Australia has reported its first death of 2021 from locally acquired coronavirus, while Covid-19 cases have risen in China and continued to rise in South Korea.
The Australian state of New South Wales is battling an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta strain, setting a record of 77 new cases of the virus in 2021 on Sunday.
A woman in her 90s died in Sydney on Saturday after testing positive for Covid-19. The state’s prime minister, Gladys Berejiklian, said the number of cases in and around Australia’s largest city, which has been on lockdown for three weeks, is expected to rise further in the coming days.
“I expect the number in New South Wales to be over 100 tomorrow,” Berejiklian said. “I’ll be shocked if it’s less.”
On Saturday, there were 50 cases, which was a record for 2021, bringing the recent outbreak to 566 cases.
South Korea reported 1,324 new coronavirus cases at midnight on Saturday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said, up from a record 1,378 the day before. Reported cases often drop over the weekend with fewer tests and authorities have warned the number of cases could continue to rise.
The wave has seen much less severe infections than previous waves, with many of South Korea’s older and more vulnerable residents vaccinated for the virus. Overall, about 11% of South Korea’s 52 million people have completed vaccination, while 30% have received one dose. According to the KDCA, the spike is largely caused by younger unvaccinated people.
The wave has led officials to impose the strictest level of social distancing in Seoul and neighboring regions for the first time as of Monday. The total number of Covid-19 infections in South Korea so far stands at 168,046, with 2,043 deaths.
China reported 24 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, up from 26 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said. Twelve of the confirmed new cases were locally transmitted infections in southwestern Yunnan province. The rest was imported.
The number of new asymptomatic cases – which China does not classify as confirmed cases – rose from 16 a day earlier to 17. Of the asymptomatic cases, one was a local transmission registered in Shaanxi province.
The total of confirmed Covid-19 cases in China stood at 92,039, while the death toll remained at 4,636.
In Europe, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 745 to 3,736,165, data from the Robert Koch Institute of Infectious Diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by six to 91,231.
Meanwhile, chipmaker TSMC said in Taiwan on Sunday it was in the midst of the contract signing process to purchase Covid-19 vaccine shots from Germany’s BioNTech, Pfizer’s vaccine partner. “There are several parties. We are in the middle of the contract signing process. We will make announcements once the process is complete,” TSMC said.