What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
New Zealand drops elimination strategy
New Zealand on Monday abandoned its longstanding strategy of eliminating coronavirus amid a persistent Delta outbreak, and will instead look to live with the virus and control its spread as its vaccination rate rises.
The Pacific nation was among just a handful of countries to bring COVID-19 cases down to zero last year and largely stayed virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in mid-August frustrated efforts to stamp out transmission.
"With this outbreak and Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference, in a major policy shift.
Australia sees outbreak levelling off
Australia's Delta outbreak appears to have levelled off, with more than half the country in extended lockdowns and vaccination rates starting to approach national targets, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday.
Hunt said 80% of Australians will have had their first COVID-19 jabs this week, while the overall battle against the virus has been boosted by the arrival in recent days of 15,000 additional doses of treatment drug sotrovimab.
The Australian government wants all restrictions, including travel bans, to be lifted when 80% of the population above 16 is fully vaccinated. It expects that target will be reached in mid-November.
Indonesia's Bali to reopen to some foreign tourists
Indonesia will reopen its tourist island Bali for some international travellers, including those from China, New Zealand and Japan, from Oct. 14, senior cabinet minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Monday.
Bali's Ngurah Rai international airport will be open to foreign tourists from that date, with visitors required to quarantine for eight days at their own expense, Luhut told reporters.
Workers flee Vietnam's largest city
Tens of thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, left Ho Chi Minh City over the weekend as the largest metropolis in Vietnam eased a months-long lockdown, triggering fears of labour shortages and more disruption to manufacturing.
The mass exodus comes as the city and its nearby industrial provinces struggle to ensure sufficient workers to help revive the country's economy, which posted a record GDP slump in the third quarter due to COVID-19 curbs.
Thailand in talks for 200,000 courses of potential COVID-19 treatment
Thailand's government is in talks with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co to purchase 200,000 courses of the company's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 treatment, a Thai official said on Monday.
Many Asian countries are scrambling to lock in supplies of the potential treatment early after they lagged behind Western nations in vaccine rollouts, hit by tight supplies.
South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia said they are all in talks to buy Merck's potential treatment, while the Philippines, which is running a trial on the pill, said it hopes its domestic study would allow access to the treatment.
Hungary's deaths rise to highest since start of fourth wave
Hungary's COVID-19 deaths and new infections jumped over the weekend to their highest level since the start of the fourth wave of the pandemic, government data showed on Monday.
Health authorities registered 1,492 new infections and 31 deaths over the past three days, bringing the total number of cases to 824,876 and deaths to 30,230 since the start of the pandemic.
Although the latest figures are still well below those registered during previous waves, the data reflects a slowly worsening trend.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Jan Harvey)
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