New York on Tuesday announced the introduction of a de facto vaccine pass for some public areas as China’s Wuhan said it would test all 11 million residents after the coronavirus returned to where it first emerged.
Meanwhile, half of the European Union’s population has now been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, an AFP count showed on Tuesday, putting the bloc just ahead of the United States.
The highly contagious Delta variant has sparked a spate of infections around the world, including places that touted their success in overcoming the worst of the pandemic.
New York City will require vaccination certificates for people visiting indoor venues such as restaurants, gyms and shows, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, making it the first major U.S. city to introduce a vaccine pass.
“If you’re vaccinated… you have the key, you can open the door. But if you’re not vaccinated, unfortunately you can’t participate in many things,” de Blasio told a news conference.
With coronavirus cases rising again in the United States, de Blasio said a health pass dubbed the “Key to NYC” would be launched on August 16, followed by a transitional enforcement period a month later.
“It’s time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to live a good, full and healthy life,” de Blasio said.
Largest injection donor
The US on Monday met President Joe Biden’s goal of administering at least one shot a month to 70 percent of adults.
Officials blamed falling vaccine rates for the missed deadline and the rising caseload.
“These cases are concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House’s Covid Task Force, told reporters.
In a silver lining, US states that previously lagged are catching up late, according to the latest vaccination data.
And the US also said it has distributed more than 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad — more than all other countries combined.
The White House said the announcement marked “just the beginning” of US efforts to help the world fight the pandemic that has claimed more than 4.2 million lives worldwide.
China, which had reduced domestic cases to virtually zero after the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, has seen that record compromised by Delta.
The rapidly spreading variant has reached dozens of cities after infections among airport cleaners in Nanjing sparked a series of cases reported across the country.
After Wuhan reported the first local infections in more than a year, authorities said they were launching a mass-testing program for all 11 million residents.
Mao, a 27-year-old resident of Wuhan, told AFP he was “not worried” about the new outbreak because “Wuhan has gained a wealth of experience” after a grueling lockdown early in the pandemic.
Across China, authorities have confined millions of residents of entire cities to their homes in recent days, cutting domestic transport links and rolling out massive tests.
And elsewhere, Morocco and France were among the countries announcing stricter restrictions in light of the Covid resurgence.
Morocco increased its curfew and increased travel restrictions to Agadir, Casablanca and Marrakesh in a bid to slow rising coronavirus cases.
In France, the Finistère area of Brittany on Monday ordered people to cover their mouths and noses outdoors after authorities said the number of cases had more than quadrupled between June 30 and July 30.
EU passes US
The European Union, which has been hit hard by previous waves of the pandemic and initially struggled to mount vaccination campaigns, has now fully vaccinated more than 50 percent of its population.
Spain leads the pack of larger EU countries with 58.3 percent of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Italy at 54.4 percent, France at 52.9 and Germany at 52.2 percent, according to an AFP count.
The EU has now surpassed the United States’ vaccination rate – which remains at 49.7 percent.
In Australia, where only 15 percent of the population of 25 million have been fully vaccinated, authorities are relying on lockdowns to stop a Delta outbreak, with 3,600 cases registered as of mid-June.
Millions are still subject to restrictions on movement in the country, and troops took to the streets of Sydney and surrounding areas on Monday, entering the sixth week of a lockdown that will last until the end of August.
Australian airline Qantas said it would send 2,500 workers home without pay for two months from mid-August, as lockdowns reduce demand for flights.