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

Global cases of COVID-19 surpassed 200 million on Wednesday as Japan battles a surge in the spread of the delta variant.

Global cases of COVID-19 surpass 200 million

Japan recorded a record high of more than 14,000 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics. In this photo from July 27, the South Korea fencing team watches the Women's Epee team semifinal competition in Chiba, Japan. (Andrew Medichini/The Associated Press)

The latest:

Total cumulative COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 200,014,000 on Wednesday, reported the Johns Hopkins University, with the highest concentration in the United States.

Earlier Wednesday, Japan warned coronavirus infections were surging at an unprecedented pace as new cases hit a record high in Tokyo, overshadowing the Olympics and adding to doubts over the government's handling of the pandemic.

The metropolitan government in Tokyo on Wednesday reported 4,166 new cases of COVID-19, surpassing the previous single-day high of 4,058 new cases set on Saturday. A website maintained by the regional government said the health-care system is "under strain" as infections spread. Health officials in Tokyo on Wednesday listed 115 cases as serious.

The delta variant was leading to a spread of infections "unseen in the past," Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said as he defended a new policy of asking patients with milder symptoms to isolate at home rather than going to hospital.

"The pandemic has entered a new phase.... Unless we have enough beds, we can't bring people to hospital. We're acting pre-emptively on this front," Tamura told parliament.

Despite a late start, vaccinations picked up in May, and 31.5 per cent of the population is now fully immunized.

Japan has managed to keep its cases and deaths lower than much of the world, but testing is still insufficient and Tokyo's positivity rate stands at 20 per cent, indicating widespread infections. Its seven-day moving average is 8.3 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 2.9 in India, 6.5 in the Philippines and 27.3 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

— From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:35 p.m. ET


What's happening in Canada

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Wednesday took questions about how the province plans to handle reopening classrooms in September. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

What's happening around the world

Medical workers in protective suits enter a residential compound under lockdown to perform COVID-19 tests following new cases in Changsha, in China's Hunan province. (cnsphoto/Reuters)

As of early Wednesday morning, more than 200 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking cases of the novel coronavirus. The reported death toll stood at more than 4.2 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia has surpassed 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a grim milestone in a country struggling with its worst pandemic wave fuelled by the delta variant. It took 14 months for Indonesia to exceed the 50,000 deaths at the end of May, and just over nine weeks to double it.

China reported on Wednesday the highest number of new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since January as some cities stepped up restrictions, cut flights and increased testing to try to control an outbreak driven by the delta variant.

In Africa, South Africa's mass vaccination drive gave jabs to 220,000 people a day last week and is accelerating toward the goal of 300,000 per day. With large deliveries of doses arriving and some vaccines being assembled here, South Africa appears on track to inoculate about 35 million of its 60 million people by the end of the year and 40 million by February.

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Houghton Mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late July. The mosque was being used as a drive-thru vaccination centre. (Denis Farrell/The Associated Press)

More than 7.7 million South Africans have received at least one dose, with more than 100,000 fully vaccinated, representing 1.6 per cent of the population, according to official figures. Across Africa, less than 1.5 per cent of the continent's 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the Middle East, Israel warned against travel to the United States and other countries and said it would tighten quarantine measures for inbound travellers from more than a dozen countries.

In hard-hit Iran, health officials reported another 39,019 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — once again setting a new single-day high. The country also reported 378 deaths, bringing the reported COVID-19 related death toll in Iran to 91,785, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Europe, the European Union has sealed an agreement with Novavax for millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine that it's developing in the hope that the shot will be better adapted to new variants of the virus.

The EU's executive branch, the European Commission, says the contract will allow the bloc's 27 member states to buy up to 100 million doses of the Novavax shot once it's approved for use.

The vaccine is expected to come on the market in the last quarter of this year. The advanced purchasing agreement also includes an option for another 100 million doses over through to 2023.

Around 60 per cent of adults in the EU, which has a population of some 450 million people, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But concerns linger about the impact of the fast-spreading delta variant.

A visitor wearing protective face mask carries a plush bear at an amusement fair earlier this week in Hamburg, Germany. Organizers instituted a hygiene policy for the fair that includes proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result and limited tickets to specific time slots. (Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the German government said it will donate all future orders of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative. 

In the Americas, the United States is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was holding to his anti-mask mandate, anti-lockdown stance as his state continued to lead the nation in hospitalizations for COVID-19.

— From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 10:32 p.m. ET

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story erroneously stated the total active global cases of COVID-19 stood at 200,014,000 on Wednesday. In fact, this refers to total cumulative cases. 
    Aug 04, 2021 5:43 PM ET

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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