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Global Coronavirus Updates, 13 August: Africa begins continent-wide study antibodies; Australia reports dip in new virus cases, deaths

Global Coronavirus Updates: With over 20.5 million infections, the novel coronavirus that first began in China last year, has claimed at least 7.48 lakh lives. The United States is the worst-affected, followed by Brazil and India.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 13, 2020 7:39:01 pm
coronavirus, coronavirus news, covid 19 news, mexico coronavirus, corona news, covid 19 us, covid 19 vaccine, covid 19 vaccine, covid 19 russia, russia coronavirus, usa coronavirus cases, coronavirus us, us coronavirus news, coronavirus latest update, coronavirus today update, corona cases worldwide, coronavirus global update, global covid 19 newsPeople wearing face masks queue up to be tested for COVID-19, at Vilafranca del Penedes in the Barcelona province, Spain, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Coronavirus Global Updates: With over 20.5 million infections, the novel coronavirus that first began in China last year, has claimed at least 7.48 lakh lives. The United States is the worst-affected, followed by Brazil and India.

Russia defended the safety of what it said was the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. Hong Kong’s recent outbreak is showing signs of coming under control, while the Philippines said it would begin clinical trials for a Japanese antiviral drug.

Here’s the other important COVID-19 news from across the globe

US jobless claims fall below 1 million but remain high

The number of laid-off workers applying for unemployment aid fell below 1 million last week for the first time since the pandemic intensified five months ago yet still remains at a high level.

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The viral pandemic keeps forcing layoffs just as the expiration of a USD 600-a-week federal jobless benefit has deepened the hardships for many.

The Labour Department said applications fell to 963,000, the second straight drop, from 1.2 million the previous week. The decline suggests that layoffs are slowing, though last week’s figure still exceeds the pre-pandemic record of just under 700,000.

The pandemic, the shutdowns that are meant to fight it and the reluctance or inability of many people to shop, travel or eat out are continuing to weaken the economy and force companies to cut staff. Twenty-three states have paused or reversed their business re-openings.

Africa begins continent-wide study of COVID-19 antibodies

An Africa-wide study of antibodies to the coronavirus has begun while evidence from a smaller study indicates that many more people have been infected than official numbers show, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Experts are eager to know the real number of COVID-19 cases in Africa as confirmed cases and deaths have been relatively low on the continent of 13 billion people. Poor data collection however has complicated efforts.

Ruth Irumva, right, is tested for COVID-19 at a testing center in the capital Kigali, Rwanda, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Like many countries, Rwanda is finding it impossible to test each of its citizens for the coronavirus amid shortages of supplies but researchers there have created an innovative approach using an algorithm to refine the process of pooled testing that’s drawing attention beyond the African continent. (AP Photo)

But recent surveys in Mozambique found antibodies — proteins the body makes when an infection occurs — to the virus in 5 of households in the city of Nampula and 25 in the city of Pemba Thats while Mozambique has just 2,481 confirmed virus cases. Further studies are underway in the capital Maputo and the city of Quelimane.

Australia reports dip in new virus cases, deaths

Australia reported a dip in new COVID-19 cases and virus-related deaths on Thursday with nine fatalities and 292 new infections detected in the last 24 hours. Now, the national COVID-19 death toll stands at 361. The total number of cases has climbed to 22,358, including 12,774 cases of recovery.

Of the deaths reported in the last 24 hours, eight were from Victoria, while one was from New South Wales. Similarly, most of the new virus cases were reported from Victoria at 278, followed by New South Wales with 12 cases and Western Australia with 2 cases.

Victoria, which is the Oceanic country’s worst virus-hit state, is in Stage 3 lockdown, except state capital Melbourne and Mitchell Shire municipality which are in Stage 4 lockdown.

Experts warn Spain is losing the 2nd round in virus fight

Not two months after battling back the coronavirus, Spain’s hospitals are beginning to see patients struggling to breathe returning to their wards. Spain, with a population of 47 million, leads Europe with 44,400 new cases confirmed over the past 14 days compared with just 4,700 new cases registered by Italy with 60 million inhabitants, which was the first European country to be rocked by the virus.

People wearing face masks queue up to be tested for COVID-19, outside a local clinic in Santa Coloma de Gramanet in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Spain is facing another surge in coronavirus infections not even two months after beating back the first wave. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Experts are searching for reasons why Spain is struggling more than its neighbors after western Europe had won a degree of control over the pandemic.

“The data dont lie,” Rafael Bengoa, the former health chief of Spains Basque Country region and international consultant on public health, told The Associated Press

“The numbers are saying that where we had good local epidemiological tracking like in the rural northwest. Things have gone well,” Bengoa said. “But in other parts of the country where obviously we did not have the sufficient local capacity to deal with outbreaks, we have community transmission again.”

UK lowers COVID-19 toll by 5,000 after adopting new official counting methodology

A new government-approved methodology put in place following an urgent review of England’s COVID-19 death toll, recorded 41,329 deaths from the deadly coronavirus Thursday — down 5,000 from the previous analysis.

The recalculation was prompted by concerns that the Public Health England (PHE) analysis of the number of COVID-19 fatalities could be over-exaggerated by recording each and every positive coronavirus test and failure to assess if the eventual cause of death was directly linked to the deadly virus.

Under the new system, the UK government and the devolved administrations have agreed to publish the number of deaths that occurred within 28 days of a positive lab-confirmed Covid test result on a daily basis. This will provide accurate data on the immediate impact of recent epidemic activity, PHE said.

German coronavirus tests backlog 900 positive not yet told

German authorities worked through the night to clear a backlog of coronavirus tests from travelers after it emerged 900 people, who were positive for COVID-19, had yet to be informed.

Bavarian Health Minister Melanie Huml said all people with positive results would be informed Thursday and that systems were being improved to prevent any further delays.

Students of the Robert-Koch vocational college sit with face masks in the classroom during computer science lessons in Dortmund, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The college takes part at a school trial for new computer science classes to prepare their students for computing studies. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Bavaria has been offering free voluntary tests at airports as well as specific train stations and highway rest areas and has carried out some 85,000 since the end of July, Huml said.

The interest was higher than expected and the delays were almost exclusively at the rest areas and train stations where some 60,000 people were tested.

China’s Shenzhen says chicken imported from Brazil tests positive for coronavirus

A sample of a frozen chicken wing imported from Brazil tested positive for coronavirus in China’s Shenzhen city, according to a statement from the local government. Earlier, the outside of an Ecuador frozen shrimp package tested positive for coronavirus in a restaurant in Wuhu, a city in China’s Anhui province, state television CCTV reported. Virus tests of people who have possibly come into contact with the product — and tests of related products — all came back negative, the government said.

People wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus walk across a pedestrian bridge during a rainstorm in Beijing (AP)

Florida sheriff bans masks for deputies with some exceptions

A central Florida sheriff says his deputies won’t be allowed to wear face masks except under some conditions, and neither will visitors to the sheriff’s office. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in an email to staff that he had weighed both sides of the issue amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In July, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans to wear masks against the virus.

Germany’s new cases up most in more than 3 months

Germany recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in more than three months, with daily infections staying above 1,000 for three straight days. There were 1,319 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, the most since May 1 and bringing the total to 220,859, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of new infections reached almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic at the end of March and in early April.

A member of the Johanniter, waits to test travellers arriving from abroad to be tested at a Covid-19 testing station set up at Cologne-Bonn Airport near Cologne, Germany (Getty Images)

Bhutan imposes 1st nationwide virus lockdown

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has imposed its first nationwide lockdown due to a virus infection in a returning traveler who had been released from quarantine. The government’s statement said the lockdown would be enforced from five to 21 days “to identify and isolate all positive cases, immediately breaking the chain of transmission.”

New Zealand PM Ardern expects coronavirus cluster to grow further

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday she expected the coronavirus cluster in the country to grow further before slowing down, as the Pacific nation reported an additional 13 new cases from domestic transmission. The discovery of four infected family members in Auckland two days ago shocked a country that had not recorded a case of COVID-19 for more than three months.

Medical staff test residents of South Auckland at a pop up Covid-19 testing centre in the Otara Mall, in Auckland (AP)

Trump releases recommendations for reopening US schools

President Donald Trump stepped up his effort to push school systems to reopen by hosting an event at the White House featuring parents, educators and researchers who argued for in-person learning. He also released eight recommendations for reopening U.S. schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, including that masks be used when social distancing is not possible.

Trump criticized as “a little ridiculous” some school districts’ plans to have students attend in person some days and online on other days so that they have enough space to socially distance in classrooms. “One thing we’ve learned during this horror show of the China plague is that virtual is not as good as being there,” he said.

Meanwhile, schools that reopened fully and early are seeing hundreds of students, staff and teachers put into quarantine as Covid-19 spreads. Some are closing buildings opened just days ago. Others are frantically looking for workarounds — and for the money to pay for them. In Memphis, Tennessee, and Irvine, California, teachers must sign liability waivers in case they get sick.

Peru president bans family gatherings, extends lockdowns, as coronavirus infections spike

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra on Wednesday banned family gatherings and extended lockdowns to five more regions of the country amid a fresh spike in cases of the novel coronavirus. Fifteen of Peru’s 25 regions were already covered by rolling lockdowns. Vizcarra announced the return of a blanket Sunday curfew as figures revealed a 75% surge in infections among children and adolescents. There have been 489,680 confirmed cases while the dead totalled 21,501 by Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said.

A woman walks near a sign that reads in Spanish “I made holes for burials,” near a cemetery in Ventanilla, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru (AP)

France’s jab at Russian vaccine; Brazilian state signs MOU with Moscow

French health minister Olivier Veran said France will never offer a Covid-19 vaccine to its population if it hasn’t passed phase 3 trials, adding that vaccines from European and American research teams are currently undergoing phase 3 trials.

Meanwhile, a Brazilian technology institute said on Wednesday it expects to produce a controversial coronavirus Russian vaccine by the second half of 2021, shortly after the state of Parana signed a memorandum of understanding with Moscow.

Some other global news from across the world

  • Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said he’s tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the fourth close ally of President Nicolas Maduro to become infected.
  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned the coronavirus situation is “evolving in the wrong way,” and he’ll ask local authorities to extend the imposition of face masks outdoors.
  • The pandemic will likely make the gender pay gap worse as the US economy recovers but could ultimately improve opportunities for women, according to a paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • The German city of Hamburg has extended a ban on alcohol sales from outlets like kiosks and gas stations in a bid to thwart street gatherings that could fan the spread of the coronavirus.
  • About 800 migrant workers have been quarantined after a case of Covid-19 was discovered in a dormitory that had been cleared, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.
  • The Philippines plans to launch clinical trials for a Russian coronavirus vaccine in October, with President Rodrigo Duterte expected to be inoculated as early as May next year, the presidential spokesman said on Thursday.
coronavirus, coronavirus vaccine, russia coronavirus vaccine, russia vaccine, sputnik vaccine, coronavirus vaccine update, covid 19, covid 19 vaccine, coronavirus vaccine covaxin, oxford vaccine, russia vaccine, moderna coronavirus vaccine, India coronavirus vaccine In this handout photo provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund, an employee works with a coronavirus vaccine at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow (AP)

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