Coronavirus digest: Florida COVID cases reach new high

Florida has reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday showed how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State. Only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases.

The previous peak was 19,334 cases reported on January 7.

The state now accounts for around a fifth of all new cases in the US.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the Florida Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose measures meant to stop the spread of the virus.

Here are the other major developments on coronavirus from around the world.

Middle East

Israel has begun vaccinations for children between the ages of 5 and 11 at risk of health complications.

Everyone above 60 years of age can now receive a third shot of COVID vaccine. They should have received the second shot at least five months ago to become eligible for the third.

Nearly 60% of Israel’s population have gotten two shots, mostly with the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.

Despite the success, Israel reported 2,435 new cases on Saturday, the highest since March, and 326 people were hospitalized.

The country is also looking at developing an oral vaccine, according to news agency AFP.

Saudi Arabia opens its border to fully vaccinated tourists from today after a 17-month pause. They will not be required to quarantine if they can provide health authorities with a negative COVID-19 report.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Socially-distanced worship Ordinarily, thousands of Muslim worshippers flock to Mecca’s Ka’bah, Islam’s holiest site, during the hajj. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, Saudi authorities have limited the number of worshippers. This year, only 60,000 Saudi Muslims are permitted to undertake the pilgrimage.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Islam’s holiest site Journeying to Mecca is one of several key acts a pious Muslim is expected to perform in life. Islam’s most sacred sites are treated with utmost deference. The area surrounding the Ka’bah, in Mecca’s Great Mosque, is given a meticulous clean before worshippers arrive.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Strict hygiene measures apply Strict hygiene measures are in place during the hajj, with mask-wearing now a norm among worshippers. This year, Saudi Arabia is only allowing fully vaccinated Muslims to embark on the hajj. Currently, only 12% of Saudis are inoculated.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations ‘Feast of sacrifice’ Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” is the most important holiday in the Muslim world. It commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s (known as Abraham to Christians and Jews) willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s behest. God is said to have suddenly intervened and spared Ishmael’s life. In his place, a ram was sacrificed. Here, Nigerian Muslims prepare a ram for sacrifice.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Blood red A Bangladeshi vendor colors the horns of his livestock. The red color symbolizes the blood of the sacrificial animals. During this important Muslim holiday, meat from sacrificed livestock is usually donated to the needy.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Halal slaughter Animals sacrificed in celebration of this holiday are slaughtered according to traditional halal principles. This archive image from Turkey shows the practice. Halal slaughter involves cutting an animal’s throat without stunning it beforehand. Animal rights activists take issue with this method, and Germany mandates that animals must be stunned before undergoing halal slaughter.

Pandemic overshadows hajj, Eid al-Adha celebrations Time for celebration Above all, the Feast of Sacrifice brings together old and young, and is typically celebrated together with families. Here, crowds gather to mark the first day of Eid al-Adha festivities next to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City Author: Kersten Knipp

Asia Pacific

Thailand on Sunday extended tighter containment measures in Bangkok, and other high-risk areas, until the end of August, government sources said, as the country deals with its biggest outbreak since the onset of the pandemic.

The restrictions, including travel curbs, mall closures and curfews, will be expanded to 29 provinces, according to news agency Reuters. The restrictive measures are currently in place for 13 provinces.

Olympics organizers recorded 18 new cases at the Tokyo Games on Sunday. The figures bring the total number of Olympics-linked cases to 259, among them 24 athletes who have tested positive.

Organizers say they’re investigating an outdoor drinking party involving multiple athletes at the village where they’re staying.

The 11,000 athletes were warned before the games that drinking alcohol in groups was a breach of rules to protect against COVID-19 infections. They can drink alone in their rooms.

In the most serious cases of breaking rules, athletes can be removed from the village and have their Olympic credentials taken.

Two critically endangered male Sumatran tigers at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Nine-year-old Tino and 12-year-old Hari were receiving medication but are expected to recover.

Chinese cities rolled out mass testing of millions of people and imposed fresh travel restrictions. Health authorities are rushing to contain the country’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months.

China on Sunday reported 75 new coronavirus cases with 53 local transmissions.

The fast-spreading delta variant broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province in July and has now spread to over 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.

Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, recorded 239 new cases of delta variant of the virus, matching the record daily number of cases on Thursday. There are currently 222 people are in hospital and 54 of them are in intensive care in the state.

In Queensland, there were 9 new cases, the state’s highest number in a year.

Cambodia will begin offering booster shots to its frontline workers, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Sunday. He said the vaccines would be switched on the basis of the shots the workers had already received, meaning a worker would receive an AstraZeneca shot if she had received Sinovac and vice versa. The Southeast Asian nation also kicked off vaccination for children between 12-17 years old.

Pakistan banned air travel for unvaccinated people on Sunday. Authorities hope the move will encourage people to get vaccinated as the country recorded its highest daily COVID infections — 5,026 cases — in more than three months.


South Africa kicks off its inoculation drive for people aged between 35 and 49. It threw open registration for those in the group in the middle of July.

Some 12 million people are eligible for the vaccines in the age group, with 1.5 million enrolling within the first 48 hours.


In Germany, anti-lockdown protesters scuffled with Berlin police as thousands of people defied a court ban on demonstrations. Police used water cannon to disperse the protesters and briefly detained around 600 people.

The number of cases in Germany rose by 2,097 and the number of deaths increased by 1 on Sunday. The total number of cases now stands at 3,771,272 and deaths at 91,659.

Meanwhile, new rules for unvaccinated tourists entering Germany came into force on Sunday.

A survey published by the German newspaper Bild showed that 27% of those who were unvaccinated were willing to receive their shots. Some 54% said they would not like to be vaccinated and 19% said they were undecided.

Watch video 02:49 Berlin police take on anti-lockdown protesters – DW’s Thomas Sparrow reports

In Italy, hackers have attacked and shut down the IT systems of the company that manages COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the Lazio region.

“A powerful hacker attack on the region’s CED (database) is underway,” the regional government said in a Facebook posting.

It warned that the inoculation program in the region around could suffer a delay.

Italy recently followed France in announcing that proof of vaccination or immunity from COVID-19 would become mandatory for an array of activities.

The move triggered a series of protests across the country against the introduction of the so-called Green Pass which shows people have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.

Russia reported 22,804 new cases and 789 fatalities on Sunday. The total number of COVID cases stands at 6,288,677 and the total number of deaths at 159,352 since the pandemic began.

jsi, rm/mm (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)