Coronavirus live news: Taiwan to ease restrictions; vaccinations rising in US states with high cases
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Vaccinations are beginning to rise in some states where Covid cases are soaring, White House officials said Thursday in a sign that the summer surge is getting the attention of vaccine-hesitant Americans as hospitals in the South are being overrun with patients.
Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.
“The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are quite frightening at the moment,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio show. Edwards, a Democrat, added: “There’s no doubt that we are going in the wrong direction, and we’re going there in a hurry.”
Louisiana, for example, reported 2,843 new cases Thursday, a day after reporting 5,388 — the third-highest level since the pandemic began. Hospitalisations are up steeply in the last month, from 242 on 19 June to 913 in the latest report. Fifteen new deaths were reported Thursday.
Just 36% of Louisiana’s population is fully vaccinated, state health department data shows. Nationally, 56.3% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Warner Thomas, president and CEO of the Ochsner Health system serving Louisiana and Mississippi, said the system had seen a 10% to 15% increase in people seeking vaccination over the past week or two.
Taiwan will ease its Covid restrictions from next week though some will remain in place, the government said on Friday, with rapidly falling case numbers giving authorities confidence to further lower the alert level.
Reuters: Taiwan implemented restrictions on gatherings, including closing entertainment venues and limiting restaurants to take-out service, in mid-May following a spike in domestic cases after months of no or few cases apart from imported ones.
While some of those curbs were eased this month, the so-called level 3 alert has been in force and is due to end on 26 July.
Premier Su Tseng-chang said the alert would be lowered to level 2 from Tuesday.
“The domestic epidemic has gradually stabilized and is heading towards a good direction,” Su said.
“Citizens should still strictly follow all pandemic prevention guidance to guard this hard-earned achievement after restrictions are relaxed.”
The health ministry will announce details of the new guidance later on Friday, he said.