(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Australia’s COVID-19 response team holds urgent meeting
Australia’s COVID-19 response committee is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday as outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant across the country prompted a lockdown in Sydney and renewed restrictions elsewhere.
More than 20 million Australians, or around 80% of the population, are now under some form of lockdown or COVID-related restrictions as officials grapple with flare-ups in almost every state or territory.
New Zealand is considering making masks compulsory at high alert levels as well as compulsory scanning of QR codes to boost contact tracing in efforts to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
South Africa to tighten restrictions
South Africa will tighten COVID-19 restrictions for 14 days as current containment measures are insufficient to cope with the speed and scale of new infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
The country, the worst-hit on the African continent in terms of recorded cases and deaths, is in the grip of a “third wave” of infections.
It recorded almost 18,000 new cases on Saturday, approaching the peak of daily infections seen in a second wave in January, and local scientists say the Delta coronavirus variant first identified in India seems to be spreading fast.
Health minister leads push for stricter curbs in Indonesia
Indonesia’s health minister is leading a push for stricter controls as coronavirus cases surge to unprecedented levels, according to sources familiar with government discussions.
Infections in Indonesia have tripled in the past month, overwhelming hospitals in the capital Jakarta and other centres on the heavily populated island of Java.
On Sunday, the country posted its fifth record daily high for COVID-19 cases in the past week, with 21,342 people confirmed as positive, equivalent to over a quarter of those tested.
Taiwan’s cases fall to month-and-a-half low
Taiwan reported on Monday its lowest daily rise in domestic COVID-19 infections in 1-1/2 months as the island’s outbreak stabilises, although the government remains wary about a cluster of the Delta variant.
Taiwan has been battling a rare spike in community transmissions after months of relative safety, with curbs imposed last month on gatherings to limit its spread.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told a daily news briefing that new domestic cases stood at 60, down from 88 the previous day.
Spain tightens rules on Balearic Islands access for Britons
Spain will demand a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination from British tourists who want to enter Mallorca, Ibiza and other Balearic Islands, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday.
“What we are going to do is apply to British tourists who go to the Balearic Islands the same requirements we make of other European citizens,” Sanchez told Cadena SER radio.
Passengers arriving in Portugal from Britain must quarantine for 14 days from Monday if they are not fully vaccinated, the Portuguese government said in a statement late on Sunday.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Jan Harvey)