President Joe Biden all but announced an end to the pandemic in the U.S., celebrating what he called a “heroic” vaccination campaign on the country’s Independence Day holiday. He also urged people to get vaccinated, saying it was the “most patriotic” thing Americans could do.
South Korea reversed a decision to relax mask rules in the capital Seoul and its metropolitan area after a spike in Covid-19 cases, with the country reporting 711 more infections in the latest figures. Indonesia meanwhile tightened entry requirements for travelers, raising the quarantine requirement to eight days from five, as the nation saw its worst day for Covid-19 deaths on Sunday.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was admitted to the hospital on Sunday after testing positive for Covid-19, days after attending a summit with other European leaders. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging Britons to “exercise judgment” to protect themselves from Covid-19 as the government prepares for the final unlocking of the economy in two weeks.
Biden Hails Success in Beating Back Pandemic (8:30 a.m. HK)
A triumphant President Joe Biden all but announced an end to the pandemic in the U.S. on Sunday, celebrating what he called a “heroic” vaccination campaign on the country’s Independence Day holiday.
Speaking at a party on the White House’s South Lawn, Biden declared that the U.S. had achieved “independence” from the coronavirus. “It no longer controls our lives, it no longer paralyzes our nation and it’s within our power to make sure it never does so again,” he said, appealing for Americans who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots.
Johnson to Tell Britons to Use Judgment (5:30 p.m. NY)
U.k. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference on Monday to set out the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown for England ahead of a formal announcement next week, according to his office.
The government is now stressing the importance of people taking personal responsibility for their safety rather than the authorities imposing legal restrictions. Ministers have noted that deaths and serious illness from the coronavirus remain at low levels despite a recent surge in infections.
On July 4, the U.K. reported 24,248 more Covid-19 cases and 15 more deaths.
Corporate Travel Shows Signs of Recovery (4:46 p.m. NY)
Hotels, airlines and travel companies are reporting an increase in corporate bookings during recent weeks, led by domestic markets where travel is easy, the Financial Times reported.
Bookings from financial and professional services companies are returning strongly, but small and medium-sized companies are driving thhe increase because they can make decisions faster, Paul Abbott, chief executive of American Express Global Business Travel, told the newspaper.
The recovery has been fastest in the U.S., while international travel in Europe is more muted, the FT said.
France Warns of Delta Variant Surge (2:30 p.m. NY)
A wave of infections may hit France by the end of July because of the delta variant, based on what’s happening in the U.K., French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Twitter.
He said cases in France have rebounded in the past five days and urged residents to get vaccinated to limit the wave.
N.Y. State Positive-Test Rate Creeps Up (1:55 p.m. NY)
New York’s statewide positive-test rate increased for the fifth consecutive day, according to official data. Governor Andrew Cuomo urged more residents to get vaccinated, saying “don’t delay.”
The seven-day rolling average of positive tests rose to 0.54% on Saturday, Cuomo said in a statement. That compares with a peak of almost 8% in January, when daily new cases peaked at almost 20,000. The positive rate has increased steadily since June 29, according to data provided in daily updates by Cuomo.
Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units across the state increased by six to 85, Cuomo said.
U.S. Poll Shows Vaccine Holdout Challenge (1 p.m. NY)
More than a quarter of people in the U.S. say they’re unlikely to get a Covid-19 shot, with 20% saying they definitely won’t and 9% saying they probably won’t, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. That compares with a combined 24% in April in a poll by the same outlets.
The data illustrate the challenge for the Biden administration and state and local officials in expanding vaccination beyond the 67% who have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the poll, 35% said U.S. officials are exaggerating the threat of the delta variant of the virus, with more Republicans than Democrats holding that view. The survey found that 86% of Democrats have received at least one shot, compared with 45% of Republicans.
The June 27-30 poll of 907 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Hospitalized (12:23 p.m. NY)
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was hospitalized on Sunday, a week after testing positive for Covid-19. He had tested positive days after attending a June 24-25 summit meeting with fellow European Union leaders in Brussels.
Bettel, 48, will remain in the hospital as a precaution for 24 hours for tests and observation, the Luxembourg government said in a statement on its website. He received his first vaccine dose on May 6, the premier announced in a tweet at the time. Local media reported that he received the AstraZeneca shot.
Indonesia Tightens Entry Requirements (9:50 a.m. NY)
Indonesia tightened entry requirements for travelers and ordered a ramp-up in oxygen production, as the nation saw its worst day for Covid-19 deaths. Starting July 6, foreign visitors arriving in the country will be required to show proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result. All incoming travelers must complete eight days of quarantine, instead of five, and be tested twice for the virus.
The government also told oxygen producers to shift all output to medical use. The change should yield 1,700 tons of oxygen per day nationwide, of which 1,400 tons will be for use on the main island of Java, according to Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who’s been appointed to lead Indonesia’s pandemic response.
The country is making “a full industrial oxygen conversion to pharmaceutical oxygen. Our shortfall can be fulfilled later,” Panjaitan said in a statement. Indonesia reported 27,233 new Covid-19 cases and a record 555 fatalities on Sunday.