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Rise in Italy’s Covid-19 cases blamed on travel, nightlife – latest updates

The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 23 million people with over 804,000 deaths from the disease. Here are updates for August 22:

A couple wears face masks while other couple does not as they both take selfies in front of the Trevi Fountain, Italy on August 19, 2020.
A couple wears face masks while other couple does not as they both take selfies in front of the Trevi Fountain, Italy on August 19, 2020.
(Reuters)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Italy tops 1,000 daily cases

Italy’s Health Ministry reported 1,071 new infections in the past 24 hours, exceeding 1,000 cases in a day for the first time since May when the government eased rigid lockdown measures.

Italy, one of Europe’s worst-hit countries with more than 35,000 deaths, has managed to contain the outbreak after a peak in deaths and cases between March and April.

However, it has seen a steady increase in infections over the last month, with experts blaming holidays and nightlife for causing people to gather in numbers.

Turkey reports 1,309 new infections

Turkey confirmed 1,309 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the tally to 257,032.

In a tweet, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 801 more patients recovered in the past 24 hours, pushing the number of recoveries to 236,370.

Meanwhile, the death toll reached 6,102 as 22 more people lost their lives.

Healthcare professionals conducted 93,007 tests to diagnose the virus over the last 24 hours, bringing the tally to more than 6.24 million.

UK reports 1,288 new cases

The United Kingdom recorded 1,288 new positive cases, up from 1,033 a day earlier, government figures showed.

Eighteen people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within 28 days, up from two a day earlier.

The new cases were recorded as the government ramps up testing so it can suppress the spread of the virus and ease restrictions that have crippled the economy.

China approves trial for vaccine cultivated within insect cells

China has approved human testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine cultivated within insect cells, local government in the southwestern city of Chengdu has said.

China is in a global race to develop cost-effective vaccines to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

Using insect cells to grow proteins for the coronavirus vaccine – a first in China – could speed up large-scale production, the city government of Chengdu said in a notice on social media WeChat.

The vaccine, developed by West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, has received approval from the National Medical Products Administration to enter a clinical trial, the notice said.

When tested on monkeys, the vaccine was shown to prevent infections with no obvious side-effects, the notice added.

Iraqi coronavirus cases top 200,000

Iraq has registered nearly 4,000 cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases recorded by the country to over 200,000.

According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, 201,050 Iraqis have contracted the virus, including 6,353 who have died, while 143,393 are declared to have recovered since the pandemic began.

France delays launch of economic reboot plan

The French government has said it would unveil details of its $118 billion plan to reinvigorate the economy in the first week of September, instead of next Tuesday, as it focuses on preparing the new school term.

“The recovery plan is ready, the timetable for its implementation still stands,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said in a statement.

Schools are set to reopen on September 1, after most were closed during a two-month lockdown earlier this year to fight the coronavirus, and the government is working to ensure protective measures will be adequate, Attal said.

France has already outlined some of the parameters of its crisis measures, including cuts to domestic business taxes, investment in promoting jobs for the young, and funding for environmental initiatives.

Germany trials concerts to probe virus infection risks

A German university has launched a series of pop concerts under coronavirus conditions, hoping the mass experiment with 4,000 people can determine whether large events can safely resume.

Well-known singer Tim Bendzko agreed to give three separate performances over the course of the day in eastern city Leipzig, allowing researchers from nearby Halle University to try out different configurations for the gigs.

Only young, healthy volunteers were allowed to attend in a bid to limit infection risks.

As the audience arrives at the Leipzig Arena concert hall, they will submit to a temperature check with other measures to track movements and aerosol particles. 

Data collected will flow into a mathematical model to help judge risks of the virus spreading in a large concert venue, with results expected in the autumn.

Elephant idols shrunk for major Indian festival

Indian authorities have imposed tough anti-virus restrictions on gatherings and the size of Ganesha elephant god idols for one of the biggest religious festivals of the year.

The 10 days of prayers and family gatherings for Ganesh Chaturthi started under a pandemic cloud with the country closing on three million infections and 56,000 deaths.

Most major cities have ordered that effigies of the popular elephant-headed god Ganesha, which can draw thousands of Hindu devotees onto the streets, be shrunk back.

Traditionally, the idols can tower 10 metres high or more and need dozens of people to carry them but this year authorities said they can be no more than 1.1 metres tall in a bid to cut crowds.

Argentina joins Chinese coronavirus vaccine trial

Argentina has joined Peru, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in approving Phase 3 clinical trials for a virus vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company has said.

As China forges ahead in the global race to develop a vaccine and as cases within China dwindle, CNBG needs research participants from other countries for testing.

Phase 3 trials, which usually involve several thousand participants, allow researchers to gather data on the efficacy of potential vaccines for final regulatory approvals.

CNBG will partner with Argentina’s ELEA in the vaccine trial, the Chinese company said in a statement late Friday.

India records major jump in cases

India has recorded another 24-hour jump in infections as the disease spreads across the country’s southern states after plateauing in the capital and the financial center of Mumbai.

India’s Health Ministry reported 69,878 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 2,975,701. 

Globally India has been reporting the biggest daily rise in cases for 18 consecutive days.

Some 2.2 million people have recovered from the disease in India since the first case was diagnosed in late January.

India has the third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil, and its 55,794 deaths give it the fourth-highest death toll in the world.

Malta sees resurgence of virus

The Mediterranean island nation of Malta only recorded 673 infections during the first four months of Europe’s coronavirus emergency, and had brought its active cases down to a mere three by mid-July. 

But in the last six weeks, Malta’s confirmed caseload has more than doubled.

While Malta’s numbers are still small, the country only has 500,000 people, and pale in comparison to bigger European countries that were hard hit in the spring, its infection curve is following that of Greece and Cyprus.

Malta recorded 1,546 with 10 deaths.

Philippines records 4,933 virus infections

The Philippines has reported 4,933 infections of the virus , the fifth straight day above 4,000, and 26 deaths.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 187,249 while confirmed deaths have reached 2,966. 

The Philippines has the most infections in Southeast Asia, and second-highest number of deaths, behind Indonesia. 

Russia’s virus cases pass 950,000 mark

Russia has reported 4,921 virus cases, pushing its confirmed national tally up to 951,897.

Authorities said 121 people had died of the virus over the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 16,310. 

Czech Republic reports biggest single-day jump

Czech Republic has reported 506 new cases in the latest 24-hour period. The previous high was 377 cases registered on March 27.

The country’s health ministry made the announcement just a day after neighboring Slovakia also reported a record daily increase of infected people.

The Czech Republic has had 21,551 cases overall, including 411 deaths.

Biden ready to shut down America to fight virus

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would do whatever was needed to keep the country safe amid the pandemic even if that meant shutting down the country.

Biden made the comment in an interview with ABC. 

The interview airs Sunday night, but clips were provided Friday.

Biden says, “I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus.” He adds that if scientists recommended shutting down the country, “I would shut it down.”

President Donald Trump is encouraging schools to reopen and people to get back to work. 

The US has had more than 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 175,000 deaths.

China reports no local transmissions

Health officials in China say in their Saturday report on the coronavirus that the country had no locally transmitted infections in the latest 24-hour period, though 22 cases were confirmed in Chinese arriving from abroad.

The local spread of the virus appears to have been contained in mainland China.

South Korea implements stricter measures to fight pandemic

South Korea says tougher social distancing guidelines to curb the spread will be rolled out nationwide starting on Sunday as it battles a new outbreak of the disease spreading from the capital, Seoul.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 315 new domestic coronavirus infections as of midnight Friday, the latest in a string of triple digit increases in new local cases which take the country’s tally to 17,002 with 309 deaths.

South Korea used advanced contact tracing and widespread testing to contain its first outbreak, but Asia’s fourth-largest economy has experienced persistent outbreaks in recent weeks, mostly in and around densely populated Seoul and the surrounding areas.

Australia’s Victoria state records 13 new deaths

Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria has reported 13 new virus deaths in the last 24 hours while new infections in the hotspot state has remained below 200 for the second consecutive day.

Other than in Victoria, which accounts for over 80% of the country’s virus deaths due to a second wave of infections, Australia has large avoided the high casualty numbers of many nations with about 24,500 infections and 485 deaths.

The state reported 182 new daily infections, down from over 700 a day two weeks ago.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise by more than 2,000

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increases by 2,034 to 232,082.

The data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed  that the country’s death toll also rose by 7 to 9,267.

Ukraine reports 2,328 cases in past 24 hours

 Ukraine has registered a record 2,328 virus cases in the past 24 hours.

The data given by the national council of security and defence surpassed the previous single-day record of 2,134, reported on Thursday.

Total cases are at 102,971, with 2,244 deaths.

Brazil daily fatalities again exceed 1,000

Brazil has reported 30,355 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,054 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours.

Brazil has now registered 3,532,330 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 113,358, the health ministry said on Friday, marking the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.

Mexico reports 5,928 new cases, 504 more deaths

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 5,928 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 504 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 549,734 cases and 59,610  deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Mexico’s famous floating gardens reopen

The famous “floating gardens” of Xochimilco have reopened to visitors after a five-month lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.

The canals that run through man-made islands created by the Aztecs on what is now the south side of Mexico City provide a popular day trip for tourists, with flat-bottom boats plying the water and mariachis playing music.

The tourism industry in Mexico accounts for 8.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and has been left gasping by the pandemic as both domestic and foreign tourists stay home. 

Mexico City, which has nearly 90,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 10,000 deaths, is still on the second-highest form of alert.

Tourism has long been particularly important for Xochimilco, where borough officials have long struggled to defend the islands, known as “chinampas,” from encroaching development.

Germany issues travel warnings for Brussels, French Guyana

Germany has warned against travel to Brussels because of the high rate of coronavirus infections in the Belgian capital, which is also home to the main organs of the European Union.

The German Foreign Ministry warned against non-essential travel to EU regions where there have been more than 50 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past week. Belgium’s province of Antwerp is already subject to a warning.

“There is currently a warning in place for non-essential, tourist travel to the capital Brussels and the province of Antwerp,” the ministry said on its travel advice website.

The restrictions mean returnees face a compulsory virus test and two weeks’ quarantine if they refuse.

The ministry also issued a warning against travel to French Guyana, the French overseas province in South America that is home to the European Space Agency’s main spaceport.

Travellers from France to UK need to self certify they do not have virus symptoms

Travellers from France to the United Kingdom will be required to self certify that they are not suffering coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case within 14 days preceding travel, the British government said on Friday.

US closes lanes, adds checks at Mexico border

The United States has closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border with Mexico and will conduct more secondary checks in a bid to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, according to a US Customs and Border Protection official.

Non-essential travel has been restricted at the border for several months, but has mostly been applied to Mexican citizens. The new measures appeared to be aimed at US citizens and legal residents living in Mexico.

“The vast majority of cross-border travel by US citizens and lawful permanent residents is for purposes that are not deemed essential,” El Paso CBP spokesman Roger Maier said.

Fifteen Minnesotans catch virus at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Fifteen Minnesota residents have contracted the coronavirus after being exposed during the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, according to Minnesota health officials.

One patient was hospitalized as of Friday, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health. The first Sturgis-linked case was reported on Thursday, she said, while the 14 others were added Friday.

“We’re expecting that we’re going to see many more cases associated with Sturgis,” Ehresmann said during a briefing for reporters.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies


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