More than 22.4 million people have been infected by Covid-19, with the disease claiming at least 787,344 lives around the world. Here are updates for August 19:

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in Ankara, Turkey, August 17, 2020.
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in Ankara, Turkey, August 17, 2020. (AP)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Turkey: Virus daily test count to hit 100,000 within days

Within days the number of Turkey’s daily Covid-19 tests will reach 100,000, the country’s health minister has said.

At a news conference following a meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board on Wednesday, Fahrettin Koca said 1,303 new cases confirmed in the past day brought the tally to date to 253,108.

A total of 1,002 more patients also recovered in the past 24 hours, pushing the number of recoveries to 233,915, and the death toll reached 6,039 as 23 more people lost their lives, he added.

Turkey's daily Covid-19 test count will reach 100,000 within days, he said, as healthcare professionals have done as many 87,223 tests daily to diagnose the virus, bringing the grand total to more than 5.9 million.

Of those infected, 7.4 percent are suffering from pneumonia and the number of patients in critical condition rose to 719.

He also said doctors will connect with patients at home via telemedicine, adding that Turkey doesn't have any difficulties in its drug supply, as four companies in the country started domestic production of antiviral drugs.

"Including Covid-19 and all other diseases, the service bed occupancy rate is 51.3, the intensive care bed occupancy rate is 64.8 percent, and the ventilator occupancy rate is 31.7 percent," he said.

Koca also underlined that a rising number of virus cases in Turkey took it to its highest daily case total in one-and-a-half months.

Schools in the country are scheduled to gradually reopen on September 21, he said, adding that distance and hybrid learning systems might also be implemented depending on the situation.

France's new daily virus infections up by almost 4,000

The French health ministry reported 3,776 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 225,043, with the daily tally going beyond the 3,000 threshold for the third time in five days.

The seven-day moving average of the case count, which smoothes out daily reporting irregularities, is now at 2,621, going beyond the 2,500 threshold for the first time since April 19, when France was in the midst of a strict lockdown to contain the virus.

Norway to impose 10-day quarantine on people coming from Britain, Greece, Austria, Ireland

Norway said on Wednesday it will impose a 10-day quarantine on all people arriving from Britain, Austria, Greece and Ireland from August 22 due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in those countries.

Similar restrictions will also be imposed on those coming from the Danish capital Copenhagen, the Norwegian foreign ministry said in a statement. 

Egypt says from Sept all those entering country must show virus test results 

Egypt will require all people entering the country to present Polymerase Chain Reaction test results for the new coronavirus on arrival from September 1, the prime minister said in a televised address on Wednesday.

Egypt will also allow Friday prayers to resume in mosques from August 28 under strict health and safety protocols to be issued by the Ministry of Endowments, Mostafa Madbouly added. 

Hungary to tighten Covid-19 restrictions from September, says PM's aide

Hungary is advising citizens to avoid holidaying abroad from the start of next month and is planning to tighten restrictions due to a rising number of coronavirus cases in Europe, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Wednesday.

Gergely Gulyas said the government wanted to ensure a safe start to the school year from September 1 and would decide on the steps to take next week.

"The situation in Europe is deteriorating, and is at best stagnating in certain countries," Gulyas told a news briefing. "No relaxation of the existing restrictions whatsoever is possible. Given that the number of cases in most countries is rising, stricter rules will be required."

Under current regulations, those returning from countries with higher infection rates need to self-quarantine for 14 days unless they produce two negative virus tests.

As of Wednesday, Hungary had reported 5,002 coronavirus cases, with 609 deaths.

Spain reports 3,715 cases in post-lockdown record

Spain reported 3,715 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Wednesday, marking a new daily record since the country came out of a strict lockdown in late June.

Madrid bore the brunt of the increase, logging 1,535 new cases, followed by the Basque Country and Aragon regions with around 470 new infections each.

Fourteen people died across Spain in the same period, down from 21 the previous day. In the past seven days, 131 people have died from the virus, the ministry said.

Cumulative cases, which include antibody tests on patients who may have already recovered, rose to 370,867.

Despite mandatory use of masks across the country, EU data show Spain has the highest total tally of cases in western Europe as well as the highest incidence of cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

UK records 812 cases - government data

The United Kingdom recorded 812 new positive cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, down from 1,089 on Tuesday, government figures showed.

A further 16 people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within 28 days.

UAE records 435 infections, one death as cases rise

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday recorded its highest daily number of Covid-19 infections in over a month, a day after the health minister warned cases may rise.

The Gulf Arab state saw 435 infections and one death in the past 24 hours, the government's communications office tweeted, up from 401 cases on July 12 but short of 473 on July 10.

The daily infection rate has fallen from a peak of over 900 in late May but the country has seen periodic spikes since, despite a generally falling trend.

Health minister AbdulRahman Bin Mohammed al Owais on Tuesday warned the number of cases could rise after an "alarming" increase over the previous two weeks.

There were 365 new cases and two deaths reported on Tuesday.

The regional business and tourism hub in late June removed a nationwide curfew in place since mid-March and commercial businesses and public venues have gradually reopened.

The UAE has recorded 65,341 infections and 367 deaths. The government does not disclose where in the country of seven emirates, or states, the infections or deaths have taken place.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has the highest count among the six Gulf Arab states with 301,323 infections and 3,470 deaths. 

India confirms 64,000 Covid-19 infections

India has reported 1,092 new fatalities from the disease, its highest single-day total.

India has the fourth-most deaths in the world and the third-most cases, with over 2.7 million – including more than 64,000 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to limited testing.

Four of India's 28 states now account for 63 percent of total fatalities and 54.6 percent of the caseload. 

Baby boom ahead as virus kept millions of women from care

Millions of women and girls globally have lost access to contraceptives and abortion services because of the pandemic. 

Now the first widespread measure of the toll says India with its abrupt, months-long lockdown has been hit especially hard.

Several months into the pandemic, many women now have second-trimester pregnancies because they could not find care in time.

Across 37 countries, nearly two million fewer women received services between January and June than in the same period last year, Marie Stopes International said in a new report – 1.3 million in India alone. 

The organisation expects 900,000 unintended pregnancies worldwide as a result, along with 1.5 million unsafe abortions and more than 3,000 maternal deaths.

Polish hospital could run out of beds

The director of a major Polish hospital has warned that his facility is at risk of running out of beds for pandemic patients.

The country of 38 million has so far registered some 58,000 cases and 1,900 deaths, numbers which are far lower than many countries in western Europe. 

However, infections have been rising for weeks, with around 700 new cases per day – up from 200-300 earlier in the summer.

Iran tops 20,000 deaths

Iran has surpassed 20,000 confirmed deaths from the pandemic.

Wednesday's announcement comes as Iran struggles with the largest outbreak in the Middle East with 350,200 confirmed cases. 

But despite the sombre statistic, the Islamic Republic is still holding university entrance exams for over one million students and is preparing for mass Shia commemorations at the end of the month.

Earlier this year Iran suffered the Mideast’s first major outbreak, with senior politicians, health officials, and religious leaders in its Shia theocracy stricken with the virus.

UK data shows most virus transmissions happen in homes

Britain is unlikely to follow France in ordering people to wear face coverings at work because its test and trace scheme shows most people catch virus in house-to-house transmission, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

He added that Britain is planning to bring in population-wide mass testing for coronavirus to help control the pandemic.

"This is a really, really important drive that we have across government to bring in mass testing, population-wide testing," Hancock told BBC radio.

"We'll ramp it up, certainly over the remainder of this year."

Russia reports 4,828 cases

Russia has reported 4,828 virus cases, pushing its nationwide tally to 937,321, the fourth largest in the world.

Russia's pandemic task force said 117 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing its official death toll to 15,989. 

Indonesia logs 1,902 infections

Indonesia reported 1,902 virus infections, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 144,945, data from the country's Health Ministry showed.

The data recorded an additional 69 deaths, taking the total to 6,346.

Japan’s exports in July sank 19.2 percent from a year ago

Japan’s exports in July plunged 19.2 percent from a year ago, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to slam the world’s third largest economy, government data showed. 

The Finance Ministry’s provisional numbers showed Japan’s imports fell 22.3 percent in July. 

New Zealand gains control 

New Zealand appeared to be gaining control over a coronavirus outbreak in Auckland after just five new community infections were reported.

A sixth infection was found in a quarantined traveller who had returned from Qatar. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 500 more military personnel would be deployed to quarantine hotels as the nation looks to reduce the number of private security guards it employs and tighten its border controls. 

Meanwhile, in a case that has been closely followed by law students but will likely have few real consequences, a New Zealand court has found that the government overstepped its legal authority in the early stages of a seven-week virus lockdown by ordering people to stay home, but then remedied that nine days later by issuing a more explicit health order.

Nepal imposes one-week lockdown in capital

Authorities imposed a one-week lockdown in Nepal’s capital and surrounding districts after a surge in virus cases. 

People are prohibited from leaving their homes, offices and businesses are closed and traffic halted except for essential and emergency movement. 

All outdoor religious activities and ceremonies are also not allowed. Violators face one month in jail and a fine of $4.

A national lockdown imposed in March lasted for 120 days before being lifted last month. The country has confirmed 28,257 cases and 114 deaths from the disease.

623 cases linked to South Korea church

South Korean health workers have found more than 600 virus infections linked to a Seoul church led by a vocal opponent of the country’s president as officials began restricting gatherings in the greater capital area amid fears that transmissions are getting out of control.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said that health authorities are also seeking location data provided by cellphone carriers while trying to track thousands who participated in an anti-government protest on Saturday, which worsened the virus’s spread. 

The march was attended by members of the Sarang Jeil Church and its ultra right-wing pastor, Jun Kwang-hun, who has been hospitalised since Monday after testing positive.

Germany's cases rise by 1,510 to 226,914

The number of virus cases in Germany increased by 1,510 to 226,914, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,243, the tally showed.

Australian PM says vaccine should be mandatory 

Australia should make any coronavirus vaccine compulsory for its 25 million citizens and allow for medical exemptions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, wading into a heated ethical debate.

After reaching a deal for the country to manufacture a "promising" vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Morrison said getting the jab should be "as mandatory as you can possibly make it."

"There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis," he told radio station 3AW in Melbourne.

Anticipating a backlash from vocal anti-vaccine activists, Morrison said the stakes were too high to allow the disease to continue unchecked.

Turkey sends medical aid to Venezuela

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Caracas as his country delivered medical equipment to help crisis-stricken Venezuela deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey has been one of the key backers of President Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen a six-year economic crisis in the once-prosperous OPEC nation, but has so far withstood an 18-month effort by the United States to oust him through sanctions on the country's oil sector.

At least 34,802 cases of novel coronavirus have been reported in Venezuela with the country's death toll from the disease at 288.

Mexico reports more than 5,500 new cases

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 5,506 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 751 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 531,239 cases and 57,774 deaths.

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

Argentina's cases exceed 300,000, deaths cross 6,000 deaths 

Argentina confirmed 6,840 new cases of coronavirus and 172 new deaths, taking it simultaneously over the 300,000-case and 6,000-death threshold as the Latin nation battles a surge of contagions in recent weeks.

The country's Health Ministry reported a total of 305,966 cases and 6,048 deaths.

Dr Luis Camera, a member of the Argentinian government's health advisory group, said while cases, intensive care admissions and hospital bed occupancy rates were not still climbing, they had settled at an unsustainable level.

The recent peaking of cases saw the government last week renew restrictions for Buenos Aires that had been relaxed in many parts of the nation.

US open scheduled to continue

US Open organisers say that the number of players willing to compete in the Grand Slam have exceeded their expectations despite several high-profile withdrawals over coronavirus fears.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal, top-ranked woman Ashleigh Barty and world number two Simona Halep are among a list of stars opting to skip the event because of concerns about Covid-19.

But Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are all still due to play when the tournament begins at Flushing Meadows in New York on August 31.

Argentina hospital director blasts protests
The director of one of the largest public hospitals in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires criticised a large protest where thousands of demonstrators defied lockdown measures.

"It's outrageous because the health professionals don't deserve that the population makes this type of demonstrations," Posadas Hospital Director Alberto Maceira said.

Maceira said most of the beds at the intensive care unit are occupied and hundreds of patients with respiratory ailments seek medical attention every day.  

"Doctors and nurses are getting sick and dying to keep the system working," said Maceira.

Demonstrators gathered in Buenos Aires and other Argentinian cities on Monday to reject the management of President Alberto Fernandez.

Amid an increase of Covid-19 cases, President Fernandez announced an extension of the lockdown until at least the end of August.

Brazil sees increase in homelessness

Social activists in Sao Paulo say the coronavirus pandemic is causing an increase in the number of homeless people in Brazil's largest city.

The human rights and research group LabCidade estimates more than 2,000 families have lost their homes in Sao Paulo state since March, with another 1,000 facing the same risk in coming weeks.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies