Coronavirus Global Updates: Ten months since its first cases were recognised in December 2019, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 8.72 lakh lives. Over 26 million people have tested positive for the virus, out of which over 17 lakh people have recovered, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University
United States continues to top the charts with over 6.2 million cases and at least 187,765 fatalities. Brazil, the second worst-affected country, added over 50,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. The third-ranked India is expected to overtake Brazil if the infections continue to spread at the current pace. After adding over 86,000 new cases, India’s tally breached the 4-million mark Saturday.
Meanwhile, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned about the risk of famine and “widespread food insecurity” in 4 countries affected by the pandemic, Congo, Yemen, Nigeria and South Sudan, adding that lives of millions of people are in danger.
Here are some global developments on Covid-19
Italy leader to virus deniers: Look at numbers
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says he has no words for those who deny the coronavirus pandemic – except to look at the numbers.
Pandemic deniers and those against masks and vaccines are expected to rally in Rome on Saturday. Conte said: “To those people gathering in Rome today and who think the pandemic doesn’t exist, we reply with numbers: More than … 274,000 infected and some 35,000 dead. Period.”
The daily case load, after dropping down to below 200 at the start of summer, surpassed more than 1,700 on Friday, the biggest one-day increase since early May. Many of the recent infections have occurred in returning vacationers, most of them young people. Conte says, “if things go badly, we’ll be able to intervene in a targeted and very circumscribed way” to manage any dramatic surge. (AP)
Pope set to make first trip since pandemic to saint’s town
Pope Francis is next month set to make what would be his first visit outside Rome since Italy was put under lockdown in early March when it became the first country in Europe to feel the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pope is to journey to Assisi, the birthplace in the central Italian region of Umbria of his namesake saint, to sign an authoritative papal letter to clergy and faithful worldwide – a document known as an encyclical, the Vatican said Saturday.
The encyclical is expected to stress the value of brotherly relations during and after the pandemic, a theme Francis evoked repeatedly during the pandemic. Encyclicals lay out a pontiff’s views on important issues and usually shape Catholic teaching and policy in the years to come.
“Because of the health situation, it’s the desire of the Holy Father that the visit be carried out privately, without any participation by the faithful,” a reference to rank-and-file Catholics, the Vatican said. (AP)
Spanish doctors hope beach trips can help ICU virus patients
After nearly two months of being sedated and connected to IV lines in a hospital’s intensive care unit, Francisco Espana took a moment to fill his ailing lungs with fresh air at a Barcelona beachfront.
Lying on a hospital bed at the beach promenade and surrounded by a doctor and three nurses who constantly monitored his vital signs, Espana briefly closed his eyes and absorbed as much sunshine as possible.
“It’s one of the best days I remember,” he said.
A medical team at the Hospital del Mar – the Hospital of the Seas – is seeing if short trips to the beach just across the street can help COVID-19 patients after long and sometimes traumatic ICU stays. Dr. Judith says it is part of a program to “humanize” ICUs that the group had been experimenting with for two years before the coronavirus hit Spain. The strict isolation protocols that have had to be adopted since mid-March undid months of efforts to integrate ICU patients with professionals in the rest of the hospital, the doctor said. (AP)
Czech Republic sees 700 new cases for 1st time
The number of people infected with the coronavirus has continued to surge in the Czech Republic, surpassing 700 for the first time. The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase reached a record of 798 new confirmed cases on Friday.
The announcement comes after the country registered over 600 cases the previous two days, also records at the time. Health authorities have already imposed new restrictive measures in the Czech capital, reacting to the spike. Starting on Wednesday, it is mandatory again to wear face masks in stores and shopping malls. At the same time, bars, restaurants and nightclubs have to be closed from midnight to 6 am. The Czech Republic has had 27,249 cases, including 429 deaths. (AP)
Sanofi France chief: future vaccine seen below 10 euros
Sanofi’s SAY.PA chief in France, Olivier Bogillot, said on Saturday that its future COVID-19 vaccine was likely to be priced below 10 euros per shot. “The price is not totally set … We are assessing production costs for the coming months … We will be below 10 euros,” Bogillot told France Inter radio.
Drugmakers and government agencies worldwide are racing to combat the pandemic and develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Asked about rival AstraZeneca (AZN.L), which is expected to price its shot at about 2.50 euros in Europe, Bogillot said: “The price gap for us can be that we use all our internal resources, our own researchers, our own research centres. AstraZeneca outsources part of its production.” (Reuters)
Australia’s virus hotspot infection rate improves; Melbourne sees anti-lockdown rallies
The downward trend in new coronavirus infections have continued in Australia’s Victoria after nearly five weeks of hard lockdown in the state’s capital Melbourne.Victoria reported 76 new coronavirus infections and 11 deaths Saturday, reporting daily new cases below 100 on most days this week.
State premier Daniel Andrews is due to outline plans on Sunday for easing Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions, which shut large parts of the economy and required everyone to stay home except for essential business, and imposed a night time curfew.
Meanwhile, a crowd of about 300 people protested against the lockdown in Melbourne. Australian police made several arrests for flouting lockdown restrictions. Reacting to the protests, Andrews said. “the tail of the second wave is a stubborn thing.”
South Korea reports its lowest tally in 3 weeks
After recording 168 new coronavirus cases till Friday midnight, South Korea reported its lowest daily tally in three weeks. This comes after the country imposed stricter social distancing rules in response to a second wave of infections. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country now has 21,010 cases, with 333 deaths.
Friday’s new cases were the lowest since a major outbreak emerged from a Christian church whose members attended a large political rally on August 15.The daily tallies have been hovering below 200 over the past three days after peaking at 441 late last week.
Twenty consecutive days without local transmission in Mainland China
Down from 25 cases reported a day earlier, Mainland China Saturday reported 10 new coronavirus cases taking the total tally to 85,112. All the new cases were imported, marking the 20th straight day with no local transmission.
The number of new asymptomatic cases also fell to eight from 26 a day earlier. China does not count asymptomatic infections as confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Covid-19 vaccine developers prepare joint safety pledge
Several vaccine developers plan to issue a “public pledge” to not seek government approval until their vaccine candidates are proven to be safe and effective, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The pledge that would include companies like Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson aiming to adhere to high scientific and ethical standards while conducting clinical studies and while manufacturing the vaccines.
According to the report, the companies might issue a joint statement as early as next week. The announcement comes amid rising concerns that political pressure ahead of the Nov. 3 election could weigh on the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine for the respiratory illness.
Brazil records over 50k new cases, 907 deaths
Brazil recorded over 51,194 new cases in the last 24 hours along with 907 fatalities, the country’s health ministry said Friday. Having the world’s second worst outbreak after only the US, Brazil has registered nearly 4.1 million cases since the pandemic began there.
But with initial signs that the spread of the virus may be easing in South America’s largest country, third-ranked India could overtake Brazil in coronavirus cases within days. The official Brazilian death toll has risen to 125,521, according to ministry data.
(With inputs from agencies)