Coronavirus Global Updates: The novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 5.3 lakh (538,780) people worldwide, while over 11.64 (11,645,109) million have contracted the infection so far. Since it was first reported in China, the virus has spread to over 210 countries and territories in the last six months.
Here are some of the top global stories today:
WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of virus
The World Health Organization, in a media briefing, Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people, Reuters reported.
“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing. In an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in, Reuters stated.
Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 7, 2020
It came back positive: Brazil’s President on live TV
The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Tuesday announced on live television that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, The Guardian reported. “It came back positive,” Bolsonaro said, donning a mask. Bolsonaro , 65, took a test on Monday after experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, including fever.
His diagnosis comes three days after he had lunch at home of the US ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, in capital Brasilia. Earlier, his office had issued a statement saying he was in good health after he underwent a lung scan.
Na Embaixada dos EUA, celebrando o 4 de julho, dia da independência americana. pic.twitter.com/CqtgUNxiSL
— Ernesto Araújo (@ernestofaraujo) July 4, 2020
Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, and has been seen in public neither wearing a mask nor adhering to social distancing norms. Brazil is the second worst-hit country, with over 1.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus and 65,000 deaths. (Read more)
If it’s anywhere, it’s everywhere: WHO cautions travellers on covid
WHO’s spokeswoman Margaret Harris urged travellers to wear masks on planes and keep themselves informed as COVID-19 cases surge again in some countries, prompting new restrictions in places like Australia. “If it’s anywhere, it’s everywhere and people travelling have to understand that,” Reuters reported her as saying.
“This virus is widespread and people have to take that very, very seriously.” Travellers should “remember things will change, or may well change”, Harris said at a Geneva briefing. “We’re seeing a lot of upticks, a lot of changes in different countries, countries that had successfully shut down their first transmission are seeing second upticks,” she added, mentioning Australia and Hong Kong.
US awards Novavax $1.6 billion for covid vaccine
The United States government has awarded Novavax Inc $1.6 billion to cover testing and manufacturing of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus in the US, with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January, Reuters reported.
The award announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the biggest yet from “Operation Warp Speed,” the White House initiative aimed at accelerating access to vaccines and treatments to fight COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Italy orders suspension of Bangladesh flights
Italy has ordered a one-week suspension of incoming flights from Bangladesh after a spate of coronavirus cases near Rome were traced to members of the Bangladeshi community who had recently returned to Italy, AP reported. A new COVID-19 cluster broke out near Rome after a worker recently returning from Bangladesh infected the owner and fellow workers at a restaurant outside the city. Based on that cluster, public health authorities urged members of the Bangladeshi community to get tested.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said beyond the dozen cases were registered in recent days and more positive cases were traced to passengers on the latest flight that arrived in Rome on Monday.
Nearly 200 employees of railways in Philippines test positive
A major passenger railway system in Manila, Philippines capital, has been shut down for five days starting Tuesday after nearly 200 employees, including 15 ticket sellers, tested positive for the coronavirus, AP reported. The 13-station MRT Line 3, which runs for nearly 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from north to south of metropolitan Manila has been closed.
The government has allowed the deployment of more shuttle buses to ease the shortage. The Asian country has reported nearly 48,000 infections, including 1,309 deaths.
Iran sees its highest toll of new Covid-19 deaths
Iran has announced its highest single-day spike in Covid deaths, reporting 200 new fatalities, AP reported. Sima Sadat Lari, the spokesperson for the country’s health ministry, said hat the latest death toll was an increase of 40 from the previous day, when 160 were reported to have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. She blamed the spike on citizens who do not abide by restrictive measures but gather in large numbers for weddings and other ceremonies, without observing distancing regulations.
Over new surge of infections, Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing.
We’re on cusp of something very bad if we don’t take steps today: Premier of Victoria
Melbourne city along with some other towns in Australia’s Victoria state have been ordered back into lockdown for six weeks starting Wednesday after the state reported 191 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest spike in its daily infection count, PTI reported.
“The public health teams have advised me to reimpose stage 3 stay-at-home restrictions. Staying at home, except for the four reasons to leave, effective from midnight tomorrow night for a period of six weeks,” Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday. “We know we are on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps today. If we were to fail to take those steps, then it won’t be a couple of hundred cases per day it will be many more than that and it will quickly spiral well and truly out of control,” he said.
The death toll stands at 22 in Victoria with 722 active cases. No new death was reported in the last 24 hours. The virus has claimed 106 lives with 8,755 confirmed cases in Australia so far.
Statement from the Premier on Stay at Home restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. pic.twitter.com/7tc3esHZnH
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) July 7, 2020
Temple in Tokyo offers Vietnamese workers a safe haven
The three-storey Buddhist temple, Nisshinkutsu, has been providing shelter to young homeless Vietnamese migrant workers, one of the groups hardest-hit by the economic slump that followed the novel coronavirus outbreak in Japan, Reuters reported.
Thi Tu Luong, a 22-year old Vietnamese worker, had just been fired from her job at a hotel in a hot springs town north of Tokyo. After a few minutes of walking the street, she saw Jiho Yoshimizu, who runs a support group for Vietnamese workers, waving her in from the entrance of a concrete building.
Inside the temple, young Vietnamese workers whose lives are in limbo study Japanese, cook Vietnamese food, look for work or book flights home.
Bolsonaro shows Covid symptoms, later says ‘lungs clean’
Responding to local media reports that he was “showing symptoms” of Covid-19, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Monday underwent a lung scan to test for the disease. “I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung’s clean,” said a statement from the president’s office, adding Bolsonaro was at his home and “in good health.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, and has been seen in public neither wearing a mask nor adhering to social distancing norms. Brazil is the second worst-hit country, with over 1.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus and 65,000 deaths.
Air New Zealand stops bookings for three weeks
The New Zealand government has decided to stop bookings on its national airline, Air New Zealand, for three weeks and is speaking to private airlines to do the same. The government intends on using this period to build more isolation centres for people who return, as a 14-day quarantine period is mandatory in the country.
The government had earlier banned the entry of foreigners, and only allowed its nationals and permanent residents to return.
“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said. “The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand.”
The US is ‘knee-deep’ in first wave of Covid-19, warns Fauci
US health official Anthony Fauci has warned the US was “knee-deep” in the first wave of Covid-19. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, also said a vaccine for the disease would not be allow “infinite protection”.
“It’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately,” Fauci said in an interview. The country has reported nearly three million cases and over 130,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration issued new guidelines under which international students would be forced to leave the country if their classes went online in the fall. According to a reported in the Associated Press, the guidelines increased pressed on schools to reopen despite the pandemic.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
NSW-Victoria border for the first time in a century
The border between New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria will close at 11.59 pm Tuesday for the first time in 100 years. The decision to seal the state line was taken Monday due to the rising cases of coronavirus in Victoria’s capital Melbourne. In fact, according to a Reuters report, Victorial could impose a four-week lockdown due to the surge in cases.
“There will be queues, there will be frustration, there will be lots of questions but we’re doing this to keep everybody safe,” Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of NSW, said.
The decision comes with a hefty fine of $7,700 and six-month jail time for anyone found illegally crossing the border.
Australia has reported nearly 8,600 cases and 106 deaths.
WHO reviews research on air-borne virus particles
As scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals team up to understand the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was reviewing new research that found the virus could spread in tiny airborne particles. At least 239 scientists from 32 countries had written to the global body with evidence that these particles could infect people who inhaled them. “We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.