A commercial street packed with people in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, July 18, 2020. (BOB EDME / AP)
NEW YORK / CAPE TOWN / SAN SALVADOR / MEXICO CITY / SAO PAULO / NAIROBI / BERLIN / MOSCOW / BUCHAREST / PRAGUE - The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, with the total rising by 259,848 in 24 hours.
The biggest increases reported on Saturday were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. The previous WHO record for new cases was 237,743 on Friday. Deaths rose by 7,360, the biggest one-day increase since May 10. Deaths have been averaging 4,800 a day in July, up slightly from an average of 4,600 a day in June.
Total global coronavirus cases surpassed 14 million on Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The surge means that 1 million cases were reported in under 100 hours.
The WHO reported 71,484 new cases in the United States, 45,403 in Brazil, 34,884 in India and 13,373 in South Africa.
Global COVID-19 deaths have surpassed the 600,000 mark to reach 600,435 as of 7:34 pm local time on Saturday (2334 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 tally has risen past 14.2 million, according to the CSSE.
The global death toll briefly topped 600,000 Friday night local time on the CSSE tally, but was then fixed to below the mark earlier Saturday.
The United States has reported more than 3.6 million cases and 139,000 deaths, both the highest worldwide. Other countries with over 30,000 fatalities include Brazil, Britain, Mexico, Italy, and France, according to the data.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad stressed Saturday the need to assess socioeconomic effects caused by the COVID-19 "objectively and without overstatement," the official APS news agency reported.
The prime minister made the remarks during a meeting in the capital Algiers with social and business representatives. The meeting was held with the aim of setting up a safeguard committee in charge of evaluating the repercussions caused by the pandemic on the national economy.
Algeria on Saturday reported 601 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 22,545, with 1,068 deaths.
Brazil registered 28,532 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 921 more deaths on Saturday, the Health Ministry said.
Total cases in Brazil, the world's second most affected country after the United States, have now risen to 2,074,860 while deaths totaled 78,772.
President Jair Bolsonaro said he was feeling well, despite the coronavirus, and again credited his health to the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, despite no scientific evidence.
Bolsonaro, who announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 7, met his supporters in the grounds of his official residence, the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia. The president was wearing a mask and kept some meters of distance from his supporters.
Besides hydroxychloroquine, the far-right president said he is also taking an anti-parasite drug to fight coronavirus.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has surged to 4,112, following the upward trend since June 6, official figures showed on Saturday.
According to the Health Ministry, 298 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed across the country in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to 8,442.
Meanwhile, the number of recoveries from COVID-19 rose by 106 to 4,033, and the death toll from COVID-19 went up from 293 to 297, the ministry said.
The Chilean Ministry of Health reported on Saturday that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 328,846, with 8,445 deaths.
According to the ministry, 98 more deaths and 2,185 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.
The ministry said that there were 20,952 active cases of COVID-19, and a total of 299,449 people have recovered from the disease.
The tally of active cases of the new coronavirus in the Czech Republich has risen to 4,764, above the previous high of 4,737 seen in April, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday.
On Saturday 113 new cases were identified, bringing the total since the beginning of March when first cases were found to 13,885.
The central European country of 10.7 million has had 358 deaths.
The number of people in hospitals was 135 on Saturday, less than a third of the peak of 446 in April and far below capacities of the national health system as presented by the government.
Egypt confirmed on Saturday 698 new COVID-19 infections, raising the national tally to 87,172, said the Health Ministry.
It marked the 10th consecutive day for Egypt's daily COVID-19 infections to be below 1,000.
In a statement, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said another 63 deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll 4,251. He added that 566 others were discharged from hospitals, taking the total recoveries to 27,868.
El Salvador will move to the second phase of reopening its economy, President Nayib Bukele said on Saturday, though cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise in the Central American country.
Starting on Tuesday, the manufacturing, footwear, paper and cardboard industries will reopen, as well as public transport, under a plan outlined by the government last month.
"If we are not going to lower infections because they do not give us the tools, there is no point in postponing phase two of the economic reopening," the president said at a news conference.
El Salvador has registered 11,508 total cases of coronavirus and 324 deaths.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 202 to 201,574, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.
The reported death toll rose by 1 to 9,084, the tally showed.
Ghana confirmed 488 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, bringing the nationwide tally to 27,060, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
The GHS said in its latest update that 129 patients were discharged from hospitals over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 23,044.
The death toll in the West African country stood at 145.
France will enforce mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces including banks, shops and indoor markets from Monday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday, as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 across the country.
The government has accelerated plans to make it compulsory to wear masks after series of indicators have suggested the virus could be gaining momentum, especially in areas in western and southern France that had been relatively spared during the height of the outbreak between March and May.
"From Monday, mask-wearing will be mandatory in closed spaces," Veran said on Twitter. "That concerns shops, buildings open to the public, covered markets and banks."
Kenya's Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed that 688 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, hitting the highest daily tally since the disease was reported in the country in March.
Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Health, said that new figures brought the overall tally to 12,750.
Recoveries rose by 457 to 4,440 while the death toll rose by three to 225, according to Kagwe.
Kagwe announced plans to introduce electronic medical care cards for all citizens. He said that the card would enable citizens to seek treatment in all public health facilities in the country.
The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Saturday reported 87 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,791.
Among all the cases, there are 385 recoveries and 48 deaths, the center said.
The UN-backed government on Saturday extended the curfew against the virus for 15 more days.
Mexico's Health Ministry on Saturday posted a record for new coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 7,615 more confirmed cases, bringing its overall tally of infections to 338,913, Health Ministry data showed.
The ministry also reported 578 additional fatalities, bringing the death toll to 38,888 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Speaking to a news conference, the Mexican government’s head of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, stressed that the country must not let down its guard.
"We expect to have a long epidemic, so we have to change personal habits and protect ourselves from risk," he said.
A total of 289 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Morocco on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 17,015.
The number of recoveries rose by 260 to 14,620 while the death toll climbed by five to 269, according to Hind Ezzine, head of the Department of Epidemic Diseases of the Ministry of Health.
Amsterdam asked tourists to stay away from its famous red-light district after the area became too crowded this weekend. Several streets in the prostitution zone have been closed to prevent the coronavirus spreading, the municipality of Amsterdam said late Saturday on Twitter.
“Don’t come to the red light district. It is too busy,” the city tweeted. Before the weekend, Amsterdam already said it could introduce such measures if the popular tourist spot became too crowded and implemented one-way walking lanes. As lockdown measures in Europe and elsewhere gradually eased recently, the city centre of the Dutch capital has seen a renewed influx of tourists.
The Netherlands has so far reported 51,809 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,155 deaths.
Romania reported 889 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the first time the country saw more than 800 new cases, pushing the nation's tally to 36,691.
Another 21 deaths were reported in the same period, raising the death toll to 2,009, according to the Strategic Communication Group (GCS), the country's official COVID-19 communication task force.
As many as 93 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week at a meat processing plant in Timis county, western Romania, local health authorities announced Saturday.
More than 800 samples have been collected after eight employees at the plant were confirmed to be infected on July 12. In the last 24 hours, 56 people tested positive, pushing the total to 93 in the company.
"The activity of the entire plant was suspended for a period of seven days, with the possibility of extension in case of need," said the Public Health Directorate of Timis.
Russia on Sunday reported 6,109 new cases and 95 more deaths from the coronavirus.
The nationwide tally of infections has risen to 771,546 cases, Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said. The death toll now stands at 12,342, and 50,344 people have recovered.
A top Russian official said the country could roll out a vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as September, while denying accusations that hackers working for the country’s intelligence agency tried to steal sensitive data from rival researchers in the UK, US and Canada.
“Russia may be one of the first to produce a vaccine against the backdrop of the billions that are being invested in the US and all the pharma companies working on it,” said Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the government-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is financing one of the the country’s efforts to devise a vaccine.
Dmitriev’s comments came after the UK, US and Canada said hackers working with the group APT29, part of Russian military intelligence, had used malware to try to seize vaccine research. Dmitriev said Russia had no need to steal information from rival vaccine developers because it had already signed a deal with AstraZeneca Plc to manufacture the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine at R-Pharm, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Russia. He said AstraZeneca is transferring the entire technological process and all ingredients for the full reproduction of the vaccine in Russia.
South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Saturday urged the public to help the government implement measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
He voiced concern that fatigue seemed to have set in and South Africans were letting their guard down as the number of infections surged.
"We see poor or no social distancing in communities. Masks are abandoned or not worn properly and there is laxity on frequent hand-washing," the minister said in a statement.
The appeal by the minister came as the national tally rose to 350,879 on Saturday, up by 13,285 from the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 144 to 4,948.
READ MORE: South Africa COVID-19 cases surpass 300,000
Tunisia decided on Saturday to prevent the ships of French transport company Corsica Linea from anchoring in its ports, local media reported.
Mosaique FM radio Saturday quoted Habib Ghedira, member of Tunisia's committee to confront the COVID-19, as saying that the ban was imposed by the government.
Several crew members of a ship belonging to Corsica Linea, which operated the Marseille-Tunis route from July 1 to July 10, have tested positive for COVID-19. Eight other cases of COVID-19 were detected among the crew of another vessel of the same company that docked in the port of La Goulette in Tunis on July 14.
The Tunisian Health Ministry called on thousands of people who were on board the two ships during the period to self-isolate at home.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to have asked his cabinet to return to the office next week and suggested he won’t impose another lockdown on the country, potentially setting his government up for further discord with its scientific advisers.
Johnson summoned his cabinet to meet in-person the first time since March, the Mail reported on Sunday, citing an unidentified person in Johnson’s office. He wants the government to set an example for the country to return back to office, the Mail said. The 26-member team will meet in a large Foreign Office stateroom normally used for meetings with foreign leaders, in order to have space for social distancing.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Johnson said he “certainly” doesn’t want another blanket shutdown and nor does he think “we will be in that position again.” The prime minister said the country is getting better at spotting the disease and isolating it locally, and compared a second nationwide lockdown as a tool similar to a “nuclear deterrent” - a method of last resort.
Johnson’s plan contracts with the cautionary words by Patrick Vallance, the nation’s chief scientific adviser, who sees “absolutely no reason” to change the guidance for people to work from home if they can. Vallance floated the idea of another national lockdown on Friday, saying that the challenges in winter will be greater and could “need national measures as well”.
Meanwhile, Britain said on Saturday it was pausing its daily update of the death toll from the coronavirus after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concerns the toll might have been exaggerated. Britain has been the European country worst hit by the virus, with an official death toll of more 45,000 and a tally of over 294,000 confirmed cases.
US COVID-19 deaths surpassed the 140,000 mark to reach 140,103 as of 8:50 pm local time on Saturday (0050 GMT on Sunday), according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Texas marked its fifth consecutive day of virus cases over 10,000, and Arizona reported record deaths. New infections and deaths in Florida dropped for a second day.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Quest Diagnostics that allows pool samples from up to four individuals to test for COVID-19.
The Quest test is the first COVID-19 diagnostic test to be authorized for use with pooled samples. Sample pooling is an important public health tool because it allows for more people to be tested quickly using fewer testing resources, said the FDA.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is balking at US$25 billion in new funding favored by Republican lawmakers in the next relief bill to help states with coronavirus testing and contact tracing, said a person familiar with the talks. Also opposed is a plan to allocate billions of additional dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and extra funding for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic around the world, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
HONG KONG NEWS