Coronavirus Global Updates: The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 454,625 lives across the world and as many as 8,520,761 people have been infected so far. The number is increasing on a daily basis with some countries, which experienced a significant drop in Covid-19 infections in April and May, witnessing a second-wave. The most notable resurgence has been in China’s capital Beijing, which reported over 150 infections on June 11.
Country-wise, the United States continues to remain the worst-hit with 2,191,052 cases and 118,434 deaths, followed by Brazil (978,142 cases, 47,748 deaths), Russia (560,321 cases, 7,650 deaths), and India (3,80,532 cases and 12,573 deaths). Also, more than 4.1 million people (4,155,247) have recovered. Follow Coronavirus LIVE Updates here
Meanwhile, as countries are continuously trying to develop a vaccine to fight the pandemic, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, has said that the agency is optimistic and hopeful that the COVID-19 vaccines could be available before the end of this year. On Thursday, the WHO had said that clinical trials have now definitively shown that anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine does not have an impact on preventing deaths from COVID-19.
Here are the top developments from around the world:
WHO chief warns pandemic ‘accelerating’, world sees highest single-day infections
Chief of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Friday said the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported yesterday – the highest single-day number so far, as per news agency AP. In a media briefing, he said nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.
“We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that restrictive measures are still needed to stop the pandemic. Tedros warned that the virus is still “spreading fast” and that measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.
“We have a shared duty to everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to the transmission of COVID-19 detected among refugees in hospitals.”
“The world is in a new & dangerous phase. Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies & economies.
But the virus is still spreading fast, it’s still deadly & most people are still susceptible”-@DrTedros
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 19, 2020
Delivery of masks, gloves to countries could stop by July: UN
The United Nations World Food Program warned the global emergency delivery service that has kept tons of humanitarian aid flowing despite coronavirus travel restrictions could shut down next month if funding can’t be found to keep it running, AP reported. The shortfall comes “just as demand for this service is reaching its peak,” WFP said. Of the $965 million to keep the service going through the end of the year, $178 million has been confirmed. While countries traditionally the world top donor’s grappled with the pandemic, the UN logistics leader heaved emergency operation into place with unprecedented reach.
“We are the lifeline,” Amer Daoudi, WFP senior director of operations said. Without it, “national capacities across many vulnerable countries across the globe will come to a standstill.” Daoudi said the emergency delivery effort involves almost 130 countries. So far, the World Food Program emergency service has completed 375 cargo and passenger flights, delivering more than 2,500 aid workers with “enough cargo to fill 120 jumbo jets waiting to be transported in coming weeks,” the WFP said.
📰 ➡️ UN seeks urgent funding for pandemic aid transport via @AP
— WFP Media (@WFP_Media) June 19, 2020
He estimated that some 1 million cubic meters of supplies are expected for delivery between July and the end of the year.
Switzerland removes most restrictions as new cases ebb
As new coronavirus cases wane, Switzerland has said that it will allow events of up to 1,000 people again from next week, declaring their country better equipped to handle any fresh flare-ups, Reuters reported. More than 31,000 people have tested positive for the virus and 1,680 have succumbed to it so far.
“As of Monday, June 22, the measures put in place to tackle the coronavirus will for the most part be lifted. Only the ban on large-scale events will remain in place until the end of August,” the cabinet said. Lately, the country has reported a few dozen infections per day, allowing it to open schools, shops and border with fellow members of the Schengen passport-free travel zone as life returns to near-normal. But the economy, like many others, is in a sharp recession.
Spain revises backlog of over 1,000 deaths
More than 1,000 deaths were added to Spain’s coronavirus death toll in the first update in nearly two weeks after officials revised a backlog of inconsistent data, news agency AP said. At least 28,313 people have died through Friday with a COVID-19 diagnosis, health officials said. Authorities had stopped updating the tally at 27,136 on June 7.
Spain’s health minister says that 34 clusters have been detected in the past six weeks, since Spain began to relax its confinement rules. The new clusters have infected around 1,000 people in slaughterhouses, nursing homes, hospitals, as well as among migrant workers and party-goers.
UK Covid-19 alert downgraded from Level 4 to 3
In a “big moment”, Britain downgraded its coronavirus alert from four to three on Friday, a move hailed by the government, PTI reported. “The UK moving to a lower alert level is a big moment for the country, and a real testament to the British people’s determination to beat this virus,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Under the level three of a five-level alert system, the virus is now considered to be “in general circulation” and therefore allow for a “gradual relaxation of restrictions” to ease the lockdown further. Previously, at level four, transmission of the deadly virus was considered “high or rising exponentially”. “The government’s plan is working. Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet,” he said.
Czechs record biggest daily jump in Covid-19 cases in two months
The Czech Republic reported its biggest one-day jump in new coronavirus cases in two months on Friday, Reuters reported. The Health Ministry said about 118 new infections were reported on Thursday, the largest daily rise since April 21. Health Minister Adam Vojtech said the jump was caused by more cases in eastern localities, which have been identified as a hotbed, together with the capital Prague. He said a number of cases were found in a senior home.
“To these localities, the relaxation of measures planned for June 22 won’t apply, visits to medical and social facilities will be limited and compulsory testing of staff will be reinstated,” Vojtech said on his Twitter account.
Roller coasters up and running in Japan, people requested not to scream
Japan is cautiously opening up its economy as it gradually decided to ease its restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, AP said. The roller coasters are back running in Tokyo but people have been requested to not scream, while the restaurants are offering more take-out and boosting outdoor seating.
Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief market economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, said although Japan’s coronavirus restrictions were never as strict as the lockdowns in the US, Europe and some other parts of Asia, the damage was still considerable. “Americans may feel happy and go splurging after the lockdown is lifted. But the Japanese mind set tends to become even more cautious about spending because of uncertainties about the future,” Maruyama said.
Coronavirus will ‘fade away’ even without vaccine: Trump
The coronavirus pandemic will “fade away” even without a vaccine, but researchers are close to developing one anyhow, President Donald Trump said.
“We’re very close to a vaccine and we’re very close to therapeutics, really good therapeutics,” Trump said Wednesday night in a television interview with Fox News. “But even without that, I don’t even like to talk about that, because it’s fading away, it’s going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice and that’s going to happen.” Trump’s comments come as the U.S. continues to see 20,000 new daily cases.
Italy: Traces of virus found in sewage in December 2019
Scientists in Italy have found traces of the coronavirus in their sewage collected from Milan and Turin in December 2019, suggesting the virus was already circulating in Northern Italy before China reported the first cases, according to Reuters. The Italian National Institute of Health looked at 40 sewage samples collected from wastewater treatment plants in northern Italy between October 2019 and February 2020. An analysis released late on Thursday said samples taken in Milan and Turin on Dec. 18 showed the presence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
“This research may help us understand the beginning of virus circulation in Italy,” Giuseppina La Rosa, an expert in environmental wastewater at the Italian National Institute of Health who co-led the research, said.
China reports 37 new cases; Beijing implements wartime measures
China has reported 37 new coronavirus cases including 25 in Beijing where 183 patients are undergoing treatment, with the city implementing wartime measures to arrest the COVID-19 spread, health authorities said on Friday. The National Health Commission (NHC) said that 32 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in the country on Thursday of which 28 were domestically-transmitted and four were imported. Of the domestically-transmitted cases, 25 were reported in Beijing, two in Hebei province and one in Liaoning province, it said in its daily report.
No deaths related to the disease were reported on Thursday, according to the commission. As new cases continued to emerge, Beijing has implemented wartime measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it said.
Solidarity or frugality? EU leaders discuss coronavirus plan
As they brace for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, leaders of the European Union’s 27 member states are set to discuss the bloc’s future long-term budget and a multibillion-euro post-coronavirus recovery plan during a video summit Friday that is aimed at paving the way for a compromise later this summer. Friday’s Council meeting is just the first step in intense discussions that could culminate with a deal in July if member states overcome their differences. The 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) rescue fund proposed by the EU’s executive arm to help member states’ economies cushion the impact of the coronavirus is far from being unanimously welcomed.
UN seeks urgent funding for pandemic aid transport
The United Nations food agency warned Thursday that without immediate funding its global transport system will stop delivering thousands of tonnes of masks, gloves and other critical equipment to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic to 132 countries by the third week of July. Amer Daoudi, the World Food Program’s director of operations and COVID-19 response, told a video press conference that its aircraft have also transported 2,600 humanitarian and health workers free of charge to 40 destinations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East since the pandemic began, and that service will also come to a halt. “As the virus continues to accelerate across many parts of the world, as we are seeing, these services become more and more vital and important,” he said.
UN: Venezuelans, other refugees face huge pandemic hardships
The head of the UN refugee agency expressed concerns Thursday about impact of the coronavirus pandemic from Africa’s Sahel region to Latin America and beyond, warning that millions fled upheaval at home and could face hardship abroad among lockdowns and other restrictive measures to fight the outbreak. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said 164 countries have either partially or totally closed their borders to fight COVID-19.
COVID-19 patients with high stress hormone levels at greater death risk: Lancet
COVID-19 patients with extremely high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood are more likely to deteriorate quickly and die, according to study led by an Indian origin researcher in the UK. The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Thursday, provides the first data to show that cortisol levels are a marker of the severity of the illness. The researchers, led by Professor Waljit Dhillo from Imperial College London in the UK, suggest they can be used to identify those patients who are more likely to need intensive cover.
Scientists call for retraction of study claiming coronavirus spread is mainly airborne
More than 40 scientists have signed an open letter calling for the retraction of a study which made “extraordinary claims” that airborne transmission could be the dominant mode of spread of COVID-19. The study, which was published last week in the journal PNAS, compared COVID-19 case counts and measures enforced in China’s Wuhan city, Italy, and New York City in the US, and noted that wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the open letter, scientists including Noah Haber from Stanford University in the US, said the PNAS study had methodological design flaws and made “easily falsifiable claims.” According to the open letter, the main conclusions of the study are based on the comparison of disease control measures, case count trends within and between Wuhan, Italy, and New York City (NYC).
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