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Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 23:03
Norway to quarantine more travelers as COVID-19 cases rise
By Agencies
Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 23:03 By Agencies

Children jumps into the Oslo fjord from a float on the Lindoya island in the Norwegian capital on July 16, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

BOGOTA / BUENOS AIRES / MEXICO CITY / LONDON / PARIS / MADRID / BRASILIA / GENEVA / BERLIN / BRUSSELS - Norway said it would reimpose quarantine measures on travellers from more foreign countries and reiterated its advice that Norwegians should avoid going abroad amid a jump in the number of new coronavirus cases.

Norway diagnosed 357 people with COVID-19 last week, the highest since April, but still well below the record 1,733 cases found in a single week in late March, data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) showed.

Norway last week put on hold a plan to further reopen society and urged its citizens to refrain from foreign travel.

While not a member of the European Union, Norway belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone. It had some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic before gradually lifting them from June.

It will now reimpose 10-day quarantines from Saturday for all travellers from Poland, Malta, Iceland, Cyprus and the Netherlands, as well as the Faroe Islands and some Danish and Swedish regions.

Norway has already reintroduced similar constraints for Spain, France, Switzerland and several others, and has put on hold a plan to permit leisure travel from some non-European countries, which has been banned since March.

The recommendation not to go abroad will remain in place until Oct. 1.

With a population of 5.4 million, Norway had reported a total of 9,750 cases as of Wednesday, with 256 deaths.

Germany 

Germany recorded the biggest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in more than three months, data showed on Wednesday, with the health minister warning of outbreaks in nearly all parts of the country due to holiday returnees and party-goers.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,226 to 218,519, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed. That was the biggest daily increase since May 9. Deaths rose by six to 9,207.

This is, no doubt, very worrying. This is something that we need to be very, very alert about because there have been many outbreaks right across the whole country.

Jens Spahn, German health minister

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Germany reported 1,032 new infections.

"This is, no doubt, very worrying," Health Minister Jens Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that citizens had to remain cautious to prevent the virus from spreading further. “This is something that we need to be very, very alert about because there have been many outbreaks right across the whole country,” Spahn said.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: WHO expects long-term response efforts

Germany has classified Madrid and the Basque region as places of risk due to rising coronavirus infection rates and warned against unnecessary travel to those areas of Spain. The move, announced Tuesday on the Foreign Ministry’s website, means that travelers returning from the two regions must either submit to 14 days of quarantine or take a free test on arrival in Germany.

The regions of Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia were already designated by Germany as areas of risk, dealing a blow to hopes of a swift revival in Spanish tourism. Infection rates remain relatively low in southern Spain and in the Balearic and Canary islands, the ministry said.

Global tally

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 20 million, reaching 20,120,919 as of Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Separately, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, more than 20.3 million cases and 741,000 deaths have been reported globally.

Americas

More than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 are being reported daily in the Americas, half of them in the United States, and there are worrisome spikes in countries that had outbreaks controlled, such as Argentina and Colombia, WHO regional director Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday.

The United States has reported around 5 million cases and Brazil, with the second worst outbreak in the world, has recorded more than 100,000 deaths.

She said there was an increase in cases in Central America, where Belize reported its highest number of new infections of the novel coronavirus this week. The Dominican Republic has more cases than all other Caribbean island nations combined.

Etienne said the stress on healthcare services threatened an increase in illnesses that were under control, such as TB, HIV and hepatitis, and more people will die from preventable and treatable conditions.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has data indicating that 30 percent of people living with HIV, a preventable and treatable virus, are avoiding seeking care during the pandemic, and countries have limited supplies of antiretrovirals, she said.

Health systems must make it easier for patients to be treated by expanding telemedicine and offering more care outside hospital settings, Etienne said.

Africa

The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Tuesday said Africa has recorded more than 1.05 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Africa's tally of confirmed infections rose to 1,055,964 as of Tuesday, up from 1,047,218 on Monday, Africa CDC said.

Total fatalities registered across the continent saw an increase of 329 deaths to reach 23,582.

Argentina

Argentina's death toll from the coronavirus has topped 5,000, the government said on Tuesday, as cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

Argentina has been under quarantine since March 20, although officials previously relaxed restrictions in many parts of the nation, a move blamed for the recent spike in cases.

The country recorded 7,043 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, pushing the total confirmed infections to 260,911, surpassing the total caseload in Italy. The latest government data shows 5,004 people have died from the disease.

The capital Buenos Aires and the surrounding province have been bound by the strictest quarantine measures but have nonetheless emerged as the focal point of the country's outbreak.

The WHO earlier on Tuesday expressed special concern for the spike in cases in Argentina after months in which the country appeared to have the outbreak under control. 

An aerial view of workers digging new graves to cope with demand during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Flores cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Aug 11, 2020. (EMILIANO LASALVIA / AFP)

Belgium

Wearing a face mask became compulsory on Wednesday in all public places in Brussels as the number of COVID-19 infections rose to a government alert level that puts the city among the worst affected in Europe.

The Belgian capital recorded on average 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants daily over the last week.

Everybody in the city, which has a population of 1.2 million, now has to wear a face mask when in parks, on streets or in any other public sites, as well as in private space accessible to the public, the regional government said. Children below 12 years, people doing sport or physical works in public places are exempt from wearing a mask.

Belgium has been hit hard by the pandemic, with nearly 10,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus so far, which gives the country of 11 million one of the world's highest death rates from COVID-19 per head.

Brazil

Brazil on Tuesday registered 1,274 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the death toll to 103,026, the health ministry said.

Overall, confirmed cases rose by 52,160 to 3,109,630.

Brazil's Parana state is in talks to produce a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Russia despite not having completed mass clinical trials, but it was unclear if the state's research institute would get regulatory approval in Brazil.

Chile

Chile reported on Tuesday that a total of 376,616 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 10,178 deaths, had been reported in the country 

According to the Health Ministry, 1,566 new cases and 39 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

A total of 349,541 people have recovered from the disease, the ministry said, adding that there were currently 16,897 active cases.

Colombia

Colombia topped 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as deaths climb toward 13,500 and intensive care units in the capital Bogota remain near capacity.

The Andean country has 410,453 confirmed cases of the virus, the health ministry said in its daily tally, while deaths reached 13,475. The number of active cases stood at 165,698.

Intensive care units in Bogota are at about 89 percent capacity, according to local health authorities. The capital is home to more than a third of Colombia's cases.

Other major cities, including Medellin, Barranquilla and Cali have also been close to ICU capacity during lockdown, but are enjoying lower hospitalization figures.

Ecuador

Ecuador reported 862 new COVID-19 cases and 19 more deaths from the disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's caseload to 95,563 and death toll to 5,951, the Ministry of Public Health said Tuesday.

The province of Pichincha, where the capital city of Quito is located, has become the new epicenter of the epidemic in the country, with a total of 18,275 confirmed cases and 773 deaths, surpassing the province of Guayas, which has so far reported 17,936 cases and 1,664 deaths.

Most of the cases in Pichincha have been registered in Quito, which saw a spike in new cases after preventive health measures in the city were relaxed, according to the health ministry.

Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said Tuesday that Pichincha's public hospitals have opened more beds and more medical personnel have been hired to cope with the increase in COVID-19 cases in the province.

Egypt

Egypt's Health Ministry reported on Tuesday 168 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total infections in the country to 95,834.

Another 24 deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 5,059, while recoveries rose by 1,109 to 54,888, said the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 24,175 after 584 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said another 20 deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 440.

The ministry added that the number of recoveries rose by 285 to 0,696.

France

France will gradually ramp up police checks to ensure people wear face masks where it is mandatory and respect social distancing amidst a new surge of COVID-19 infections, the government's spokesman said on Wednesday.

The move came a day after Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the renewed spread of the coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate.

The public was becoming careless, Castex warned, speaking shortly before health authorities said new daily infections were up by 1,397 over 24 hours, almost twice as much as Monday, to reach 204,172.

According to a health ministry statement, another 15 deaths were reported in hospital due to COVID-19, taking the death toll to 30,354.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron held a video conference with top ministers from his Riviera summer retreat. During the meeting, it was decided France would draw up new restrictions for the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate and that a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people would be extended until Oct 31.

Separately, Castex said the French government will "extend as much as possible the obligation to wear a mask in public spaces". He said he had started talks with employers and unions with a view to making mask-wearing in workplaces as widespread as possible. 

Ghana

Ghana registered 192 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the nation's tally to 41,404, according to the latest update by the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

Another 328 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the total number of recoveries to 39,055, the GHS said.

The total death toll remained at 215 as no additional deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, it added.

Currently, Ghana still keeps its borders closed and international flights suspended to curb a further spread of the coronavirus.  

ALSO READ: Africa cranks up efforts against disease

Honduras

Honduras will from next week request that visitors entering the country by air present a negative COVID-19 test carried out within a maximum of 72 hours before their arrival, according to a government decree published on Tuesday.

The decree, approved by the Council of Ministers, states that starting from Aug 17 - alongside the reopening of international air transport - entry into the country will be contingent on the presentation of the negative COVID-19 test.

Also stated in the the decree were new travel itineraries as well as operating restrictions for airports, such as limited entry into airport buildings for non-passengers. It was also mentioned in the decree that passengers entering the country may need to undergo clinical evaluation upon request, and they must comply with any quarantine or other requirements ordered by the health authorities.

As of Monday, Honduras had registered 47,872 cases and 1,506 deaths from COVID-19.

Mexico

Mexico's health ministry on Tuesday reported 6,686 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 926 additional fatalities, bringing the totals in the country to 492,522 infections and 53,929 deaths.

Mexico aims to conduct late-stage clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines in development by US and Chinese companies, two of which might base some of their vaccine production in the country, the foreign ministry said.

Mexico has signed memorandums of understanding with Johnson & Johnson, along with Chinese companies CanSino Biologics Inc and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference. Trials would start between September and January, depending on approval from Mexico's food and drug agency, Ebrard said.

The foreign ministry said CanSino and Walvax were interested in producing an eventual vaccine in Mexico for delivery to the Latin American market.

Morocco

Morocco registered 1,132 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the tally to 35,195, the health ministry said.

Recoveries increased by 861 to 25,385 while the death toll rose to 533 after 17 new fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, said Mouad Mrabet, coordinator of the Moroccan Center for Public Health Operations at the Ministry of Health, at a press briefing.

Netherlands

The Dutch are moving from an urgent advice to stay home to two weeks’ forced quarantine for anyone who comes into contact with an infected person.

Compliance “will be checked,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wrote in a letter to Parliament. Anyone who does not comply “is committing a criminal offense.” Implementation will start in the second half of next week.

The decision follows a 55 percent jump in the number of positive cases in the country to 4,036 in the past week from 2,588 cases the week before.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia's confirmed COVID-19 cases totaled 12,083 on Tuesday after health authorities reported 141 new infections in the last 24 hours, the country's health ministry said in a press release.

So far, the pandemic has claimed 529 lives in North Macedonia, with one additional fatality recorded in the past 24 hours.

According to the health ministry, 8,248 people have recovered, and there were currently 3,306 active cases.

Panama

Panama will from Monday allow work to resume on some infrastructure projects and permit more businesses to re-open from coronavirus lockdown, including retailers, car dealers, beauty salons and barber shops, the government said on Tuesday.

Health Minister Luis Sucre said officials had made the decision on the grounds the reproduction rate of the novel coronavirus in the country had dropped from 1.13 to 1.07, while the capacity of the health system had increased.

"We feel ready to face the pandemic even if (healthcare) demand were to increase," Sucre said at a news conference.

Retail outlets would be allowed to re-open for home delivery or for collection at the store, the government said.

Panama reported 1,115 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, raising the tally to 76,464. The death toll stood at 1,680 after 16 more fatalities were logged in the last 24 hours.

READ MORE: Russia is first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin

South Africa

South Africa’s government is considering recommendations to further ease the coronavirus lockdown to help revive economic growth, the Sowetan reported, citing two people it didn’t identify.

Director-generals of state departments who met on Sunday implored the government to open up more economic sectors while strictly adhering to regulations on social distancing, hand sanitisation and the wearing of masks, the Johannesburg-based newspaper said Wednesday. The government may make an announcement on an easing this week, it said.

South Africa has reported more than 566,000 confirmed cases and 10,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

A volunteer from the Spanish NGO Open Arms collects a swab sample from a woman at Vilafranca del Penedes in the Barcelona, Spain, Aug 11, 2020. (EMILIO MORENATTI / AP)

Spain

Spain's health ministry reported 1,418 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, below last week's peaks.

Cumulative cases, which also include results from antibody tests on people who may have recovered, increased further to reach a total of 326,612.

The disease claimed 64 lives over the past seven days, the statistics showed. In total, more than 28,500 people have died from the disease in Spain, one of Europe's hardest-hit countries by COVID-19.

The Gambia

The Gambia reported on Tuesday a record nine deaths related to COVID-19, raising the death toll to 32 since the pandemic began in the tiny West African country on March 17.

An additional 111 new cases were also recorded, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,346, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry added that six more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 227.

Tunisia

The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday 21 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,738.

A total of 1,272 patients had recovered in Tunisia while 52 deaths had been reported, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

UK

A total of 1,148 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the United Kingdom as of 9 am (0900 GMT) on Tuesday, compared with a figure of 816 on Monday, government data showed.

The additions pushed the cumulative total of UK cases to 312,789.

US

A Southern California-area hospital system, immigrant advocacy groups and Americans living in Mexico criticized on Tuesday a US government draft proposal that could block US citizens and permanent residents from entering the country if they are suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.

The pushback comes amid the mounting coronavirus toll. US coronavirus cases numbers rose to over 5.14 million infections and more than 164,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases in Texas surpassed 500,000 on Tuesday while deaths in Los Angeles topped 5,000.

READ MORE: Spike in coronavirus cases in US clouds return to classes

Moderna Inc reached a deal with the US to manufacture and distribute 100 million doses of its experimental vaccine for COVID-19, in a pact valued at as much as US$1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, a stalemate between the Republican White House and congressional Democrats over coronavirus relief ended in a fourth day without talks, with each party blaming the other for intransigence.

Senegal 

Senegal on Wednesday reported 207 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 11,587 in the west African country.

This is the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in Senegal on March 2 that its daily tally surpassed 200 cases.

Of the 207 new cases, 92 were follow-up contact cases and 115 community-transmission ones, Ministry of Health and Social Action spokesperson Mamadou Ndiaye told a daily update on the pandemic. 

A total of 1,842 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, the spokesperson said.

The number of community-transmission cases surged after the Tabaski festival, when many Senegalese travelled back home around the end of July, Ndiaye said.

Russia 

Russia will start the production of its COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks, the country's health minister Mikhail Murashko said Wednesday.

"First of all, the production facilities in Russia will be oriented towards the domestic market, to meet the need of our citizens," Murashko said during a news conference.

Russia will offer the vaccine to other countries when it has sufficient amounts, the minister said, adding that foreign nations' doubts about the effectiveness of the vaccine are unfounded.

The platform where the vaccine was created has been thoroughly studied and its authors have accumulated a sufficient amount of scientific data to guarantee its safety, he added.

The world's first registered vaccine against the novel coronavirus was announced by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday during an online meeting with government officials.

The vaccine, named Sputnik V, was developed by the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, alongside the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

Russia plans to produce at least five million doses of the vaccine a month from December through January, according to Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center.

He said that the center is also preparing documents to obtain permission to test the vaccine on children.

The vaccine for children will be the same as the one for adults, but will likely be administered in a different dosage, requiring additional testing, Gintsburg added.

So far, Russia has tallied a total of 902,701 COVID-19 cases, including 15,260 deaths and 710,298 recoveries.

The WHO is in close contact with Russia regarding a possible pre-qualification of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, a spokesman for the organization said on Tuesday.

Georgia 

Georgia confirmed 14 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 1,278.

The National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) said 12 of the new cases were from Lenjeri village of Mestia municipality in northern Georgia.

As of Wednesday, 1,058 of the 1,278 patients have recovered, while 17 others have died, the NCDC said.

Belarus 

Belarus reported 97 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking its total to 69,102, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 674 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 65,893, the ministry added.

So far, 595 people have died of the disease in the country, including three over the past 24 hours, it said.

As of Wednesday, over 1,384,000 tests for the virus have been conducted across the country, including 6,486 over the past 24 hours, according to official figures.  

Kenya

Kenya's total number of COVID-9 cases surpassed 28,000 on Wednesday amid steady increase in the number of recoveries, the Ministry of Health said.

Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, confirmed 679 new infections across the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to 28,104.

Mwangangi said the latest infections consisting of 658 Kenyan nationals and 21 foreign nationals are from 6,590 samples which were screened between Tuesday and Wednesday.


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