Coronavirus Global Updates: With over 18.8 million lakh cases across the globe, vaccine trials are being fast-tracked across the world. Johnson & Johnson will supply 100 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine to the US. The UK has agreed to invest $18 million in a Scottish vaccine-manufacturing plant, while Moderna Inc. said it has received $400 million of deposits for its potential Covid-19 shot. Meanwhile, there are over 7 lakh casualties and 11 million recoveries.
Important covid-19 news from across the globe
Israel claims ‘excellent vaccine in hand’; set to start human trials
Israel on Thursday claimed that it already has in hand an “excellent” vaccine against the coronavirus pandemic, but it has to go through regulatory processes which are set to begin with human trials following the autumn holidays.
Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) where he met with its director Prof Shmuel Shapira to receive an update on the progress on work to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is an excellent vaccine, there are regulatory processes that the vaccine needs to go through based on the timetable that you (Alternate PM and Defence Minister Benny Gantz) mentioned. We will start safety and efficacy trials after the autumn holidays, but the product is in hand,” Prof Shapira, Director of IIBR, which works under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Defence and the PMO, was quoted in a press statement as saying.
1.2 million seek jobless aid after $600 federal check ends
Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired.
The Labour Department’s report Thursday marked the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid. Before the pandemic hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never surpassed 700,000 in a week, not even during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
The new jobless claims were down by 249,000 from the previous week after rising for two straight weeks. The pandemic, the lockdowns meant to contain it and the wariness of many Americans to venture back out to eat, shop or travel have delivered a devastating blow to the economy despite the government’s emergency rescue efforts.
UK says 50 million face masks it bought might not be safe
The British government says it won’t be using 50 million face masks it bought during a scramble to secure protective equipment for medics during the coronavirus outbreak because of concerns they might not be safe.
The masks were part of a 252 million pound (USD 332 million) contract the government signed with investment firm Ayanda Capital in April. Papers filed in a court case reveal that the masks won’t be distributed because they have ear loops rather than head loops and may not fit tightly enough.
The papers, published Thursday, are part of a lawsuit against the Conservative government by campaigning groups the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor. They want the courts to review contracts signed by the government for personal protective equipment, which they say were not properly scrutinized.
As the coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the UK in March, it became clear that the country lacked enough masks, gloves, gowns and other protective gear for health care workers and nursing home staff. That sparked a race to buy billions of pieces of equipment from suppliers around the world.
“Singapore could see a surge in virus cases after foreign workers are tested”
Singapore could see a surge in the number of coronavirus cases after testing of the majority of the 300,000-odd workers from Bangladesh, India and China living in dormitories is complete this week, a senior member of the COVD-19 task force warned on Thursday.
In the upcoming two weeks, Singapore can expect to see volatile case numbers as the workers are tested at the end of their isolation period, Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, said.
He said the country is on track to test all 300,000-odd workers from Bangladesh, India and China, living in dormitories by Friday, except for a final group of workers who are completing their quarantine, Wong, who is also the Education and Second Minister for Finance told a news conference.
WHO urges southeast Asia region members to bolster essential health services hit by Covid-19
The World Health Organization on Thursday urged the member nations of its southeast Asia region to maintain essential health services and accelerate resumption of healthcare facilities hit by the pandemic as an integral part of the COVID-19 response.
The pandemic has put immense strain on health systems across the South-East Asia Region. Previous disease outbreaks have shown that disruption to essential services caused by an outbreak can be more deadly than the outbreak itself, said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region, on Thursday.
“We must fast track efforts and do all we can to avoid that from happening while continuing efforts to break the COVID-19 transmission chain,” she stressed during a virtual meeting with ministers of health from the region.
Central Japan region put under virus emergency
A governor in central Japan announced a state of emergency Thursday due to rising virus cases and asked businesses and people to curb their activities, especially during an upcoming holiday.
Aichi prefecture has been seeing more than 100 new infections reported daily since mid-July after an extended period of zero new daily cases.
The prefecture includes the major city of Nagoya and the headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top automaker. Gov. Hideaki Ohmura told reporters businesses are being asked to close altogether or close early, and people are being asked to stay home at night, to prevent infections from spreading.
The requests continue through Aug. 24, a period that coincides with Japanese Obon holidays, when schools and many companies close.
N Korea’s escalating virus response raises fear of outbreak
North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free.
But amid the outside skepticism and a stream of North Korean propaganda glorifying its virus efforts, an exchange between Pyongyang and the United Nations is providing new clarity – and actual numbers – about what might be happening in the North, which has closed its borders and cut travel – never a free-flowing stream – by outsider monitors and journalists.
In late July, North Korea said it had imposed its “maximum emergency system” to guard against the virus spreading after finding a person with COVID-19 symptoms in Kaesong city, near the border with rival South Korea.
Germany records 1,045 cases, highest in 3 months
Germany’s national disease control center has registered the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a day for three months. The Robert Koch Institute says 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday. It was the first time since May 7 that it has counted more than 1,000 cases in a day. It’s still far short of early April’s peak of more than 6,000.
While daily numbers are volatile, the figure fits into a pattern of new cases edging higher over recent weeks as authorities deal with a number of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.
The disease control center’s daily report repeated its assessment that “this development is very disturbing.” Officials last week pleaded with Germans to respect mask-wearing and social distancing rules.
Vietnam reports 9th death, says peak in 10 days
A health official says Vietnam’s COVID-19 outbreak could peak in the coming 10 days as the country reported another death and scores of new infections. Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son, who is in hot spot Da Nang to oversee the fight against the virus, says new infections have been found every day and “therefore, we have to continue keeping guard up.”
To cope with an increase in virus patients, Da Nang completed a 700-bed makeshift hospital on Wednesday. The hospital, converted from a sports auditorium, has a maximum capacity of 3,000 beds. A 67-year-old woman became Vietnam’s ninth fatality. She had suffered from other health complications.
No need of an emergency now: Japan PM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the current Covid-19 spread doesn’t call for an emergency declaration at this point and his government will take steps to avoid strains on the health-care system. Abe told a news conference in Hiroshima that he wants those who travel for the Obon period, that starts next week, to take thorough precautions so that the elderly are not infected.
L.A. threatens to punish party-throwers by cutting off power
Los Angeles has a new tool to dissuade large parties that double as virus super-spreader events: shutting off offending properties’ electricity and water. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he has authorized the city to cut water and power in “egregious cases” of houses, businesses and other venues hosting large gatherings, effective Friday night. The order follows a gathering this week that reportedly attracted hundreds of people at a mansion on Mulholland Drive and ended in gunfire. The event and others have raised concern that infections will accelerate in the epicenter of California’s Covid-19 outbreak.
CDC warns against drinking hand sanitisers
A rash of poisonings and four deaths in May and June were tied to drinking hand sanitizer that contained methanol in Arizona and New Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The incidents happened after President Donald Trump mused on ingesting disinfectants to treat the novel coronavirus. The agency detailed 15 cases of methanol poisoning in its weekly report, including four patients who remain hospitalized and three who were released with permanent visual impairment. Just four of the 15 fully recovered, the agency said Wednesday. The CDC’s report focused on products that contain methanol, which isn’t considered an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitizer because of its risks.
Kim Jong Un orders special aid for Kaesong city reeling under lockdown
North Korea’s Kaesong city, which is completely locked down because of the coronavirus, will get a special supply of foods and funds to stabilize living conditions for citizens, Korean Central News Agency reported. The decision was made at a meeting of the executive policy council of North Korea’s Workers’ Party attended by leader Kim Jong Un on Aug. 5.
Big events won’t be back soon: WHO
Large sporting matches and music festivals pose special dangers due to the crowds involved and only countries that have the virus under control should allow them, but they need to do so gradually and limit the number of spectators, said Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program.
“We all want sport back, we all want our festivals back,” he said Wednesday. “But it’s very unrealistic in countries with community transmission that we’re going to see large gatherings like that this year.” Countries experiencing intense transmission throughout the population need to be careful about schools, Ryan said. “We have to do everything possible to bring our children back to school, and the most effective thing that we can do is to stop the disease in the community.”
Singapore monitoring spate of suicides among migrant workers
Singapore is monitoring a recent spate of suicides and attempted suicides involving migrants which have heightened concerns over the mental health of thousands of low-paid workers confined to their dormitories in the city-state due to COVID-19. In April, Singapore sealed off sprawling housing blocks where its vast population of mainly South Asian labourers live in crowded bunk rooms, in an effort to ring-fence a surge in coronavirus cases among the workers. Four months on, some dormitories remain under quarantine, and even migrants who have been declared virus-free have had their movements restricted and face uncertainty over the jobs on which their families back home depend. Rights groups say this has taken a heavy toll on workers.
Facebook, Twitter block Trump comments on children
Facebook Inc on Wednesday took down a post by U.S. President Donald Trump, which the company said violated its rules against sharing misinformation about the coronavirus. The post contained a video clip, from an interview with Fox & Friends earlier in the day, in which Trump claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19.”This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19, which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Facebook and Twitter pulled posts by President Trump and his campaign, alleging the posts violated their rules on sharing misinformation about the coronavirus https://t.co/WeuLcepKZA pic.twitter.com/qdopAMrJaX
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 6, 2020
A tweet containing the video that was posted by the Trump campaign’s @TeamTrump account and shared by the president was also later hidden by Twitter Inc for breaking its COVID-19 misinformation rules. A Twitter spokesman said the @TeamTrump account owner would be required to remove the tweet before they could tweet again.
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