More than 22.7 million people have been infected by Covid-19, with the disease claiming at least 793,900 lives around the world. Here are updates for August 20:

Tourists wearing protective face masks line up to visit the Gendarmerie and Cinema Museum in Saint Tropez, France, August 17, 2020.
Tourists wearing protective face masks line up to visit the Gendarmerie and Cinema Museum in Saint Tropez, France, August 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Turkey's coronavirus tests pass 6M mark

Turkey has now carried out over six million coronavirus tests since the outbreak began in March, the country’s health minister has announced.

A total of 882 more people won their battle against Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally of recoveries to 234,797, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data on Thursday.

Koca said that daily infections crossed 1,400 on Thursday which was 1,245 on average in last seven days.

Turkey reported 19 new Covid-19 fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 6,058, the data showed.

The country's health care workers ran 92,301 tests to detect the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the total count to over 6 million.

According to test results, the total number of coronavirus cases nationwide has reached 254,520 to date, with new 1,412 infections reported.

The tally of seriously ill people across the country stands at 735.

Polish climate minister says he has coronavirus

Polish Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on Thursday, while another minister is ill and in isolation according to his assistant.

"Unfortunately, my second coronavirus test was positive. I feel good. I am in isolation at home with my family," Kurtyka wrote on Twitter.

Polish weekly Wprost said on its website on Wednesday, quoting unnamed sources, that Piotr Naimski, the minister in charge of key energy infrastructure, had been infected with Covid-19.

"The minister is sick and in isolation," Naimski's assistant said in an e-mailed response to Reuters but declined to provide more details, including whether he has coronavirus.

Naimski, 69, and Kurtyka, 47, both took part in talks last week between the government and coal mining trade unions on a restructuring plan for the industry.

UK records second-highest daily cases since June 

Britain recorded 1,182 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily total since June 21, government figures showed, in part reflecting the higher number of tests being processed.

Thursday's official data showed 190,434 tests were processed, compared to 117,971 on June 21.

Britain also reported a further six deaths of people who died within 28 days of receiving a positive coronavirus test result, taking the total number of fatalities on this measure to 41,403. 

French sees 4,711 new infections

The French health ministry reported 4,711 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, a new post-lockdown record and a level last seen during the height of the epidemic in France.

During lockdown, France saw a peak of 7,578 infections per day on March 31, but since then, there have been only a few days with the number of new infections per day rising above 4,500.

The infection rate has been soaring in the past few days, but the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has been relatively stable and the numbers of new deaths per day have also been stable in the low double digits.

Twelve new deaths were reported on Thursday.

Northern Ireland tightens rules

Northern Ireland tightened restrictions on the size of gatherings as it faces a rise in new cases of Covid-19.

Outdoor gatherings will from next week be limited to 15 people, reduced from 30, while indoor gatherings in private dwellings are now limited to six individuals from two households, from 10 previously.

Events such as weddings, church services and sporting events can be bigger if there is strict social distancing.

The British region's Department of Health reported on Thursday that 51 people tested positive for Covid-19.

Britain removes Portugal from quarantine list, adds Austria and Croatia

Britain removed Portugal from its Covid-19 quarantine list on Thursday, but said rising infections elsewhere meant travellers arriving from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago would have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Transport minister Grant Shapps announced the changes on Twitter - the latest in a series of adjustments on quarantine policy as Britain tries to prevent importing new infections from hotspots overseas.

"Data ... shows we can now add Portugal to those countries INCLUDED in Travel Corridors," he said.

Italy sees 845 cases, highest since May

Italy reported 845 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, marking the highest daily increase since May, when the government eased its rigid lockdown measures.

Italy, one of Europe's worst-hit countries, managed to contain the outbreak after a peak in deaths and cases between March and April. However, it has seen a steady increase in infections over the last month, with experts blaming gatherings of people associated with holidays and nightlife.

Last time the country recorded a higher figure was May 16, with 875 cases, two days before restaurants, bars and shops were allowed to reopen after a 10-week lockdown.

Despite the rise in infections, daily death tallies remain low and are often in single figures. Thursday saw six fatalities compared to seven on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

Pirates president tests positive for virus

Pittsburgh Pirates president Travis Williams has tested positive for Covid-19, the team announced on Thursday.

"I have recently tested positive for Covid-19 after feeling the onset of symptoms on Monday evening," he said in a statement. 

"Fortunately, however, I followed the critical health and safety protocols that we have put in place, including wearing a mask as required, maintaining safe social distance and, upon the onset of symptoms, immediately isolating myself and getting tested which has prevented further impact to others."

Spain reports 3,349 infections in past day

Spain diagnosed 3,349 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Thursday, down from 3,715 reported the previous day and bringing the cumulative total to 370,867.

The ministry said 122 people had died from the coronavirus over the past seven days. The seven-day death toll reported on Wednesday was 131.

The number of recorded fatalities has significantly increased since the country exited from a three-month lockdown in late June, but is far below the levels seen during the epidemic's late-March peak when the daily toll approached 1,000.

While infections have slowed since Friday's post-lockdown record of 7,609, Thursday's drop may not represent a trend as similar declines have been followed by new peaks in recent weeks. These figures could be modified in future as the official statistics are updated retroactively.

Russia to begin vaccine trials on 40,000 people next week

Mass testing of Russia's first potential Covid-19 vaccine to get domestic regulatory approval will involve more than 40,000 people and will be overseen by a foreign research body when it starts next week, backers of the project said on Thursday.

These were the first details on the shape and size of the upcoming late-stage trial of the vaccine given by its developers, who are aiming to allay concerns among some scientists about the lack of data provided by Russia so far.

Germany reports highest daily infection toll since April

Germany has recorded 1,707 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April, official figures showed.

The toll brings to 228,621 the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic and reflects a trend of rising numbers of cases observed in other countries in recent weeks.

Russia's death toll passes 16,000

Russia's death toll from the disease has passed 16,000, as the country reported 110 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The country's pandemic crisis response centre registered 4,785 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 942,106, the world's fourth-highest caseload.

The death toll now stands at 16,099.

South Korean cases fan out nationwide from church cluster

South Korea has reported 288 new confirmed cases of the virus – its third straight day of over 200 as health authorities scramble to slow an outbreak in the region around the capital.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national caseload to 16,346, including 307 deaths.

The agency says 230 of the new cases are in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region, home to half of the country’s 51 million people.

The latest outbreak has been driven by hundreds of cases in a church, run by a radical conservative preacher whose followers have also attended anti-government protests in central Seoul in recent weeks, seeding infections there too.

India reports record single-day spike in cases

India has reported 69,652 cases of the virus, setting a fresh record for the number of infections registered in a single day.

The country also scaled a new peak in daily testing with nearly one million tests conducted in the last 24 hours, while the positivity rate fell below 8 percent, the Ministry of Health said in a statement. But experts say the country is not testing enough given its 1.4 billion population.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 2,836,925. The death toll has risen to 53,994, with 980 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours, according to the data released by the ministry.

Cabin fever hits Chinese football's virus 'bubble'

Strict pandemic measures appear to be taking their toll on Chinese Super League footballers, with one saying his head was "spinning" in the claustrophobic "bubble" – and they still have six weeks to go.

Chinese football introduced harsh rules when it launched the CSL season in two bio-secure bubbles after a five-month delay because of the virus, which emerged in Wuhan last year.

The 16 teams disappeared into two sealed-off hotels, one in Suzhou and the other in Dalian, a month ago, and will not leave until the end of September.

Nigeria logs 593 infections

Nigerian health authorities have confirmed over 500 virus infections, pushing the national tally to more than 50,000.

To date, 50,488 cases have been confirmed, including 37,304 recoveries and 985 virus-linked deaths in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control said.

Ukraine sees record daily high of 2,134 cases

Ukraine registered 2,134 virus cases in the past 24 hours, a new daily record for infections in the country, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said.

Stepanov said the new data surpassed the previous single-day record of 1,967 reported the previous day.

The total number of cases has reached 98,537, including 2,184 deaths.

Australia sees progress

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria, the country's Covid-19 hot spot, has reported a small daily increase in new infections with 240 cases during the past 24 hours.

The figures will buoy optimism that a hard lockdown of the state capital Melbourne is containing the spread of the new coronavirus, which had threatened to spill across the rest of the country.

Victoria reported 216 cases a day earlier, the lowest one-day rise in five weeks.

Mexico reports nearly 6,000 new cases

Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 5,792 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection and 707 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 537,031 cases and 58,481 deaths.

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

New Zealand sees five new cases

New Zealand reports five new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, compared with six a day earlier, as the Pacific nation battles a fresh outbreak in its biggest city of Auckland.

An abrupt resurgence of infections last week in Auckland prompted the government to reimpose some lockdown restrictions on the city's 1.7 million residents.

New Zealand so far has reported just over 1,300 confirmed cases and 22 deaths from the virus. There are 101 active cases in the country.

China papers back Wuhan park

Chinese state newspapers threw their support behind an amusement park in the central city of Wuhan after pictures of a densely-packed pool party at the park went viral overseas amid concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

Videos and photos of an electronic music festival at the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park on July 11 raised eyebrows overseas, but reflected life returning to normal in the city where the virus causing Covid-19 was first detected, the official English-language China Daily newspaper said in a front-page story.

China on Thursday reported its fourth straight day of zero locally transmitted coronavirus infections.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies