Global coronavirus has now infected over 15.7 million people and has killed more than 639,000. Here are the latest updates for July 24:

Medical workers of the Bakirkoy District Health Directorate wearing protective suits leave a building during an antibody testing program following Covid-19 outbreak, in Istanbul, Turkey, June 17, 2020.
Medical workers of the Bakirkoy District Health Directorate wearing protective suits leave a building during an antibody testing program following Covid-19 outbreak, in Istanbul, Turkey, June 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, July 24, 2020

WHO reports another record jump in cases

The World Health Organization has reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 284,196 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. 

Deaths rose by 9,753, the biggest one-day increase since a record high of 9,797 deaths on April 30.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 259,848 on July18. Deaths have been averaging 5,000 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Turkey's virus tests near 4.5M mark

Turkey has conducted nearly 4.5 million tests to detect the novel coronavirus so far, the country's health minister has announced.

The overall count of Covid-19 tests in Turkey rose to 4,489,360 million, with 42,986 new tests conducted over the past 24 hours.

As many as 1,009 people recovered from the disease over the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

The country registered 937 new Covid-19 cases over the past day, bringing the tally to 224,252, he added.

Citing Health Ministry Friday's data, Koca said overall recoveries had now climbed to 207,374.

The country's death toll from pandemic rose to 5,580, with 17 new fatalities reported since Thursday.

Health Ministry data also showed that a total of 1,248 people remain in intensive care units across the country.

France records 1,130 new cases in 24 hours

France recorded 1,130 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, in a fresh sign that the rate of infection is accelerating again after the government eased lockdown restrictions.

It was the second consecutive day that the daily number of new cases exceeded 1,000.

The ministry, in a statement, said the figures showed the need for people to show discipline by limiting unnecessary exposure and respecting hygiene rules. 

Italy imposes quarantine on travellers from Romania, Bulgaria

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said he had signed a quarantine order for people who have been in Romania and Bulgaria in the last 14 days, in a move aimed at preventing the importation of Covid-19 cases from outside the country.

"The virus is not defeated and continues to circulate. For this reason we still need to be careful," Speranza wrote on Facebook.

Italy, one of the European countries worst-affected by the novel coronavirus, had already banned entry to people coming from 16 countries including hard-hit Brazil.

Spain's total cases rise by 2,255 

Spain has reported a cumulative total of 272,421 coronavirus cases, up 2,255 from the day before, health ministry data showed, with the figure including people who have recovered from the disease but whose antibody tests were taken now.

In the past 24 hours, some 922 new infections were diagnosed, the ministry said, compared with 971 the previous day.

Since lifting a nationwide lockdown a month ago Spain has struggled to contain a rise in new infections.

Norway to restrict travel from Spain

Norway will reimpose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday after a surge in Covid-19 cases there, while it will ease restrictions on people coming from more counties of Sweden, the government has said.

Residents of the European Union, European Economic Area or Schengen countries with fewer than 20 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last two weeks are able to enter Norway without being required to go into self-quarantine.

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed Covid-19 infections in Spain had risen to 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Portugal criticises UK decision to keep it off safe travel list

Britain's decision to continue to maintain a quarantine regime for travellers coming from Portugal is "not backed by facts", Portugal's foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said in a tweet on Friday.

Russia resuming flights to Turkey

Russia on August 1 will resume flights to Turkey, Russian officials have said.

After flights were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, service will resume from three Russian cities – the capital Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Rostov-on-Don – Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told a news conference in Moscow on Friday.

Flights to Turkey will start with the capital Ankara and the metropolis of Istanbul from August 1, and then add the coastal resort destinations of Antalya, Bodrum, and Dalaman on August 10.

Flight service to the UK and the East African nation of Tanzania is also restarting.

Passengers coming to Russia must have a medical certificate issued no later than three days before the date of arrival confirming they are negative for Covid-19, she added.

Russia suspended all international air traffic on March 27 aiming to stem the spread of the virus, but normalisation efforts amid improving numbers led to the resumption of service to some countries.

Russia's case tally passes 800,000 mark

The total number of cases in Russia has passed 800,000 as the country reported 5,811 new infections in the past 24 hours.

The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said on Friday 154 people had died from the virus overnight, taking the official death toll to 13,046.

Total infections stand at 800,849. Russia says 588,774 people have recovered.

Hong Kong reports 123 new cases

Hong Kong has reported 123 new coronavirus cases, including 115 that were locally transmitted, a new daily record, as authorities warn the city faces a critical period in containing the virus.

The global financial hub reported 118 new cases on Thursday, reported on Friday, after it extended strict social distancing measures this week.

Since late January, more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 16 of whom have died. 

South Korea says daily cases may top 100

South Korean health authorities said infections among people arriving from abroad could drive the number of new cases to more than 100, the first time since the beginning of April that daily cases hit triple digits.

The numbers for Friday will not be announced until Saturday, but Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) deputy director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing a large number of crew members on a Russian ship had tested positive, as had a number of South Korean workers brought home on military flights from Iraq.

So far, 32 members of the ship's crew, along with five people who had been in contact with them, had tested positive, Kwon said.

Meanwhile, two South Korean military aircraft arrived from Iraq on Friday, carrying 293 workers who were evacuated as cases swelled in that country. At least 89 of the workers were showing symptoms, Kwon said.

As of midnight Thursday, South Korea reported 41 new cases, for a total of 13,979. One more person died, the KCDC reported, putting total virus-related deaths at 298.

WHO concerned over rising virus cases in Europe

The European chapter of the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern over the resurgence of new coronavirus cases on the continent, saying countries should impose tighter restrictions if necessary.

The number of infections in Europe crossed three million on Thursday, a fifth of the world's more than 15 million cases. It remains the hardest hit in terms of deaths, with 206,633 out of 627,307 worldwide.

With 335 new cases for 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks, Kyrgyzstan is the worst affected country in the sprawling zone covered by WHO's European chapter.

Others include Montenegro (207), Luxemburg (196), Bosnia (98), Serbia (71), Romania (52) and Bulgaria (46).

However, the numbers of new infections have gone down significantly in Armenia (197 cases per 100,000), Kazakhstan (128), Moldavia (82), and Russia (60).

"The recent resurgence in Covid-19 cases in some countries following the easing of physical distancing measures is certainly cause for concern," a spokeswoman said.

"Where new clusters of cases appear, these need to be controlled through rapid and targeted interventions including rapid case detection and isolation and diligent contact tracing and quarantining," she said.

"If the situation demands, reintroduction of stricter, targeted measures with the full engagement of communities may be needed."

Spain wants better conditions for farm workers

Spain’s farm minister says authorities are pressing agricultural employers to provide decent accommodation and transport for seasonal migrant workers, amid fears that poor living conditions are creating coronavirus hot spots.

Farm Minister Luis Planas said on Friday that “infections in rural areas don’t happen on farms or in fields, they happen in transport and accommodation”.

He said that, as in Germany and France, officials are concerned that the movement of tens of thousands seasonal workers spreads Covid-19. He said in an interview with Cadena Ser radio that employers must provide “dignified living conditions”.

Spain’s health ministry reported Thursday 971 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, the country’s biggest daily increase since a lockdown ended.

WHO chief scientist sees no herd immunity yet

The chief scientist at the WHO estimates that about 50 percent to 60 percent of the population will need to be immune to the coronavirus for there to be any protective “herd immunity” effect.

Herd immunity is usually achieved through vaccination and occurs when most of a population is immune to a disease, blocking its continued spread.

During a social media event on Friday, Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that studies done from some countries hit hard by Covid-19 show that about 5 percent to 10 percent of people now have antibodies, though in some countries, it has been as high as 20 percent.

She says: “As there are waves of this infection going through countries, people are going to develop antibodies and those people will hopefully be immune for some time so they will also act as barriers and brakes to the spread."

Other experts have estimated that as much as 70 percent to 80 percent of the population need to have antibodies before there is any herd immunity effect.

Russia to resume international flights from August 1

Russia plans to resume international flights from some airports on August 1, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin as saying on Friday.

Flights will restart from Moscow, St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don, Mishustin said.

Three-year-old dies in Belgium amid surge in cases

Belgian health authorities say a three-year-old girl has died after testing positive for the coronavirus amid a surge of infections in the country.

The announcement on Friday came a day after Belgium decided to reinforce restriction measures to slow the spread of the virus, including mandatory masks in crowded outdoor public spaces.

The girl suffered from several severe associated diseases, according to a statement released by health authorities. She is believed to be the youngest person to die from Covid-19 complications in Belgium after a 12-year-old passed away in March.

Belgium has been hard hit by the coronavirus, with 64,847 cases and 9,812 deaths.

The average infection rate has largely increased over the past two weeks and the number of new infections went up 89 percent from the previous week from July 14 to 20.

30 German meat plant employees still positive

The company that runs a German slaughterhouse that was at the centre of a major outbreak last month says 30 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus in new tests but most of them were old cases.

Authorities have linked more than 2,000 cases to the outbreak at the Toennies slaughterhouse in the western town of Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, which led last month to a partial lockdown of the surrounding area. Those restrictions have since been lifted and the facility has reopened after a four-week closure.

Toennies spokesman Andre Vierstaedte said on Friday that the 30 employees, along with all other workers, were tested on their return to work and sent into quarantine once the results arrived.

The company said that in most cases the employees had previously tested positive for the coronavirus and it was still detectable, news agency dpa reported. In the case of eight employees, it had yet to be determined whether or not they had previously been infected.

Germany reported 815 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the nation's tally to 204,183.

Its death toll from the Covid-19 has risen by 10 to 9,111.

Virus infects Cambodians who went on UN mission

Cambodia’s health ministry announced it has confirmed four new cases of the coronavirus, all members of a Cambodian military force that had been stationed in the African nation of Mali on a peacekeeping mission for the United Nations.

The three men and a woman were members of a team that had worked on land mine clearance. They were among 80 members who arrived back in Cambodia on July 10. The four were confirmed on Thursday to be infected.

Cambodia since 2006 has sent more than 6,000 soldiers to participate in demining and engineering work in UN peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and Africa. Officials have explained the deployments are partly in gratitude for a massive 1992-1993 UN peacekeeping operation in Cambodia that oversaw a transition from civil war to political stability.

Cambodia has confirmed 202 cases of coronavirus with no deaths. There have been no recent cases of local transmission. All new cases have involved arrivals from abroad, virtually all of them Cambodians but also including two US diplomats.

Troops to help Australia state in virus tracing

The premier of Australia’s Covid-19 hot spot, Victoria state, says the military will be used to bolster contact-tracing efforts.

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that if someone who is a newly diagnosed coronavirus case does not answer after being telephoned twice, soldiers will accompany a health official to the infected person’s home for a contact-tracing interview on the doorstep.

Anyone who is not at home will likely be fined for failing to home quarantine while awaiting a negative test result. Previously, failure to contact an infected person by phone was not followed up with a house call.

Australia's Victoria reports 6 new deaths

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria said six people died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began.

Three people in their 80s and three in their 90s died from the virus overnight, Andrews told a media briefing in Melbourne. 

Victoria reported five deaths, 300 new infections compared with 403 cases a day earlier.

Mask wearing became compulsory on Thursday in Victoria’s capital of Melbourne, which is Australia’s second-largest city.

Indonesia reports 1,761 new cases, 89 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,761 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total tally to 95,418, data from the country's health ministry website showed. 

The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to Covid-19 rose by 89, to bring the total to 4,665, the data showed. 

WTA, ATP cancel China tournament swing

All international tennis tournaments in China this year, including the Shanghai Masters and WTA Finals, were cancelled on Friday because of the coronavirus, the ATP and WTA said.

The major blow to attempts to restart tennis comes after China said it would not stage most international sports events for the rest of 2020 to keep the pandemic in check.

"We are extremely disappointed that our world-class events in China will not take place this year," Steve Simon, head of the Women's Tennis Association, said in a statement.

"We do however respect the decision that has been made (by Chinese authorities) and are eager to return to China as soon as possible next season."

The ATP said it too was cancelling its tournaments in China for the rest of the year, including the prestigious Shanghai Masters and China Open –– a men's and women's event –– in Beijing.

"Our approach throughout this pandemic has been to always follow local guidance when staging events. We respect the Chinese government's decision to do what's best for the country in response to the unprecedented global situation," said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP chairman.

"It's with a heavy heart that we announce ATP tournaments will not be played in China this year."

China logs 21 cases, including 13 in Xinjiang

China reported 21 virus cases in the mainland, down from 22 cases a day earlier, the health commission said.

Of the new infections, 13 were in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. Two were in Dalian city in the northeastern province of Liaoning, while the remaining six were imported cases.

China reported 43 new asymptomatic patients, up from 31 a day earlier.

New South Wales tightens restrictions as clusters grow

Restrictions were reintroduced in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales as authorities battle to control fresh virus clusters that have emerged in Sydney over the last several days.

Group bookings at restaurants, cafes and clubs will be limited to 10 people and patrons inside a venue will be capped to 300 in rules that take effect amid a growing cluster stemming from a Thai restaurant in suburban Sydney.

Wedding and corporate events will be limited to 150 people with strict social distancing rules including a ban on singing, dancing and mingling, while only 100 can attend funerals and places of worship.

Brazil study finds no hydroxychloroquine benefit 

A study published on the use of hydroxychloroquine in Brazil to treat the virus found the drug ineffective, the latest blow to President Jair Bolsonaro's push for its widespread use.

The clinical trial, conducted at 55 hospitals across Brazil and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested whether hydroxychloroquine improved the condition of patients with mild to moderate cases of the virus, alone or in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin.

UK pledges more funds for Scotland, Wales and N Ireland 

Britain said it guaranteed $4.72 billion in additional funding this year to be split between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to allow the devolved governments there to plan their virus response.

Britain's semi-autonomous nations receive some of their funding based on how much is spent by the central government in England. But final amounts can normally not be guaranteed in advance, creating uncertainty over spending limits.

The treasury is seeking to address that uncertainty by promising that the three nations will receive at least $4.72 billion in additional funding this year. That is on top of other increases worth $11.3 billion announced since a March budget.

Mexico reports record 8,438 infections

Mexico's health ministry reported a record 8,438 virus cases and 718 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 370,712 cases and 41,908 total deaths.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies