Coronavirus Global Updates: The global death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly inching closer to the one million mark, which currently stands at 9,82,969. The pandemic has infected over 31.99 million people across the globe, according to a Reuters tally. Over 22 lakh people have recovered after testing positive.
The United Sates, which continues to remain the world’s worst affected nation, now constitutes over 20 per cent of the world’s total cases. Covid-19 cases in the US surpassed 7 million-mark Thursday, it also has the world’s worst death toll with over 2 lakh fatalities.
Even as infections surge in Europe (France reported its highest daily case increase till date on Thursday) and the US, Latin America still remains the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic with several nations reporting a rapid increase in cases. Australia on the other hand has avoided a major second wave due to strict lockdown measures.
Here are some global developments on Covid-19
Madrid resists government pressure to extend soft lockdown
Authorities in Madrid are expanding restrictions on movement to a further eight areas of the Spanish capital, which is leading the country’s contagion curve, despite a recommendation from the national government that the partial lockdown should apply to all the city.
Over 850,000 residents in 37 neighbourhoods have been confined this week to their areas unless they have a reason to go elsewhere, while maximum capacity in shops and restaurants has been reduced and parks closed.
Those limitations will now be expanded to 160,000 more people in areas where more than 1,000 people per 100,000 residents have tested positive for the new virus in the past two weeks – the highest rates in Europe – the Madrid regional government announced Friday. Throughout Madrid and its surrounding region, gatherings are already limited to a maximum of 6 people. (AP)
Drugmaker Novavax begins late-stage vaccine trial in UK
US-based Novavax has begun a late stage trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom because the high-level of the coronavirus circulating in the country is likely to produce quick results, the pharmaceutical company said.
Novavax plans to test the effectiveness of its vaccine in a trial involving 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 84, according to a statement issued late Thursday. At least 25% of the subjects will be over the age of 65, and 400 participants will also receive a licensed flu vaccine.
The trial is being conducted in partnership with the UK government’s Vaccine Taskforce, which was created in April to help speed the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP)
China aims to make 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses a year
A Chinese health official said Friday that the country’s annual production capacity for coronavirus vaccines will top 1 billion doses next year, following an aggressive government support programme for construction of new factories.
Capacity is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of this year, Zheng Zhongwei from the National Health Commission said.
“Next year, our annual capacity will reach more than 1 billion doses,” he said at a news conference.
American pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna aim to produce a billion doses each in 2021 as well. Zheng said distribution of the vaccines would prioritize groups such as medical workers, border personnel and the elderly before they are made available to the general public.
China has promoted the construction of vaccine testing facilities and manufacturing plants, and assigned independent monitors for their assembly.
China has 11 vaccine candidates in human trials, with four of them currently in the third and final trials. (AP)
Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened for the second time
Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened for the second time as the semi-autonomous Chinese city again appears to have brought new coronavirus cases down to near-zero. The resort shut down during the initial stage of China’s outbreak when Hong Kong closed schools and offices. Disneyland reopened after cases dropped off but then was shut again once infections began to climb again over the summer.
The resort reopened Friday with social distancing measures for lines, restaurant seating, rides and other facilities, along with more frequent cleaning and disinfecting in the areas with the most visitors.
Hong Kong’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the government has been moving steadily to bring back business without sparking new outbreaks in the densely populated city of 7.5 million.
S.Korea to tighten social distancing curbs during two holiday weeks
South Korea Friday said that it will impose tighter restrictions during its autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families, increasing the risk for new clusters. The new measures will be enforced from September 28 to October 11 in high risk places like nightclubs and bars in densely populated Seoul.
These new restrictions are on top of current measures which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100 along with banning spectators from sporting events. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 114 new cases as of midnight Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 23,455,along with 395 deaths.
US coronavirus cases surpass 7 million
After recording a surge in MidWest states, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 7 million mark Thursday and now constitutes more than 20 per cent of the world’s total cases. California is currently leading the country with over 8 lakh cases, followed by Texas, Florida and New York. The states recently surpassed 2 lakh Covid-19 deaths, the world’s highest death toll from the virus. According to Reuters data, the US is reporting over 700 deaths from the virus daily.
Ten states reported a record single day surge in cases in the month of September.Health experts believe this spike was due to reopening schools and universities as well as parties over the recent Labor Day holiday.
Cases further declining in Australia’s hotspot state
After reporting 14 new cases and 8 deaths in the last 24 hours, Victoria, Australia’s Covid-19 hotspot looks set to lift some lockdown restrictions in the coming days. “We are well and truly within the band in order to take those next steps,” said Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, without providing any details of the next steps. Andrews has said he will announce further easing of restrictions on Sunday.
The 2 week average of new infections in Victoria’s capital Melbourne has dropped below 26 as compared to an average of 30-50 which the state has set as a precondition to ease curbs. Australia’s strict lockdown measures, social distancing rules and high levels of contract tracing have resulted in the country avoiding a major second wave of coronavirus, unlike much of Europe and the United Kingdom.
Covid-induced fatalities in Mexico breach 75,000 mark
Mexico’s death toll, fourth highest in the world, went past 75,000 Thursday after it reported 490 fresh fatalities. Despite closing schools, offices and other public places for over 6 months, the Mexican government has struggled to contain the virus. The largely informal nature of the country’s economy made working from home or with strict social distancing virtually impossible and is rapidly shooting up unemployment.
In Mexico, numbers have remained high for months even after coming off summer peaks, as the government prioritized increasing hospital capacity over tests and contact tracing. The confirmed coronavirus caseload stands at more than 715,000, according to government data.
Israel tightens second lockdown as coronavirus cases soar
As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Israel, the country Thursday moved to further tighten its second countrywide lockdown ordering all non-essential businesses to close and requiring people to stay within 1,000 meters yards of their homes.
Furthermore, prayers during the ongoing Jewish Holidays as well as political demonstrations are to be limited to open spaces and no more than 20 people would have to remain within the restricted distance from home. the new measures will come into force from Friday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the pain caused by the closure but said the holiday season, when many businesses slow down in any case, was the best time to take action.
France sets new record for daily rise in Covid-19 cases
After reporting over 16,000 new cases Thursday, France broke its previous record of 13,498 single day rise in infection to set a fourth all time high of new coronavirus cases in eight days. The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections was up by 52, at 31,511, and the cumulative number of cases now 497,237.
The rapid rise in infections along with hospitals being maxed out have prompted the government to levy new restrictions mainly in big cities and hotspots.
Novavax starts late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial in UK
Novavax Inc on Thursday started a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce and is expected to test the vaccine in up to 10,000 participants between 18 and 84 years over the next four to six weeks.
The trial will enroll at least 25% of participants over the age of 65 and prioritize groups most affected by the COVID-19, the company said.
Brazil aims to secure vaccine for 10% of its population
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday said that he will issue decrees for the legal groundwork for Brazil to join the global COVID-19 vaccine partnership known as COVAX and it will earmark $453.8 million for securing vaccines through this. Brazil aims to use the COVAX facility to buy enough supply to immunize 10% of its population by the end of 2021, the press office said in a statement.That should cover Brazil’s “priority populations,” it said
Coronavirus delays Rio’s Carnival for first time in a century
Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival parade would not go ahead in February due to Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the coronavirus pandemic, Rio’s League of Samba Schools LIESA announced on Thursday. The spread of coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and for many a source of livelihood, LIESA said. Rio’s City Hall is yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that also take place across the city.
Brazil’s first confirmed coronavirus case was reported on February 26 one day after this year’s Carnival ended.