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Friday, August 14, 2020, 23:08
Africa's virus cases pass 1.08m, death toll surges to 24,660
By Agencies
Friday, August 14, 2020, 23:08 By Agencies


People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, sit on chairs whilst queuing to be screened and tested for COVID-19 in Eldorado Park outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 3, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

LIMA / CARACAS / BOGOTA / MEXICO CITY / WASHINGTON / LONDON / BRASILIA / MADRID / BERLIN / PARIS / MONROVIA / ADDIS ABABA - The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday revealed the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,084,687 as the death toll rose to 24,660.

The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, in its latest situation update issued on Friday, said the number of COVID-19 cases across the African continent has risen from 1,073,788 on Thursday to 1,084,687 as of Friday. 

The Africa CDC also noted that the continent-wide COVID-19 related death toll registered an increase of 404 deaths compared to Thursday's 24, 256 to reach 24, 660.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also said the number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections also reached 780,076 so far.

People wearing face masks walk past the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Aug 12, 2020. (KAMIL ZIHNIOGLU / AP)

France

The French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille and its surrounding area high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localised curbs to contain the spread of the disease.

The decree gives local authorities the power to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, to restrict the access to public transport and air travel, to limit the access to public buildings and to close some establishments where there is a high risk of infection.

According to a government decree, Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area around Marseille on the Mediterranean coast have been declared as "red" zones with a high coronavirus infection risk

France’s health situation is worsening and the virus is circulating faster, Health Agency chief Jerome Salomon said on France Inter. Salomon said the number of cases was increasing due to more tests but also because the population wasn’t applying social-distancing rules as thoroughly. He said cases are increasing across age groups, with a prevalence in Paris and Marseilles.

ALSO READ: France defends equal access to vaccine as US eyes its own plans

The decree comes a day after France reported more than 2,500 fresh infections for the second day in a row on Thursday, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe's strictest lockdowns.

Despite the rise in cases, the number of people hospitalized due to the disease continued to fall, having dipped below 5,000 for the first time since mid-March on Wednesday.

The total official tally of cases now stands at 209,365.

The daily death toll increased by 17 to 30,388 on Thursday, lifting the seven-day average to 11 versus 10 on Aug 1st.

Global toll

Coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20.9 million on Friday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The global death toll surpassed 750,000 on Thursday, rising to 750,030 as of 8:27 am (1227 GMT), according to the CSSE.

Brazil

Brazil reported 60,091 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,261 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Brazil has registered 3,224,876 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 105,463, according to ministry data. Brazil ranks as the world's worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.

The approval rating of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro jumped to the highest level since the start of his term amid increased government spending to combat the coronavirus, a public opinion poll showed.

Bolsonaro was rated good or great by 37 percent of respondents, up from 32 percent in June, while his disapproval rating tumbled 10 percentage points to 34 percent during the same period, according to a Datafolha survey published in Folha de S. Paulo. In the country’s northeast, a stronghold of leftwing political parties, his approval rose by six percentage points while his rejection rate tumbled to 35 percent from 52 percent.

In the Southeast, Brazil’s most populous region home to states including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, his approval rose by seven percentage points and his rejection fell to 39 percent from 47 percent.

The survey comes as Bolsonaro’s administration spends billions of dollars on items including popular stipends for informal workers to mitigate one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. Economists have credited government stimulus for sustaining some demand and preventing an even larger economic recession this year. Meanwhile, the president has also attempted to ease political tensions with the legislature and judiciary.

Chile

Chile on Thursday reported that a total of 380,034 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10,299 deaths had been recorded in the country.

In the past 24 hours, tests detected 1,852 new cases and 94 more deaths were registered, according to the Health Ministry.

A total of 353,131 people have recovered, health authorities said, adding that there were currently 16,604 active cases.

Colombia

Bogota, the Colombian capital, will hold a strict two-week quarantine in seven neighborhoods beginning Sunday, as it tries once again to curb coronavirus infections amid still-high intensive care unit occupation rates, the mayor said on Thursday.

The Andean country has reported nearly 434,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 14,000 deaths. More than a third of total cases have occurred in the capital.

Occupation in Bogota's ICUs has fallen gently from more than 90 percent to around 87 percent, Mayor Claudia Lopez said. 

Infections will begin to fall from the end of August, she added.

The neighborhoods of Usaquen, Chapinero, Santa Fe, Candelaria, Puente Aranda and Antonio Narino, which are highly vulnerable to more infections and rapid spread, will be under the renewed lockdown from Sunday to Aug 30, Lopez said.

Beginning in September, authorized restaurants will be able to serve food outside on shuttered streets, and three domestic flight routes to Leticia, Cartagena and San Andres will begin to operate, Lopez added.

Dominican Republic

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Dominican Republic rose to 83,134 on Thursday after 910 new infections were detected in the past 24 hours.

The death toll climbed to 1,393 after 22 more deaths were registered in the same period, the Ministry of Public Health said.

The number of recoveries stood at 47,946. 

Ecuador

Ecuador on Thursday reported that the country has recorded a total of 98,343 COVID-19, with 6,010 deaths.

In the past 24 hours, tests detected 1,233 new cases of infection while 26 more patients died of the disease, the Public Health Ministry said.

Another 3,545 deaths that were likely due to COVID-19 but were not yet verified were also reported, the ministry said.

Egypt

Egypt's Health Ministry confirmed on Thursday 145 new COVID-19 infections, raising the tally to 96,108.

Deaths rose by 22 to to 5,107 while recoveries increased by 989 to 56,890, Khaled Megahed, spokesman for the ministry, said.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 26,204 after 1,086 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, the highest daily increase ever recorded, the Ministry of Health said.

Sixteen more deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 479, while recoveries rose by 394 to 11,428, according to the ministry.

Germany

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,449 to 221,413 while the death toll rose by 14 to 9,225, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

According to a data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 1,422 new cases recorded, the highest daily increase in about 3 1/2 months, bringing the tally to 222,281. 

The infection rate stayed below the key threshold of 1.0, data from the RKI showed.

Results of a study in a town which had one of Germany's earliest coronavirus outbreaks found 7.7 percent of residents had antibodies to COVID-19, the RKI said.

Researchers tested 2,203 people in the town of Kupferzell in southern Germany, where a church concert led to a coronavirus outbreak in early March, between May 20 and June 9. The findings show there were almost four times as many infections in the town as previously reported, the study's project leader Claudia Santos-Hoevener from the RKI said at a news conference. Just shy of 17 percent of people did not show any symptoms, the RKI said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the leader of the state of Bavaria apologized for a coronavirus bungle that meant some 900 people who had tested positive were not told about it. State health authorities said on Thursday they were now in the process of informing people, but were still having problems tracking some down.

Italy

Fears that Italy might be at the start of a new wave of coronavirus were on the rise as infections surged.

There were 522 new cases reported on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said. It was the sixth time in eight days that there were 400 or more infections. Still, infections remained far below their peaks from late March and early April, when new infections topped 5,000 ten times in 11 days.

Pierluigi Lopalco, an epidemiologist and head of the coronavirus task force for the southern region of Apulia, told the Rome-based newspaper Il Messaggero he was cautiously nervous about the latest trends, though he did not predict a return to the dark period in March and April.

The daily death toll has climbed above 10 only twice this month, and it has not been above 50 since June 18. The number of patients in intensive care units has also remained low, though it has stopped declining as it did for most of June and July. On Thursday, there were 55 patients under intensive care, an increase of two from the previous day.

Overall, as of Thursday, Italy has registered 252,235 cases, with 202,923 recoveries.

READ MORE: Italian PM probed over virus, prosecutors urge case be dropped

Kenya

The number of COVID-19 recoveries recorded in Kenya reached 15,100 on Thursday amid a spike in infections, the health ministry said.

Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, said 490 more patients had recovered between Wednesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, 650 fresh cases were reported in the past 24 hours, pushing the tally to 28,754, according to Mwangangi.

Deaths rose by four to 460, she said.

Liberia

Liberia's Vice-President Jewel Howard-Taylor has tested positive for COVID-19, health authorities in the West African country confirmed on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that Howard-Taylor tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Aug 10. 

The office of the vice-president said in a separate statement that Howard-Taylor was admitted to a local hospital in the capital Monrovia on Aug 7 due to respiratory complications. She was flown out of the country on Tuesday to Accra, the capital of Ghana, for further medical care at a specialist hospital, according to the statement.

Liberia has so far reported 1,252 confirmed cases and 82 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Mexico 

Mexico, having hit over half a million official coronavirus cases and 55,000 deaths as the pandemic rages across Latin America, will help produce a vaccine that could be distributed in the region next year, authorities said on Thursday.

Mexico's death toll of 55,293 stands as the world's third highest, behind the United States and Brazil.

The health ministry on Thursday reported 7,371 newly confirmed cases, bringing the tally in the country to 505,751.

Mexico's Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said she placed herself in isolation due to a COVID-19 infection, although she was not suffering symptoms of the virus.

Meanwhile, in partnership with the Mexican and Argentine governments, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc said it plans to initially produce 150 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine in early 2021 and eventually make at least 400 million for distribution throughout the region.

Morocco

Morocco registered 1,241 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking its tally to 37,935, the health ministry said.

Recoveries rose by 1,010 to 26,687 while the death toll increased by 28 to 584 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.

Peru's President Martin Vizcarra (right) and Minister of Health Pilar Mazzetti attend a ceremony honoring doctors, pictured in background, who died of the new coronavirus after treating infected patients, at the School of Medicine in Lima, Peru, Aug 13, 2020. (MARTIN MEJIA / AP)

Peru

Peru surpassed half a million coronavirus cases and has the highest fatality rate in Latin America, according to health ministry data on Thursday, as the government struggles to contain a recent surge of infections.

READ MORE: WHO: COVID-19 cases in Americas surpass 10 million

There have been 507,996 confirmed cases, Vice-Health Minister Luis Suarez said at a news conference. Doctors put coronavirus as the cause of death for about 50,000 people during the pandemic, though officials have only been able to confirm COVID-19 as the cause for 25,648 so far, Suarez added.

The Andean country has the highest coronavirus death rate in Latin America at 78.6 per 100,000 people, a Reuters tally shows, surpassing hard-hit regional neighbors Chile and Brazil.

President Martin Vizcarra, speaking earlier on Thursday from a public event to pay tribute to 120 doctors who have died from COVID-19, blamed the recent spike in infections on an uptick in social and sporting events and a lax attitude by the public.

Poland

A Polish holiday resort is offering free coronavirus tests to guests as cases spike nationally.

In the past week, daily case numbers have exceeded 800 on three occasions, breaking records for Poland.

Zawiaty, a resort in the northern region of Kaszuby, decided to hire Geneme, a private genetic testing company, to help it administer the tests every Saturday.

Poland has so far reported 54,487 confirmed cases and 1,844 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Portugal

Portugal's Council of Ministers approved on Thursday the extension of the "state of contingency" in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (AML) until the end of August, in a bid to control the spread of the COVID-19 in the region.

Minister of State for Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva said at a press conference that the rest of Portugal will remain in a "state of alert," which is an intermediate classification of civil protection.

In the last 24 hours, Portugal registered 325 new COVID-19 cases and six more deaths. The country to date has recorded a total of 53,548 cases and 1,770 fatalities.

Russia

Russia reported 5,065 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing its nationwide tally to 912,823, the fourth highest caseload in the world.

Russia's coronavirus crisis response center said 114 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 15,498.

Spain

Spain reported 2,935 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, the highest number since the country's lockdown ended and up from 1,690 recorded the previous day, although officials argued the situation remained manageable.

The Madrid region, which failed to report its data the previous day due to technical difficulties, led the tally with 842 new infections in the 24 hours to Thursday, followed by the Basque Country, with 545 cases.

Health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon said more than half of the infected people showed no symptoms.

The new data brought the cumulative total to 337,334 cases in the country. The ministry also said 70 people had died over the past seven days, bringing the death toll from the virus to 28,605.

Various Spanish regions have reimposed some restrictions and even come up with new ones, such as a ban on smoking in public spaces in Galicia and the Canary Islands.

Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday appointed a committee to enforce COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as infections and deaths surged in the east African country.

The committee comprises members from the ministry of health, universities, police and military.

The appointment of the committee comes as the country sees an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, Uganda has registered 1,353 confirmed cases, with 1,141 recoveries and 11 deaths, according to figures by the Ministry of Health.

Ukraine

Ukraine reported 1,732 new coronavirus cases on Friday, a single-day record, the national council of security and defence said.

Total cases reached 87,872, including 2,011 deaths.

The number of infections has increased sharply since June as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport links to reopen.

Pedestrians walk past a sign reminding people to observe social distancing on Oxford Street in London, Aug 13, 2020. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)

UK

Britain will buy potential COVID-19 vaccines from US drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc, the companies said on Friday, bringing Britain's total number of doses secured to 362 million for a population of 66 million.

Johnson & Johnson said its Janssen Pharmaceutica unit will supply the British government with its candidate known as Ad26.COV2.S  with an initial sale of 30 million doses on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.

In a separate statement, Novavax said Britain would buy 60 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, for a phase 3 clinical trial.

Britain will impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France, the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries on Saturday to prevent a second wave of coronavirus

Meanwhile on Friday, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said Britain has no choice but to impose a 14-day quarantine on all travelers arriving from France due to rising coronavirus infection rates there.

The remarks came a day after Shapps announced that Britain will quarantine all arrivals from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba from Saturday.

Shapps estimated that there were about 160,000 British holidaymakers in France who would be affected by the new quarantine rules, but ruled out any special assistance, saying they knew the risks before travelling.

French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune said late on Thursday Britain's decision will lead to a reciprocal measure from France.

The UK took the move as it seeks to prevent a second wave of coronavirus. The country has officially reported 313,798 cases and 41,347 deaths, according to the government's coronavirus website.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday England can resume the paused easing of lockdown rules, with theaters, casinos and beauty parlors allowed to reopen -- but warned there will be tougher penalties for people who break social-distancing restrictions.

ALSO READ: UK mulls local travel curbs to cut infections

Meanwhile, the government announced that it has launched a new COVID-19 test and trace App, with trials taking place in parts of the country.

US

The United States will extend to a ban on non-essential travel at land borders with Canada and Mexico for another 30 days as several states struggle to contain a coronavirus outbreak, a top US official confirmed Friday.

Acting US Homeland Security Department Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the action on Twitter. Reuters reported earlier Friday the planned extension at the US-Canada border.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden said Thursday that US governors should require masks for the next three months, an approach he said would save more than 40,000 lives amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump countered that it would be unenforceable.

The US has recorded more than 167,000 deaths from COVID-19 and over 5.24 million cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Any potential COVID-19 vaccine backed by the Trump administration's "Operation Warp Speed" program is unlikely to receive a green light from regulators any earlier than November or December, given the time needed for a large-scale clinical trial, the National Institutes of Health director said Thursday.

Meanwhile, North Dakota, Wyoming and Alabama are the latest US states launching apps to warn users about potential exposure to the virus by tracking their encounters, representatives for the states told Reuters on Thursday, joining Virginia which last week became the first US state to roll out such an app using Apple-Google technology.

North Dakota launched its app, Care19 Alert, on Thursday and Wyoming will release an app on Friday. Alabama, which has been testing its GuideSafe app among some university students and staff, plans to begin marketing it statewide on Monday.

Washington, which recently tested its CommonCircle app at a hospital, and Pennsylvania are among other states that could formally launch apps in the coming weeks with the Apple-Google technology.

More than a third of Americans surveyed, about 35 percent, say they won’t get vaccinated when a covid-19 vaccine is available, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. The survey of 1,261 adults was conducted August 3 through August 11.

Venezuela

Dario Vivas, the governor of Venezuela's Caracas capital district and strong ally of President Nicolas Maduro, died on Thursday of COVID-19 at 70 years old, officials said.

Vivas, a senior member of the ruling socialist party, had said on Twitter on July 19 that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was going into self-isolation.

Other Venezuelan officials who had tested positive for COVID-19 include Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), who was recently discharged from hospital; Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, and several governors and mayors of the South American nation.

Venezuela had reported 29,088 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with 247 deaths. Those are both among the lowest figures in South America, but doctors and opposition politicians warn that the true caseload is likely far higher given testing delays, citing data from healthcare workers.

Austria

Austria, a country with a population of nearly 9 million, has carried out over 1 million COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said Friday.

"We have exceeded a historic mark," said Anschober at a press conference. "We currently have more tests than ever before."

Austria has conducted up to 12,000 tests in the last 24 hours, said Anschober, adding that there are currently around 3,000 more tests on average than in April.

"In April, we had a positive test rate of 5.5 percent and now we have a 1.5 percent." As a result, Anschober said he saw the pandemic better under control than in the spring.

The minister meanwhile noted that more tests are also one of the reasons for the increasing infection numbers.

With 282 new infections registered as of Friday morning, Austria reported the biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases since early April, according to local media.

A total of 22,769 people have tested positive in the Alpine country as of Friday morning. Among the confirmed cases, 725 people have died while 20,499 have recovered, according to the Health Ministry.  

Georgia 

Georgia confirmed 23 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing its total to 1,306.

Two of the 23 new cases are imported, the National Centre for Disease  Control and Public Health (NCDC) said.

As of Friday, 1,085 of the 1,306 patients have recovered, while 17 others have died, the center said.

More than 283,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the country so far.

EU

The European Union (EU) reached on Friday its first agreement to purchase a potential vaccine against COVID-19 once it is proven to be safe and effective, the European Commission said in a press release.

The deal, made with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, would secure the purchase of at least 300 million doses on behalf of the EU member states. The products could also be donated to lower and middle income countries or redirected to other European countries, said the press release.

The advance purchase agreement was reached after weeks of negotiations with AstraZeneca, according to Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. She said work is ongoing to bring more candidates into a broad EU vaccines portfolio.


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