COVID-19: Global Updates

Customers enjoy drinks at tables outside the pubs and bars in the Soho area of London, as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country. (AFP Photo)

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

'Freedom Day' Under A Cloud

Day-to-day pandemic restrictions are lifted in England but "Freedom Day" is met with deep concern from scientists as cases surge across the nation – and around the world.

Melbourne Extends Lockdown 

Melbourne extends a five-day snap lockdown designed to curb a virulent outbreak. With Sydney, Australia's two largest cities and about 12 million people are now under tight restrictions.

Olympic Village 

Tokyo Games organisers insist the Olympic Village is "a safe place to stay", as fears of a cluster emerge just days before the opening ceremony.

A Czech beach volleyball player tests positive, adding to the two South African footballers and an analyst who were found to be infected at the complex.

Sponsor's Low Profile

Tokyo 2020 sponsor Toyota won't run any Olympic TV ads during the Games or send executives to the opening ceremony, an official says, as the coronavirus-hit event struggles for public support.

High Point At Downsized Hajj

Muslim pilgrims ascend Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat in the high point of this year's hajj, being held in downsized form and under pandemic restrictions for the second year running.

Taiwan Approves Local Jab

The government says it has granted emergency-use approval to a vaccine made locally by Medigen, with experts saying early data suggests it is similarly effective to AstraZeneca's jabs.

Ireland Travel Ease

Ireland dramatically loosens international travel restrictions, joining an EU-wide pandemic passport scheme weeks later than the rest of the bloc after a ransomware attack hobbled healthcare IT systems.

Anger In Cyprus

Around 2,500 protesters against pandemic measures and vaccines attack Cypriot television station Sigma TV and torch cars outside the building in Nicosia.

Vietnam Lockdown

About a third of Vietnam's 100 million people must now stay home as multiple southern provinces go under lockdown.

Katie Hopkins Kicked Out 

Australia cancels far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins's visa after she boasted about flouting the country's strict hotel quarantine rules and the government says she will be deported.

Tennis Star Out Of Olympics

American teen tennis star Coco Gauff will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive. The 17-year-old tweets her sadness at missing out on "a dream come true".

Four Million Dead

The coronavirus has killed at least 4,093,263 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 609,021 deaths, followed by Brazil with 542,214, India with 414,108, Mexico with 236,331 and Peru with 195,146 fatalities. 

The WHO says up to three times more people have died directly or indirectly as a result of the pandemic than official figures suggest. – AFP