The novel coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 40.6 million people around the world and killed at least 1.12 million. Here are updates for October 20:

People walk by a sign in Manchester, England on October 20, 2020.
People walk by a sign in Manchester, England on October 20, 2020. (AP)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

UK imposes tougher virus measures on Manchester

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that Greater Manchester is to be raised to the Government's highest Covid-19 restrictions.

The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had made a plea earlier in the day not to raise the alert to Tier 3 over fears that it will affect those on the lowest income the hardest.

Johnson said in his national address that those on low incomes will receive "at least 80 percent of their normal income."

The Government has adopted a three-tier system for England, with areas classed as medium, high or very high virus risk.

Britain, the worst-hit European nation during the pandemic with nearly 44,000 related deaths is now seeing a second wave of the virus, recording 21,331 new cases and 241 deaths.

France sees over 20,000 cases

France has again reported more than 20,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections in a day, a total of20,468, after the daily tally dipped to 13,243 on Monday.

Last week, France saw five days with more than 20,000 new cases per day and two days with more than 30,000. The total now stands at 930,745 and looks set to jump above the 1 million mark before the end of this week if the trend continues.

The health ministry also reported 262 new deaths, including a multi-day batch of 100 from retirement homes, pushing the cumulative death toll to 33,885.

Turkey reports nearly 1,900 more patients

Turkey has registered 1,894 more novel coronavirus patients in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The country's overall tally now stands at 351,413, the ministry reported on Tuesday.

Some 1,512 more patients recovered over the past day, raising the count to 306,939, while the death toll rose to 9,445.

Around 116,565 more Covid-19 tests w ere carried out across the country, bringing the total to over 12.64 million.

The figures showed that the number of patients in critical condition currently stood at 1,545, with 5.6 percent suffering from pneumonia this week.

Younger people lead new wave of infections in Greece

Greece has recorded a new daily record of virus cases topping the 600 mark for the first time, with younger people accounting for a majority of the new infections. 

Nationwide, there were 667 new confirmed infections and eight new deaths, authorities said.

Epidemiologist Gikas Magiorkinis said that people in the age group of 18 to 39 years old made up some 60 percent to 70 percent of the new infections.

He said the pandemic was spreading increasingly in the northern part of the country and urged young people to comply with mask-wearing and social distancing measures.

Italian government enlists top influencers to promote masks

Top Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni and her rapper husband Fedez have urged their fans to wear face masks, heeding a call from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to raise awareness about battling the virus.

Ferragni, 33, and Fedez, 31, are especially popular amongst teenagers and interrupted their usual flow of Instagram glamour to stress the importance of masks in curbing infections.

"We are in a difficult situation and wearing a mask can avoid the worst-case scenario, a lockdown," Ferragni told her 21.5 million Instagram followers, holding a surgical mask in her hand.

Bulgaria makes masks obligatory in public

Bulgaria will make wearing protective masks obligatory in all outdoor spaces as virus cases in the past 24 hours hit a new record.

Kostadin Angelov said wearing protective masks, along with social distancing and frequent disinfection, will slow the spread of the virus by about 30 percent and help prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.

Bulgaria reported 1,024 new infections , the highest since the first cases were reported in March. The Balkan country of 7 million people now has 30,527 confirmed cases including 1,008 deaths.

Czech minister flags more restrictions

Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula has said the government is considering to tighten its anti-virus measures further as numbers of new cases have not ebbed and the health system is getting close its capacity. 

The Czech Republic has reported the highest numbers of infections in Europe in the past days relative to the population.

Active cases reached 105,541 in the nation of 10.7 million as of Monday and the number of patients currently hospitalised with the illness has more than tripled this month to 3,721.

Deaths have also soared to 1,513, an increase of 407 over the past week.

Ukraine may face new jump in cases minister

Ukrainian health minister Maksym Stepanov said the number of coronavirus cases may rise to 8,000-10,000 a day in the coming weeks.

Ukraine reported a record 6,410 new cases on Saturday versus the previous record of 5,992 registered on Friday.

The daily tally spiked above 5,000 in October, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of 2020.

Stepanov said Ukraine would introduce stricter lockdown restrictions if cases rise to 11,000-15,000 daily. He warned that the resources of the medical system would run out if the number of daily cases exceeds 20,000. 

Madrid region mulls curfew to curb contagion

The Madrid region is evaluating whether a curfew would be needed in Spain's capital city to curb a new wave of contagion in one of Europe's hotspots, the region's top health official said.

"The curfew would allow ... that at some hours there's no mobility, like France has done for example," Enrique Ruiz Escudero said in an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press.

French President Emmanuel Macron last week ordered a nightly curfew in Paris and eight other major cities. It runs from 9 pm to 6 am.

Escudero said Madrid's regional authorities do not have the prerogatives to enforce a curfew, adding that they would have to ask the central government to pass the measure. 

Indonesia reports 3,602 new cases, 117 new deaths

Indonesia reported 3,602 new cases, bringing the total number of virus infections to 368,842, data from the country's health ministry showed.

There were also 117 new deaths caused by the virus, the data showed, bringing the total number of fatalities to 12,734.

Philippines reports 1,640 new cases, 17 more deaths

The Philippines' health ministry recorded 1,640 new infections, the lowest daily increase in infections in four weeks, and 17 additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 360,775, while deaths had reached 6,690.

Belgium may need to return to full lockdown - virologist

Belgium could be returning to full lockdown if there is no reversal of the surge in infections and hospital admissions, a senior Belgian virologist said in a newspaper interview.

"We would then have to consider even more restrictive measures, which could resemble a lockdown like the one imposed in March and April," Yves Van Laethem told La Derniere Heure.

The country of 11 million people reported on Monday a daily average of 7,876 new infections in the week to October 15, with an average 252 hospital admissions and 30 deaths.

UK to infect healthy volunteers to speed vaccine

UK researchers are preparing to begin a controversial experiment that will infect healthy volunteers with the new coronavirus to study the disease in hopes of speeding up development of a vaccine.

The approach, called a challenge study, is risky but proponents say it may produce results faster than standard research, which waits to see if volunteers who have been given an experimental treatment get sick.

Imperial College London said that the study, involving healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30, would be conducted in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and hVivo, a company that has experience conducting testing .

Professor Peter Openshaw, co-investigator on the study, says that “deliberately infecting volunteers with a known human pathogen is never undertaken lightly. However, such studies are enormously informative about a disease, even one so well studied as Covid-19."

In the first phase, researchers will aim to determine the smallest level of exposure needed to cause the disease. Researchers will then use the same challenge model to study how potential vaccines work in the body, the bodies immune response and potential treatments.

Colombian cyclist at Giro d'Italia positive

Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been withdrawn from the Giro d’Italia.

Gaviria and a staff member for Team AG2R La Mondiale were the only positives out of 492 tests carried out Sunday and Monday.

Gaviria’s UAE Team Emirates says the rider “was immediately isolated following the test result and is feeling well and is completely asymptomatic.”

The team notes that Gaviria also had Covid-19 in March.

Virus violations blamed for Pakistan death rise

A Cabinet minister says Pakistan has witnessed a 140 percent increase in fatalities in recent weeks due to widespread violations of social distancing rules.

Asad Umar, the planning and development minister who oversees Pakistan’s response to coronavirus, warned on Twitter “We will lose both lives and livelihoods” if people did not adhere to social distancing rules.

His comments Tuesday came shortly after the military-backed Command and Operations Center reported 14 deaths and 625 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned on Monday that Pakistan's big cities could face a second wave in the coming weeks because of increasing pollution in winter.

Pakistan has reported 324,084 cases, including 6,673 deaths.

Ukraine reports record daily high deaths

The number of daily deaths in Ukraine jumped to 113 from the previous record of 109 deaths registered last week, the national security council said.

The council said a total of 309,107 cases had been registered in Ukraine as of October 20, with 5,786 deaths and 129,533 people recovered.

India posts lowest daily new cases in nearly three months

India posted its lowest daily caseload in nearly three months, data from the health ministry showed, as new cases maintained decreasing trend from a peak in September.

The country reported 46,790 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking its tally to nearly 7.6 million, the second highest behind the United States. It also reported 587 deaths, taking the total to 115,197.

Experts have warned that infections could rise in India as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali due this month and in mid-November, respectively. 

Australia evacuates crew from infected livestock vessel

Australian officials were evacuating workers from a Kuwaiti-flagged livestock ship docked off the country's west coast after at least half the 52 crew tested positive.

The cluster of cases is the fourth outbreak detected onboard a ship arriving at a Western Australia port over the last month, in a state that has otherwise been free of the coronavirus for weeks.

"It is becoming clear that ships arriving with Covid-19 on board is one of the weakest links and the biggest risk to our way of life in Western Australia," state Premier Mark McGowan told reporters in Perth.

The workers, from various countries, were taken from the Al Messilah ship directly into hotel quarantine, leaving just a skeleton staff on board the ship, officials said.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 6,868 to 373,167 RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 6,868 to 373,167, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 47 to 9,836, the tally showed. 

Fishing crews arriving in New Zealand have virus

A number of fishing crew who flew into New Zealand on chartered planes have Covid-19.

Health officials said that 11 have tested positive so far and another 14 cases are being investigated.

The crew members have been in quarantine at a Christchurch hotel since they arrived, and tested positive during routine testing, officials said. 

The news could deal a blow to New Zealand’s efforts to restart its fishing industry, which has struggled to find local workers to crew vessels.

Jeremy Helson, the chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, said all the men tested negative before flying to New Zealand.

Ireland sets new virus restrictions for 6 weeks

Ireland’s government is putting the country at its highest level of restrictions for six weeks in a bid to combat a rise in infections.

Premier Micheal Martin said the measures take effect at midnight on Wednesday and run until December 1.

People are being asked to stay at home, with exercise allowed only within a 5-kilometre radius of their home. Only essential stores can open. Restaurants and bars can provide only takeaway service. 

No social or family gatherings will be allowed in homes or private gardens, but schools will remain open to prioritise education.

Argentina's health system strained as cases cross one million

Argentina has become the fifth country with more than one million coronavirus cases, its Health Ministry said, making it the smallest nation by far to reach the grim milestone after infections accelerated in recent weeks.

There were 1,002,662 confirmed cases of the virus in the South American country by Monday night, the ministry said in a statement. During the past 24 hours, there were 12,982 new cases reported and 451 deaths, it said.

The latest figures put it alongside the United States, India, Brazil and Russia, all with populations greatly exceeding Argentina's 45 million people.

Argentina is also grappling with low levels of testing. But for those getting tested, more than 60 percent of recent tests are coming back positive, one of the world's highest positivity rates.

The explosion in cases has strained hospitals and healthcare works, with intensive care unit beds in the country more than 64 percent occupied. In some provinces, healthcare systems are on the brink of becoming overwhelmed.

Australia's Victoria state eyes accelerating easing of curbs

Australia's Victoria state may accelerate the easing of social distancing restrictions after reporting just one new Covid-19 case on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Case numbers were down from four on Monday, extending a run of single-digit daily increases to almost a week, and are well down from a peak of more than 700 cases in a single day in early August.

Melbourne's roughly 5 million residents were granted some more freedom to move about on Monday after a months-long lockdown, with time limits on exercising outdoors removed and allowed travel limits extended to 25 kilometres of their homes.

Australia has recorded just over 27,300 infections. Victoria accounts for more than 90 percent of the 905 deaths nationally.

Mainland China reports 19 new cases

China has reported 19 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for October 19, up from 13 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Tuesday.

All of the new infections were imported, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

China reported 24 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 33 a day earlier.

As of Monday, mainland China had 85,704 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The Covid-19 death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Mexico reports 3,699 new cases, 171 more deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 3,699 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 171 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 854,926 and the death toll to 86,338.

Health officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies