Coronavirus Global Updates: The novel coronavirus has infected over 15.4 million (15,446,800) people worldwide and killed as many as 632,178, according to the latest data released by Johns Hopkins University. At least 8.7 million patients have recovered globally.
Nearly half of the total number of global cases have emerged from the three worst-hit countries — the US, Brazil and India.
The United States recorded more than 1,100 Covid-related deaths for the third day in a row on Thursday, news agency Reuters reported. However, despite the surge, the country remains well below levels seen in April, when it was recording an average of 2,000 fatalities per day.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US crossed the grim 4 million mark. An average of 2,600 new cases are being added to the countries’ caseload every hour, which is the highest rate in the world.
Meanwhile, the caseload stands at 2,287,475 in the world’s second-worst impacted country, Brazil. The Latin American nation is followed by India, where total cases rose to 1,288,108 on Friday.
Here are some of the top global stories today:
Mandatory masks becoming the rule amid Europe’s virus uptick
New rules on wearing masks in England came into effect on Friday, with people going to shops, banks and supermarkets now required to wear face coverings. The move came a day after Belgium imposed its own mask requirement to slow increasing coronavirus infections.
Those in England can be fined as much as 100 pounds ($127) by police if they refuse. The British government had given mixed signals for weeks before deciding on the policy. Venues like restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers are exempt.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, says officers will be available as a last resort but that he hopes the public “will continue to do the right thing” to protect other citizens. In Belgium, health authorities said a three-year old girl has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as new infections surged 89% from the previous week.
On Thursday, Belgian authorities beefed up restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, including making masks mandatory in crowded outdoor public spaces. A country of 11.5 million, Belgium has been hard hit by the pandemic with 64,847 cases and 9,812 deaths recorded so far. In Italy, the number of daily new infections reported on Thursday jumped to over 300, the first time they had surpassed more than 300 since mid-June.
Russia resumes flights with 3 nations on August 1
Russia will resume international flights with three countries starting August 1, the government announced Friday. Air traffic will resume with Britain, Turkey and Tanzania, and Russia is working to expand the list, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.
Flights will resume in airports in Moscow, the surrounding Moscow region, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russian. Russia halted all international flights and shut down its borders in late March to help stem the coronavirus outbreak. Russian authorities started easing restrictions in May.
Health officials have reported more than 800,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 13,046 deaths in the country
WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet
The chief scientist at the World Health Organization estimates that about 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the population will need to be immune to the coronavirus for there to be any protective ‘herd immunity’ effect.
Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination and occurs when most of a population is immune to a disease, blocking its continued spread. During a social media event on Friday, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that studies done from some countries hit hard by COVID-19 show that about 5 per cent to 10 per cent of people now have antibodies, though in some countries, it has been as high as 20 per cent.
She says: “As there are waves of this infection going through countries, people are going to develop antibodies and those people will hopefully be immune for sometime so they will also act as barriers and brakes to the spread.”
Other experts have estimated that as much as 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the population need to have antibodies before there is any herd immunity effect. In the pandemic’s earlier stages, countries including Britain proposed achieving herd immunity as an outbreak response strategy. But Swaminathan pointed out that achieving this effect with a vaccine is much safer than letting the virus rip through the population.
South Africa to shut schools again after Covid-19 cases surge
The South African government has decided to close schools once again as the country is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases. Schools will remain closed for a four-week period from July 27 onward, for students of all but two classes.
While addressing the nation on Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa’s coronavirus caseload was above the 4 lakh mark and now stood at 4,08,052.
“I am aware that this arrangement will disappoint many learners who want to be back at school and may cause inconvenience and difficulty for many families who need to make alternative childcare arrangements. We ask you to do this because we believe it is important to ensure that schools do not become sites of transmission at a time when infections are rising fast,” Ramaphosa was quoted as saying by PTI.
While around 6,000 people have succumbed to the virus in the country, while as many as 2,29,175 have recovered.
Trump cancels Republican convention in Florida
US President Donald Trump has decided to cancel an upcoming four-night Republican convention in Florida. The event was earlier slated to take place in North Carolina, but was shifted to Florida due to strict social distancing norms in the state, BBC reported.
“It’s not the right time for that,” Trump said at a White House press briefing. “It’s just not right with what’s happened recently, the flare-up in Florida.”
Trump said his decision to cancel the event was aimed at protecting the American people. The convention in Jacksonville, Florida was set to draw in more than 10,000 people.
Some Republican delegates are still planning to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina — where the convention was originally supposed to take place.
Covid-19 clusters continue to emerge in China
Chinese officials Friday reported two new Covid-19 cases in the northeastern province Liaoning, marking China’s latest infectious cluster since the last one emerged in the northwestern region of Xinjiang earlier this month. Coronavirus clusters continue to pop up across the country even after authorities were able to largely contain the spread of the virus in May, the Associated Press reported.
China reported as many as 23 new cases in the mainland on Thursday — of which 13 were registered in Xinjiang, while the remaining were recorded in Liaoning’s Dalian city — according to data released by the National Health Commission.
All indoor tourist attractions, theatres and night clubs across Liaoning have been closed by authorities to prevent further infections.
Meanwhile, China has been able to contain the spread of the virus in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing, which have begun steadily easing lockdown restrictions and opening up to increased economic activity and social interaction.
South Korea likely to report 100 new cases for first time since April
South Korea is expected to record 100 new coronavirus cases today, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control. This will be the first time the country has reported more than 100 cases since April 1, when it registered 101 infections.
Last month, national health authorities announced the country had been hit by a second wave of the disease. Before this, South Korea was widely praised for undertaking aggressive testing and tracking to contain the spread of the virus.
At present, the country has a total caseload of 13,979 and a death toll of 298
Japan records highest daily Covid-19 infection rate
With 981 new Covid-19 cases, Japan recorded its highest daily infection count on Thursday. The country also reported two more deaths, bringing its death toll to 992.
Several major cities, including the capital Tokyo, reported a spike in daily coronavirus numbers on Thursday. So far, the country’s total caseload stands at 27,956, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.
Australia’s Victoria records 300 new cases, 7 deaths
Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria recorded 300 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the state’s premier announced. As many as seven Covid-19 patients succumbed to the virus in the state, setting a new single-day record in Victoria.
Of the 300 cases, only 51 are from a known source with connections to previous cases, CNN reported. According to the health department, five of the seven deaths were linked to old age homes in the state.
To help facilitate contact-tracing as cases surge in the Australian state, twenty-eight teams from the Australian Defense Force will be dispatched to go from door-to-door with health officials, Premier Daniel Andrews said in a press briefing on Friday.
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