The Canadian government has announced that it will require all federal workers and most commercial rail, air and ship passengers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, amid a surge in virus cases due to the Delta variant.

"We know that vaccines are the best way to end this pandemic," said Dominic LeBlanc, a government minister in charge of Canada's federal bureaucracy.

"We expect federal public servants to want to comply with this mandatory requirement," he added.

A deadline for inoculations for some 300,000 public servants will be announced in the coming weeks.

The federal government is Canada's largest employer and Mr LeBlanc said the vaccine mandate is "aimed at helping Canada reach a minimum level of coverage needed to fully reopen the economy, and keep it open as well as to protect thousands of workers."

The vaccination requirement for the transport sector should be applied by the end of October at the latest, he
said at a press briefing.

It includes all commercial air passengers, as well as people traveling by rail between provinces and on large vessels such as cruise ships, local media cited Transport Minister Omar Alghabra as saying.

The country's largest carrier, Air Canada, said mandatory vaccinations was "a welcome step forward in the evolving measures to protect the health and safety of airline employees, customers and all Canadians."

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As of yesterday, 71% of Canada's 38 million population had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly 62% were fully vaccinated.

The announcement comes less than a month before the reopening of Canada's borders to vaccinated foreign travelers, scheduled for 7 September, a year-and-a-half after their closure due to the pandemic.

Russia releases worst pandemic death numbers to date

Russia's daily Covid-19 deaths hit a new record of 819, a day after Moscow's health department reported the highest number of monthly deaths in the city since the start of the pandemic.

Russia's daily coronavirus deaths are on the rise after infections peaked in July. Authorities blame the infectious Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.

Moscow said last night that the mortality rate in the city in July was 70% higher than before the pandemic in 2019 and 60% higher than in the same month last year.

A total of 17,237 deaths in Moscow in July is the highest monthly death toll since the pandemic began. Most of the excess deaths were caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Moscow health department said.

"The dynamics is linked to the sharp rise of infections due to the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus in June as well as abnormally hot weather in the city in recent months," said the department, adding that high temperatures made Covid-19 patients feel even worse.

People travel on a subway in Moscow

Russia's official total coronavirus death toll stands at 169,683. Rosstat, the government statistics agency, keeps a separate count from the pandemic task force and says it recorded around 315,000 deaths related to Covid-19 between last April and June this year.

Russia reported around 463,000 excess deaths from April 2020 to June this year, according to Reuters calculations based on the latest Rosstat data. Some epidemiologists say excess deaths are the best way to measure the real death toll from Covid-19.

Russia reported 22,144 new coronavirus infections today. Daily cases have so far declined in August after the July peak.

Iran to impose road travel ban amid Delta surge

Iran is to impose a one-week lockdown and a ban on road travel amid a fifth Covid-19 surge in the worst-hit country in the Middle East, state television has reported.

All non-essential businesses and offices will have to close under the nationwide lockdown from Monday to 21 August, in an effort to curb the highly contagious Delta variant.

Authorities are also imposing a driving ban from Sunday until 27 August, except for essential vehicles.

"All roads will be closed except for trucks carrying food and essential goods and ambulances. This traffic ban will be very strictly imposed," a spokesman for the national coronavirus task force said.

A woman registers for a vaccine at a centre at the Iran Mall in the capital Tehran

Authorities will only allow open-air gatherings for ongoing Shia Muslim mourning ceremonies, he added.

The Health Ministry reported 29,700 new cases, and 466 daily deaths, down from a record daily toll of 588 fatalities on Monday. Total deaths have reached 97,208, according to official figures.

Social media users have accused the government of mismanagement over slow vaccinations with only 3.8 million people fully inoculated in a population of 83 million.

Officials have blamed US sanctions for hampering efforts to buy foreign vaccines and for delays in deliveries.

Guatemala declares state of emergency over Delta Covid surge

Guatemala has declared a new state of emergency and will impose an overnight curfew from to contain a surge in Covid infections due to the Delta variant, President Alejandro Giammattei said.

The 30-day state of emergency is being implemented due to a rebound in cases attributed to the "more aggressive" Delta variant, Mr Giammattei said in a televised address yesterday.

"The Delta variant is highly contagious. It is causing new outbreaks and many governments have had to impose new restrictions on their populations as a mitigation measure. Guatemala cannot be the exception," he said.

Guatemala, with about 17 million inhabitants, has been recording more than 4,000 new infections a day, with 407,564 cases and 11,006 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

A police officer receives the Moderna vaccine a vaccination centre in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala

Under the state of emergency, which must be ratified by Congress, an overnight curfew will be imposed from Sunday, running from 10pm to 4am local time.

It also provides for speeding up the purchase of supplies to deal with the pandemic, establishes minimum and maximum prices for essential goods and bans mass meetings, although demonstrations that comply with social distancing measures will be allowed.

"The measures are focused on containing the virus," said the president, a trained doctor who has faced regular street protests to demand his resignation due to allegations of corruption and accusations of mishandling the pandemic.

He previously imposed a state of emergency in March last year when Guatemala recorded its first coronavirus case.