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Coronavirus global updates, June 13: Greece set to open to tourists after nearly 3-month lockdown; Italy’s death toll rises by 78

Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates: The number of confirmed global infections stands at 7,629,227, with the highest being reported from US, followed by Brazil and Russia. India stood fourth with 2,97,535 infections.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 13, 2020 10:59:29 pm
Circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing line San Francisco’s Dolores Park. (AP Photo)

Coronavirus Global Updates: Covid-related deaths in Italy climbed by 78 on Saturday, Reuters quoted the Civil Protection Agency as saying, while the tally of new coronavirus cases increased by 346. The total death toll since February 21 now stands at 34,301. While, the country saw a wave of fresh Covid-19 cases, Italy along with Germany, France and the Netherlands have signed a contract with Astrazeneca to supply European citizens with a vaccine against the coronavirus, health minister said.

In the worldwide death toll of the coronavirus, Brazil overtook United Kingdom on Saturday, with 909 new fatalities in 24 hours taking the toll to 41,828. With the latest figures, it has now become world’s second-highest country with maximum number of Covid-linked deaths. The country reported a total of 828,810 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 25,982 new infections, as per news agency AP’s tally.

So far, the United States has maintained its record of highest Covid-19 death toll in the world reporting 114,669 deaths. Meanwhile, according to John Hopkins University, the total number of confirmed infections in the world stands at 7,669,317, with the highest being reported from US, followed by Brazil and Russia. India stood at fourth position with 308,993 infections. The global death toll stood at 4,26,165, with the US reporting the highest number of deaths, followed by Brazil, UK, and Italy.

Here are the latest developments from across the world:

Greece set to open to tourists, PM says safety top priority

Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the country is ready to open its airports to foreign visitors, adding the safety of tourists is a top priority for the the country, Reuters reported. Accounting for about 20% of Greece’s economic output, tourism is vital for the Mediterranean nation, which emerged from a decade-long debt crisis in 2018.

After nearly three-month lockdon, international flights to and from the country’s main airports will resume on June 15. “It is a great pleasure to be here in Santorini… to send a message: Greece is ready to welcome tourists this summer by putting their safety and their health as a number one priority,” Mitsotakis said.

In this handout photo provided by the Prime Minister’s Office , Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis,second left, wearing a protective mask greets a doctor during his visit at the hospital of Santorini , on Saturday, June 13, 2020.(Dimitris Papamitsos/ Greek Prime Minister’s Office via AP)

Italy, Germany, France and Netherlands sign contract with Astrazeneca for vaccine

Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands have signed a contract with Astrazeneca to supply European citizens with a vaccine against the coronavirus, Italy’s health minister said on Saturday. He added that the first batch of doses would be made available by the end of 2020, Reuters reported.

There are 400 million doses of the vaccine, as stated in the contract, which was developed with the University of Oxford. The experimentation phase for the vaccine is already advanced and expected to end in autumn, Roberto Speranza said in a Facebook post.

Pandemic should be opportunity to reform country: Italy PM

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the country cannot afford to return to normality after the coronavirus emergency but should turn the crisis into an opportunity to reform the country, Reuters reported. The country, once the epicentre of the coronavirus, reported more than 236,000 cases and 34,000 deaths.

“This is the time to work on a clear project to come out of the crisis,” Conte said in the opening speech of a nine-day policy consultation in Rome. “We must take advantage (of the situation) to turn the crisis into an opportunity, and remove all the obstacles that have slowed (Italy) down,” he added.

Conte said his coalition government was working on a plan to simplify bureaucracy, push digital investments and green energy, improve education, support the poorest and bring more women into the workforce.

School children toss their school bags in the air during a flash mob “open schools!” on the Gianicolo terrace overlooking Rome, Monday, June 8, 2020 during the last day of school. (AP Photo)

Ex-Pak PM Yousuf Raza Gilani tests positive for virus

Former Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has tested positive for coronavirus, as revealed by his son on Saturday, the Dawn reported. In a tweet, son Kasim Gilani blamed Prime Minister Imran Khan and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his father contracting the infection.

Gilani on Thursday had appeared in a NAB hearing in Rawalpindi and had requested the judge that since a number of lawmakers had tested positive for Covid-19, he may be given permanent exemption from personal attendance in the court. The former premier along with PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari are accused of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana.

Amid rise in infections in Africa, China offers tests, ventilators

As the pandemic continues to accelerate in Africa, leaders of the country say China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month, AP reported. A statement by the South African president’s office says the supplies will be available for purchase via a new continental platform that African nations set up to negotiate cheaper prices for urgently needed medical equipment amid intense global competition. The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said each African nation will be given a quota based on its population and number of virus cases. The statement further said that Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea and France have also been partners in the effort.

Due to shortage of testing kits in Africa, the country ahs been falling short on conducting COvid-19 tests and has, so far, conducted 3 million tests , short of its goal of about 13 million.

In this June 8, 2020 photo released by the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Bangladeshi peacekeepers provide masks and hand sanitizers to local population in the streets of El Fasher, town in North Darfur as part of their awareness campaign on COVID-19, in Sudan. (UNAMID via AP)

Russia’s Covid tally exceeds 520,000

Russia, the third-highest in the world of Covid tally, Saturday reported 8,706 new coroanvirus cases, raising its cumulative number above 520,000, as per Reuters’ tally. With 520,129 Covid cases, its official death toll stands at 6,829. While the WHO raised questions of Russia’s low death rate, the Kremlin denied any problem with its official data. In a briefing on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who chairs the taskforce, said that the statistics on the number of deaths might need to be revised, the RIA news agency reported. The taskforce declined to comment further.

Russian officers wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus infection walk at the Palace Square in St.Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo)

Beijing in ‘wartime emergency’ after fresh infections shut market

After six fresh Covid-19 cases were reported in Beijing, the capital of China put itself on a “wartime” footing, imposed a partial lockdown shutting down markets and banning tourism and sport events in the city, fearing a second wave of infections, Reuters reported.

“In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods,” Chu Junwei, a district official, told a briefing. The district is in a “wartime emergency mode,” he added.

The latest virus tally in Beijing now stands at nine in the last three days, while 12 new infections were reported in other parts of China.China’s National Health Commission, (NHC) said on Saturday that 18 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in the country on Friday, including six domestically-transmitted cases in Beijing. (Read more)

Chinese paramilitary police march in formation outside the Xinfadi wholesale food market district in Beijing, Saturday, June 13, 2020. (AP Photo)

Coronavirus hitting Americans hardest: WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the Americans are bearing the brunt of the global coronavirus pandemic at present with North and South America currently having four of the 10 worst hit countries in the world, according to Reuters. The disease was “highly active” in Central and South America, the WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said.

Highlighting the current situation in Brazil, now the global hotspot for the virus, Ryan said there was an increasing concern especially in heavily-populated cities. The country’s health system was “still coping”, although some intensive care units were at a critical stage and under heavy pressure with more than 90% bed occupancy rates, Ryan said, according to Reuters.

A passer-by wears a mask out of concern for the coronavirus while walking past a storefront window, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo)

Europe must ‘completely suppress’ virus: US economist

Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent US economist, said there can be no real economic recovery in Europe unless governments “completely suppress” the coronavirus, AP reported. He said Europe needs to articulate a continent-wide strategy “instead of individual countries adopting their own solutions” to suppress COVID-19 and get travel safely started again.

“Cyprus needs tourism, Greece needs tourism, Italy needs tourism, how is this going to happen if the epidemic is continuing,” he said. He said post-COVID-19 recovery strategy must take into account that many economies are undergoing “permanent structural change? and many activities ?won’t return the way they were before.” Sachs said the rapid pace at which the digital economy has advanced in recent months requires a deep look into how to make it work effectively and fairly, and to promote better jobs.

South Africa reports huge delays in test results, sees largest single-day rise in cases

Ami backlog and shortages of testing materials, South Africa said the average delay in obtaining coronavirus test results from public labs has risen to 12 days, news agency AP reported. South Africa represents well over a quarter of Africa’s virus cases, with more than 61,000. Two days ago, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa had said the infections were “accelrating” in Africa and informed about the shortage of testing kits. South Africa has seen its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases — 3,359.

So far, the country ahs conducted about a third of the virus tests in Africa. On Friday, South Africa’s latest weekly report by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said the average time to process tests at public labs has grown from a little over two days a month ago. Public labs earlier were handling three-fourths of coronavirus testing but that dropped to just over one-fourth as of June 6. Turnaround time in testing by private labs is less than two days.

(Source: Twitter/WHO African Region)

Mexico prepares to reopen half the country

Mexico began setting dates for re-opening businesses in half the country next week, even as the nationwide daily confirmed cases rose by a record 5,222 Friday and 504 new deaths were reported. The total confirmed cases now number 139,196 and total deaths are at almost 16,450. Both are considered substantial undercounts due to very limited testing.

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The federal government announced that starting Monday, half of Mexico’s 32 states can start limited re-openings of hotels and restaurants and broader re-openings of markets. For example, factories and hotels could resume operations if they take safety measures. The plan is based on a four-color scheme in which states with the worst conditions are colored red and those making progress are orange. States would eventually change to yellow and then green as conditions improved.

The states to re-open are those that have falling rates of coronavirus hospitalizations, lower rates of infection and acceptable ratios of available hospital beds. They include states that are home to resorts like Cancun and Los Cabos, but not Huatulco or Acapulco.

Americans maintain virus precautions as states reopen

Even as states and metropolitan areas throughout the country relax restrictions on social and economic life during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a new poll finds that most Americans aren’t yet ready to abandon the public health behaviours that help reduce the risk of themselves and the people around them contracting the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Overall, 90 per cent Americans say they’re wearing a mask, according to the new poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation. That’s higher than in April when 78 per cent were wearing a mask in response to the disease. The latest COVID Impact survey is the third in a series measuring the pandemic’s impact on Americans’ physical, mental, and social health.

Turkey reports daily rise in virus cases to over 1,000

Turkey on Friday reported a higher daily number of new coronavirus cases some two weeks after the government relaxed many of the restrictions put in place to reduce infections. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said there were 1,195 confirmed cases in 24 hours, pushing the country’s total confirmed caseload to 175,218. It was the first time the number of new cases registered in a day surpassed 1,000 after hovering around 800 or 900 for nearly two weeks.

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Koca also reported 15 more virus-related deaths, the lowest day-to-day mortality number in more than two months. Turkey’s death toll from the pandemic now stands at 4,778.

Popular BP medicines don’t put patients at greater risk, new study finds

According to findings of a new study, popular anti-hypertension drugs do not put those with high blood pressure at greater risk from COVID-19. Two blood pressure-lowering drug classes, called ACE inhibitors and ARBs, came under scrutiny after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April that 72 per cent of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, 65 years old or older, had hypertension.

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Researchers at Oxford University had recommended some patients stop the drugs until the risks were better known, while others argued patients should stay on the medications. An expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness in Baltimore described the debate as “one of the most important clinical questions.”

France to lift border controls for EU travellers on June 15

France will lift restrictions at its borders for EU travellers on June 15, the French Interior and Foreign ministries said in a statement on Friday. “Given a favourable development of the health situation in France and Europe and in accordance with the recommendations of the European Commission…France will lift on June 15 (0h00) all traffic restrictions at its European internal borders (land, air and sea), implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

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Travellers from the member states of the European Union, as well as from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and Vatican will also be able to enter the French territory without restrictions, the statement said. By way of reciprocity, restrictions including a fortnight quarantine upon arrival will continue to apply at the borders with Spain, and with the United Kingdom, it added.

Moderna’s vaccine appears to clear safety hurdle in mouse study

A series of studies in mice of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 lent some assurance that it may not increase the risk of more severe disease, and that one dose may provide protection against the novel coronavirus, according to preliminary data released on Friday.

Prior studies on a vaccine for SARS – a close cousin to the new virus that causes COVID-19 – suggests vaccines against this type of virus might have the unintended effect of causing more severe disease when the vaccinated person is later exposed to the pathogen, especially in individuals who do not produce an adequately strong immune response.

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