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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

MOSCOW: Russia’s Saint Petersburg posted record Covid-19 deaths Monday as it prepares to host a Euro 2020 quarter-final despite the worrying spread of the Delta variant, which is fuelling infection surges around the world and causing a headache for major sporting events.

While wealthy countries have started bringing down infections through rapid vaccination drives, outbreaks are still raging from Bangladesh and Indonesia to South America — fuelled in large part by the highly infectious Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

The strain is now in 85 countries and is the most contagious of any Covid-19 variant so far identified, according to the World Health Organization.

Faced with this surge in a pandemic that has already killed more than 3.9 million people worldwide, officials are racing to vaccinate their populations.

The US Pacific territory of Guam has gone one step further and will offer visitors a Covid-19 vaccination with their tropical holiday, in a bid to restart its struggling tourism industry.

In Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, businesses have been ordered to send home some of their unvaccinated workers and the mayor has urged residents to get the shot.

Russia has seen an explosion of new cases linked to the Delta variant, with Moscow and Saint Petersburg both posting record deaths on Monday.

The outbreak has also caused alarm for the Euro 2020 football tournament taking place in various locations throughout Europe, including Saint Petersburg which has hosted six matches.

But Russia’s tournament organisers said Friday’s quarter-final would “take place as planned”.

Spectator numbers have been capped at half, but are still drawing upwards of 26,000 people.

Concerns over coronavirus have also dogged another major sporting events, with cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup moved from India to the United Arab Emirates due to the Covid situation.

And Japan’s Olympic chief warned Monday there was “no way” to ensure zero virus cases among athletes coming to the Tokyo Games, after two members of Uganda’s team tested positive last week following their arrival.

The virus also remains on the march across the Asia-Pacific, with thousands left stranded in Bangladesh’s capital ahead of a sweeping new lockdown. A recent study by the independent Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research reported more than two-thirds of new virus cases were linked to the Delta strain. The South Asian nation, home to more than 160 million people, will shut down shops, markets, transportation and offices in stages by Thursday — a decision that sparked an exodus of tens of thousands of migrant workers from the cities.

Indonesia is meanwhile battling one of the worst outbreaks in Asia, reporting a daily record 21,000 new cases on Sunday as fears grew about the ability of its stretched hospitals to handle the surge.

To the south, infections have appeared in cities across Australia, with Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and Sydney all reporting new cases of the Delta variant.

That has prompted local authorities to impose restrictions such as lockdowns in areas not used to living under strict Covid-19 rules.


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