Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record on Friday for the fourth straight day, and confirmed cases continued to surge as well.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 887 deaths, the country’s highest daily number in the pandemic. The previous record, from a day earlier, stood at 867.
The task force also reported 24,522 new confirmed cases from Thursday — the highest daily tally since late July.
“The dynamic is bad. It elicits concern,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
The Russian government has no plans to impose a lockdown, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the head of the task force.
Russia has had only one nationwide lockdown, at the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. The country’s authorities have shunned imposing tough restrictions ever since. Peskov pointed out that many regional governments have their own infection-control measures, but he wouldn’t say whether the Kremlin considered those rules sufficient.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:55 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province is finalizing an agreement to receive up to 10 medical staff from the Canadian Armed Forces, along with more from the Red Cross and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Doctors have called for a swift lockdown to stem the tide of COVID-19 patients, but Kenney has said the government is waiting to see if recently implemented health restrictions work.
The province, which on Thursday reported 1,706 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths, is facing massive strain on its health-care system — particularly in overburdened intensive care units.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:45 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Friday morning, more than 233.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, typhoon winds and rain dampened what might have been a more celebratory mood in Tokyo on Friday, as restaurants were allowed to sell alcohol and stay open later following the lifting of the latest COVID-19 state of emergency.
Japan is cautiously easing restrictions that have prevailed across much of the nation for almost six months. New COVID cases in Tokyo totalled 200 on Friday, a sharp drop from more than 5,000 a day in August amid a fifth wave driven by the infectious delta variant that brought the medical system to the brink.
Meanwhile, Pakistan banned unvaccinated adults from flights Friday as it tries to push vaccinations and avoid further lockdowns to contain the coronavirus. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced the ban on Twitter, saying “only fully vaccinated passengers of age 18 years and above will be allowed to undertake domestic air travel within Pakistan.”
In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has eased restrictions to the lowest alert level, as the country looks to open up its economy ahead of the summer holiday season.
Egypt on Thursday received 1.6 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer as a gift from the United States as part of the COVAX initiative, the first batch of a total of five million doses.
In the Americas, beaches and recreation centres have reopened in Cuba’s capital, after authorities announced it is time to resume outdoor activities, including strolling on the Malecon coastal promenade that has long been a gathering place in Havana.
Officials say Thursday’s reopening was possible because 90 per cent of the city’s residents are vaccinated against the coronavirus and the number of new cases has been declining.
In Europe, a fire at a hospital in the Romanian port city of Constanta killed at least seven COVID-19 patients, authorities said Friday.
All the victims were in the intensive care unit of Constanta’s Hospital for Infectious Diseases, said Constantin Amarandei, head of the city’s emergency inspectorate.
Interior Minister Lucian Bode said Friday that the early official figure of nine dead was “wrongly” reported. “We are talking about seven people. Five in hospital and two after being transferred to other hospitals,” he said.
The health ministry said in a statement that 113 patients were in the medical unit of the hospital and all the survivors have now been evacuated. The fire was extinguished by mid-morning but its cause is not yet known.
President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement Friday that the Romanian state “has failed in its fundamental mission to protect its citizens.”
In the Middle East, Israel’s health ministry has identified fewer than 10 cases of heart inflammation following a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine among millions administered, according to recently released data.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:20 a.m. ET