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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Melbourne lockdown extended for a week after 20 new cases

Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne will stay locked down for a second week after reporting 20 new Covid-19 cases as it struggles to stamp out infections caused by the highly infectious Delta variant of the pandemic.

Melbourne had been due to exit the lockdown on Thursday, the sixth for its five million people in stop-start battles against the coronavirus also seen elsewhere across the country have triggered frustration and discord. But Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews confirmed strict stay-at-home orders will remain in place until at least Aug. 19 after authorities were unable to trace how several of the 20 people confirmed as new cases on Wednesday contracted Covid-19.

South Korea's daily cases hit record, surpassing 2,200
South Korea reported more than 2,200 new daily Covid-19 cases, a record since the pandemic began last January, Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with its worst COVID-19 outbreak to date.

Despite having tough distancing measures in place for over a month, infections have spiked due to the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and a rise in domestic travel over summer, Kwon told a Covid response meeting. He also noted a rise in so-called "silent spreaders" within communities such as workplaces, indoor gyms, churches and nursing homes, leading to an increase in infections of unknown origin.

Google employees who work from home could lose money
Google employees based in the same office before the pandemic could see different changes in pay if they switch to working from home permanently, with long commuters hit harder, according to a company pay calculator seen by Reuters.

It is an experiment taking place across Silicon Valley, which often sets trends for other large employers. Facebook and Twitter also cut pay for remote employees who moved to less expensive areas, while smaller companies including Reddit and Zillow have shifted to location-agnostic pay models, citing advantages when it comes to hiring, retention and diversity.

NZ should only reopen border in early 2022, panel advises
New Zealand should keep its borders shut until early 2022 and reopen only after the vast majority of its adults have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, a government-appointed panel said on Wednesday. So far, only 21% of the country has been fully vaccinated.

It said the country, which last reported a local case of Covid-19 transmission in February, needs to stick to its strategy of eliminating the virus to avoid straining its health system, with the virus rapidly mutating overseas.

Florida, Texas schools defy governors' bans on mask mandates
School districts in Florida and Texas are bucking their Republican governors' bans on requiring masks for children and teachers as coronavirus cases soar in conservative areas with low vaccination rates.

The acts of rebellion by school officials come as these states - along with Louisiana, Arkansas and others - are flooded with new cases after people resisted vaccines and mask mandates. Teachers and administrators are seeking to protect students, many of whom are under 12 years old and cannot get vaccinated.

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