Worsening COVID rise in Vietnam triggers expanded lockdowns

Vietnam, which won praise for controlling COVID-19 in earlier pandemic months, is now battling a quickly rising Delta variant (1617.2) surge, with lockdown measures starting in Hanoi tomorrow and a lockdown extension for Ho Chi Minh City.

In other developments, cases surged in Asia's hot spots, as cases continue to climb sharply in Europe.

About a third of Vietnam under lockdown

Vietnam today reported another record daily high for cases, with 7,307 new infections, up sharply from 6,194 reported yesterday, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. Nearly 5,000 of the cases were reported from Ho Chi Minh City, where officials today announced that the city's lockdown will be extended until Aug 1.

In Hanoi, a new wave of activity over the past few days triggered similar measures today, with strict measures in effect for the next 15 days, according to Reuters. Roughly a third of Vietnam is under stay-at-home orders.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia reported record deaths today, with 1,566 new fatalities. Other countries reported new single-day highs for cases, including Malaysia with 15,573 and Thailand with 14,575.

Delta expands further in Europe

The Delta variant is spreading quickly in Europe and is now dominant in 19 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) European office and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today. The overall proportion is 68.3%, overtaking the Alpha (B117) variant, that is now at 22.3%.

Delta levels are rising most rapidly in those ages 15 to 24 years, increasing fivefold in that group over the past month.

Hans Henri Kluge, MD, MPH, who heads the WHO's European office, urged countries—especially those easing measures—to expand access to free testing, add incentives for quarantine, and strengthen contact tracing.

In the United Kingdom, the Delta variant makes up 99% of cases, and 45 cases of a Delta sublineage (AY.1) have been detected, according to a weekly update from Public Health England (PHE). In a separate part of the risk assessment, PHE said distinct Delta clades are starting to be identified, mainly distinguished by changes outside of the spike protein, with an unknown biological significance—findings that have triggered lab investigations.

PHE scientists said they see the first signal of potential reinfection from Delta, as compared to the Alpha variant. Confidence in the finding is low, and further investigation is under way.

PHE also said it is tracking a new variant under investigation (B1621), for which 16 cases have been detected, most of them linked to international travel. So far there is no indication that the variant causes more severe disease or evades natural of vaccine immunity, but scientists are investigating.

More global headlines

  • Cuba today reported a new daily record high, with 7,745 new infections reported.

  • In Australia, the country's most populous state, New South Wales, reported a record 136 cases, increasing the likelihood that officials will extend the lockdown for the Sydney area.

  • Africa's cases declined 1.7% last week, much of it driven by South Africa's drop in cases, the head of the WHO's African regional office said today on Twitter. She warned, however, that data show a steep rise in other countries and that the third surge is not over.

  • GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, today announced that the first COVAX vaccine doses donated by Japan, which include 11 million AstraZeneca doses, arrived in Cambodia and Iran today and will arrive in Bangladesh tomorrow.

  • The global total climbed to 192,619,059 cases, with at least 4,135,695 deaths, according to the New York Times tracker.

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