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Coronavirus Updates, August 28: China set to fully reopen schools; French President bristles at border rules

Global Coronavirus Updates: A UK study has found that children and young people are far less likely to report severe Covid-19 symptoms as compared to adults, and that death due to the virus in children is "exceptionally rare".

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 28, 2020 10:25:22 pm
People wearing masks against the spread of the new coronavirus keep social distancing while hanging out near Shibuya pedestrian crossing in Tokyo Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Coronavirus Global Updates: The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 24.4 million people globally and killed 828,455​ people, according to a Reuters tally. Over 180,000 people have died alone in the United States, which continues to remain the world’s worst hit country.

The Latin American region breached the 7 million case mark Thursday despite some countries showing a slight decline in infections. The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked the countries in the region to increase testing, which remains low across the continent.

Meanwhile, a UK research has found that children and young people are far less likely to report severe Covid-19 symptoms as compared to adults, and that death due to the virus in children is “exceptionally rare”.

Here are the top global developments on August 28:

China set to fully reopen schools

China is moving into its final weekend before they go for full reopening of schools amid continuing measures to prevent further spread of virus, AP reported. The country reported only nine new cases on Friday, all of which, were imported from outside. Hospitals are at present treating 288 people for Covid-19 and another 361 are being monitored in isolation.

The roughly 25 per cent of students still out of school are due to return to classes on Monday. Lessons are being held on a staggered schedule and masks and social distancing are required. College undergraduates are also due to return to campus next week, with Beijing ordering tests for all 600,000 at the city’s institutions.

Australia’s Victoria state reports 113 new COVID-19 cases

Australia’s Victoria state Friday reported 113 new COVID cases for a second consecutive day, reported AP. Following this, the authorities warned that the infection rate will have to fall substantially if a six-week lockdown is to be relaxed on September 13.

Meanwhile, the latest daily numbers are the lowest in more than eight weeks, with a peak of 725 in early August. The count of fatalities dropped to 12 from 23 on Thursday. Authorities want daily infections to fall as low as double-digits before they would consider lifting or certain restrictions.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn takes off his mask during a visit to Bethany Hospital to get an update on treatment options for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients and speak with medical staff in Moers, Germany. (Photo: REUTERS)

As virus rebounds in France, Macron bristles at border rules

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged his European neighbours to focus more on the cross-border restrictions as infections were on the rebound and as multiple countries imposed tests or quarantines on visitors from France.

Amid concerns that France could become a new hotspot for the virus, Macron defended his government’s move to restart the economy and its handling of the post-lockdown period, AP reported. Over the summer, French people travelled around the country for family gatherings and dance parties were blamed for fueling the recent rise in cases. “Our country needs to … learn to live with the virus” in order to recover the economy, finance welfare aid like temporary jobless benefits, and educate its children, he said.

UK encourages workers to return to office

Amid concern that the number of people working from home during the pandemic is hurting coffee bars, restaurants and other businesses in city centres, the British government is encouraging workers to return to their offices, reported AP. The UK government plans to launch a media campaign next week that will encourage employers to stress upon the efforts they’ve made to protect staff from the virus.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps Friday said that this was the right time for people to return to work because children will be going back to school from next week. He also said prolonged isolation from friends and colleagues is taking a toll on mental health.

Trump says India 2nd largest country to conduct COVID-19 tests after US

US President Donald Trump has said that his country has conducted the highest number of Covid tests, with India being the second largest. Trump, in his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention which re-nominated him as the Republican Party’s candidate for the President’s post, said that the US has conducted 40 million more tests than the next closest nation which is India.

“We developed a wide array of effective treatments, including a powerful antibody treatment known as convalescent plasma,” he said on Thursday night. “You saw that on Sunday night when we announced that we’ll save thousands and thousands of lives. Thanks to advances, we have pioneered the fatality rate. And you look at it and you look at the numbers, it has been reduced by 80 per cent since April,” Trump said.

Trump spoke in front of a group of over 1,000 supporters on the South Lawn of the White House. Many did not wear face masks and were seated close to each other. The US is among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world, Trump said.

Coronavirus cases in Latin America top 7 million

Despite some countries showing a slight decline in infections, coronavirus cases crossed the 7 million mark in Latin America on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally. Against almost 85,000 the previous week, the daily average fell to about 77,800 cases in the seven days ending Wednesday.

A nurse measures the temperature of a mourner wearing a Mexican hat, and a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The WHO said Mexico and other countries in the region need to increase testing and expressed concern over the rate of infection among young people. Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Chile remain among the 10 countries with the most cases in the world.

US death toll tops 180,000; new hotspots emerge in Midwest

The coronavirus toll in the United States topped 180,000 Thursday as officials braced for another surge as schools are reopening. Several US Midwest states reported record single-day spikes as governors said they would not reduce testing as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all recorded their biggest one-day increases in new infections since the pandemic began. Although nationally new cases, deaths and positivity rates are on decline, new hotspots are emerging in the country’s Midwest.

Members of the Australian Defence Force gather information and conduct temperature checks at a drive-in Covid-19 testing site in Melbourne on Jun 30. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Victoria expects fewer than 100 cases a day by next week

As a stringent lockdown in Australia’s second most populous state has been in place, Victoria is expected to report fewer than 100 cases a day, authorities said on Friday. Victoria state authorities said they had detected 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, unchanged from the previous day, and below the one-day record of 725 cases reported in early August.

“It’s not gotten below 100 (per day) yet, I do expect that to happen, if not over the weekend, then by next week,” Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne.

S.Korea to extend ‘Phase 2’ social distancing measures as cases spread

A doctor holds a sign criticizing the government medical policy at the Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The South Korean government is set to extend the current “Phase 2” social distancing for at least another week. Despite recording another triple-digit increase in daily new coronavirus cases, South Korean authorities on Friday stopped short of shifting the country up to the highest level of social distancing measures. “Phase 3 social distancing is the choice of last resort given the economic and social ripple effect,”Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun instead said.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 371 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 19,077, including 316 deaths. Health authorities had reimposed Phase 2 social distancing rules on August 16 in the Seoul metropolitan area, expanding the measures nationwide last week.

Britain backs COVID-19 immunity studies with 8.4 million pounds

Importantly, these studies will determine when and how immunity persists or whether people can become re-infected (with COVID-19),” the statement added. (Source: Getty Images/Representational)

Britain on Friday said it will back three nationwide COVID-19 studies with 8.4 million pounds to fund research into understanding human immune responses to the coronavirus pandemic. These studies are set to help scientists develop better immunity tests, study the body’s immune response to
the virus and understand why it impacts different people in different degrees.

“Together, it is hoped these studies will improve the treatment of patients and inform the development of vaccines and therapies,” the funding bodies said in a joint statement.

“Importantly, these studies will determine when and how immunity persists or whether people can become re-infected (with COVID-19),” the statement added.

Severe cases or death due to COVID-19 very rare in children, UK study finds

School children wear masks and protective gear in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo/Denis Farrel)

A UK research published Thursday found that severe cases and deaths due to the novel coronavirus were far less likely in children and young people than in adults. A study of COVID-19 patients admitted to 138 hospitals in Britain found that less than 1 per cent were children, and of those fewer than 1 per cent — or six in total — died. These children were suffering serious illness or underlying health conditions.

“We can be quite sure that COVID-19 in itself is not causing harm to children on a significant scale,” one of the researchers said.

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