Coronavirus has infected more than 13.6 million people, of whom over 7.8 million have recovered and some 584,000 have died. Here are the updates for July 15:

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a correctional patient at North Shore Medical Center where the coronavirus disease patients are treated, in Miami, Florida, US on July 14, 2020.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a correctional patient at North Shore Medical Center where the coronavirus disease patients are treated, in Miami, Florida, US on July 14, 2020. (Reuters)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 

US Covid-19 epidemic projected to worsen

The latest modelling projects the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US to increase further, even as one research team suggests the near-universal use of masks could save 40,000 lives between now and November.

The death toll stood at 136,000, but the country should hit 151,000 by August 1 and 157,000 by August 8, according to an average of models of 23 research groups in the United States and elsewhere.

The figures were published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Reich lab on Tuesday on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

A week ago, this average predicted 147,000 deaths on August

Oklahoma governor tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma's Republican Governor Kevin Stitt said he had tested positive for the virus, the first time a US state governor has announced they were infected.

Stitt had faced a backlash in recent days after posting on Twitter a picture of himself and two of his children at a crowded restaurant, even as state health authorities urged social distancing to slow the outbreak.

Oklahoma reported a record case increase for the second day in a row, with 1,075 new cases, bringing its total to 22,813. The total number of cases nationally is nearing 3.5 million, by far the highest number in the world.

Children's vaccinations declining due to virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF warned of an “alarming decline” in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UN agencies called for immediate efforts to vaccinate children, as new data shows that vaccine coverage stalled at 85 percent for nearly a decade before the pandemic, with 14 million unvaccinated infants yearly.

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools in the history of public health and more children are now being immunized than ever before,” said WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros said vaccines could be delivered safely even during the pandemic, and the WHO is urging countries to ensure these essential life-saving programs continue.

Turkey sees second day of cases below 1,000

Turkey reported a second straight day of fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, according to the country's health minister. The last 24 hours saw 947 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the tally so far to 215,940, said Fahrettin Koca on Twitter.

He underlined that the decline in the number of new cases shows the country’s increased resilience in fighting the disease in recent days. 

The country's death toll from the disease rose to 5,419, with 17 new fatalities reported over the last 24 hours. 

Russian military says virus vaccine is tested and safe

The Russian Defence Ministry said it has developed a "safe" vaccine following clinical trials on a group of volunteers.

The ministry said 18 people had participated in the research and were discharged without "serious adverse events, health complaints, complications or side effects."

The results of the trials "allow us to speak with confidence about the safety and good tolerability of the vaccine," it said in a statement.

The Defence Ministry did not say whether the vaccine was in fact effective but a doctor working on the trials said the volunteers were now protected against the pandemic.

Maldives reopens for tourists

The Maldives reopened its tourist resorts and welcomed its first international flight in more than three months even as the Indian Ocean holiday hot spot records a steady rise in infections.

Tourism is a major earner for the Maldives, a tropical island paradise popular with honeymooners and celebrities.

Disneyland Paris reopens, but no hugs for Donald

Disneyland Paris, Europe's biggest private tourist attraction, reopened its gates after four months of lockdown, albeit with limited access and a ban on hugging the famous characters.

As festive music played, Mickey, Pluto and other Disney characters greeted the first visitors –– all sporting face masks and some the trademark Mickey Mouse ears –– while keeping a safe distance from the guests.

Despite the merry mood, things at Disneyland are not quite back to normal as the pandemic was again showing a slight uptick in the country where it has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

Philippines confirms 11 more deaths

Philippines Health Ministry reported 11 deaths and 1,392 additional infections.

The ministry said total deaths had risen to 1,614, while confirmed infections reached 58,850.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is due to decide whether or not to maintain partial restrictions in the capital, set to expire on Wednesday, to slow the spread of the virus as some hospitals reach critical care capacity. 

Indonesia sees biggest single-day jump in deaths

Indonesia reported 87 deaths, its biggest daily jump, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,797, its Health Ministry said.

Indonesia also reported 1,522 infections, taking the overall tally to 80,094 cases, ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing.

Russia registers 6,422 cases, pushing the total into 746,369

Russia reported 6,422 cases, pushing its confirmed national tally to 746,369, the fourth highest in the world.

Officials said 156 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 11,770. 

India reimposes lockdown as cases near 1 million

India’s caseload is approaching 1 million with a surge of 29,429 new confirmed infections during the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to reimpose lockdowns in high-risk areas in nearly a dozen states.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 936,181. The Health Ministry also reported another 582 deaths for a total to 24,309.

A two-week lockdown was imposed in eastern Bihar state, where nearly 2.5 million migrant workers have returned home after losing jobs in other parts of the country and further spread the virus.

Australia's death toll rises to 111

Australia's most populous states will impose harsher restrictions on movement if a Covid-19 outbreak is not quickly brought under control, state premiers said.

Victoria state reported another 238 cases in the past 24 hours, even after reimposing a lockdown last week on about five million people in Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city.

Nationally, Australia has now recorded about 10,500 cases, while the death toll rose to 111 after a woman in her 90s died from the virus.

Tokyo on top alert level after new cases

Tokyo is on its highest coronavirus alert level after a spike in new cases, the city's governor warned, as experts said the rising infections were a clear "red flag."

Daily coronavirus cases exceeded 200 in four of the last six days, touching an all-time high of 243 cases last Friday as testing among workers in the metropolis's red-light districts turned up infections among young people in their 20s and 30s.

As of Wednesday, there were only seven people requiring intensive care for coronavirus and authorities have insisted that the medical system is in better shape than at the height of the previous wave in April.

And despite the latest outbreak, the situation in Japan remains considerably less serious than in many other comparable countries in terms of population.

Japan has had just over 22,500 cases and close to 1,000 deaths since the disease was first detected in the country. No one has died of coronavirus in Tokyo for three weeks.

Germany's cases rise by 351 to 199,726

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 351 to 199,726, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by three to 9,071, the tally showed. 

Moderna vaccine enters final stage trial this month

An experimental Covid-19 vaccine that is being developed by US biotech firm Moderna induced antibody responses against the coronavirus in all 45 participants of a human trial, according to a new paper.

Moderna had previously published "interim results" from its Phase 1 in the form of a press release on its website in May, which revealed the vaccine had generated immune responses in eight patients.

Though these were called "encouraging" by Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases official, the full study had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community.

The company has since moved to the next stage of its trial, involving 600 people.

The new paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Moderna said the phase 3 trial on July 27 will recruit 30,000 participants in the US, with half to receive the vaccine at 100 microgram dose levels, and the other half to receive a placebo.

Thousands in Bolivia anti-government protest

Thousands of demonstrators have defied quarantine restrictions and marched on the Bolivian capital La Paz to protest against the government of interim President Jeanine Anez.

"The people are expressing their needs, they are expressing their voice in protest," said Juan Carlos Huarachi, leader of the country's biggest trade union, Central Obrera Boliviana, on Tuesday.

The demonstration, held over worker grievances about health and education policies and massive layoffs, was the biggest since the coronavirus pandemic reached the South American country in March.  

"There are many layoffs," said Huarachi, "because of the fall in the economy."

South Korea unemployment rate inches down

South Korea's unemployment rate fell marginally in June but remained high in historical terms as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on businesses and labour markets.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slid to 4.3 percent in June, notches below a decade-high of 4.5 percent in May, data from Statistics Korea showed on Wednesday.

Data also showed the number of employed was around 27.1 million in June, 352,000 fewer than a year earlier. This marked the fourth month of year-on-year decline, the longest losing streak in more than 10 years. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies