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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: New Steps Fighting Delta Variant of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Outbreak Sydney Australia
Rick Rycroft/AP
/
AP
A woman crosses a normally busy street in Sydney, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

As a new work week gets underway, concerns continue around the world about the delta variant of the coronavirus. In the Asia Pacific, several governments are taking new steps this week to fight it.

Hundreds of Australian soldiers were patrolling streets in Sydney on Monday, joining police in areas where the virus is prevalent to make sure people are following the rules.

The soldiers are unarmed and the government says they all went through specialized training over the weekend, but several civil rights groups are calling the deployment inappropriate.

The BBC reports the Australian Lawyers Alliance calls it a “concerning use” of the army.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country will reopen its borders to international travel once 80% of eligible Australians are vaccinated — a goal he says Australia can reach by the middle of next January.

Right now, less than 20% of Australia’s residents are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination rates are slowly moving higher in Japan, now approaching a third of the population.

The government is extending a state of emergency in Tokyo through the end of this month — and expanding to three surrounding areas as well as the city of Osaka.

Concern about cities and the spread of the delta variant is a theme throughout the region.

In the Philippines, several new restrictions started in and around Manila on Friday.

Even stricter measures will be going into effect at the end of this week: no indoor dining, no in-person church services, and only immediate families at wakes and funerals.

The Philippine capital and surrounding areas will go into that lockdown for at least two weeks.

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