Moscow on Sunday recorded its worst daily coronavirus death toll and South Africa reimposed restrictions for two weeks to combat a surge in the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant.

Indonesia saw more than 21,000 infections in a day, a record, as countries across the Asia-Pacific region extended or reimposed restrictions to tackle fresh waves of cases.

Moscow, Russia
A woman wearing a face mask walks down a street in central Moscow on November 25, 2020, as cases continue to climb globally Photo: AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF

Even as vaccination drives have brought down infection numbers in many wealthy countries, the Delta strain of the virus remains a concern.

The variant is now in 85 countries and is the most contagious of any Covid-19 strain so far identified, according to the World Health Organization.

While in much of Europe and the United States curbs on daily life are easing as vaccination programmes bear fruit, Russia is grappling with a deadly third wave.

Sydney was quiet as a coronavirus lockdown kicked off Photo: AFP / Steven Saphore

Moscow on Sunday recorded 144 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, a day after Saint Petersburg set Russia's previous highest figure.

Saint Petersburg has hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is due to host a quarter-final on Friday, with spectator numbers capped at half but still upwards of 26,000 people.

Thailand field hospital
Soldiers carry a makeshift cardboard bed during the establishment of a new field hospital in Pattani, Thailand Photo: AFP / Tuwaedaniya MERINGING

Russia has seen an explosion of new infections since mid-June driven by the Delta variant. Officials in Moscow are pushing vaccine-sceptic Russians to get inoculated.

Rapid, large-scale vaccination was the only answer, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told state-run television on Saturday.

"Nobody has invented any other solution."

A medical staff member prepares to administer a dose of the Sinovac vaccine on a mobile vaccine truck in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Photo: AFP / Mohd RASFAN

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa announced fresh restrictions in a televised address Sunday. The country, he said, "is facing a massive resurgence of infection".

Bangladesh lockdown
IMAGES: A river terminal south of Dhaka is packed with thousands of people trying to leave the Bangladesh capital and return to rural areas ahead of a tough new lockdown to be imposed on Monday. Photo: AFPTV / Sam JAHAN

The government has banned the sale of alcohol, and all gatherings except for funerals, capped at 50 people. The overnight curfew has been extended by an hour, and restaurants and other outlets can now only serve take away food.

"The peak of this third wave looks set to be higher than the previous two," the president warned. South Africa, the worst-hit nation on the continent, has already suffered nearly 60,000 deaths.

Dhaka Bangladesh
Tens of thousands of migrant workers boarded ferries to leave Dhaka, where a lockdown will cut off their revenue sources Photo: AFP / Munir Uz zaman

The flare-up has been a shock for a place that had returned to relative normality after months with few local cases.

Australia's northern city of Darwin also entered a separate snap 48-hour lockdown on Sunday after a handful of cases linked to a coronavirus outbreak on a remote gold mine.

Similar spikes in infections have been seen across Southeast Asia, with Indonesia setting a new daily infection record of more than 21,000.

Hospitals are flooded with patients in the capital Jakarta and other Covid-19 hotspots across the region's hardest-hit nation.

Thailand will from Monday reimpose restrictions on restaurants, construction sites and gatherings in the capital Bangkok. Its latest wave began in April when a cluster was found in upscale Bangkok clubs.

Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha has said he plans to fully reopen the country by October, but this would require hitting a target of vaccinating 50 million Thais in four months.

In neighbouring Malaysia, the prime minister announced a nationwide lockdown already in place for about a month will continue. He gave no date for the lifting of restrictions.

Bangladesh also said it would impose a new national lockdown from Monday, with offices shut for a week and only medical-related transport allowed.

The announcement prompted tens of thousands of migrant workers to desert the capital Dhaka, where the lockdown will cut off their revenue sources.

"During lockdown, there is no work," Fatema Begum, 60, told AFP while waiting for a ferry. "And if we don't work, how do we pay rent? So we packed up everything and are going back to our village."

Infections declined in May but started to rise again this month, with a pandemic high of 119 deaths on Sunday, according to the health ministry.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's office announced he is self-isolating for 10 days after testing positive for Covid shortly after a European Union summit.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Sunday began trials to test a modified vaccine against the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa.


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