Coronavirus Global Updates: The coronavirus has infected nearly 11.8 million people worldwide and killed over 500,000. The United States has the most number of infections, over three million, followed by Brazil (1.6 million), India (700,000) and Russia (600,000). Dr Michael Ryan, emergencies chief of the WHO, said the rise in cases was not due to widespread testing, but because the epidemic was “accelerating”.
Here are the top global developments of the day
US surpasses 3 million infections
The United States’ coronavirus cases crossed the 3 million mark on Wednesday, reporting 3,009,611 cases so far and 131,514 deaths, going by the John Hopkins University data.
While America’s Covid count neared the three million mark, President Donald Trump, earlier in the day, threatened to withhold federal funding if schools don’t reopen in the fall and lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are impractical and expensive, AP reported.
In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
UAE to use sniffer dogs to detect virus cases in crowd
The UAE is mulling over to use sniffer dogs to sniff out COVID-19 positive cases from the crowd after experiments indicate that the canines would be able to quickly detect infected cases. Samples from the armpits of presumed COVID-19 cases were used in the experiments and the dogs were made to sniff out cases from the samples without coming into contact with the persons. The results were quick and declared on the spot.
The UAE Ministry of Interior has completed trials on K9 police dogs who may now be employed to help them curb the spread of COVID-19. Data and studies from the stage showed an overall accuracy of approximately 92 per cent in the detection of presumed COVID-19 cases, the Khaleej Times reported.
Protect, support, create jobs: Britain FM on Covid recovery plan
British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ‘mini-budget’ that includes a bonus scheme for employers who bring furloughed or forced leave staff back to work as part of a major drive to save jobs hit by the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. The 40-year-old former Goldman Sachs analyst who became finance minister in February, unveiled the 2 billion-pound ($2.5 billion) scheme to create six-month work placement jobs for unemployed 16-24 year-olds.
“Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire; to create jobs in every part of our country; to give young people a better start; to give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start,” Sunak said.
For the tourism and hospitality sector, he also unveiled a “landmark” Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme to encourage diners to go back into restaurants and hotels. It will provide a 50 per cent reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020. “This will give these businesses the confidence to maintain their staff, as more people get through the door and business activity kick-starts again,” he said.
— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) July 8, 2020
China slams US’ move to withdraw from WHO
China on Wednesday took a dig at the United States’ decision to withdraw from the WHO and defended the UN body for coordinating the global response to COVID-19, as it geared up for a visit by the health agency’s experts to probe the origin of the coronavirus, AP reported.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the move was “another demonstration of the US pursuing unilateralism, withdrawing from groups and breaking contracts.” WHO is “the most authoritative and professional international institution in the field of global public health security,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.
The US departure from the organization “undermines the international anti-epidemic efforts, and in particular has a serious negative impact on developing countries in urgent need of international support,” Zhao said.
Africa’s infections now above a half-million
According to the figures released by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, the continent-wide total of coronavirus cases is over 508,000. South Africa, the worst-hit country by the virus in Africa, recorded another day of more than 10,000 confirmed cases as a new global hot spot.
The WHO said the Covid-19 has claimed more lives in Africa – 11,955 – than Ebola did in its deadliest outbreak from 2014 to 2016 in West Africa. “With more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of COVID-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating,” WHO’s Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti said
500,000+ confirmed #COVID19 cases on the African continent – with more than 245,000 recoveries & 11,900 deaths. View country figures & more with the WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://t.co/V0fkK8dYTg pic.twitter.com/9tVIxli5gE
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) July 8, 2020
In the wake of Unites States’ official withdrawal from the World Health Organization, a former senior director at the UN health agency predicted that other countries, particularly Germany, would likely step in to fill the void left by the single-biggest financial contributor. Expressing grave disappointment at America’s decision to exit the agency, Dr. David Heymann, a former assistant WHO director-general said Germany has become an important partner in global health recently and other countries are stepping up as well.
He said the US has been behind incredibly important activities at WHO, noting it was the US and its Cold War enemy Russia that spearheaded the global initiative to eradicate smallpox. However, WHO would likely just get on with its work, he added.
Brazil’s President says hydroxychloroquine will cure his virus
After testing positive for the coronavirus, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro exuded confidence that he will swiftly recover from the new coronavirus thanks to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against COVID-19.
The President told reporters he underwent a lung X-ray on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise. He further said on Tuesday his fever had subsided, and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine. He stepped back from the journalists and removed his mask at one point to show that he looked well.
300 drones light up Seoul night sky with Covid advice
Three hundred drones took over to the evening sky over the Han River in South Korea to dispense coronavirus prevention advice through a synchronised 10-minute light display featuring images of hand-washing and social distancing. On Saturday, a horde of pin-point lights lifted into the air in military-like formation before rearranging themselves to form the image of a white face mask, with red circles symbolising the new virus which has led to almost 300 deaths in the country.
The display was arranged by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, also showed images of medical workers in protective suits and messages of support including “#ThanksToChallenge” written above a hand cradling a another flashing a thumbs-up, in reference to a social media campaign encouraging people to express their gratitude to health staff.
Riots sparked in Belgrade by new lockdown, dozens injured
Thousands chanted for the resignation of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic gathered outside the parliament, after the country reimposed a lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases, Reuters reported. Footage showed police kicking and beating people with truncheons while protesters pelted officers with stones and bottles and dozens were injured in the overnight rioting in Belgrade
Police director Vladimir Rebic said on Wednesday that 43 police and 17 protesters were injured and 23 protesters had been arrested. The lockdown was reimposed on Tuesday because of the rising number of infections. Serbia, a country of 7 million, has reported 16,168 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 330 deaths, and health authorities say hospitals are running at full capacity and staff are exhausted.
“A handful of hooligans will not succeed,” he said overnight in a live broadcast on state-run RTS TV after the crowd was dispersed.
Britain to map out next moves in COVID recovery plan
British finance minister Rishi Sunak Wednesday will announce his next moves to prevent a wave of job cuts from snowballing into a full-blown unemployment crisis in the world’s sixth biggest economy. Britain, with a toll of close to 45,000 coronavirus-linked deaths, has been hit harder by the epidemic than any other European country. For the worst affected sectors of an economy that shrank by 25% over March and April, recovery remains a long way off.
The 40-year-old former Goldman Sachs analyst who became finance minister in February, is expected to speak on a 2 billion-pound ($2.5 billion) fund to create six-month work placement jobs for unemployed 16-24 year-olds and the largest ever rise in partly government-funded apprenticeships. The Resolution Foundation think tank estimated the programme could help up to 300,000 young people into work.
The US notifies UN on decision to withdraw from WHO
The US Tuesday formally notified the United Nations of its decision to terminate its relationship with the WHO. The Trump administration had accused the global health body of failing to contain the outbreak after it surfaced in China. The country is now expected to withdraw from the organisation on July 6, 2021.
“I can say that on 6 July 2020, the United States of America notified the secretary-general, in his capacity as depositary of the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization, of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, effective on 6 July 2021,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said in a statement.
The US now has more than 3 million Covid cases
In a new milestone, the country crossed the three million mark amid an upswing in cases in several states. California and Texas reported over 10,000 cases on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, health official Dr Anthony Fauci warned it was a “false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.” President Trump has been saying the US was “doing so well” as it has the “lowest Fatality (Mortality) Rate in the world”.
“By allowing yourself to get infected because of risky behavior, you are part of the propagation of the outbreak,” he was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “There are so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
Japan banks lend at record rate in June
Lending by Japan’s banks rose 6.2 per cent in June to 570.1 trillion yen ($5.3 trillion) — the fastest annual pace on record — as companies hoarded cash to negate the impact of the pandemic. At the same time, deposits in financial institutions rose 8.0 per cent to an all-time high of 786.1 trillion yen ($7.3 trillion) as citizens saved the money disbursed by the government due to Covid.
The government Wednesday reiterated it would not declare a state of emergency to contain the pandemic, despite the rising cases in the country. Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the healthcare system was equipped to deal with the cases.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, among the tallest political figure in the world to contract the disease. Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the impact of the virus despite Brazil’s high Covid figures. In fact, he was reportedly standing inches away from reporters when he announced he had the disease. During a press conference he held outside his official residence, Bolsonaro said he was experiencing only mild symptoms as he had been taking hydroxychloroquine — an unproven treatment.
“If it weren’t for the test, I wouldn’t know the result. And it turned out positive,” he reportedly said. “You can see from my face that I’m well and I’m calm.”
Brazil Wednesday reported 45,305 new cases taking its total tally to 1,668,589. It’s toll rose by 1,254 to 66,741.
Colombia extends lockdown till August 1
Colombia has extended its national lockdown by two weeks till August 1 to contain the spread of the virus. President Ivan Duque, in a televised address, said: “After analysing the country, and considering we have cities where the rate of cases has accelerated and grown, as well as the mortality rate, we have continued to work on preserving the mandatory preventive isolation as the general concept.”
However, restrictions will be eased in municipalities that have reported no or low infections. Of the country’s 1,122 municipalities, 490 have not reported infections while 100 have a low infection rate. Nearly 300 have not reported cases in three weeks.
Colombia has a total of 124,400 cases and 4,359 deaths due to the disease.
UK faces ‘job crisis’ as demand for employment falls
The United Kingdom is facing a “job crisis”, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) industry body said. According to a survey it conducted, demand for employment fell at 31.9 per cent in June, up from 19.1 in May. This is the largest in the last decade, the survey sated.
“This is now a jobs crisis,” Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said, reported Reuters. “Rishi Sunak should use today’s Summer Statement to boost job creation, with a cut in National Insurance designed to retain jobs and boost hiring.”
“While there are signs that the worst declines are behind us, today’s figures show that it will be a while yet before we see job placements growing month on month,” Carberry said.
WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of Covid
The WHO has acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the coronavirus. “We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead on the pandemic at the WHO, said.
Nearly 240 scientists had written to the global organisation with research that airborne transmission was possible. They had “outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendation”.
(With inputs from agencies)