Globally, more than 17.29 million have tested positive for coronavirus and 671,480 have died, according to a Reuters tally. New restrictions have been imposed in several parts of the world as cases continue to surge, and as clusters emerge after restrictions were eased. Over 10.13 million people have recovered after testing positive till now.
In its latest advisory, the World health Organisation urged each country to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of its own and decide on its priorities, before resuming international travel. The WHO suggested countries to gradually ease travel restrictions where priority should be given to essential travel and humanitarian actions among others.
Here are some global developments
UK PM halts lockdown easing in England as COVID-19 cases rise
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday applied brakes on further easing of lockdown measures, due from this weekend, in England, fearing a spike in the COVID-19 cases.
Addressing a briefing at Downing Street in London, Johnson said, “we must squeeze the brake pedal” to keep the virus under control and also announced that face coverings will become mandatory across many more indoor settings, such as cinemas, besides just public transport and shops and supermarkets.
“The prevalence of the virus in the community, in England, is likely to be rising for the first time since May,” said Johnson, referring to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.
Dr Anthony Fauci: Thousands signing up for virus vaccine trials
Dr Anthony Fauci says 250,000 people have registered on a National Institutes of Heath website to take part in experimental vaccine trials.
The study of the first vaccine involving 30,000 people began this week. The US government plans to launch studies of additional vaccines every month through the fall.
Trials are pivotal for establishing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Not all patients who volunteer for clinical trials are eligible to participate.
Fauci is testifying before House lawmakers on the federal response to the pandemic, alongside the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the government’s testing czar.
With hospitalisations and deaths on the rise, Fauci says Americans most again embrace public health basics such as social distancing and mask wearing
US sinks another USD 2.1 billion into a potential vaccine
Pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur have announced they will supply 100 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to the United States as governments buy up supplies in hopes something will work. The United States will pay up to USD 2.1 billion for development including clinical trials, manufacturing, scale-up and delivery of its vaccine,” the companies said in a statement. Sanofi will get the bulk of the funds.
The US government has a further option for the supply of an additional 500 million doses longer term as part of its Operation Warp Speed programme. “The portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
“Today’s investment supports the Sanofi and GSK adjuvanted product all the way through clinical trials and manufacturing, with the potential to bring hundreds of millions of safe and effective doses to the American people.”
Eurozone economy suffers record drop during lockdown months
The economy of the 19-country eurozone shrank by a devastating 12.1 per cent during the second quarter from the quarter before as coronavirus lockdowns froze business and consumer activity. It was the largest drop on record.
Spain, which suffered a severe virus outbreak that devastated its tourism industry, was the hardest hit with a 18.5% drop. Italy and Portugal also suffered steep declines, but no country escaped the impact of the pandemic.
For the currency union as a whole it was the biggest decline since the records started in 1995. For the broader 27-country European Union, not all of whose members use the euro, output sagged 11.9%.
The decline in Europe compares with a 9.5% quarter on quarter drop in the United States. European governments are countering the recession with massive stimulus measures. EU leaders have agreed on a 750 billion-euro recovery fund backed by common borrowing to support the economy from 2021. National governments have stepped in with loans to keep businesses afloat and wage support programs that pay workers’ salaries while they are furloughed.
Brazil First Lady tests positive for coronavirus
Brazil’s first lady Michelle Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus along with the country’s Science & Technology minister who becomes the 5th member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet to have gotten infected with the disease, officials said Thursday. The statement said Michelle appeared to be in good health, but would follow established protocols.
President Bolsonaro told reporters on July 7 he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and was then confined to the presidential palace in capital Brasilia for more than two weeks. He announced he tested negative on Saturday.
Philippines extends coronavirus restrictions in capital
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte extended novel coronavirus restrictions in the capital, Manila, until mid-August after the country this month recorded South Asia’s biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths and biggest single-day increase of confirmed infections.
Since June, the capital region, provinces south of it, and cities in the central Philippines have been under quarantine restrictions strictly limiting movements of the vulnerable population.
Duterte, in a televised address, said the Philippines “would be given precedence by China in vaccine distribution. I promise you, by December, by the grace of God, we will be back to normal.”
Vietnam reports 45 more cases linked to Da Nang hospital cluster; reports its first death
Vietnam reported its daily high of coronavirus cases all originating from the Da Nang hospital which reported the first case in the country after more than 3 months of no new cases. The country on Friday reported its first fatality after a 70-year-old man who appears to have contracted the disease in Danang, died on Friday, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said, Reuters reported.
Da Nang was put under a lockdown on Tuesday along with ramping up testing in the city. A makeshift hospital in a sports auditorium has been set up to increase help. Da Nang is a popular tourist destination where thousands of tourists are vacationing.
The health ministry has sent a special task force of health experts and more than 1,000 health workers to Da Nang.
Nepal to reopen Mount Everest from September
In an effort to boost Nepal’s tourism-dependent economy, the government has decided to open its Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest to climbers for its autumn climbing season that runs from September to November, government officials said Thursday.
However, the country has shut internal flights until mid-August and travel restrictions within Nepal remain, meaning climbers will still be kept away in the short-term, expedition organisers said.
China reports 127 new covid-19 cases
Reporting over 100 cases daily for the third consecutive day, China recorded 127 new infections in the last 24 hours as cases continue to surge in the Xinjiang province. Of the locally transmitted cases, 112 were reported from Xinjiang and 11 were reported from Liaoning Province. Five cases originated from outside the country and 11 cases were asymptomatic, China’s Health Commission said on Friday.
Cuban study shows “itolizumab” lowers risk of death in elderly patients
Itolizumab, an antibody drug already being used against the coronavirus in Cuba decreased the risk of intensive care admission and death among 19 nursing home residents with moderate coronavirus symptoms according to a study conducted.
Researchers, including those from Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology, which developed itolizumab, said timely use of the drug in combination with standard therapy helped reduce inflammation and prevented the disease from becoming worse.
When researchers compared their outcomes to similar elderly COVID-19 patients who received standard treatment without itolizumab, they estimated that treating three such patients with the drug could prevent one ICU admission and one death.
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