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A pedestrian walks along the near deserted Sydney Opera House forecourt during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Countries across the Asia-Pacific region are imposing stricter lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders following the spread of the more-infectious COVID-19 Delta variant.

Why it matters: The Delta strain, first identified in India, has been listed as among the "variants of concern" by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. It may be 50% more transmissible than Alpha, the variant first found in Britain.

State of play: On Monday, Malaysia extended its lockdown measures until daily cases fall below 4,000, Reuters reports.

  • In Hong Kong, officials banned flights from Britain. In Bangladesh, soldiers will patrol the streets to enforce lockdown orders to curb rising cases, NYT reports.
  • Maharashtra state in India has reimposed partial stay-at-home orders due to the emergence of “Delta Plus,” described by scientists as a sub-lineage of the Delta variant.
  • Australian authorities last week announced a two-week lockdown in the city of Sydney and surrounding areas. Less than 5% of Australia's population is fully vaccinated.

What they're saying: Maharashtra’s chief minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray said there is the possibility of the third wave, per NYT.

  • “We’ve got to hang in there,” Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison said Monday. “We don’t have a choice. The pandemic is still upon us.”

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

White House to expand supply of at-home COVID tests by December

A rapid COVID test station at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in California. Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

The Biden administration will spend an additional $1 billion on rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: Despite vaccination efforts, public health officials have said rapid home tests will be essential for businesses, homes and schools to get back on track to normalcy.

L.A. will require proof of COVID vaccination at indoor venues

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

The Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance that will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor venues, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: The ordinance would require people to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces including restaurants, bars, gyms and sports arenas. It is one of the nation’s strictest mandates as vaccination rates have stagnated and cases persist in Los Angeles.