Global pandemic has now infected over 16.78 million people and has killed more than 660,000. Here are the latest updates for July 28:

A woman is wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as she is walking in the gold market of Tehran's Grand Bazaar, Iran, Wednesday on July 22, 2020.
A woman is wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as she is walking in the gold market of Tehran's Grand Bazaar, Iran, Wednesday on July 22, 2020. (AP)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Iran records 235 more deaths

Iran has registered a record 235 deaths from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to the country's health ministry.

Iran is the hardest hit country by the pandemic in the Middle East, and virus infections and deaths have risen sharply since restrictions on movement began to be eased in mid-April.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced on state television that the number of registered virus cases reached 296,273 cases and the death toll was 16,147.

Turkey's death toll stands at 15 after a month

Turkey's daily death toll from the virus drops to 15 after a month, the country's health minister says. 

The country's total number of fatalities from the disease rose to 5,645, with latest additions over the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

Turkey confirmed 1,092 more recoveries from the virus, bringing the tally to 211,561.

Citing the Health Ministry data, Koca said that a total of 963 people contracted with the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 227,982.

France reports 14 more fatalities

French health authorities have reported 14 new deaths from the virus, taking the total to 30,223, a figure twice as high as the daily average increase of seven seen over the last week.

In a statement, authorities said the number of people in hospital for the virus  went down again, pursuing a two-month downward trend.

Lukashenko recovers from asymptomatic coronavirus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he recovered from the virus without any symptoms, a local news agency quoted him as saying.

The 65-year-old leader has resisted calls to impose lockdown measures or close the borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the eastern European country.

He has previously dismissed fears about the pandemic as a “psychosis” and suggested remedies such as drinking vodka or taking saunas to battle the coronavirus.

Spain records 905 new cases

Spain has reported 905 new cases, with the regions of Catalonia, Aragon and Madrid accounting for most of them.

The cumulative total stands at 280,610 cases, according to health ministry data. The figure is up 1,828 from the previous day, and includes results from antibody tests on people who may already have recovered.

WHO: Pandemic is 'one big wave', not seasonal 

A World Health Organization official has described the pandemic as “one big wave” and has warned against complacency in the northern hemisphere summer since the infection does not share influenza’s tendency to follow seasons.

WHO officials have been at pains to avoid describing a resurgence of cases like those in Hong Kong as “waves” as this suggests the virus is behaving in ways beyond human control, when in fact concerted action can slow its spread.

Malta says 65 rescued migrants test positive for virus

Sixty-five migrants who were in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and taken to Malta have tested positive for the virus, Malta's health ministry has said. 

It has been the single largest cluster of positive cases detected on the Mediterranean island since the first case came to light there on March 7.

The health ministry said 85 of the migrants have been tested so far, with nine awaiting an examination. It gave no further information about their condition. 

South Africa nearing half-million virus cases

South Africa is closing in on a half-million confirmed cases as the country posted nearly 300 deaths in a single day.

South Africa now has 452,529 cases and 7,067 deaths, making up more than half the reported cases on the African continent. It has the fifth highest caseload in the world.

Like many others, the country has struggled with trying to ease lockdown restrictions and then seeing cases rise. But businesses have expressed frustration as unemployment is now above 30 percent and likely to keep increasing.

And corruption related to pandemic aid is a problem as the president has warned that now, more than ever, persistent graft puts people’s lives at risk.

Germany advises against travel to Spanish regions

Germany's foreign ministry has advised holidaymakers not to travel to several Spanish regions including Catalonia, home to Barcelona, that have seen coronavirus infection rates rise.

"We currently advise against unnecessary tourist trips to the autonomous communities of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre due to high infection numbers and local lockdowns," the ministry said on its website on Tuesday.

Spain's rise in Covid-19 cases has prompted most regions to impose rules for masks to be worn everywhere and, in several areas including Barcelona, calls for people to stay at home.

Vietnam locks down its 3rd-largest city as cases grow

Vietnam has locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 15 cases of Covid-19 were found in a hospital, the government said.

The new cases in the central city of Da Nang are the first confirmed to be locally transmitted in the country in over three months.

Public transport into and out of Da Nang was cancelled. Over the weekend, thousands of mostly Vietnamese tourists cut short their summer holidays in the popular beach destination. 

On Sunday, the government ordered unessential businesses to close and required people to practice social distancing in the city of 1.1 million people.

All 15 cases in the new outbreak are patients and health workers at Da Nang hospital.

With the new infections, Vietnam has reported 431 cases of Covid-19 without a death.

Philippines confirms 1,678 new cases, 4 deaths

The Philippine health ministry has confirmed 1,678 new coronavirus infections, reporting more than 1,000 new daily cases for a 14th successive day.

In a bulletin, the ministry said on Tuesday the total deaths had increased by four to 1,947, with confirmed cases rising to 83,673. 

Hong Kong reports 106 new cases 

Hong Kong has reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted, as the city braced for the implementation of strict new measures that will ban restaurant dining and restrict gatherings to two people.

The global financial hub reported 145 new cases on Monday. The new regulations, which also mandate masks in outdoor spaces, take effect from Wednesday for one week.

Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 22 of whom have died.

Negligence driving increase in German cases

Negligence is behind a steady rise in new coronavirus infections in Germany, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said, adding that it was unclear if the country was experiencing a second wave.

"The new developments in Germany make me very worried," Lothar Wieler said during his first news conference in weeks. "The rise has to do with the fact that we have become negligent."

The number of daily new cases almost doubled on Tuesday to 633, and the RKI linked the increase to increased social contact at parties and in the workplace. It urged people not to flout social distancing rules.

Russia's cases surpass 820,000

Russia has reported 5,395 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 823,515, the fourth largest in the world.

Russia's coronavirus task force said on Tuesday 150 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll in the country of around 145 million people to 13,504. 

Indonesia reports 1,748 new infections, 63 deaths

Indonesia has reported 1,748 new coronavirus infections, bringing its tally to 102,051confirmed cases overall

The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to Coviud-19 rose by 63, bringing the total to 4,901, Health Ministry data showed on Tuesday. 

Hawaii says Japan is considering it for travel resumption

Hawaii's governor said Japan had put it on a list of destinations for the potential resumption of international travel, making it the only US state being considered.

"It's important that we restore travel between Japan and Hawaii and we see this program as a way to make this possible, while also preventing the further spread of infections Governor David Ige said in a statement.

Hawaii is "honoured" to make the list along with 12 other destinations, he added.

Ige said details were still being worked out and no timetable has been set for when the program would start.

New cases continue to rise in China’s Xinjiang

New coronavirus cases continue to rise in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, with 57 reported.

Beijing also reported its first case of domestic transmission in more than two weeks, while the northeastern province of Liaoning added another six cases in its local outbreak. Another four cases were found among Chinese travellers arriving from outside the country, bringing the daily total over the past 24 hours to 68.

Despite the new clusters, China appears to have largely contained the virus and the death toll remains at 4,634 among 83,959 cases.

China to help build virus field hospital in Hong Kong

China will help Hong Kong build an emergency field hospital as cases rise in the semi-autonomous city, a senior government official said.

"The central government has agreed to help us build a 'Fangcang Hospital'... which can provide up to 2,000 beds," Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told reporters, referring to the temporary facilities built in the Chinese city of Wuhan when the coronavirus first surfaced.

UK quarantine on Spain is not disproportionate, junior minister

Britain has defended its decision to impose a 14-day quarantine for travellers from Spain, adding that the government respectfully disagreed with criticism from Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

"We respectfully disagree with the Spanish government's position on this," junior local government minister Simon Clarke told the BBC.

Clarke said that Britain's travel advice was guided by science and Spain's infection rate had risen.

"Obviously we continue to work very closely with the Spanish authorities and wish them every success in getting this situation under control as quickly as possible," he said.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday that Britain made a mistake bringing back the 14-day stay-at home rule, arguing that much of the Mediterranean country had a lower coronavirus infection rate than the UK.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 633 to 206,242

 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany have increased by 633 to 206,242, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 4 to 9,122, the tally showed on Tuesday. 

Australia's Victoria state reports 384 new cases

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria has reported six deaths in the last 24 hours and 384 new cases compared with a record 532 cases a day earlier.

The state reported the country's highest daily increase in infections a day earlier, prompting authorities to warn a six-week lockdown in the state may be extended.

Mexico reports almost 5,000 new cases in last 24-hours

Mexico's health ministry reported 4,973 new cases and 342 additional deaths, bringing the country's total cases to 395,489 and death toll to 44,022.

Mexico has the fourth highest death tally worldwide.

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

Bolivian prison inmates riot over coronavirus exposure

The death of an inmate suspected of having the virus prompted rioting in four of the most populated prisons in Bolivia's Cochabamba region over access to medical care, a government watchdog said.

Local media showed images of inmates climbing to the roofs of the prisons, calling for medicine and access to doctors.

"We urge the entry of medical teams to do an evaluation inside the prison facilities to prevent more deaths," said Cochabamba ombudsman Nelson Cox.

Eight inmates in total have died with symptoms according to Cox, spiking concerns that the virus will spread throughout the prison population.

"There are no doctors, there are no medicines. They are dying inside," said Susana, a relative of a prisoner in the San Sebastian prison who declined to give her last name. "It is not possible to let them die. We are human beings."

Authorities have reported more than 60 deaths due to the coronavirus in Bolivia's prison system, which is overcrowded at more than 240% capacity. There have been several other deaths in recent months that were not confirmed as caused by the virus due to a lack of testing.

Pfizer, BioNTech begin late-stage study of vaccine candidate

German biotech BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer Inc said they would begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

If the study is successful, the companies could submit the vaccine for regulatory approval as early as October, putting them on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

Patients are each given two doses of the drugmakers’ vaccine to help boost immunity, so the first 100 million doses would vaccinate around 50 million people.

The study is expected to include about 120 sites globally and could include up to 30,000 participants. It will include regions heavily impacted by Covid-19.

Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month

All around the world, the virus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with AP ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.

Further, more than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the UN, malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. 

Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.

“The food security effects of the Covid crisis are going to reflect many years from now,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, the World Health Organization head of nutrition. “There is going to be a societal effect.”

FDA warns Americans of toxic hand sanitisers

US health officials are warning Americans again to avoid a growing list of imported hand sanitisers that may be contaminated with the toxic chemical methanol.

The Food and Drug Administration said there have been increasing reports of injury due to people using, sometimes ingesting, the unauthorised sanitizers, which can lead to blindness, heart problems and death.

The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitisers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some Mexican companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol, which is used in antifreeze.

The FDA first issued a consumer warning about the products last month.

Last week the agency issued a warning letter to Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV for marketing sanitiser containing more than 80% methanol and falsely claiming that it was “FDA approved.”

The FDA has posted a “do-not-use” list of more than 80 sanitisers on its website and blocked their importation. The agency said it is working with retailers to recall products remaining on US store shelves. The illegitimate gels generally don’t list methanol as an ingredient on their packaging.

USTA cancels more tournaments

US Tennis Association has cancelled two lower-tier tennis tournaments in Orlando, Florida, saying that the pandemic makes it too dangerous to hold the events without a bubble setup.

The USTA says ATP Challenger 150 tourneys that were supposed to start on August 22 and August 29 at its national campus are being scrapped.

The USTA said the sort of “proper risk mitigation” that it plans for the US Open, the Grand Slam tournament scheduled to begin in New York on August 31, “would logistically and financially be difficult to create” for smaller events.

The group also cited “the current rates of Covid-19 in Florida."

Cases in Brazil near 2.5M mark

Brazil reported a total of 2,442,375 cases and 87,618 deaths, as cases continue to rise in the world's second most affected country.

Brazil reported 23,384 new cases and 614 new deaths.

Kenya extends lockdown

Kenya’s president has extended the country’s curfew for 30 days, and alcohol sales in restaurants are banned, as he criticises “reckless” behavior amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke days after Africa’s top health official said confirmed cases are rising “very, very quickly” in East Africa’s economic hub.

They now number more than 17,000.

Kenyatta suggested that Kenya’s relatively low case fatality rate of 1.6% has given people “false comfort that this is not a serious health risk.”

He appealed to economic concerns, warning there will be “little tourism, scarce investment and falling trade if our headlines start to match those of countries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies