Coronavirus Global Updates: More than 16.2 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the globe and 6,48,913 people have died. The United States is the worst-affected followed by Brazil and India in terms of caseload. Health officials across the globe are grappling with second waves of the coronavirus pandemic, with outbreaks from China to Spain serving as reminders of the difficulty in permanently stamping out the pathogen, according to Bloomberg. China, where the virus first emerged, reported the most domestic cases since mid-March amid flareups in the west and northeast. Australia’s Victoria state confirmed a record 532 new infections, Vietnam saw its first cases in more than three months, and North Korea locked down a city after it found a person who may be infected.
Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week, according to a Reuters tally. Many countries, especially those where officials eased earlier social distancing lockdowns, are experiencing a second peak more than a month after recording their first.
Meanwhile, nightclubs, bars and beaches—some of Spain’s most beloved summer venues—are facing new lockdown restrictions after turning into coronavirus hot spots, and some European nations are warning citizens not to visit the country.
Britain put Spain back on its unsafe list beginning Sunday, announcing hours earlier that travelers arriving in the UK from Spain must now quarantine for 14 days. Norway also ordered a 10-day quarantine for those returning from the Iberian Peninsula. France and Belgium are recommending that travelers ditch plans to spend their summer vacations in Barcelona and its nearby beaches, which have seen crowds too massive to allow for social distancing.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate moves into late-stage trial
The world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the US government — one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race. There’s still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc, will really protect.
The needed proof: Volunteers won’t know if they’re getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked.
“Unfortunately for the United States of America, we have plenty of infections right now to get that answer,” NIH’s Dr Anthony Fauci recently told The Associated Press. Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain’s Oxford University earlier this month began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries.
But the US requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country and has set a high bar: Every month through fall, the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will roll out a new study of a leading candidate — each one with 30,000 newly recruited volunteers.
Hong Kong increases virus rules as cases grow
Hong Kong will ban dining at restaurants completely and mandate masks in all public places, as the city battles a worsening coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 1,000 people in the last two weeks. The tightened measures will be effective for one week from Wednesday. They are an extension of a previous ban on eating at restaurants and eateries after 6 p.m. in the evening, as well as making it mandatory by law to wear masks on public transport.
A ban on public gatherings of more than four people has also been furthered tightened, with gatherings limited to two people. Bars, beauty salons and amusement game centers will remain closed, and swimming pools and sports venues will be closed from Wednesday. Eateries and restaurants will be allowed to provide takeout services to customers.
Tourism, diplomacy facing pushback as virus caseloads surge
Countries are considering putting away their welcome mats to tourists and regional meetings are being put on hold as the coronavirus pandemic strengthens its grip in many of the worst-affected countries. The biggest driver of new infections in Australia’s biggest current outbreak is people continuing to go to work after showing symptoms, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The state on Monday reported a record 532 new cases, while its biggest city, Melbourne, is almost half way through a six-week lockdown aimed at curbing community spread of the virus. This is what is driving these numbers up, and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested, Andrews said.
Australia is among many nations in the Asian-Pacific where foreign travelers are essentially banned or, when allowed to enter, required to submit to tests and strict quarantines. The dearth of such international travel has cleared Asian skies of the jet trails that are a background sight for much of the world.
China’s local cases jump most since mid-March
China reported 61 new coronavirus cases, with local infections jumping by 57, the most since it brought an initial outbreak that emerged in Wuhan under control in mid-March. The far west province of Xinjiang, which last week suspended buses and subways in its capital city Urumqi, reported 41 local coronavirus cases.
The coastal city of Dalian in northeast China is also seeing a jump in infections. The port city is taking a targeted approach similar to what Beijing employed to tame the outbreak. It has escalated the risk levels of infected neighborhoods to high and medium and barred residents there from leaving the city. Dalian has also launched mass testing to track down infections, and is tracking seafood products processed by the Dalian Kaiyang World Seafood Co., where the first infection was reported.
Some US police resist enforcing coronavirus mask mandates
Lang Holland, the chief of police in tiny Marshall, Arkansas, said he thinks the threat of the coronavirus has been overstated and only wears a face mask if he’s inside a business that requires them. He doesn’t make his officers wear them either. So the day after Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an order requiring masks to be worn in public throughout Arkansas, Holland made it clear his department wasn’t going to enforce the mandate in the Ozarks town of about 1,300, calling it an unconstitutional overreach.
“All I’m saying is if you want to wear a mask, you have the freedom to choose that,” said Holland, who said he supports President Donald Trump. It should not be dictated by the nanny state.”
Holland is among a number of police chiefs and sheriffs in Arkansas and elsewhere who say they won’t enforce statewide mask requirements, even within their departments. Some say they don’t have the manpower to respond to every mask complaint, treating violations of the requirement as they would oft-ignored minor offenses such as jaywalking. Others, including Holland, reject the legal validity of mask requirements.
The pushback is concerning to health officials, who say a lack of enforcement could undermine what they say is a much-needed and simple step that can be taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Florida overtakes New York in coronavirus cases, adds 9,300
Florida surpassed New York over the weekend as the state with the second-most coronavirus cases in the US, as more than 9,300 new cases were reported in the Sunshine State on Sunday, accompanied by an additional 78 new deaths. Florida’s 423,855 coronavirus cases as of Sunday were surpassed only by California’s 453,659 cases.
With 39.5 million residents, California has almost double the population of Florida’s 21.4 million inhabitants. California is the nation’s most populous state, followed by Texas, Florida and New York.
New York, once the epicentre of the virus in the US, had 411,736 coronavirus cases. The state has 19.4 million residents.
There were 9,344 new cases reported in Florida on Sunday. The number of new cases was lower than other days last week, but caseloads released on Sundays tend to be smaller because of the lack of workers entering data or in labs testing samples. The statewide median age of coronavirus patients in Florida was 40.
South Africa warns COVID-19 corruption puts ‘lives at risk’
South Africa’s COVID-19 response is marred by corruption allegations around its historic $26 billion economic relief package, as the country with the world’s fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases braces for more.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a wide-ranging investigation into claims that unscrupulous officials and private companies are looting efforts to protect the country’s 57 million people.
“More so than at any other time, corruption puts our lives at risk,” he said in a national address Thursday night.
Food for the poor. Personal protective equipment for health workers. Grants for the newly laid off. All have been affected, he said.
Pope Francis urges support for elderly during pandemic
Pope Francis led pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the weekly Sunday blessing in a round of applause for elderly people suffering from loneliness during the pandemic.
Francis, on the feast day for Jesus’s maternal grandparents Saints Anne and Joachim, urged the faithful to consider every elderly person his or her own grandparent. ”Don’t leave them alone,” he implored, urging the faithful to reach out with a phone call, video chat or a visit where possible under distancing rules to impede the virus’ spread.
”I would like to invite young people to make a gesture of tenderness toward the elderly, especially those who are alone, at home and in residences, those who for many months have not seen loved ones,” the pope said.
”Send them a hug,” the pope said. ”They are your roots.”
Australian outbreak attributed to sick workers
Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state on Monday posted a new daily record of 532 new COVID-19 cases, and the government leader warned that a lockdown in the city of Melbourne would continue while infected people continued to go to work.
Melbourne is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown aimed at curbing community spread of coronavirus. Mask-wearing in Australia’s second-largest city became compulsory last week. The new cases and six deaths reported on Monday surpasses a previous record of 484 new infections reported on Wednesday last week.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the biggest driver of the new infections was people continuing to go to work after showing symptoms.
South Korea reports 25 new coronavirus cases
South Korea has reported 25 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing its national caseload to 14,175 infections and 299 deaths. South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said 16 of the new cases were tied to people arriving from abroad. The country in past days have reported dozens of cases among crew members of a Russia-flagged cargo ship docked in the southern port of Busan and hundreds of South Korean construction workers airlifted from virus-ravaged Iraq.
Among the nine local transmissions, eight were from the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May.
Some other important developments
Faithful return to Mexico City churches with masks, gel
Temperatures were taken and anti-bacterial gel applied before the faithful walked through a disinfecting arch set up in front of centuries-old wood-and-stone doors. They sat spaced out on pews while robed priests donned face masks.
Mexico City’s Roman Catholic churches, including its main cathedral, began celebrating Mass again Sunday after three months of pandemic lockdown with a new normal that seemed to have more rules than faithful in the pews.
White House pushes narrow virus aid; Pelosi blasts GOP delay
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday assailed Republican disarray over a new pandemic relief package as the White House suggested a narrower effort might be necessary, at least for now. The California Democrat panned the Trump administration’s desire to trim an expiring temporary federal unemployment benefit from $600 weekly to about 70% of pre-pandemic wages.
Trump’s national security adviser has coronavirus
President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus making him the highest-ranking official to test positive so far. That’s according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss it by name.
The White House confirmed that O’Brien has mild symptoms and “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” adding that: ?There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President” and that the “work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.”
The news was first reported by Bloomberg News, which said O’Brien came down with the virus after a family event. A personal valet to the president and the vice president’s press secretary previously tested positive for the virus, which has now infected more than 4 million people nationwide. Senior White House staff and anyone who comes into close contact with the president and vice president are tested for the virus every day.
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