World passes 4 mln COVID deaths as Asia battles fresh outbreaks

More than four million people have now died from COVID-19, the WHO said on July 7, as many rich nations prepare to loosen restrictions even as countries in Asia battle surging infections.

Millions are facing new lockdowns across Asia and Indonesia has emerged as a global hotspot with death rates rising tenfold in a month to a record 1,040 on Wednesday.

"The world is at a perilous point in this pandemic," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling the four million figure an underestimate of the true toll.

Tedros castigated rich countries for hoarding vaccines and protective equipment and accused them of acting "as though the pandemic is already over" by relaxing restrictions.

Indonesia - a vast archipelago of 270 million - has ordered people to work from home if possible and restricted opening hours of business across its territory.

"I'm very scared about getting infected," said Nesan Nusmana, who lives near a cemetery on Java where ambulances were queuing to deliver the dead.

"But it can't be helped. This is where I live. All I can do now is pray."

New outbreaks have forced lockdowns in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City and Myanmar's Yangon - home to more than 15 million people combined.

Sydney's five million residents, already two weeks into a lockdown, will be staying at home for another week after 27 new cases were detected.

"It's still scary that the virus is out there," said Menno De Moel, 44, at a vaccination centre in Sydney where he was getting his first shot.

"Hopefully this is going to be the last lockdown, but on the other hand anything that is needed, needs to be done."

More than 18 months since the virus emerged in China, the world is still struggling to move on.

Continue reading on: