The Australian state of New South Wales announced a snap lockdown Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the seven-day, statewide lockdown to begin Saturday evening. Schools will close for at least a week.
“This is literally a war,” Gladys Berejiklian, the state’s premier, said. “The delta strain is diabolical.”
Saturday was the state’s worst day of the pandemic, with 466 new cases and four deaths.
Berejiklian said New South Wales is facing a “dire” situation.
Earlier Saturday, Dr. Danielle McMullen, the Australian Medical Association’s New South Wales president, said in a statement, “We need to treat this virus like it’s everywhere, all the time. … Doctors from across NSW are exhausted and concerned for their community. Our already fragile rural and regional health system will be unable to cope with increases in cases.”
An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Friday in favor of recommending a third coronavirus vaccine dose to 2.7 million people with weakened immune systems.
The decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for extremely immunocompromised individuals, who represent less than 3% of the overall population.
The FDA's acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in a statement late Thursday, "The FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease."
"Other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected," Woodcock said, "and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time."
The CDC recommended that vulnerable Americans, including cancer patients, HIV patients and others with immunodeficiencies, get the booster shot after multiple studies showed that it could better protect their immune systems from the virus.
According to the CDC, 40% to 44% of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 after being vaccinated are immunocompromised.
The governor of Oregon said Friday she is deploying as many as 1,500 National Guard troops to hospitals in the state to help health care workers with the demands placed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Kate Brown said the first group of 500 Guard members will be sent out Friday, August 20. Eventually the troops will be sent to 20 hospitals around the state that are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the delta strain, Brown said.
The Oregon Health Authority said the delta variant of the coronavirus currently comprises 96% of all samples tested.
Oregon reported Friday that there are 733 people in the state’s hospitals with the virus, with 185 in intensive care.
“When our hospitals are full with COVID-19 patients, there may not be room for someone needing care after a car crash, a heart attack, or other emergency situation,” Brown said. “The harsh, and frustrating reality is that the delta variant has changed everything.”
Protesters marched in cities throughout France for the fifth consecutive Saturday in opposition to a COVID-19 health pass that is needed to enter restaurants and travel on long-distance trains.
The health pass took effect last week as new infections soared because of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. In the past week, France has reported more than 146,000 new cases and 358 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The United Kingdom reported more than 32,500 new daily infections Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins, and 100 deaths.
In the past week, the U.K. reported nearly 199,000 new cases and 634 deaths, Johns Hopkins data showed.
France and the U.K. have similar populations, about 67 million.
Russia reported Saturday a daily record of 795 COVID-19 deaths, the highest toll of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins.
Health officials blamed the increase on the more contagious delta variant.
Officials also reported 21,661 new coronavirus cases Saturday, down from the nation's record on Christmas Eve of last year, Johns Hopkins said.
Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said daily hospitalizations in the city had fallen by half since late June. Moscow reported 2,529 new infections on Friday.
Source: Voice of America