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Coronavirus global updates, June 18: China finds heavy virus traces in seafood, meat sections of Beijing food market

Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates: The worldwide death toll due the coronavirus infections stood at 4,48,504, with the highest number of deaths reported from the US (1,17,717), followed by Brazil, the UK, and Italy.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 18, 2020 10:37:33 pm
Workers in protective suits administer coronavirus tests at a COVID-19 testing site for those who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a wholesale food market in Beijing, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

Coronavirus Global Updates: The number of infections due to the novel coronavirus disease reached 8.3 million (8,362,238) Thursday, with the United States reporting the highest number of cases (2,163,290), followed by Brazil (9,55,377), Russia (5,52,549), and India (3,54,065) on the fourth position.

The worldwide death toll due to the coronavirus infections stood at 4,49,273, with the highest number of deaths reported from the US (1,17,717), followed by Brazil, the UK, and Italy. Globally, more than 4 million people (4,056,872) have recovered.

Meanwhile, China on Thursday reported 28 new coronavirus cases, including 24 in Beijing, taking the total number of infections in the last few days to 161. Of the domestically transmitted cases, 21 cases were reported in Beijing, two in Hebei Province, and one in Tianjin Municipality, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily report.

Here are the top developments from around the world: 

China finds heavy virus traces in seafood, meat sections of Beijing food market

After fresh Covid-19 infections flooded Beijing, China officials confirmed the trading sections for meat and seafood in capital’s wholesale food market to be severely contaminated with the new coronavirus, suspecting that the area’s low temperature and high humidity may have been contributing factors. In nearly a week, more than 100 people were infected, raising fears of a wider contagion in China.

Among the patients who work at the Xinfadi market, most serve at seafood and aquatic product stalls, followed by the beef and mutton section, and patients from the seafood market showed symptoms earlier than others, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a daily briefing.

Residents wearing face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus shop for fruit at an open air market in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020.  (AP Photo)

Florida sees highest daily number of infections

Orlando’s capital Florida in United States Thursday reported 3,207 new coronavirus cases, largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic in March, according to state health department, AP reported. The previous record — 2,783 cases — occurred Tuesday. The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported 85,926 coronavirus cases statewide with at least 3,061 deaths.

The announcement came shortly after federal officials revealed that more than 86,000 Floridians applied for new jobless benefits last week, a drop of almost 30% from the previous week as pandemic-related restrictions continued easing up across the state.

FILE – In this May 24, 2020, file photo, visitors gather on the beach in Newport Beach, Calif., during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo)

WHO hopes for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses this year, 2 billion next year

By the end of this year, the world might receive hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, adding that 2 billion doses may be produced by the end of 2021, Reuters reported. The WHO is drawing up plans to help decide who should get the first doses once a vaccine is approved, chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.

“I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic. But vaccine development is a complex undertaking, it comes with a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “The good thing is, we have many vaccines and platforms so even if the first one fails, or the second ones fails, we shouldn’t lose hope, we shouldn’t give up.” Swaminathan described the ambition for hundreds of millions of doses this year as optimistic, and the hope for up to 2 billion doses of up to three different vaccines next year as a “big if”.

As the race for a vaccine against the new coronavirus intensifies, many rich countries are rushing to the front of the line by placing advance orders for the inevitably limited supply to guarantee their citizens are immunized first. (AP Photo)

Disneyland in Hong Kong reopens after drop in infections

Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened after the the Chinese territory recorded a major drop in coronavirus cases, news agency AP reported. Fearing the second wave of the pandemic, following rules have been imposed:
* Advance reservations will be required and only limited attendance will be allowed at the park.
* Social distancing measures including avoiding mixing together different families are being implemented in lines, at restaurants, on rides and at shops, while cleaning and disinfecting will be increased.
* Visitors will have their temperatures checked at the entrance and be required to wear masks at all times inside the park, except when eating and drinking.
* Most visitors from outside the territory are still barred from entering and Disneyland said anyone who has traveled outside Hong Kong within the previous two weeks will be asked to reschedule their visit.

Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, take a selfie at the Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday, June 18, 2020.  (AP Photo)

Beijing mandates Covid-19 testing as anxious people rush to clinics

China’s capital Beijing has mandated coronavirus tests for thousands of people as it expands measures against a new outbreak of the disease, Reuters reported. Residents of Bejing have been rushing to clinics for voluntary tests ever since new wave of infections was witnessed. In the past few days, Beijing has tested over 350,000 people.

“It’s very difficult right now,” said musician Chen Weiwen, 31, whose plans to visit the southwestern city of Chengdu faced a delay because of the wait for a test. “I don’t mind waiting, but after the test I need to leave in 7 days and there may not be a flight I can get then.”

Workers in protective suits take the temperatures of people at a COVID-19 testing site for those who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus outbreak at a wholesale food market in Beijing. (AP Photo)

Black Covid-19 patients in Atlanta more likely to be hospitalised: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said a study of coronovirus patients in Atlanta has found that black patients are more likely to be hospitalized than white patients, highlighting racial disparities in the U.S. healthcare system, Reuters cited. The study states that about 79 per cent patients hospitalised for the coronavirus were black, while 13 per cent were white across six metropolitan hospitals and outpatient clinics in Atlanta, Georgia, between March and April 2020.

The researchers said there was an association between being black and the rate of hospitalization in Atlanta, even when they controlled for underlying conditions such as diabetes.Hospitalized patients tended to be older, male, black, and have underlying conditions, said the researchers. They added that black Americans were more likely to be frontline industry or essential workers, raising their risks for coronavirus infection.

The reflection of a woman wearing a face mask is caught in the window of a shop in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday June 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

Egypt authorities shouldn’t harass doctors: Rights group

An international rights group urged Egyptian authorities Thursday to stop a “campaign of harassment and intimidation” against health care workers who have criticised the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, AP reported. Ever since the pandemic hit the country, its healthcare workers have been complaining of a dearth of protective equipment, testing and hospital beds for front-line doctors.

“Instead of protecting front-line health care workers by addressing their legitimate concerns over their safety and livelihoods, the Egyptian authorities are handling the COVID-19 crisis with their usual repressive tactics,” Amnesty International said in a statement. Egypt has recorded more than 49,000 Covid-19 cases including 1,850 deaths. However, last month, an Egyptian official said the country might realisitcally see as many as 100,000 cases.

Hospital beds are prepared to receive COVID-19 patients at Ain Shams University Field Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

NASA’s next Mars rover honours medical teams fighting COVID

NASA’s next Mars rover is honouring all the medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus battle around the world. With just another month until liftoff, the space agency on Wednesday revealed a commemorative plate attached to the rover, aptly named Perseverance. The rover team calls it the COVID-19 Perseverance plate, designed in the last couple months.

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The black and white aluminum plate 3-by-5 inches (8-by-13 centimetres) shows planet Earth atop a staff entwined with a serpent, a symbol of the medical community. The path of the spacecraft also is depicted, with its origin from Cape Canaveral. “Health care workers were on front lines keeping us safe during launch preparations,” said deputy project manager Matt Wallace of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

657 cases at slaughterhouse in new outbreak in Germany

Regional officials in western Germany said Wednesday that the number of new COVID-19 cases linked to a large meatpacking plant has risen to 657, a significant regional spike for a country that has recorded nationwide infections in the low hundreds lately. Health officials in Guetersloh said they have received a total of 983 test results from workers at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck. Of those, 326 tests were negative.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Germany has recorded 188,474 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 8,844 deaths. The infection rate declined sharply after authorities imposed nationwide social distancing rules in March and the daily case increase had averaged between 300-400 in June.

South Korea reports 59 cases as infections steadily rise

South Korea has reported 59 COVID-19 cases as infections steadily rise in the capital area where half the country’s 51 million people live. The figures announced Thursday by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bring the national caseload to 12257 including 280 deaths.

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The agency says 39 of the new cases are in Seoul and the surrounding region, where authorities are trying to stem transmissions amid increased economic activity and eased attitudes on social distancing. Eight new cases were linked to international arrivals. Officials are concerned the resurgence of the virus in China could bring more imported cases South Korea has tied at least 1,379 cases to international arrivals and is requiring two-week quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad.

Mexico posts more high virus numbers

Mexico’s coronavirus cases continued to increase at near-record levels Wednesday, as officials acknowledged the country is on a plateau with few signs of decrease even as the economy starts reopening. The Health Department reported that confirmed cases rose by 4,930, the second-highest daily increase to date to reach an accumulated total of 1,59,793.

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Deaths rose by 770 the third-highest daily number after one-day increases of 1,092 and 816 earlier this month. Those death tolls rivaled those of the United States. Mexico’s overall death toll now stands at 19,080. Both case and death totals are clearly undercounts because Mexico does very little testing.

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