Coronavirus Global Updates: Coronavirus has infected over 16.4 million people worldwide and claimed 6,53,353 lives, with the United States, Brazil and India leading the WHO list of worst affected countries. On Monday, the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccine study got underway 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.
Meanwhile, the United Nations warned that coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, killing an estimated 10,000 more young children a month as meager farms are cut off from markets and villages are isolated from food and medical aid. More than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the UN, malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally.
Air travel expected to not recover before 2024: IATA
Global air travel is recovering more slowly than expected and will take until until 2024 to return to pre-pandemic levels, the trade association for the airline industry said Tuesday.
The International Air Transport Association pushed back its prediction by one year due to the slow containment of the outbreak in the US and developing countries. The industry is seeing a rebound from the depths of the shutdowns in April, but the bad new is that any increase “is barely visible,” IATA chief economist Brian Pearce said Tuesday during an online briefing for journalists.
Pearce said that air travel is not rebounding along with rising levels of business confidence in Europe, the U.S. and China.
Traffic was down 86.5 per cent in June from the same month a year ago, compared with a drop of 94.1 per cent in April, measured as revenue passenger kilometers, or the distance travelled by all revenue-generating passengers.
That improvement is “nowhere near the increase in business confidence,” Pearce said. China is bouncing back more than some other places, while an upturn in the US has been knocked back by the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in a number of states. Besides renewed outbreaks, travel is also being held back by weak consumer confidence and constrained travel budgets at companies that are struggling.
Despite parking many of their planes, airlines are struggling to fill seats with enough people to make money. Planes were only 62.9 per cent full on domestic flights around the world, well below levels at which airlines make money, and an abysmal 38.9 per cent for international travel.
Belarus president tested positive for virus
The president of Belarus says he tested positive for the coronavirus and is asymptomatic. President Alexander Lukashenko made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting with security officials, the state news agency Belta reported. He had previously dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as ‘psychosis.’
“Today you are meeting with a person who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. Doctors made such a conclusion yesterday: asymptomatic,” he said.
Belarus took no comprehensive measures against the coronavirus, such as lockdowns or ordering social distancing. The country has about 67,000 confirmed cases of infection and 543 reported deaths.
UK travel ban on Spain strikes new blow to tourism industry
Britain’s effective ban on travel to Spain following an upswing in coronavirus cases in that country’s northeast on Tuesday hammered home the lack of a comprehensive, continent-wide approach to suppressing the virus and giving hard-hit, tourism-reliant economies a chance to rebound.
The UK government’s recommendation against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain means that all travelers arriving in Britain from that country will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
The move not only dashed British holidaymakers’ hopes for a getaway this summer, but also fanned renewed uncertainty within Europe’s tourism industry over how to plan ahead amid authorities’ responses to new COVID-19 outbreaks.
Indicative of this were decisions by holiday companies TUI UK and Jet2 to suspend flights to Spain, which is traditionally the most popular summer destination for British vacationers. “The UK government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break,” TUI UK said in a statement.
UK PM Boris Johnson says ‘signs of second wave’ appearing in parts of Europe
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said today that ‘signs of a second wave of the pandemic’ are starting to appear in some parts of Europe, as reported by the Guardian. He made the statement while defending Spain’s quarantine due to fears of second Covid-19 peak.
<p “width=420″ lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>NEWS: Boris Johnson defends Spain quarantine due to fears of second COVID-19 peak.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) July 28, 2020
Virus vanguard: Cape Town learned painful lessons early on
When Cape Town emerged as Africa’s first coronavirus hot spot, Dr. Abu Mowlana was surprised by the fear that broke out among his colleagues. Morale was crashing among doctors and nurses at Tygerberg Hospital even as infections surged in May and June, recalled Mowlana, one of the senior doctors leading the COVID-19 response there. The staff at the city’s largest hospital soon was fighting two battles: one against their own fear and another against the new disease that was killing their patients.
“It’s scary for the public but it’s scary for all of us,” he said. Everybody is scared. The critical-care physician. The guy in the wards. The guy cleaning. Everybody. By the end of June, when the virus was reaching its peak in Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, the area had 62,481 of South Africa’s 151,209 total cases, more than 40 per cent, according to government figures. And 1,859 of South Africa’s 2,657 total deaths at the time from COVID-19 were in the province.
Pakistan’s coronavirus tally reaches 274,908
Pakistan’s coronavirus tally reached 274,908 with the detection of 936 new cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday. Twenty-three more people died overnight due to coronavirus-related complications, pushing the nationwide death toll to 5,865.
As many as 242,436 patients have recovered so far in the country, the ministry said. With the detection of the 936 new cases, the total number of infections rose to 274,908, it said. Sindh reported the maximum number of 118,824 cases, followed by 92,279 in Punjab, 33,510 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 14,938 in Islamabad, 11,624 in Balochistan, 2,040 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and 2,010 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
New cases continue to rise in China’s Xinjiang
New coronavirus cases continue to rise in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, with 57 reported on Tuesday.
Beijing also reported its first case of domestic transmission in more than two weeks, while the northeastern province of Liaoning added another six cases in its local outbreak. Another four cases were found among Chinese travelers arriving from outside the country, bringing the daily total over the past 24 hours to 68.
Despite the new clusters, China appears to have largely contained the virus and the death toll remains at 4,634 among 83,959 cases.
Xinjiang’s outbreak has centered on the region’s capital and largest city, Urumqi, where authorities have restricted public transport, isolated some communities and ordered testing among those considered at risk of infection.
Pence visits Florida to discuss COVID-19 vaccine
Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida to hold a round table with University of Miami researchers to speak about the final-stage testing of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Pence said the government would not rush the process to approve a vaccine. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the timeline for the vaccine trials had been compressed, and the agency was conducting real-time review of the data.
“We want to ensure we move at a safe and effective pace. I want to assure the people of Florida and people all across this country that we will cut no corners in the development of this or any vaccine,” Pence told reporters after the round table on Monday.
Google has decided that most of its 200,000 employees and contractors should work from home through next June, a sobering assessment of the pandemic’s potential staying power from the company providing the answers for the world’s most trusted internet search engine.
The remote-work order issued Monday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai also affects other companies owned by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. It marks a six-month extension of Google’s previous plan to keep most of its offices closed through the rest of this year.
“I know this extended timeline may come with mixed emotions and I want to make sure you’re taking care of yourselves,” wrote Pichai, who is also Alphabet’s CEO, in an email to employees.
80,000 people fleeing Vietnamese city after new virus cases
About 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, are being evacuated from the popular Vietnamese beach city of Da Nang after more than a dozen people there were confirmed to have COVID-19, the government said Monday.
Vietnam, widely seen as a success in dealing with the coronavirus, reimposed a social distancing order in Da Nang following the confirmation of the cases, the first known to be locally transmitted in the country in over three months.
A 57-year-old man was confirmed to be infected by the coronavirus on Saturday, the country’s first local case since April. Three more cases were confirmed over the weekend, followed by 11 more on Monday, the Ministry of Health said.
On Sunday, the government reimposed a social distancing order on the city.
The new outbreak sparked fear among tourists in the city, with many cutting their trips short.
In China, airlines plug ‘all you can fly’ deals to pierce coronavirus clouds
China Southern Airlines on Tuesday rolled out an ‘all you can fly’ pass, becoming the latest in a fleet of cash-strapped carriers to join a promotional craze that analysts say has helped revive a coronavirus-ravaged air travel market. At least eight of China’s dozens of airlines have introduced similar deals since June, often priced around $500 for in some cases unlimited flights. Industry watchers say the packages have been a shot in the arm, with costs offset by otherwise empty seats being filled in a country where daily flights last month recovered to 80% of pre-coronavirus levels. The global aviation industry is keenly eyeing China as a pilot for air travel recovery trends, as the country reopened its economy months earlier than other places after managing to bring the pandemic mostly under control – at least for now.
Virus exacts a heavy toll in Queens neighborhood of Corona
Damiana Reyes is back at work at a busy Manhattan hair salon, making highlights, blowouts and extensions. But her mind often drifts to her father, with whom she lived in Queens, before he succumbed to the coronavirus at age 76.
“All my clients ask about him and then, when I return home, people ask me in the street where he is. It’s a constant reminder that he is not around anymore,” said Reyes, who thinks her father got sick while playing dominoes at a day care center for elders.
The pandemic has changed Reyes’ life and those of many in Corona, a Latino neighborhood in Queens that was among the hardest hit places in the world.
Even though tropical music emerges from recently reopened stores and some people sit outside at restaurants offering sidewalk dining, the lingering effects of COVID-19 are noticeable. Hunger and joblessness are rising. Survivors are still grieving lost loved ones.