces and the more transmissible Delta variant has contributed to the surge in cases in some regions. The Southeast Asian nation is accelerating its massive vaccination program while maintaining restrictions on community activities amid the deteriorating second wave of outbreak.  Foreign workers involved in Indonesia’s national strategic projects starting Wednesday are not allowed to enter the country, as the government has expanded restrictions to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said.

An Indonesian man is reportedly facing arrest after disguising himself as his wife in order to board a flight.The man, who has been publicly identified only by the initials “DW,” boarded a Citilink domestic flight from Jakarta to Ternate while wearing a niqab that covered him from head to toe, reports CNN affiliate CNN Indonesia.The disguise was intended to enable the man to fly even though he had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. His wife, however, had tested negative, so he used her ID and negative PCR test results in order to board the plane at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport in Jakarta, says the report.

Malaysia recorded a fresh high of 199 single-day death toll from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total deaths to 7,440, according to the Health Ministry. Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that another 11,985 new COVID-19 infections were reported, of which seven are imported and 11,978 are local transmissions, bringing the national total to 951,884. Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press briefing that a batch of vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac will be sold to private sector and states this month, following the completion of the initial supply contract to the government.

Information compiled from CNA, CBC, CNN, Xinhua News.