Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday

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Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne will stay locked down for a second week after Victoria state reported 20 new COVID-19 cases as it struggles to stamp out infections caused by the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.

A near-empty Sydney Opera House forecourt is seen in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday. Greater Sydney is in lockdown through Aug. 28 to contain the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.(Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

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Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne will stay locked down for a second week after Victoria state reported 20 new COVID-19 cases as it struggles to stamp out infections caused by the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Melbourne had been due to exit the lockdown on Thursday, the sixth for its five million people in stop-start battles against the coronavirus also seen elsewhere across the country.

Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews confirmed strict stay-at-home orders for Melbourne will remain in place until at least Aug. 19 after authorities were unable to trace how several of the 20 people confirmed as new cases on Wednesday contracted COVID-19.

"If we were to open, then we would see cases akin to what is happening, tragically, in Sydney right now," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne, referring to an outbreak in Australia's most populous city that has spread to thousands despite Sydney being in Week 7 of its own lockdown.

A person walks past a sign, marked with graffiti, that encourages people to get vaccinated in Melbourne's central business district on Wednesday. Fewer than 25 per cent of the country is fully vaccinated.(William West/AFP/Getty Images)

In Sydney, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian reported another 344 new infections in the past 24 hours as he told reporters, "We have seen a surge in the number of cases and [that is] expected to continue."

Berejiklian said the Sydney lockdown, which has grown to include several areas north of the city, will also be expanded to include Dubbo, a small city about 400 kilometres northwest of Sydney.

Desperate to restart some major employment industries, New South Wales has allowed some in the most-affected Sydney suburbs to return to construction jobs around the city, but they must first be vaccinated.

Australia has so far fared much better than many other countries in the developed world during the pandemic, with just under 37,000 COVID-19 cases. The death toll rose to 944 on Wednesday after two people, including a man in his 30s, died in Sydney.

But with fewer than 25 per cent of the country fully vaccinated, Australia is struggling to avoid stop-start lockdowns that some warn could tip Australia's economy, the world's 13th biggest according to the International Monetary Fund, into a second recession in as many years.

Federal and state governments have committed to ending lockdowns when 70 per cent of the country's near 26 million population is vaccinated.


What's happening in Canada


What's happening around the world

As of Wednesday morning, more than 204 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.3 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea's daily increase in coronavirus infections has exceeded 2,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, continuing an alarming spread despite the enforcement of strict virus restrictions in large population centers.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol on Wednesday pleaded for people to stay home during the holiday break around Liberation Day on Friday. He said that "in our fight against COVID-19, we are entering a new phase, a new crisis."

A medical worker takes a sample from a visitor at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul on Wednesday. South Korean officials reported 2,223 new cases in the last 24 hours, more than 1,400 of which are in the Seoul metropolitan region.(Im Hwa-young/Yonhap/The Associated Press)

In the Middle East,Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest airport for international travel, handled some 40 per cent less passenger traffic in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, its chief executive said Wednesday.

The decline came as more contagious coronavirus variants cut off the hub's biggest source markets and continued to clobber the global aviation industry. However, CEO Paul Griffiths remains optimistic for "a satisfactory end to the year" as authorities gradually re-open Dubai's key routes to the Indian subcontinent and Britain.

In Europe, Germany's coronavirus vaccination drive has slowed and those people who have not taken up the opportunity to have shots will have to take COVID-19 tests to take a full part in public life, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

To nudge more people to get vaccinated amid concerns about a rise in new cases, Merkel said the government will stop offering free tests from Oct. 11, except for those for whom vaccination is not recommended, such as children and pregnant women.

In the Americas, Hawaii will re-impose COVID-19 restrictions limiting social gatherings to avert straining the state's healthcare, Gov. David Ige said on Tuesday, as the rapid spread of the delta variant pushed cases and hospitalizations in the United States to a six-month high.

All high-risk activities, such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and social establishments will be set to 50% indoor capacity. Counties will review proposals for all professionally sponsored events (bigger than 50 people) and ensure appropriate safe practices will be implemented.

—@GovHawaii

In Africa, Senegal has received more than a half-million COVID-19 vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX initiative, but demand is outstripping supply in the country of 16 million people, leaving many still waiting for their second doses.

During the first year of the pandemic, Senegal was frequently cited as a success story in Africa: After quickly closing the country's airport and land borders, President Macky Sall mandated mask-wearing and temporarily halted inter-regional travel.

However, the delta variant has changed all that. Hospital beds, too, are in short supply, leaving COVID-19 patients to languish at home while they wait for a spot or until their condition further deteriorates.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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