Coronavirus Global Updates: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins researchers.
The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12. The United States leads the by-country count with at least 6,675,560 reported cases, followed by India with at least 5,214,677 and Brazil at 4,455, 386, the numbers showed.
Individual numbers could vary as the university’s tally sometimes lags behind country reports. The U.S. also leads in the number of deaths at 197,643, followed by Brazil at 134,935 and India with a death toll of 84,372, the tally showed.
Here are the top developments globally:
Emergency tents back as Madrid struggles to curb virus wave
A line of green tents labelled with a red cross stands empty Friday in the garden of a Madrid military hospital as a second wave of the coronavirus takes hold in the Spanish capital.
The Gomez Ulla hospital is getting ready just in case emergency wards get crammed again. COVID-19 cases are stubbornly on the rise in Madrid despite curbs on nightlife, outdoor smoking and limiting all group interaction to a maximum of 10 people.
The incremental measures have not prevented the outbreaks from spreading widely, something that experts blame on looser observance of self-protection and, especially, a failure in diligent tracing of contacts of positive cases.
Authorities in Madrid were set to announce “drastic measures” Friday against the outbreaks. They hinted that those could include localized lockdowns and other “restrictions on mobility” in Madrid’s hardest-hit areas, which are also the poorest and more densely populated.
Canada extends US border restrictions to October 21
Canada is extending the agreement to keep the US border closed to non-essential travel to October 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Friday they will continue to base the decision on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.
The restrictions were announced on March 18 and have been extended each month since. Many Canadians fear a reopening. The US has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world.
Canada is seeing an uptick in cases in recent weeks. Canada largest province, Ontario, reported 401 new cases on Friday.
Localised lockdowns widen as coronavirus cases rise in UK
The UK government on Friday further expanded localised lockdown measures in the northern parts of England as the number of coronavirus cases remain on an upward trajectory across the country.
The tougher restrictions on meeting between different households and bars and restaurants in the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire regions of England, which will be in force from next Tuesday, come in as the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) warned that its infection survey found that new COVID-19 cases could be hitting 6,000 a day in England.
“We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton. Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Virus clusters at French universities give Europe a lesson
Can mandatory masks offer enough protection in lecture halls so packed that late arrivals have to sit on the floor? That’s what worries many students at the centuries-old Sorbonne University in Paris as the coronavirus is on the rebound across France.
At least a dozen COVID-19 clusters have emerged since French campuses and classrooms opened this month. The clutches of cases are a warning sign for countries elsewhere in Europe, where most universities are readying to resume teaching and research in coming weeks.
“We go back to university in conditions that are a bit extreme, and we fear we might get COVID-19,” Elise Gilbert, 20, who is studying literature at the Sorbonne, said of the overcrowding students encountered.
France’s experience so far stands in contrast to what’s happening in Britain, where virus-driven changes on campuses mean university life will look a lot different this term. Germany and Italy are also adapting their delivery of higher education in response to the pandemic. (AP)
UK health minister says testing is not chaotic
Britain’s health minister Friday disputed questioning from a reporter who cast the Covid-19 testing system as a barely functioning chaotic shambles, instead praising the head of system for extraordinary work and saying it was not a mess, reported Reuters.
UK study finds effective new COVID-19 rapid test in a box
A new small-boxed COVID-19 rapid test device, which gives results within 90 minutes, has been found to have a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives in a UK study.
The Lab-in-Cartridge tests can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone and do not require a laboratory.
The study, led by Imperial College London scientists and published in ‘The Lancet Microbe’ this week, involved high-speed tests on 386 National Health Service (NHS) staff and patients and were found to have over 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity.
“These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” said Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London. (PTI)
Israel returns to virus lockdown as cases mount
Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.
The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) will include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to within a kilometer (0.6 miles) of their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.
In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.
First case-free day for New Zealand in five weeks
New Zealand has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus for the first time in more than five weeks. Friday’s report also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travelers returning from abroad.
Authorities have still not pinpointed the origin of the outbreak in Auckland in August, which they believe was imported. The city had been temporarily placed in lockdown. New Zealand has reported just over 1,800 cases and 25 deaths.
China faces a major test in its vaccine diplomacy, with a deadline fast approaching on whether it will officially join a World Health Organization-backed effort to ensure everyone across the globe is inoculated against Covid-19.
Friday is the final day for governments to decide whether to take part in Covax, an $18 billion initiative that aspires to give lower-income countries the same access to vaccines as wealthier nations. Beijing has said it “supports” Covax without clearly saying if it’s putting any money into the project. The confirmed list of participants will be published on Monday, Sept. 21, according to the WHO.
Thailand reports first coronavirus death in over 100 days
Thailand on Friday reported its first coronavirus death in more than 100 days, a health official said, after an infected Thai citizen had returned from abroad earlier this month. The 54-year old man, who was an interpreter based in Saudi Arabia working for the Thai labour ministry, had been treated in a Bangkok hospital for two weeks and died on Friday, Somsak Akksilp, head of the Department Medical Services, told Reuters. Officials will hold a briefing on the case at 0730 GMT.
Former Trump aide speaks out against him; now for Biden
A former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who served on the White House coronavirus task force, said President Donald Trump once suggested that Covid-19 might be a good thing because it would stop him from having to shake hands with “disgusting people”.
Olivia Troye is the latest former member of the Trump administration to speak out against him and urge voters to deny him a second term. She joins a growing list that includes Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Trump said Thursday that he did not know Troye, who was Pence’s homeland security adviser.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden Thursday went after Trump again and again over his handling of the pandemic, saying the President’s downplaying of Covid-19 was “criminal” and his administration was “totally irresponsible.”
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The President should step down,” Biden said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton. Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”
Covid-19 hits Lebanese prison as inmates jockey for release
Lebanon’s largest prison grappled with an alarming coronavirus outbreak on Thursday as many inmates refused to take preventative measures or get tested under the impression that catching the virus could speed up their release as part of a rumored general amnesty the head of the country’s doctors union said. Over 200 of the 3000 detainees at Roumieh Prison have tested positive in recent days, Sharaf Abu Sharaf president of Lebanese Order of Physicians told The Associated Press.
The outbreak in the prison, east of Beirut, notorious for overcrowding, comes as Lebanon is witnessing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and deaths Some detainees’ families have urged the state to issue amnesty to certain detainees to reduce the possibility of the virus sweeping through the prison population.
Texas eases virus rules as cases drop, but bars still closed
Texas is ready to relax coronavirus restrictions for the first time in months, Republican Gov Greg Abbott announced Thursday, but bars remain closed indefinitely and a mask mandate is still in place following a massive summer spread. In allowing restaurants and gyms to let more people inside, as well as lifting a ban on elective surgeries and nursing home visits under certain criteria, Abbott said a dramatic drop in hospitalised Covid-19 patients has made it possible to begin easing restrictions put in place when new cases surged in June. Texas has nearly 14,500 confirmed deaths from Covid-19, the fourth-highest in the nation with the vast majority of those deaths occurring this summer.
Hemingway’s favorite Key West bar reopens from virus closure
Sloppy Joe’s, the iconic Key West bar that Ernest Hemingway frequented during the 1930s, reopened Thursday after closing six months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. By noon, the bar had already reached the 50 per cent capacity allowed by law, including three Ernest Hemingway look-alikes. Concerns about Covid-19 had forced cancellation of the 40th Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest held at Sloppy Joe’s each July during the subtropical island’s annual Hemingway Days festival.
Charlie Boice, who won the contest in 2015, traveled nearly 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Jupiter, Florida, to attend the reopening. “Coming back to Sloppy Joe’s is a wonderful thing,” Boice said. “For most people, it’s just a destination on a cruise or a destination on vacation. But for the Papas, this is home.”
Bangladesh economy shows early signs of pandemic recovery
A rebound in garment orders after demand crashed during spring shutdowns is helping to revive the Bangladesh economy. Apparel makers, the country’s main export industry, say they are looking ahead to Christmas orders from the U.S. and other major markets.
Remittances from Bangladeshi workers employed overseas have also recovered, helping to relieve pressures from a pandemic quasi-shutdown during the spring. The Asian Development Bank reported this week that the economic comeback was encouraging. It is forecasting the economy will grow at a robust 6.8 per cent annual pace in the fiscal year that ends in June if current conditions persist.
Peru president faces impeachment vote amid pandemic turmoil
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra’s job is on the line Friday as opposition lawmakers push through an impeachment hearing criticised as a hasty and poorly timed ouster attempt in one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers appeared to be far short of the two-thirds majority vote required to remove Vizcarra from office, but even if he dodged the impeachment attempt analysts warned that he would not escape the ordeal entirely unscathed.
His ability to carry forward the anti-corruption agenda he has sought to make the hallmark of his short but eventful administration could be further jeopardized if Vizcarra is perceived as having engaged in influence peddling himself.
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