Coronavirus Global Updates: Global cases of the novel coronavirus cases reached over 8.2 million on Wednesday, as infections surged in Brazil. The virus has so far claimed 444,563 lives as on today. The United States has by far the largest number of cases with 2,141,276 infections and 117,030 deaths.
Meanwhile, China’s capital Beijing imposed restrictions in the city to contain the resurgent coronavirus cases by cancelling scores of flights, shutting schools and blocking off some neighbourhoods. In the past six days, Beijing has witnessed a resurgence of the disease, with some fearing the entire city is headed for a lockdown. Health officials reported 31 new infections for June 16, taking cumulative cases since Thursday to 137 in the city’s worst resurgence in four months, with 356,000 people tested since Sunday.
Britain on Wednesday authorised the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) to use steroid dexamethasone, the “world’s first” coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death among severely ill patients, PTI reported. The cheap and widely used steroid has become the first drug shown to be able to save lives of terminally ill Covid-19 patients. Upon discovery, the scientists called it a “major breakthrough” in the pandemic, while the World Health Organisation hailed the research and announced to update its Covid-19 guidelines.
Here are the developments from across the globe:
Kazakhstan’s speaker of Parliament tests positive for Covid-19
The speaker of Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament Nurlan Nigmatulin ha self quarantined after he contracted coronavirus, authorities confirmed, Reuters said. The country raised an alarm as fresh surge in infections were witnessed in the capital Nur-Sultan. Last week, the speaker met Healthcare Minister Yelzhan Birtanov who then tested positive and is now in hospital being treated for pneumonia.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the coronavirus situation was “challenging” because of widespread non-compliance with social distancing rules, but the government remained in control. “Tomorrow the government will announce measures to stabilise the epidemiological situation, including broader testing,” he wrote on Twitter.
Honduran President, first lady test positive for Covid-19
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office said, news agency AP reported. In a statement issued by the presidency, it said, Hernández had followed recommended health precautions but “because of the nature of his work, it wasn’t possible to remain in total isolation.” He said his wife is asymptomatic and two other people who work with them are also infected.
His office said Hernández began to feel ill over the weekend and his viral infection was confirmed on Tuesday. The statement said he was being treated with microdacyn, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc. Hernández said his symptoms are light and that he’s already starting to feel better. He said he had started what he called the “MAIZ treatment,” an experimental combination of microdacyn, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc. Honduras has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 330 deaths.
Mi solidaridad con el Presidente de #Honduras, @JuanOrlandoH, y su esposa, @anagarciacarias, tras haber dado positivo a la prueba de covid-19. Elevo mis oraciones al Señor por su pronta recuperación. Un fuerte abrazo a ambos.
— Jimmy Morales (@jimmymoralesgt) June 17, 2020
Over 400 people test positive for virus in Germany’s slaughterhouse
At least 475 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at Germany’s biggest slaughterhouse Toennies inRheda-Wiedenbrueck, AP reported. A further 400 test results were still pending.
This massive spike in infections has pushed the number of cases in the region far above the government’s threshold for emergency measures which is set at 50 new infections in a week per 100,000 inhabitants. Following the outbreak, authorities in the western German region of Guetersloh have ordered the closure of all schools and childcare centers.
Regional daily Westfalen-Blatt reported that officials believe some of the cases were imported from other countries by migrant workers who took advantage of newly reopened European borders to visit their families.
Steroid Dexamethasone approved as COVID-19 treatment in UK
The UK government Wednesday authorised the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) to use steroid dexamethasone, the “world’s first” coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death among severely ill patients, PTI reported.
The Department of Health said the cheap and widely available anti-inflammatory steroid has been immediately approved to treat all hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, after an Oxford University trial confirmed positive results on Tuesday. “The standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. (Read More)
WHO moves to update Covid-19 guidance after dexamethasone clinical results
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was moving to update its Covid-19 guidelines on treating people to reflect results of a clinical trial that showed a cheap, common steroid can help save critically ill patients, Reuters reported. On Tuesday, trial results announced showed dexamethasone, used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in diseases such as arthritis, cut death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital.
Although the dexamethasone study’s results are preliminary, the researchers behind the project said it suggests the drug should immediately become standard care in severely stricken patients. According to the preliminary findings shared with the WHO, mortality rate was reduced by about one third for patients on ventilator and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.
WHO welcomes the initial clinical trial results from the #UnitedKingdom that show #dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with #COVID19 👉 https://t.co/CmNea2XEKH
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 16, 2020
German coronavirus tracing app downloaded 6.5 million times
In the last 24 hours, since its launch, Germany’s smartphone app to help trace coronavirus infections has been downloaded 6.5 million times, the chief executive of software company SAP said, Reuters reported. The ‘Corona-Warn-App’ was made in six weeks by SAP and Deutsche Telekom. “It’s a big success, it scales, it’s user friendly and it helps society,” Klein told journalists in a video briefing.
Widespread take-up is needed, however, to increase the chance that both people in a risk event – spending 15 minutes within 2 metres of each other – use the app. In field tests, the app successfully recorded 80% of such encounters.
Singapore scientists discover 5 antibodies to combat virus
A team of Singapore scientists has discovered five antibodies that can fight the coronavirus and protect against the key mutations that have emerged in the virus during the pandemic, the country’s defence research and development organisation said, PTI reported. Human trials for the lead antibody, AOD01, will commence in the coming months, pending approval from the Health Sciences Authority, said the Defense Science Organisation (DSO) National Laboratories.
“They are all potent in blocking infection and effective against key mutations that have emerged in the virus during the pandemic,” it said.
Record spike in coronavirus cases in US states
Fresh coronavirus cases hit a record high in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas on Tuesday showcasing a rising trend in new cases for the second consecutive week. As the states accelerate reopening the number of hospitalisations are also rising to record highs.
Following a new surge in Beijing, flights cancelled, schools closed
China’s capital witnessed a slight increase in new coronavirus cases Wednesday as it fights a new outbreak after almost two months. Beijing has introduced a wave of new restrictions including cancelling over 60 commercial flights in and out of the city, especially from districts that are reporting cases. Beijing’s education commission ordered the closure of schools to stop the new surge in cases.
Beijing reported 31 cases up from 27 the day before in an outbreak that has been primarily linked to a wholesale food market.
New Zealand PM assigns military to oversee border quarantine measures
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has assigned a top military leader to oversee the country’s border quarantine measures after what she described as an unacceptable failure by health officials in allowing two women who returned from London to leave quarantine before they had been tested for the virus.
Before the two new cases, the country was declared as coronavirus free after not reporting any case for more than 3 weeks.
Dexamethasone drug offers some hope as cases surge
Researchers in the UK Tuesday announced the first evidence of a drug that can improve COVID-19 survival. The drug, dexamethasone, is a cheap and widely available steroid that reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen. However the drug did not appear to help people with less serious symptoms.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the drug was the biggest breakthrough yet in treating the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Israel has signed an agreement with Moderna Inc for the future purchase of a potential coronavirus vaccine in case the company succeeds in its development.
Singapore to start human trials of vaccine in August
Singapore scientists testing a COVID-19 vaccine from US firm Arcturus Therapeutics plan to start human trials in August after showing a promising response in mice.
The vaccine being evaluated in Singapore works on relatively-untested Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which instructs human cells to make specific coronavirus proteins that produce an immune response.
Some other important developments
- Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Tuesday he has been tested positive of coronavirus, but did not immediately provide further details.
- Thailand reported no new coronavirus cases and deaths Wednesday, marking the 23rd consecutive day without any local transmission.
- South Africa reported record high infections over the weekend, two weeks after businesses and houses of worship reopened.
- Egypt reported the country’s highest single day death toll with 97 deaths on Monday.
- Israel health officials fear a rise of 200 cases per day as infection rate steadily goes up following lockdown relaxations
- Brazil reported a record 34,918 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as the second worst affected country in the world is fast approaching the 1 million mark.
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