Coronavirus Global Updates: More than 27.72 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 898,411 have died so far, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
AstraZeneca’s suspension of global trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine after an illness in a study subject in Britain has cast doubt on prospects for an early rollout of one of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccines in development.
Here are the top global developments:
Antonio Guterres calls for $35 bln more for WHO Covid-19 programme
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for $35 billion more, including $15 billion in the next three months, for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “ACT Accelerator” programme to back vaccines, treatments and diagnostics against COVID-19. Some $3 billion has been contributed so far, Guterres told an online event on Thursday, calling it “seed funding” that was less than 10% of what the WHO wants for the programme, formally called Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
Financial support has, so far, lagged goals, as nations or governments including the European Union, Britain, Japan and the United States reach bilateral vaccine deals, prompting Guterres and WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to plead to nations to contribute.
“We now need $35 billion more to go from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up and impact’,” Guterres was quoted as saying by Reuters at a meeting of a council formed to help the ACT Accelerator gain traction.
China approves first nasal spray Covid-19 vaccine for trials
China has approved for trials its first nasal spray vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus that has claimed over 904,000 lives and infected more than 27 million people globally, official media here reported on Thursday.
China’s only nasal spray vaccine against the coronavirus is expected to start phase I clinical trials in November, and it is recruiting 100 volunteers.
It is the only vaccine of its type approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration, news agency PTI reported citing state-run Global Times.
The vaccine is a collaborative mission between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland that involves researchers from the University of Hong Kong, Xiamen University, and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy.
The London hearing on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition from Britain to the United States was suspended Thursday because one of the lawyers may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ordered the proceedings adjourned until Monday while a lawyer representing the U.S. government is tested for the virus.
Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, said it had to be assumed that the lawyer had the virus and “COVID will be in the courtroom.”
“Court staff themselves would be at risk, and you yourself may well be at risk,“ he told the judge. “Finally, our client Mr. Assange, who is vulnerable you are aware, would be at risk in court.”
The judge asked for submissions from both legal teams about what to do if the lawyer is confirmed to have COVID-19. Assange is fighting American prosecutors’ attempt to get the British government to send him to the U.S. to stand trial on spying charges.
Myanmar increases lockdown measures, airlines suspend services
Myanmar increased lockdown measures in its biggest city on Thursday after reporting another record daily rise in coronavirus cases, with 120 new infections taking its overall cases past the 2,000 mark.
Health authorities expanded a stay-at-home order to nearly half of the townships in greater Yangon, a city of at least 5 million people, where most of the new infections were found, news agency Reuters reported.
The country has now reported a total of 2,009 COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths, with infections quadrupling since a month ago, when the virus resurfaced in the western state of Rakhine after weeks without a domestic case.
French government to consider local lockdowns as Covid-19 worsens
The French government will discuss on Friday whether to impose new, local lockdowns to try to tackle rising COVID-19 while keeping economic and social activities going. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday that nothing would be ruled out at Friday’s cabinet meeting, while President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped any new measures would not be too restrictive.
Macron said that while he would not want to pre-empt any decisions, he hoped current rules would allow France to tackle the virus and let people live as normally as possible, Reuters reported.
He was referring to measures such as social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face-masks in much of France.
Singapore puts in place strategies to detect new cases in dormitories
Singapore authorities have put in place a multi-layered strategy to detect new COVID-19 cases in the dormitories for foreign workers after a resurgence of cases among migrant labourers.
Singapore reported 63 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total count to 57,229, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The six imported cases had been placed on stay-home notices upon arrival in Singapore. The rest were from the foreign workers’ dormitories. A Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has been closely monitoring the local and global COVID-19 situation.
Imperial College expert warns of virus ‘uptick’
The epidemiologist whose modelling heavily influenced the British government to impose a lockdown in March has warned that fresh restrictions may have to be re-imposed in the coming weeks to deal with a rise in new coronavirus cases.
Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he was “encouraged” that the government is banning social gatherings of more than six people from Monday, noting that “one of the mistakes” in the early days of the pandemic this year was an overly “cautious” approach.
Still, he told BBC radio that “all the analysis” suggested there would be an “uptick in deaths in the coming weeks, so now is the time to respond.” The UK has seen Europe’s deadliest virus outbreak, with around 41,600 deaths.
Ferguson added that if the transmission rates don’t fall markedly so the epidemic starts shrinking again, then “we may need to clamp down in other areas.” (AP)
Travellers from India must take COVID tests for Singapore trip
All travellers from India who are not Singaporeans and permanent residents will have to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours before departing for Singapore from next Thursday, in a move to reduce the number of imported cases from the country.
The travellers will have to present a valid negative test result that has to be taken within 72 hours before their flight to Singapore, the Health Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday. It said the move had been taken to reduce the imported cases from India.
South Korea’s new cases remain below 200 for eighth straight day
South Korea’s new coronavirus cases have stayed below 200 for an eighth straight day, suggesting the recent viral resurgence is slowing amid stringent social distancing rules. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it recorded 155 additional cases over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally to 21,743, with 346 deaths.
South Korea had seen a spike in new infections since early August, mostly in the greater Seoul area. Authorities in the Seoul region have subsequently ordered the shutdown of churches, nightspots and fitness centers and restricted dining at restaurants.
Australia urges Victoria state to lift night curfew
Australia’s COVID-19 hotspot state, Victoria, should consider lifting a night curfew if the decision was not made on health advice, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said, as total pandemic deaths in the state crossed 700 on Thursday. The federal government has been anxious to ensure state restrictions are not prolonged for longer than necessary given the damage to the economy.
The state on Sunday extended tough restrictions to Sept. 28, including a night curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Melbourne.The daily rise in cases eased in Victoria on Thursday as it reported 51 new cases in the past 24 hours, compared with 76 cases a day earlier. Seven people died from the virus compared with 11 deaths reported on Wednesday.
Trump downplayed COVID risk to reduce panic: Book
President Donald Trump has acknowledged downplaying the dangers of the deadly novel coronavirus as he did not want to create panic, according to a new book by a renowned US investigative journalist. The book, ‘Rage’, by Bob Woodward is being described by the publisher as an “unprecedented” and “intimate tour de force” of new reporting on the Trump presidency that is facing a pandemic, economic disaster, and racial unrest.
COVID-19 could fuel more conflict, poverty, starvation, warns UN
op UN officials have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated discrimination and other human rights violations that can fuel conflict, and its indirect consequences are dwarfing the impact of the virus itself in the world’s most fragile countries.
UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock on Wednesday painted a grim picture to the UN Security Council of the global impact of the pandemic that has blanketed the world, with over 27 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 860,000 deaths.
Lowcock warned the council that the indirect economic and health effects from the crisis in fragile countries “will be higher poverty, lower life expectancy, more starvation, less education, and more child death”.