June 23 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the
coronavirus right now:
Sydney isolated as COVID-19 clusters build
Australia's largest city, Sydney, re-introduced "soft touch"
COVID-19 curbs on Wednesday to contain a widening outbreak of
the Delta variant, mandating masks in offices while neighboring
states closed their borders.
New Zealand raised the alert level in its capital of
Wellington over exposure concerns after an Australian tourist
tested positive for the virus upon returning to Sydney from a
weekend visit to the neighboring nation.
The latest virus cluster in Australia's most populous state
of New South Wales has swelled to more than 30 in a week,
prompting New Zealand to halt quarantine-free travel.
Tokyo 2020 bans booze, high-fives
Alcohol, high-fives and talking loudly will be banned for
the reduced numbers of Olympic ticket holders allowed into
venues as organizers conceded a "sense of celebration" would be
limited at a Games already postponed by a year.
Alcohol sales have been restricted in and around Tokyo after
health officials warned drinking would encourage close contact
and mingling in bars that could help spread the virus.
Japan's daily rate of vaccinations has reached a crucial
milestone of 1 million, government data showed on Wednesday, as
authorities scramble to recover lost time in inoculating the
Taiwan to extend COVID-19 curbs
Taiwan will extend its coronavirus curbs by two more weeks
until July 12, as the situation has yet to reach a point where
they can be relaxed, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on
Taiwan has been dealing with a rise in domestic infections
since May after months of relative safety, leading the
government to limit personal gatherings and close entertainment
venues. Those restrictions were meant to end on June 28.
Chen announced 104 new domestic infections, up from up from
78 on Tuesday.
China's Shenzhen suspends direct flights to Beijing
Direct flights from the southern city of Shenzhen to Beijing
have been suspended until at least July 1, booking apps showed,
ahead of celebrations for the Chinese Communist Party's founding
in the capital on that date.
China's most populous province Guangdong is battling a
COVID-19 outbreak, with 170 confirmed local cases between May 21
and June 21. No new confirmed local cases were reported for June
Of the cases, eight were recorded in Shenzhen, while 146
were reported in the provincial capital Guangzhou, though direct
flights were still available to Beijing as of Wednesday.
AstraZeneca, Pfizer vaccines effective against variants
Vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech
alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa
variants of the novel coronavirus, according to a scientific
study, underpinning a continued push to deliver the shots.
The study by Oxford University researchers, published in the
journal Cell, investigated the ability of antibodies in the
blood from people, who were vaccinated with the two-shot
regimens, to neutralize the highly contagious Delta and Kappa
The University of Oxford said on Wednesday it was testing
anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for
COVID-19, as part of a British government-backed study that aims
to aid recoveries in non-hospital settings.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)