Coronavirus: Global cases pass 15m as many countries report record number of infections

World round-up: Australia reports record number of fatalities as death toll exceeds 623,000

 A taxi driver (C) undergoes a swab test at a makeshift COVID-19 testing lab in a parking lot in Hong Kong on Thursday. The city has seen record surges in Covid-19 cases in the past couple of weeks and some health experts have suggested that Hong Kong may have to go into lockdown. Photograph: Jerome Favre/ EPA

A taxi driver (C) undergoes a swab test at a makeshift COVID-19 testing lab in a parking lot in Hong Kong on Thursday. The city has seen record surges in Covid-19 cases in the past couple of weeks and some health experts have suggested that Hong Kong may have to go into lockdown. Photograph: Jerome Favre/ EPA

 

More than 15.2 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded worldwide with more than 623,000 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The three worst-hit countries – the US, Brazil and India – account for nearly half of all confirmed cases globally and more than 40 per cent of fatalities. A World Health Organisation (WHO) expert said the first use of a vaccine cannot be expected until early 2021.

The following is a summary of the latest developments on the virus around the world:

Australia

Australia reported its highest daily number of coronavirus-related deaths in three months on Thursday as new infections continued to climb in its second most populous state. Victoria state said it had confirmed another 403 infections, while five people had died from the virus in the last 24 hours. The fatalities, including a man in his 50s, mark the country’s biggest one-day rise in Covid-19 deaths since late April. “This demonstrates the growing toll this terrible virus is taking on our community,” health minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters in the state capital, Melbourne. With authorities unable to bring new infections below triple digits, residents in Melbourne and most of the state are now required to wear masks outside of their homes. Nationally, Australia has recorded about 13,000 coronavirus cases with a death toll of 128.

The rise in new infections came after Australia began relaxing strict containment measures imposed in mid-March. While the social distancing rules - which limited mobility of residents and shuttered businesses - slowed the spread of Covid-19, Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it has taken a heavy toll on the economy. The government reported its biggest budget deficit since the second World War on Thursday after committing to fiscal stimulus of around A$289 billion, or 14.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Australia is experiencing a health and economic crisis like nothing we have seen in the last 100 years,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.

Americas

Brazil reported a record number of coronavirus infections, days after the WHO said the country had reached a plateau. The Latin American country registered 67,860 new cases on Wednesday, more than 20 per cent above the previous record for daily infections. The numbers of Covid-19 cases added in the last 24 hours pushed the total to 2,227,514. Deaths rose by 1,284 to 82,771, according to the health ministry. Brazil, a nation of 210 million with some states the size of France, trails only the US in both case and death counts. The numbers, while still high, have stabilised in recent weeks, the WHO said Friday. It urged

Brazil’s government to seize the opportunity to take control of the virus.

Neighbouring Argentina posted a daily record of 5,782 confirmed cases, the vast majority of them in and around the capital, Buenos Aires, taking the total number infected in the country to 141,900.

Peru, which has the second-highest number of cases in Latin America behind Brazil, added 3,688 previously uncounted people to its death toll on Wednesday, taking fatalities to nearly 17,500. The Andean copper-producing country recorded 4,463 new cases for the day, taking its total to 366,550, double the number at the start of June. The numbers point to the struggles nations across the region have had in containing the pandemic, despite widely varying strategies to combat the outbreak.

Mexico’s health ministry reported on Wednesday 6,019 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 790 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 362,274 cases and 41,190 deaths. The Mexican government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

US

US deaths from the novel coronavirus rose by more than 1,100 for a second day in a row on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally as leading US Senate Republicans and the White House said they had hammered out agreements in principle on portions of a potential coronavirus-response Bill. California reported a record 12,807 new confirmed cases, bringing the state’s total to 413,576. With the increase, the state surpassed New York as having the most cases. Florida reported 379,619 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up 2.6 per cent from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 3.5 per cent in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 5,345, an increase of 139, or 2.7 per cent , according to the state department of health report, which includes data through Tuesday. Arizona’s virus cases continued to decline, with the state on Wednesday reporting 1,926 new infections, a 1.3 per cent increase to 150,609 and below the prior seven-day average of 2.2 per cent . The state department of health services reported 56 new deaths, bringing the toll to 2,974.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has forecasted that the US will reach 150,000 deaths by early August.

India

India reported a record jump of 45,720 in coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking its total number of cases to 1.24 million, the health ministry said.

Almost a quarter of Delhi’s 28 million residents may have developed coronavirus antibodies, making it one of the worst-affected capital cities in the world, according to research. A random sample of 20,000 residents by India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) found 23.4 per cent had antibodies to the virus. It appears that the majority were asymptomatic. The coronavirus crisis hit Delhi hard last month, pushing the city’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, and many died after hospitals ran out of beds and ventilators. Yet the rate of exposure found in the NCDC study is far higher than the city’s officially reported 123,747 cases, suggesting the spread of coronavirus in India may be far greater than the official statistics show. India has the third highest number of cases in the world, and cases are rising there by more than 40,000 a day. The curve of infections is showing no sign of flattening and states across India, from Kerala to Kashmir, have reintroduced individual lockdowns and night-time curfews in an effort to control the spread of the virus

China

China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 22nd, up from 14 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Thursday. Of the new infections, 18 were in the far western region of Xinjiang and one was in Dalian city in the northeastern Liaoning province, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. The other three were imported cases. The Dalian case involved a 58-year-old man working at a seafood processing company. Multiple samples collected from the company, including frozen food, processing workshop, canteen and office building also tested positive, state media said. China reported 31 new asymptomatic patients, or those showing no symptoms, up from 22 a day earlier. China will provide a $1 billion loan for Latin American and Caribbean countries to have access to its Covid-19 vaccine, foreign minister Wang Yi told top regional diplomats, according to the Mexican government. In a virtual gathering, Mr Wang told his Latin American counterparts a vaccine developed by China would have universal access. He also presented a list of Chinese projects to fight the disease in the region, Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong reported 111 local virus cases on Thursday -- its second day of more than 100 local infections -- as the city scrambles to boost hospitalisation and testing capacity in the face of its worst outbreak ever. Two thirds of private demand for coronavirus tests from Hong Kong residents cannot be met as the city faces capacity bottlenecks, according to its largest private laboratory. Prenetics Ltd, along with other Hong Kong labs and hospitals, has beenoverloaded with people seeking virus tests since a new wave emerged 18 days ago, chief executive officer Danny Yeung said in an interview. Demand has swelled to as many as 20,000 a day from members of the public as the outbreak grows to over 700 local infections, he said.

Europe

Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.

The Italian government will approve a new spending package, the third major cash injection since the start of the new coronavirus outbreak in the country, to try to prop up the economy.

Ukraine will let spectators return for soccer matches up to a quarter of stadia capacity after a three-month pause.

Russia reported 5,848 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 795,038, according to data from the government’s virus response center. There were 147 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 12,892, while 8,277 people recovered. Moscow reported 608 new infections, or 10.4 per cent of the daily total.

British prime ministers Boris Johnson’s administration had no economic plan for a pandemic as coronavirus hit the UK in an “astonishing” failure of governance, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said. “Pandemic planning is the bread and butter of government risk planning, but we learn it was treated solely as a health issue, with no planning for the economic impacts,” the committee’s chairman said. “This meant that the economic strategy was of necessity rushed and reactive.” The government rejected that conclusion and said, with the crisis ongoing, this is not the right time to review its response.

Africa and Middle East

Total confirmed cases in Africa have passed 750,000, a Reuters tally of government and WHO data showed.

South Africa reported a record 572 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, almost tripling the previous daily high. The number of confirmed infections rose to 394,948 from 381,798 the day before, the department of health said in a statement. It gave no explanation for the surge in death numbers. So far 5,940 people have officially died from the virus in South Africa, according to the department.

Israel’s parliament approved a Bill that allows the cabinet to declare a state of emergency and impose new restrictions with little to no parliamentary supervision. Lawmakers would have 24 hours to vet new regulations, which would automatically take effect in the case of no opposition. If the government deems the restrictions urgent, then they can take effect immediately. The Bill was passed amid a barrage of protests against the government’s handling of the crisis.

Gazans are thronging beaches and crowding markets filled with holiday sweets and clothes as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Adha largely free of restrictions.

Japan

Around 360 new coronavirus cases were found in Tokyo on Thursday, a record for a day, TV Asahi and other Japanese media reported, as a long holiday weekend began in Japan. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors as much as possible, after the city’s running total topped 10,000 and new cases nationwide hit a new daily record on Wednesday. Tokyo has over 3,800 cases so far this month, more than the previous peak in April when the city entered a state of emergency. Although Japan has suffered about 28,000 infections and more than 1,000 deaths, it has escaped the kind of explosive surge seen elsewhere. But recent signs of a spurt in infections in Japan, as well as other major economies, such as the United States, have prompted authorities to raise renewed alerts against the virus.

Indonesia

Indonesia reported 1,906 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total infections to 93,657, data from the country’s Covid-19 taskforce showed. The number of Covid-19 deaths in the Southeast Asian nation rose by 117 on Thursday to bring the total to 4,576, the data showed. –PA, Reuters, Bloomberg, Guardian