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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Photo: PA Wire/Simon Dawson

Australia urges states to stick to reopening plans
Australia's federal government warned state leaders on Wednesday that emergency economic support may be withdrawn on reaching a Covid-19 vaccination rate of 70% to 80%, even if individual states and territories stick with border controls.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged states and territories to adhere to a four-stage national re-opening plan agreed last month, as some have suggested delays given persistently high new daily case numbers in the largest city, Sydney.

The plan announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last month widens freedoms and special rights for the inoculated when the level of 70% of adults is reached. At 80%, the international border will gradually be reopened. About 31% of Australians older than 16 have been fully vaccinated while 54% have got at least one dose.

Japan set to expand state of emergency
Japan is set to expand a state of emergency to eight more prefectures, taking the total to 21, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus countermeasures said on Wednesday, as a surge in Covid-19 cases overwhelms its hospitals. Nishimura said the expansion, which would cover almost half the country's 47 prefectures, was approved by a panel of external experts and is expected to be formally approved at a government task force meeting later on Wednesday.

Months of emergency curbs in the capital, Tokyo, and surrounding areas have failed to reverse a surge in infections as citizens grow weary of life under restrictions and many companies ignore repeated requests to promote work-from-home. Japan's case fatality rate stands at about 1.2%, compared with 1.7% in the United States and 2.0% in Britain.

U.S. could control Covid by spring 2022 if more people get shots -Fauci
The United States could get Covid-19 under control by early next year if vaccinations ramp up, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday, one day after Pfizer won fuller FDA approval for its shot, with more potential approvals coming in the weeks ahead.

The average number of deaths from Covid-19 has risen by 23% over the previous seven-day period, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Tuesday press call. The United States is now averaging 1,000 Covid deaths a day and over 150,000 new cases, according to a Reuters tally.

U.S. data show rising 'breakthrough' infections among fully vaccinated
Some 25% of SARS-CoV-2 infections among Los Angeles County residents occurred in fully vaccinated residents from May through July 25, a period that includes the impact of the highly transmissible Delta variant, U.S. officials reported on Tuesday. The data, published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on death and disease, shows an increase in so-called "breakthrough" infections among fully vaccinated individuals.

The vaccines did, however, protect individuals from more severe cases. According to the study, 3.2% of fully vaccinated individuals who were infected with the virus were hospitalized compared to 7.5% of unvaccinated people.

U.S. vaccine approval is 'seismic' shift for legality of mandates, experts say
Formal U.S approval of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine will make it nearly impossible to successfully challenge mandates by employers, legal experts said.

Legal experts said challenges to vaccine mandates will almost certainly persist, particularly against public employers or public universities and colleges, which involve allegations of governments infringing on an individual's Constitutional rights. That argument does not apply to private employers. But as long as the government is requiring the vaccine as a condition of employment or education, legal experts said those will be difficult cases to make.

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