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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·5 min read
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Thailand

(Refiles to fix media identifier. Text unchanged)

LONDON (Reuters) -Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

U.S. will not lock down despite surge, Fauci says

The United States will not lock down again to curb COVID-19 but "things are going to get worse" as the Delta variant fuels a surge in cases, mostly among the unvaccinated, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

A sufficient percentage of Americans have now been vaccinated to avoid lockdowns, Fauci said on ABC's "This Week".

"Not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter," he said.

The average number of new coronavirus cases reported nationwide has nearly doubled in the past 10 days, according to a Reuters analysis.

Britain may toughen summer travel rules for Spain - The Times

Britain plans to warn holidaymakers against visiting popular tourist destinations such as Spain because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported on Monday.

Such a step could trigger an exodus of about a million British tourists already abroad, cause further damage to the travel sector and deal a new blow to southern Europe's summer tourist season.

The Times did not specify what particular concerns Britain had about Spain. Madrid has been hit by the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, but its rolling seven-day infection rate dropped throughout last week.

A spokesperson for Britain's transport ministry declined to comment.

The boss of London's Heathrow Airport told Britain on Monday to rebuild confidence in travel by making it easier to go abroad.

U.S. Republican report says coronavirus leaked from Chinese lab

Evidence shows the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic leaked from a Chinese research facility, said a report by U.S. Republicans released on Monday, a conclusion that U.S. intelligence agencies have not reached.

The report also cited "ample evidence" that Wuhan Institute of Virology scientists - aided by U.S. experts and Chinese and U.S. government funds - were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.

China denies a genetically modified coronavirus leaked from the facility in Wuhan, the central city where the first COVID-19 cases were detected in 2019. Beijing also denies allegations of a cover-up.

Other experts suspect the pandemic was caused by an animal virus likely transmitted to humans at a seafood market.

Australia tightens COVID curbs as army patrols Sydney

The Australian state of Queensland on Monday extended a COVID-19 lockdown in Brisbane, while soldiers began patrolling Sydney to enforce stay-at-home rules as Australia struggles to stop the highly contagious Delta variant spreading.

Queensland said it had detected 13 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours - the biggest one-day rise the state has recorded in a year. The lockdown of Brisbane, Australia's third-biggest city, was due to end on Tuesday but will now stay in place until late on Sunday.

"It's starting to become clear that the initial lockdown will be insufficient for the outbreak," Queensland state Deputy Premier Steven Miles told reporters in Brisbane.

Delta variant bears down on China as economy loses steam

The Delta variant poses new risks for the world's second-biggest economy as it spreads from China's coast inland and authorities struggle to contain it after successfully keeping the coronavirus virus at bay for more than a year.

Barely a month after disrupting industry in the southern export hub of Guangdong, cases of the Delta variant were detected in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province on the coast. The infections were traced back to a flight from Russia.

Since Nanjing confirmed its first Delta cases on July 20, numerous cities in southern China and a few in the north including Beijing have reported infections. The tally of locally transmitted cases stood at 353 as of Sunday.

It was not immediately clear whether Nanjing was the source of the infections, as some authorities have yet to disclose the outcome of their virus-tracing efforts.

UAE to roll out Sinopharm vaccine to children aged 3-17

The United Arab Emirates will start providing China's Sinopharm 1099.HK COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 3-17, the UAE government said on Twitter on Monday.

It cited the health ministry as saying the decision comes after clinical trials and extensive evaluations, without providing any details. Authorities said in June the trial would monitor the immune response of 900 children.

The Gulf Arab state, which has among the world's highest immunisation rates, was already providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15.

Delta spreads 'like wildfire' as doctors study whether it makes patients sicker

With a new wave of COVID-19 infections fuelled by the Delta variant striking countries worldwide, disease experts are scrambling to learn whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people - mainly the unvaccinated - sicker than before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Delta, first identified in India and now dominant worldwide, is "likely more severe" than earlier versions of the virus, according to an internal report made public on Friday.

The agency cited research in Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that people infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients earlier in the pandemic.

(Compiled by Nick Macfie)

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