The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 990,000 people and infected more than 32.6 million worldwide. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for September 25:

A volunteer is injected with an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine as Turkey began final Phase III trials at Kocaeli University Research Hospital in Kocaeli, Turkey, September, 25, 2020.
A volunteer is injected with an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine as Turkey began final Phase III trials at Kocaeli University Research Hospital in Kocaeli, Turkey, September, 25, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Global death toll could hit 2 million before vaccine in wide use - WHO

The global death toll from Covid-19 could double to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely used and could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic, an official at the World Health Organization said.

"Unless we do it (take concerted action) ... the number you speak about (2 million deaths) is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely," Mike Ryan, head of the UN agency's emergencies programme, told a briefing on Friday.

The number of deaths about nine months since the novel coronavirus was discovered in China is nearing 1 million.

Ryan said young people should not be blamed for a recent increase in infections despite growing concerns that youths are driving its spread after restrictions and lockdowns were eased around the world.

France reports total virus cases over 500,000 for first time

France reported that its total number of coronavirus cases jumped over 500,000 for the first time, as it registered 15,797 new confirmed cases on Friday, just shy of a daily record of 16,096 set on Thursday.

The total number of cases now stands at 513,034, Health Ministry data showed.

The number of people who have died from the infection increased by 150 – triple the daily levels of the past week – to 31,661.

Turkey registers 1,665 new cases

Turkey reported 1,665 new coronavirus cases and 1,318 recoveries over the past 24 hours.

The country's overall case count now stands at 311,455 with 273,282 total recoveries, according to Health Ministry data.

A total of 112,885 more coronavirus tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to over 9.83 million.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey reached 7,858 with 73 new fatalities.

The figures also showed that the number of patients in critical condition now stands at 1,601, while 6.6 percent suffer from pneumonia.

US CDC reports 202,329 deaths from coronavirus

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 6,958,632 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 42,340 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 918 to 202,329.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on September 24 compared with its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Greece shortens business hours for some retailers to stem spread

Some Greek retail stores must close earlier from Saturday until October 4, authorities said, further tightening restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the greater Athens area and other parts of the country.

In a state address, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis cautioned Greeks to stick to mask-wearing and social distancing to help avert a second lockdown which would have a "dramatic impact" on the economy.

Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said that kiosks, mini markets and wine stores will close from midnight until 5 am in Athens and other areas with a high caseload, including the islands of Lesvos and Mykonos.

Drug stores and gas stations will be exempt from the new measure.

Greece last week imposed an upper limit of nine people in all public gatherings outdoors and suspended indoor and outdoor concerts in Athens.

Health authorities reported 286 cases of Covid-19, more than half of them in the Athens metropolitan area, Attica, where about one third of the country's population lives.

The new infections brought the total number of cases to 16,913 since late February.

There were three new fatalities, with total deaths reaching 369. 

Spain's confirmed cases rise to 716,481

Spain's cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 12,272 from the previous day to 716,481, Health Ministry data showed.

That included 4,122 diagnosed in the last 24 hours, but these daily figures tend to end up much higher after retroactive updates of the infection tally, having exceeded 10,000 cases per day for most of last week.

The total number of Covid-19 fatalities reached 31,232 from 31,118 reported on Thursday. Daily deaths are now around their highest levels since early May, but are well below the late March record of nearly 900. 

Denmark extends restrictions until October 18

Denmark extended its current restrictions aimed at curbing a spike in new coronavirus infections by two weeks until October 18, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference.

"A rise in new infections was expected, but it has come earlier than we had anticipated," Heunicke said.

The current limit on public gatherings of no more than 50 people would also apply to privately held events as of September 26.

Denmark has registered 678 new infections in the last 24 hours, the highest daily number yet although only around 1 percent of the number of people tested in the period.

Germany warns against travel to Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Tirol

Germany's Foreign Ministry issued travel warnings for the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and the Austrian state of Tirol, warning against unnecessary travel to those destinations due to high coronavirus infection rates.

Spanish government wants partial Madrid city lockdown, local authorities differ

The Spanish government has recommended reimposing a partial lockdown on all of Madrid city to curb the spread of coronavirus after local authorities imposed restrictions on just some areas of the wider region, the health minister said.

"These are the minimum measures we have to take to control the spread of the virus in the city," Salvador Illa told reporters.

Spain, one of the countries in Europe worst-affected by the pandemic, was under a draconian lockdown from March until May in which people could not leave their homes.

But after restrictions were totally lifted on June 21, the pandemic has surged again.

On Thursday, the country surpassed 700,000 cases, the highest number in Western Europe, while more than 31,000 people have died from the disease.

In a clash between the national government and regional authorities, Minister Illa announced his recommendations at a news conference at the same time as Madrid unveiled much softer measures which only cover some areas of the region.

The Madrid regional authorities extended a partial lockdown in 45 health areas, mainly low income with high density rates, where the contagion rate is above 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

The measures affect one million of the 6.7 million Madrid region residents.

Lockdowns imposed in several British cities

Local lockdowns are being imposed in several British cities where confirmed coronavirus infections have risen sharply.

The council leader in the northern England city of Leeds says people will be barred from meeting members of other households indoors or in backyards. The measure affects more than 750,000 people.

In Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli in Wales, households will be banned from mixing indoors.

Meanwhile London, home to almost 9 million people, is being labelled an “area of concern.” That means if infection rates rise, it could face new restrictions.

This week the UK government ordered a 10 pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and heavy fines for people who violate quarantine and social-distancing rules in an attempt to curb a spike in cases.

The Office for National Statistics estimates there were about 9,600 new infections a day in England last week, a 60 percent increase from the week before. The biggest increase is in young people age 17-24.

Britain has recorded almost 42,000 deaths of people who tested positive for the virus, a figure that likely understates the true toll.

Iran's single-day 207 death toll highest since August 1

Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 207 to 25,222, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 439,882, a Health Ministry spokesperson said.

It was the highest single-day death toll since the ministry registered 216 deaths on August 1.

Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 3,563 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran, the hardest-hit by the pandemic in the Middle East.

Iran’s health officials have voiced alarm over a surge in infections, urging the nation to respect health protocols to control the spread of the disease.

Israel tightens second-wave lockdown as PM, critics argue over protest curbs

Israel tightened Covid-19 lockdown measures on Friday and critics accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to curb protests against his handling of the health and economic crises.

Netanyahu's government decided on Thursday to tighten a three-week lockdown imposed on September 18, forcing Israelis to stay mostly at home, shutting down most businesses and curbing group prayers during the Jewish high-holiday season.

The measures had also sought to restrict citizens' protests to within 1 km (0.6 miles) of their homes, which would have effectively halted protests outside Netanyahu's residence over his handling of the economy, the pandemic and over corruption allegations. He denies all wrongdoing.

But parliament failed to agree on that measure before the tightened lockdown took effect on Friday, meaning the weekly demonstrations outside Netanyahu's residence can continue.

Southern French city rebels against shutdown

Hundreds of people protested in the French city of Marseille against tough new measures designed to curb the renewed surge in coronavirus cases.

Outside the city's commercial tribunal, crowds gathered to denounce an order from Paris that restaurants and bars close for two weeks from Saturday, arguing the move was disproportionate to the risk and would devastate the local economy.

Some proprietors said they would defy the order, amid signs of mounting public frustration across France at the reimposition of restrictions on public life as daily Covid infections hit record highs.

The government order came this week after it placed Marseille and its surroundings on the Mediterranean on the maximum alert level for the spread of the virus.

Marseille, France's second biggest city, is at the epicentre of a second wave sweeping across the country.

The pandemic has killed more than 31,500 people and infected nearly half a million, the second-highest in Western Europe behind Spain.

UK study shows rapid test has diagnostic sensitivity over 99 percent

A new rapid test for Covid-19 has over 99 percent diagnostic sensitivity in early studies, scientists assessing the test at the University of Oxford said.

Public Health England official Steve Pullan said that early data indicated the LamPORE test was a credible alternative to conventional PCR-based diagnostics.

"The positive clinical specimens came mostly from patients with symptomatic infection, and among these LamPORE had a diagnostic sensitivity of 99.1 percent," the University of Oxford said.

"Among negative clinical specimens, including 153 with other respiratory pathogens detected, LamPORE had a diagnostic specificity of 99.6 percent."

New record in Dutch daily cases with 2,777 

New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands hit another record, with 2,777 cases reported in the past 24 hours, according to health authority data.

The rise, part of a broader second wave of Covid-19 that began in late August, has led to a series of new highs. Friday's number beat the previous record of 2,544 set a day earlier.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said the public should regain a sense of urgency about following social distancing rules to slow the virus's spread, and the government will order regional measures as needed.

Schools and bars remain open, with masks required only on public transportation.

Polish president says virus cases seen rising until mid-Oct

Poland can expect further increases in coronavirus infections until mid-October, President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to the Vatican.

Poland reported 1,587 new Covid-19 infections on Friday, the biggest daily number since the start of the pandemic in March. In total the nation of 38 million people has registered 84,396 infections, including 2,392 deaths.

"We do not have any risk of an explosion, there is an increase that has been forecast and we can probably expect that there may still be increases until mid-October," Duda told reporters.

WHO says Africa escaped ‘exponential’ rise in cases

Africa has escaped the "exponential" rise in coronavirus cases seen elsewhere probably due to low population density and a hot and humid climate, the UN health agency said.

Africa recorded 34,706 deaths from 1,439,657 cases, according to an AFP tally, far behind the other continents. The United States alone has 202,827 deaths from 6,979,937 cases.

"The transmission of Covid-19 in Africa was marked by relatively fewer infections which have subsided in the last two months," the WHO said in a statement in French from its regional office in the Congo capital Brazzaville.

WHO said some of the worst-hit countries such as Algeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa had seen infections steadily fall in the past two months.

South Africa is the continent's worst-affected country. According to the latest official statistics on Friday, there were 667,049 cases of which 16,283 were fatal.

The WHO said the "low population density, the hot and humid climate, the high level and the high percentage of youths combined" to probably contribute to the low infection rates.

Russia's new cases hit highest since June 23

Russia has reported the highest number of daily cases since June 23 as officials reported 7,212 infections across the country, bringing the national tally to 1,136,048.

In the capital Moscow, new cases rose by almost 50 percent overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 the previous day. 

Authorities said 108 people had died across Russia, pushing the official death toll to 20,056.

Israel slaps restrictions on flights

The Israeli government has decided to limit outgoing flights as part of a slew of measures to bolster a second virus lockdown imposed last week.

"The arrangement agreed upon enables leaving the country for whoever bought an aeroplane ticket prior to the beginning of the lockdown, ie today, the 25th, at 1400," Transport Minister Miri Regev said in a statement. 

"People who buy a ticket beyond then won't be able to use it," she said, noting Israelis would be able to return to the country "without limitations."

Indonesia reports record daily rise cases for 3rd day

Indonesia has reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections for a third successive day with 4,823 new cases, taking the total to 266,845.

Data from the country's Covid-19 task force showed 113 new deaths, taking the total to 10,218, one of the highest death tolls in Asia. 

Philippines confirms 2,630 new cases, 69 deaths

The Philippines' health ministry has reported 2,630 additional novel coronavirus infections and 69 more deaths, the largest daily increase in casualties in six days.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have reached 299,361, the highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths have increased to 5,196.

China: WHO gave blessings for emergency vaccine programme

The WHO has given China its support and understanding to start administering experimental coronavirus vaccines to people while clinical trials were still underway.

China launched its emergency programme in July, having communicated with the WHO in late June, according to Zheng Zhongwei, a National Health Commission official.

Hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other limited groups of people considered at high risk of infection have been given the vaccine, even though its efficacy and safety had not been fully established as Phase 3 clinical trials were incomplete.

WHO's representative in China did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moscow asks elderly to stay home amid new surge

Moscow authorities have issued a recommendation for the elderly to stay at home and for employers to allow as many people as possible to work remotely, following a rapid growth of coronavirus cases in the Russian capital.

“None of us want to return to severe restrictions (that were in place) this spring. I hope we can avoid that,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog.

Sobyanin urged people over 65 years old and those suffering from chronic illnesses to stay at home starting from Monday, limit their contacts with others and leave their residence only when necessary.

Slovakia reports 419 new cases, another record daily tally

Slovakia's daily count of new cases has risen to 419, a fresh record, Prime Minister Igor Matovic has said in a post on his Facebook profile.

For the country, which has one of Europe's lowest death tolls from the novel coronavirus, the figure represents the third record tally in a row.

Czech Republic reports 2,913 new cases

The Czech Republic's daily count of new cases has risen to 2,913, the second-highest figure on record.

The total number of cases reached 58,374 in the country of 10.7 million, which has been experiencing a surge of infections in recent weeks after relaxing most anti-epidemic measures in the summer.

India's infections surge to 5.82M

India's case tally has surged to 5.82 million after it recorded 86,052 new infections in the last 24 hours.

A total of 1,141 people died in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed, taking mortalities to 92,290, which is a relatively low 1.6 percent of all cases.

Globally, India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, behind the United States where infections crossed 7 million.

Germany's cases rise by 2,153 to 280,223

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 2,153 to 280,223, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 15 to 9,443, the tally showed. 

AstraZeneca gets partial immunity in low-cost EU vaccine deal

European governments will pay claims above an agreed limit against AstraZeneca over side-effects from its potential Covid-19 vaccine, under different terms to a deal struck with Sanofi.

AstraZeneca has secured the European Union's backing in a confidential agreement which reflects the lower price sought by the British drugmaker, an EU official said.

"If a company asks for a higher price we don't give the same conditions," said the official, who was involved in the talks but declined to be identified as the contracts are confidential.

Unexpected side-effects after a drug has regulatory approval are rare, but the speed at which a Covid-19 vaccine is being pursued increases the risks of unforeseen conditions.

The deal with AstraZeneca, which shifts some of the risks involved in the roll-out of a vaccine to taxpayers, was struck in August and its liability clauses have not previously been reported.

Under the deal, AstraZeneca would only pay legal costs up to a certain threshold, the official said, declining to elaborate on how the costs would be shared with individual European governments or the cap.

The financial shield would cover both legal costs and potential compensation, which is rarer but potentially a much bigger outlay in the event of something going wrong.

In return for the higher price paid for its vaccine, French drugmaker Sanofi, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline as a partner, did not get any liability waiver.

Spokespeople for AstraZeneca, Sanofi and the European Commission declined to comment on the specifics of the deals.

Mainland China reports 8 cases

Mainland China reported eight new coronavirus cases, compared with seven cases disclosed a day earlier, the national health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed virus patients, fell to 18 from 20 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed infections in mainland China now stands at 85,322, while the number of total deaths remained unchanged at 4,634. 

Rio postpones world-famous carnival 

Rio de Janeiro's world-famous carnival became the latest casualty of the virus as officials announced they were indefinitely postponing the February 2021 celebration, with Brazil still reeling from the virus.

"We came to the conclusion that the event had to be postponed. We just can't do it in February. The samba schools won't have the time or financial and organisational resources to be ready for February," Jorge Castanheira, the president of the group that organises the event, the Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools (LIESA), told journalists.

Oil steady as market eyes virus hit to demand

Oil prices were little changed but on track for a weekly fall on concerns that a global resurgence of infections will constrain fuel demand, while the likely return of exports from Libya will add to supply.

Brent crude LCOc1 was down 2 cents at $41.92 a barrel by 0113 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was 3 cents firmer at $40.34. 

Brent is heading for a drop of nearly 3 percent this week, while US crude is on track for a decline of almost 2 percent. Both benchmarks are also on track for a monthly decline, which would be the first for Brent in six months.

Mexico's deaths exceed 75,000

Mexico's confirmed virus cases rose to 715,457, according to updated data from the health ministry, along with a reported death toll of 75,439.

Authorities reported 5,408 new cases along with 490 deaths, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing. 

Australia's Victoria reports 14 cases

Australia's virus hot spot of Victoria reported eight deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours and 14 new infections as the state looks set to ease some tough restrictions during the weekend.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, a day earlier reported two deaths from the virus and 12 new cases.

The two-week average of new infections in the city of Melbourne dropped below 26, well below the 30-50 level which the state has set as a precondition to ease curbs.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies