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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Coronavirus Global Updates, 23 June: US’ Fauci says ‘it will be when not if’ for a vaccine, some will be ready by end of 2020

Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Updates: In the United States — which has the maximum number of infections across the globe — alarming surge was recorded, raising fears that the hard-won progress against the virus is slipping away because of resistance among many Americans to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 23, 2020 10:36:47 pm
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, second from left, listen during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)

Coronavirus Global Updates: There are over 9 million COVID infections worldwide, and 4.71 lakh deaths have been reported so far. In the United States — which has the maximum number of infections across the globe — alarming surge was recorded across the South and West, raising fears that the hard-won progress against the virus is slipping away because of resistance among many Americans to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others. Florida’s new infections rose to another high and Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the contagion was accelerating at “an unacceptable rate.”

Over the weekend, the virus seemed to be everywhere at once: Several campaign staff members who helped set up President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tested positive, as did 23 Clemson University football players in South Carolina. At least 30 members of the Louisiana State University team were isolated after becoming infected or coming into contact with someone who was. Meatpacking plants were also hit with outbreaks. Meanwhile, New York City, once the most lethal hot spot in the US, lifted more of its restrictions, moving a big step closer to normal.

Top COVID-19 developments from across the globe

It will be when not if: Anthony Fauci on Covid-19 vaccine

US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci Tuesday told a House committee on Tuesday that he believes “it will be when and not if” there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains “cautiously optimistic” that some will be ready at the end of the year.

Fauci was testifying along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pubs, restaurants to reopen in UK next month

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday announced that pubs, restaurants and hotels could reopen in England early in July when the social distancing rule is relaxed to one metre providing “mitigations” were in place, Reuters reported. By relaxing the rule on social distancing from two metres to one metre as long as they took mitigation such as wearing of masks and the use of protective screens, Johnson said many businesses could reopen from July 4.

Johnson told the House of Commons that given the significant fall in the coronavirus cases, the two-metre rule can be changed from July 4. The changes will allow two households to meet in any setting, hairdressers can reopen along with places of worship, most leisure facilities and tourist attractions such as theme parks. However, nightclubs, indoor gyms and swimming pools will stay closed.

Egypt to reopen mosques from Saturday but no Friday prayers

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said that his government would reopen mosques and churches starting Saturday and the ban on Friday’s Muslim prayers at mosques and Sunday’s masses at churches would remain in place for now, acording to AP. Amid a steady increase in daily coronavirus cases, he said restaurants, coffee shops, clubs and theaters will allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.

The government has also extended the hours public and private transposition can operate by four hours, until midnight. It also lifted the country’s nighttime curfew. Madbouky said Egypt’s beaches and parks remain closed until further notice. Egypt has crossed 1,000 infections in recent weeks and the total number of infections in the country are over 57,000 including 2,278 deaths.

A health worker wearing protective gear prepares to take swab sample from a man in his car to test for the coronavirus at a drive-through COVID-19 screening center at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo)

Beijing Covid-19 testing to enter ‘fast track’ as cases mount

China’s capital Beijing’s mass testing will soon enter a “fast track” as city’s testing expands, Reuters quoted a senior municipal health official as saying. In the past 12 days, at least 249 people have been contracted the virus in the worst outbreak in Beijing since the virus was identified at a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Beijing can now administer more than 300,000 nucleic acid tests per day compared with 40,000 in March, Zhang Hua, deputy director at the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, told reporters. Beijing took samples from 2.95 million people between June 12 and June 22, Zhang said. “The strategy of Beijing’s nucleic acid screening is mainly based on the level of risk and on severity,” Zhang said, when asked if everyone in Beijing would be tested.

Commuters wear face masks to protect against the new coronavirus as they walk through a subway station in Beijing, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (AP Photo)

Novak Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus

Tennis player Novak Djokovic and his wife Tuesday tested positive for the coronavirus. “The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative,” Djokovic said in a statement.

“Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region. The Tour has been designed to help both established and up and coming tennis players from South-Eastern Europe to gain access to some competitive tennis while the various tours are on hold due to the COVID-19 situation,” he said.

The tennis stalwart will remain in self-isolation for 14 days and repeat test in five days. HE said, “Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with. I am hoping things will ease with time so we can all resume lives the way they were. I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena pose for the media prior to the start of the Giorgio Armani women’s Spring-Summer 2017 fashion show, presented in Milan, Italy. (AP Photo)

Singapore PM calls for early elections amid pandemic

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for early general elections despite the coronavirus, saying the outbreak has stabilised and there is no assurance it will be over by next April, when the current government’s term ends. “A long struggle lies ahead,” he said in a televised speech as reported by AP. “An election now when things are relatively stable will clear the decks and give the new government a fresh full five-year mandate. It can then focus on this national agenda and the difficult decisions it will have to make and to carry. The city-state, last week, lifted most of the coronavirus restrictions. The country which was hailed initially for containing the virus, has recorded infections over 42,000, so far.

Lee said he decided to hold elections now because there is “no assurance” the pandemic will end by next April. Despite a ban on rallies, he said political parties can still campaign effectively and voters can cast ballots safely, citing examples in recent elections held in South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries. he said polling stations will be set up,voters will be allocated time slots to cast their ballots to prevent crowds, senior citizens will be given priority, and safe distancing rules will be observed.

In this photo provided by Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes an announcement about general elections. (Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information via AP)

German economy won’t fully recover before 2022

The five-member German Council of Economic Experts said output won’t completely bounce back to pre-virus levels until 2022 after a sharp plunge of 6.5% this year, describing the pandemic recession and recovery as taking the shape of a “pronounced V,” AP reported.

Further, it said, the economy would see an upswing in the second half of this year followed by more moderate growth reaching 4.9 per cent next year and unemployment would continue to rise this year before falling gradually next year. The recent economic data made clearer the the impact of the widespread restrictions on travel, business and interpersonal contact, experts said.

Tokyo’s Disneyland set to reopen

Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, is in the final stages of reopening the parks July 1, the Nikkei reported, without attributing the information. Oriental Land is considering limiting the number of visitors to some 15,000 per day for now, reservations will be required, masks will be required and guests will be subject to body temperature checks before entry, Nikkei said.

Seats will also be reduced for certain attractions as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus, it said. A reopening would follow that of Hong Kong Disneyland last week.

People maintain social distance as they ride a roller coaster at Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City (AP)

Outbreak moving towards a peak: WHO

The record levels of new daily COVID-19 cases are due to the fact that the pandemic is peaking in a number of big countries at the same time and reflect a change in the virus’ global activity, the World Health Organization said. Dr. Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, said the outbreak is “definitely accelerating” in the U.S. and a number of other countries, dismissing the notion that the record-breaking daily levels of new cases simply reflect more testing. He noted that numerous countries have seen marked increases in hospital admissions and deaths. “The epidemic is now peaking or moving towards a peak in a number of large countries,“ he warned.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, dines in an outdoor booth with wife Chirlane McCray, right, and restaurant owner Melba Wilson at Melba’s in Harlem as the city reopens (AP)

UK museums, cinemas next in line as Johnson eases curbs

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the latest stage in lifting the coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday in a move expected to give the green light for cinemas and museums in England to open their doors from July 4. Alongside an announcement on whether to halve the minimum “social distance” between people to one meter, Johnson will unveil plans to help the arts and culture sectors recover from restrictions imposed in March.

Customers queue outside a retail shop in front of a closed shop restrictions on non-essential retailers were lifted in London (AP)

WHO warns countries against politicising pandemic

Amid the global surge, the head of WHO warned that world leaders must not politicize the outbreak but unite to fight it. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has faced criticism from President Donald Trump, said during a videoconference for the Dubai-based World Government Summit that it took over three months for the world to see 1 million confirmed infections, but just eight days to see the most recent 1 million cases. Tedros did not mention Trump by name but warned: “The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself; it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership.” He added, “We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.”

Beijing sees a rise in cases

The Chinese capital reported 13 additional local coronavirus infections June 22, up from nine the day before, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission. The number of cases in the city’s fresh outbreak has now reached 249.

Trump says tests make US ‘look bad,’ are right to do

President Donald Trump said coronavirus testing makes the U.S. “look bad” but that they’re the right thing to do, and that he was mostly joking on Saturday when he said at a rally that he had asked his administration to slow down the diagnostics.

The remark, he said in an interview with Monday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, was “semi-tongue in cheek.” “I say it all the time. It’s unfair,” he said, repeating a false assertion that the U.S. “would have far fewer cases” if it conducted less testing.

“I tell my people it’s a double-edged sword,” he said. He said he would not try to order testing slowed down but added, “we do so much more than other countries, it makes us, in a way, look bad — but actually, we’re doing the right thing.”

Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Tulsa on June 20.

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