Novel coronavirus has infected more than 9.8 million people and claimed more than 494,000 lives around the world. Here are the updates for June 26:

A visitor climbs the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Thursday, June 25, 2020.
A visitor climbs the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP)

Friday, June 26

France reports more than 1,500 new cases 

France reported more than 1,500 new confirmed novel coronavirus cases, a spike unseen since May 30, while the number of additional fatalities linked to the virus rose by the highest amount in three days.

French health authorities said in a statement the total of newly confirmed infections rose by 1,588, way above both the daily average of 498 seen over the last seven days and the 430 daily average since the beginning of June.

Costa Rica will accept tourists

Costa Rica will open its international airports on August 1 to tourists from countries that have "controlled transmission" of coronavirus, Health Minister Daniel Salas said on.

Starting this weekend, Costa Rica will also open more public spaces such as movie theatres, shopping centres and beaches in most of the country, Salas said.

 Turkey records 1,396 new cases

A total of 1,492 people beat the virus over the past day, bringing the overall count to 167,198 Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

The country's death toll from the pandemic rose to 5,065, as it reported 19 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.

According to test results, the total number of Covid-19 cases nationwide reached 194,511 with 1,396 new infections.

South Africa to reopen casinos and cinemas

South Africa will allow casinos and cinemas to reopen and restaurants to resume sit-down meals on Monday in a further easing of lockdown restrictions despite a sharp rise in infections.

The country began easing restrictions put in place in March last month and at the beginning of June allowed people outside for work, worship, exercise or shopping, and let mines and factories to run at full capacity to try to revive the economy.

Tensions rise in southern Italy

The governor of a southern Italian region insisted that residents of an apartment complex quarantine inside for 15 days, not even venturing out to buy food after dozens of cases among Bulgarian seasonal farmworkers and Italians who live there were confirmed.

Wearing a mask to discourage virus spread, Campania Governor Vincenzo De Luca told reporters that the national civil protection agency should deliver groceries to the estimated 700 occupants of the apartments in Mondragone, a seaside town about 50 kilometres northwest of Naples.

Earliest known virus detected in Barcelona

Researchers at the University of Barcelona said they detected the novel coronavirus in a frozen Barcelona wastewater sample from March 12, 2019.

If the research holds up, it will blow apart the accepted timeline about the virus and the idea that it originated in China.

The findings were published in medRxiv, a well-regarded server that quickly publishes preprints of medical research while they are undergoing peer review.

WHO needs $31.3B to fight Covid-19

The World Health Organization-led coalition fighting the coronavirus needs $31.3 billion over the next 12 months to develop and roll out tests, treatments and vaccines, it said.

It said $3.4 billion had been contributed to date, leaving a funding gap of $27.9 billion, of which $13.7 billion was "urgently needed."

The WHO initiative aims to scale up delivery of 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatments to low and middle-income countries by mid-2021, it said in a statement.

India's cases spike again to near half-million

India neared half a million confirmed cases with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections, prompting a delay in the resumption of regular train services of more than a month.

The new cases took India's total to 490,401. The Health Ministry also reported 407 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking its total fatalities to 15,301.

The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 57.43 percent. Also, deaths per 100,000 stood at 1.86 against the world average of 6.24 per 100,000, it said.

Japan records more than 100 cases 

Japan recorded more than 100 new infections for the first time since May 9, hitting its highest daily total since it eased a lockdown that had closed bars, cinemas and other public venues, Kyodo News reported.

Japan last week ended a curb on domestic travel, the last of a series of major restrictions imposed during a state of emergency declared in April. There were 54 new infections in Tokyo, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Iran's death toll exceeds 100 for eighth straight day

Iran's death toll in the past 24 hours topped 100 for the eighth straight day, bringing the total to 10,239, according to the Health Ministry.

With 2,628 new cases in the past 24 hours, the total number of people infected stood at 217,724, of whom 177,852 have recovered, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV.

The sharp increase in new daily infections and deaths in the past week follows the gradual lifting of restrictions that began in mid-April.

Russia reports lowest daily rise since late April

Russia reported 6,800 new cases, the first daily rise below 7,000 since late April, taking its nationwide tally to 620,794.

The country's coronavirus response centre said 176 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,781. 

Australia starts virus testing blitz to curb surge in Melbourne

Health workers fanned out across suburbs of Melbourne on Friday in a testing blitz aimed at choking off a surge in coronavirus cases in Australia's second-biggest city.

Officials reported another 30 new Covid-19 infections in the city overnight in a continuing outbreak that has raised fears of a second wave in Australia, which looked like it had successfully contained the epidemic.

It was the 10th straight day of double-digit rises in new cases in Melbourne and surrounding Victoria state, while most other Australian regions have seen no or low single-digit new infections for weeks.

The outbreak has rattled people across Australia, with major supermarket chains on Friday reimposing nationwide limits on purchases of toilet paper and paper towels to counter a surge in panic-buying not seen since the first days of the pandemic in March.

"Stop it; it's ridiculous," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said when quizzed about the public rush on stores at a press conference.

Mexico's deaths pass 25,000, infections near 203,000

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 6,104 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 736 deaths, bringing the nation's total known infections to 202,951 and 25,060 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infections is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Trump admin asks top court to end Obamacare amid virus peak

The administration of President Donald Trump has asked the US Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, a law seen as an important legislative achievement of former president Barack Obama.

"No further analysis is necessary; once the individual mandate and the guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions are invalidated, the remainder of the ACA cannot survive," the US government's top advocate before the Supreme Court, Noel Francisco, said in a filing late on Thursday.

The US has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic – and unlike Europe and parts of East Asia, the virus has never climbed down from its peak.

UK preparing to relax quarantine measures

Britain is working on a plan to relax its quarantine for international travellers with some countries where there is a lower risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday.

"I know that Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is giving this a lot of consideration so that the quarantine provisions that we have got in place can perhaps start to be relaxed with certain countries where the risk is low," he told BBC TV.

"I don't know exactly when further information will be announced but I know that it is something the government is working on," he said. "I know it is being considered."

Brazil reports 39,483 new cases, 1,141 deaths

Brazil recorded 39,483 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,141 deaths, the Health Ministry said. 

Brazil has registered more than 1.2 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 54,971, according to the ministry.  

Mexico's deaths surge past 25,000

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 6,104 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 736 deaths, bringing the nation's total known infections to 202,951 and 25,060 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infections is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Brazil's Bolsonaro says he may have had coronavirus

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said that he might have contracted the novel coronavirus previously and he may do another test for the disease, having already tested negative for the virus multiple times weeks earlier.

Bolsonaro had said he tested negative twice but fought a court battle to stop the release of the hospital test results, raising questions over whether he may have been infected or not. 

Italy reports 300 more cases

Italy added nearly 300 virus infections to its official toll, with more than half in hard-hit Lombardy and new clusters reported in other regions.

The Health Ministry said another 34 people died, bringing the Covid-19 death toll in the onetime European epicentre of the outbreak to 34,678.

After two days of double-digit new infections, Lombardy reported 170 new cases, though some were in people who only got tested after blood tests showed they had virus antibodies.

Mexico's finance minister tests positive for virus

Mexico's Finance Minister Arturo Herrera revealed he has tested positive for the virus, just three days after he met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Herrera was in the office of Lopez Obrador alongside Interior Minister Olga Sanchez and other public servants in a meeting on Monday to announce new government appointees.

After the meeting, the president published a video on social media in which Herrera could be seen by his side.

Iraq records 107 fresh fatalities

Iraq confirmed 107 new deaths from the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,437.

The Health Ministry said as many as 2,437 more Covid-19 cases had raised the tally to 39,139, while the total number of recoveries stood at 18,051.

South Africa reports 6,579 new cases

South Africa has reported a record 6,579 new cases of the virus.

The country now has half of the confirmed infections on the African continent with 118,375.

South Africa has posted a number of record-high daily case numbers since further loosening its lockdown, once one of the world’s strictest, on June 1.

The death toll in South Africa from Covid-19 is now 2,292, according to the Health Ministry.

Virus cases surpass 8,900 in Sudan

The virus infections have exceeded 8,900 in Sudan, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

The country reported 95 cases in the last 24 hours, putting the total at 8,984, the ministry said in a statement.

Some eight new fatalities from the virus were recorded, bringing the nationwide death toll to 556.

A total of 3,806 people have recovered from the disease.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies