Mississippi’s top public health official says the state is seeing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweets that the “4th wave is here.”
The Mississippi State Department of Health said Monday that 2,326 new cases were confirmed Friday through Sunday. That is the largest three-day increase reported in the state since February.
Swiftly rising coronavirus cases in parts of the United States and abroad fuelled fears of a pandemic resurgence and sent shockwaves through stock markets on Monday as the highly contagious delta variant appeared to be taking hold in some areas.
Many of the new outbreaks were in parts of the country where COVID-19 vaccinations have lagged, prompting political leaders to ramp up pressure on reluctant Americans to get the inoculations.
Mississippi has one of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the nation.
In Missouri, where the delta variant is causing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the southwest of the state, health officials have taken to going door-to-door in an effort to encourage vaccinations.
The Kansas City Star recently followed along as health officials knocked on doors in Springfield, handing out brochures.
The effort was non-confrontational and the officials always took “no” for an answer, the newspaper reported, despite concerns raised by Gov. Mike Parson and other Republican leaders that the outreach would be heavy-handed.
Southwestern Missouri has seen an alarming rise in illnesses caused by COVID-19 in recent weeks.
There was a tinge of good news Monday: The number of people hospitalized dipped slightly both in southwestern Missouri and across the state, according to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data.
After several days of more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases, the state reported 826 on Monday, bringing the total for the pandemic to 545,551. No new deaths were reported, keeping the total at 9,474.
Arkansas has also been hit hard by the resurgent virus. All but two of the state’s 75 counties have substantial or high levels of transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Tokyo
The world needs to see that Japan can stage a safe Olympics, the country’s prime minister told sports officials Tuesday ahead of the Tokyo Games.
Tens of thousands of athletes, officials, Games staff and media are arriving in Japan amid a local state of emergency and widespread opposition from the general public.
Events start Wednesday — in softball and women’s soccer — two days ahead of the formal opening ceremony of an Olympics already postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The world is faced with great difficulties,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told International Olympic Committee members in a closed-door meeting at a five-star hotel in Tokyo, adding “we can bring success to the delivery of the Games.”
“Such fact has to be communicated from Japan to the rest of the world,” Suga said through an interpreter. “We will protect the health and security of the Japanese public.”
He acknowledged Japan’s path through the pandemic toward the Olympics had gone “sometimes backward at times.”
“But vaccination has started and after a long tunnel an exit is now in our sight,” Suga said.
The prime minister’s office said Monday more than 21 per cent of Japan’s 126 million population has been inoculated.
Health experts in Japan have questioned allowing so many international visitors for the Games, which end on Aug. 8. There will be no local or foreign fans at events. The Paralympics will follow in late August.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 190.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, with a reported global death toll of more than four million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Muslims across Indonesia marked a grim Eid al-Adha festival for a second year Tuesday as the country struggles to cope with a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases and the government has banned large gatherings and toughened travel restrictions.
Indonesia is now Asia’s COVID-19 hot spot with the most confirmed daily cases, as infections and deaths have surged over the past three weeks and India’s massive outbreak has waned.
Most of Indonesia’s cases are on the densely populated island of Java, where more than half of the country’s 270 million people live. Authorities in the world’s most-populous Muslim-majority nation have banned many of the crowd-attracting activities that are usually part of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that marks the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Authorities allowed prayers at local mosques in low-risk areas, but elsewhere houses of worship had no congregations, including Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia’s health ministry reported 34,257 new coronavirus cases and 1,338 deaths on Monday, making it the country’s deadliest day since the start of the pandemic. Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 2.9 million cases and 74,920 fatalities. Those figures are widely believed to be vast undercounts due to low testing and poor tracing measures.
In Africa, South African health officials on Monday reported 7,209 new cases of COVID-19 and 221 additional deaths. Health workers in the country on Monday administered 200,000 vaccine doses in one day, according to local media — a record high for South Africa.
In Europe, Spanish officials are celebrating that half of Spain’s residents, or roughly 24 million people, have been fully vaccinated already, although they say that a steep increase in contagion is sending worrying numbers of patients into hospitals.
In the Middle East, Iranians facing a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines at home are travelling to neighbouring Armenia as tourists in growing numbers to get inoculated there for free, according to data from Armenia’s tourism board.
In the Americas, Brazil registered 15,271 new cases of coronavirus and 542 new COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET
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