What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People, some wearing protective face masks, walk through Waterloo Station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, July 4, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

UK’s Johnson sets out plan for final lockdown easing

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out plans for the final step of easing the England’s lockdown on Monday, including guidance on social distancing, face coverings and working from home, the government said. The remaining legal restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are due to be lifted on July 19, with the decision whether to go ahead scheduled for July 12.

Data suggests that cases will continue to rise as restrictions are eased, but the link to hospitalisations and deaths has been weakened by the vaccination programme, the government said. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Sunday face masks would no longer be mandatory after the final step in the lockdown easing.

S.Korea in talks with mRNA vaccine makers to make up to 1 bln doses

South Korea is in talks with mRNA vaccine makers including Pfizer and Moderna to produce COVID-19 shots in the country and is ready to offer the capacity to make up to 1 billion doses immediately, a senior government official said.

The plan, if agreed, would help ease a tight global supply of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in Asia which lags North America and Europe in vaccine rollouts, and put South Korea a step closer to its ambition to become a major vaccine manufacturing centre.

Next two days critical in New South Wales

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) said on Monday the next two days would be “absolutely critical” in deciding whether a two-week anti-coronavirus lockdown in Sydney, set to end on July 9, will have to be extended amid rising Delta variant cases.

With more than five million Sydney residents under strict stay-at-home orders, total infections in the latest outbreak have topped 300. NSW reported 35 locally acquired cases on Monday, matching the biggest daily rise in infections so far this year, recorded two days ago.

Fiji mortuary full as COVID-19 cases surge

The mortuary at Fiji’s largest hospital is now full, the country’s health ministry said on Monday, as the Pacific island nation logs record daily coronavirus cases. There were no immediate details on the capacity of the morgue. Twenty-eight people have died from COVID-19 in a second wave of infections starting in April, the ministry said on Sunday.

Although Fiji had early success with keeping the virus at bay by closing its borders, the highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is now spreading. A new daily high of 522 new infections was recorded on Sunday. The island has a population of about 900,000. About 54% of Fijians have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccines, according to official data, while almost 9% have received a second.

Biden urges Americans to help end COVID-19 pandemic

U.S. President Joe Biden celebrated the nation’s 245th birthday on Sunday by opening the gates of the White House and calling on Americans to do their part to end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.

“This year, the Fourth of July is a day of special celebration for we are emerging from the darkness of … a year of pandemic and isolation, a year of pain, fear and heartbreaking loss,” Biden told a White House party opened to around 1,000 people, including military families and workers involved in the COVID-19 response. “We never again want to be where we were a year ago today,” he added.

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