Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Sunday

The latest:

In the Americas, the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fuelled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the country’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said, describing himself as “very frustrated.”

He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, he said.

Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s State of the Union that he has taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.

WATCH | Fauci talks about delta variant in the U.S.: 

Appearing before a Senate committee in Washington, Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about what we know about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy — and why increased vaccine uptake is critical as the delta variant surges. (Credit: Reuters) 4:15

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in public regardless of vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.

Nearly 163 million people, or 49 per cent of the eligible U.S. population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.

“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

He said government experts are reviewing early data as they consider whether to recommend that vaccinated individuals get booster shots. He suggested that some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant and cancer patients, are “likely” to be recommended for booster shots.

Fauci also praised Republicans, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and the second-ranking House leader, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated. Their states have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson talks about COVID-19 vaccinations at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on June 29. (Andrew Demillo/The Associated Press)

“What I would really like to see is more and more of the leaders in those areas that are not vaccinating to get out and speak out and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

Hutchinson, also speaking on CNN, said he did not know whether he might have underestimated the hesitancy of people to get the vaccine but acknowledged that “the resistance has hardened in certain elements and is simply false information. It is myths. As I go into these town hall meetings, someone said: `Don’t call it a vaccine. Call it a bioweapon.’ And they talk about mind control. Well, those are obviously erroneous. Other members of the community correct that.”

What’s happening in Tokyo

Known for their towering drives, golfers Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm won’t make it to the tee box at the Olympics.

The last two U.S. Open champions became the best-known athletes to drop out of the Tokyo Games on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Cyclists wearing face masks ride past an Olympics banner in Tokyo on Sunday. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images)

DeChambeau’s positive test came before he left the United States for Tokyo. The musclebound American famous for his game-changing swing speed will be replaced by Patrick Reed.

“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said. “Representing my country means the world to me, and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team.”

Rahm was flagged for COVID-19 for the second time in two months — he had a six-shot lead at the Memorial in early June when he was forced to withdraw because of a positive test. The Spaniard said he had gotten his final vaccine shot fewer than 14 days before that positive test.

Both players recently became first-time major champions. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020 at Winged Foot last fall, and Rahm took this year’s title at Torrey Pines in June, two weeks after the positive test at Muirfield Village.

Several dozen Olympic athletes have tested positive either before leaving for Tokyo or after they arrived.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 193.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.1 million.

Cemetery workers bury a COVID-19 victim in Klang, Malaysia, on Saturday. (Lim Huey Teng/Reuters)

In Asia, Malaysia has reported a new daily high of 17,045 infections, pushing the country’s total confirmed cases above the one-million mark. Critics have slammed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government over what they say was inconsistent policies and half-baked lockdowns that failed to curb the pandemic.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says restrictions for unvaccinated people may be necessary if case numbers reach new heights in the coming months. Germany’s vaccine efforts have slowed in recent weeks, and that has led to discussions about how to encourage those who haven’t yet received a vaccine to do so.

In Africa, thousands of people defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate in the Tunisian capital and other cities. The protests — where many expressed anger at the deterioration of the North African nation’s health, economic and social situation —  come as Tunisia reimposed lockdowns and other virus restrictions because it’s facing one of the worst outbreaks on the continent.

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