Coronavirus has now infected over 15 million people and has killed more than 625,000. Here are the latest updates for July 22:

Volunteers spray disinfectant in an alleyway in the Babilonia slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 12, 2020
Volunteers spray disinfectant in an alleyway in the Babilonia slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 12, 2020 (AP)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Brazil registers nearly 2.2 million cases

Brazil recorded 41,008 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours as well as 1,367 related deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered nearly 2.2 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 81,487, according to ministry data.

First use of virus drug cannot be expected until early 2021

Researchers are making "good progress" in developing vaccines against Covid-19, with a handful in late-stage trials, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert has said.

WHO is working to ensure fair vaccine distribution, but in the meantime, it is key to suppress the virus’s spread, said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.

WHO was working to expand access to potential vaccines and to help scale-up production capacity, Ryan said.

Coronavirus cases in Africa near 750,000

The number of coronavirus cases in Africa is now just short of 750,000, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

According to the daily update, 749,492 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in 54 African countries, with fatalities now at 15,726 and 409,568 recoveries.

With 396,600 cases, Southern Africa remains the continent’s worst-hit region, followed by North Africa with 139,900 infections, West Africa 111,000, East Africa 58,400, and Central Africa with 43,600 cases.

Turkey sees major rise in Covid-19 recoveries

Recoveries in Turkey from the novel coronavirus topped the number of daily infections by 300, said the country's health minister.

As many as 1,203 people recovered from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

The country registered 902 new Covid-19 cases over the past day, bringing the tally to 222,402, he said.

France records 998 new confirmed cases

France has recorded 998 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours amid rising concerns about new flare-ups of the epidemic, according to the latest health ministry data. 

The number of confirmed cases now stands at 178,336, the ministry said. The number of people in hospitals with the virus was down to 6,366 from 6,482 a day earlier, and the number in intensive care was down to 445 from 455 a day earlier, the figures showed.

The number of deaths in France from the new coronavirus stood at 30,172 against 30,165 a day earlier.

Kashmir locks down as virus cases surge

Indian-administered Kashmir imposed a strict lockdown for a week as authorities warned of rising coronavirus cases, one day after cancelling a major annual Hindu pilgrimage.

India, which has recorded almost 1.2 million infections and is the world's third-most infected nation, had significantly eased a months-long shutdown to revive its shattered economy.

But numerous states across the nation of 1.3 billion people have reimposed restrictions in recent weeks as case numbers exploded, sparking fears of overwhelmed healthcare systems.

'Very few' Americans back full school reopening

Only about 1 in 10 Americans think daycare centers, preschools, or K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. 

Most think mask requirements and other safety measures are necessary to restart in-person instruction, and roughly 3 in 10 say that teaching kids in classrooms shouldn’t happen at all.

The findings are a sharp contrast to the picture that President Donald Trump paints as he pressures schools to reopen. The Republican president claims to have wide support for a full reopening, arguing that Democrats oppose it for political reasons

Almost a quarter of New Delhi has had coronavirus

Almost a quarter of people in New Delhi have had the coronavirus, according to a study that has cast serious doubt on the official numbers both in the megacity and across India.

India last week became the third country after the US and Brazil to hit one million cases but many experts have long said that with testing rates low, the true number could be much higher.

Blood tests on 21,387 randomly selected people across Delhi conducted by the National Center for Disease Control found that 23.48 percent of them had IgG antibodies – indicating past exposure to the virus.

About 22.86 percent of the population had been infected by the virus, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said.

US to buy 100 million doses of potential vaccine

The US government has agreed to pay almost $2 billion for 100 million doses of a potential virus vaccine, German firm BioNTech has said.

BioNTech, which is developing the drug with US pharma giant Pfizer, said in a statement that American people would receive the future vaccine "for free" in line with the Trump administration's "commitment for free access for Covid-19 vaccines".

Under the agreement, the US government has placed an initial order for 100 million doses to be delivered if regulatory approval is granted.

The US government also has an option to purchase as many as 500 million additional doses, BioNTech added.

Brazil's Bolsonaro tests positive again

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has had another positive result for the virus in the third test he has taken since falling ill on July 7, a secretariat of the communications ministry.

"The test carried out on the president yesterday, on the 21st, showed a positive result," a statement said. 

"President Bolsonaro is still in good condition, accompanied by the presidency's medical team," it added.

DRC ends virus health emergency

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the virus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools, and borders.

The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.

Tshisekedi's government proclaimed a health emergency on March 24 in which borders were closed, as well as schools, bars, and restaurants.

Belgian official urges action to prevent virus 'avalanche'

Belgium is experiencing a dangerous surge in virus cases after relaxing many of its lockdown measures, health officials have said, warning of a possible second wave epidemic.

The Belgian national security council will meet on Thursday and could decide to postpone the next phase of the country's staggering return to normal economic and social life.

But already at a public briefing on Wednesday, officials urged residents to take better care to respect social distancing guidelines and to wash their hands more often.

Another 3,000 virus deaths likely in Sweden

Swedish health officials have said that another 3,000 deaths from the virus were likely in the country, known for its controversial softer approach to curbing the spread and much higher death toll than its neighbours.

The projection comes from one of three potential scenarios presented in a report from the country's Public Health Agency.

In the worst scenario, where Covid-19 was expected to follow a traditional pandemic trajectory, over 4,400 more deaths related to the virus could follow.

That would nearly double the 5,646 deaths, out of 78,166 confirmed cases, so far recorded since the start of the pandemic.

California surpasses New York state in confirmed cases

California's confirmed virus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation, according to new data, showing that California now has about 1,200 more cases than New York.

However, New York's 72,302 deaths are by far the highest total in the country and nine times more than California's tally, and its rate of confirmed infections of about 2,100 per 100,000 people is twice California's rate.

California is by far the most populous US state, with nearly 40 million people, while New York has about 19.5 million.

Indonesia reports 139 new deaths, highest daily rise

Indonesia has reported 139 new deaths from the coronavirus, the country's highest daily increase, and bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,459, data from the country's health ministry website showed. 

The number of infections rose by 1,882 to bring the total number to 91,751 in Indonesia, which has the most confirmed cases in East Asia.

Philippines records 6 new deaths, 1,594 more cases

The Philippines' health ministry has reported six deaths and 1,594 additional infections, the seventh straight day when confirmed cases have topped 1,000.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had reached 1,843, while confirmed cases rose to 72,269. 

Hong Kong reports record daily rise in virus cases

Hong Kong has reported 113 virus cases on, a daily record, including 105 that were transmitted locally, adding to a slew of new cases that have hit the global financial hub over the past two weeks.

The city is expanding strict new social distancing measures from midnight Wednesday, mandating face masks in all indoor public areas including malls and markets, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said. 

Ireland may tighten travel restrictions for virus hot spots

Ireland may introduce further travel restrictions for countries with a very high instance of Covis-19, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said after the government lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement for 15 European countries.

Ireland, which has one of the lower rates of infection in the European Union with around 5 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, decided late on Tuesday to drop the restriction for people coming from countries with a similar or lower rate.

Coveney said the government would turn its attention in the coming weeks to whether it should introduce steps beyond the 14-day quarantine from areas hardest hit, including a potential requirement to take a coronavirus test before departure.

Australia posts record number of new infections

Australia has reported a record 502 new coronavirus infections nearly four months after the epidemic initially peaked, with authorities warning the country was entering a critical new phase.

Most of the new cases were reported in the southeastern state of Victoria, where authorities have struggled to bring an outbreak in Melbourne under control despite an almost two-week lockdown in Australia's second-biggest city.

Australia's new coronavirus infections previously peaked on March 28 when 459 cases were reported.

Australia has now recorded almost 13,000 cases of the virus and 128 fatalities in a country of about 25 million.

Germany's cases rise by 454 to 202,799 

The number of confirmed  virus cases in Germany increased by 454 to 202,799, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases has showed.

The reported death toll rose by five to 9,095, the tally showed.

Thailand to extend emergency decree until end of August

Thailand will extend a state of emergency until the end of August, a senior official said, maintaining the security measure put in place to contain its coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement comes after nearly two months without local transmission and with many people in Thailand questioning the need for an emergency decree.

The extension comes after a weekend where political protests took place against the government, in defiance of a ban on gatherings. Somsak, however, said the emergency decree would be used only to contain virus outbreaks and not rallies.

Masks mandatory as cases rise in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has made it mandatory to wear masks on public transport, in indoor areas and passenger terminals.

The measures will last until August 5 as the city tries to break the transmission of local infections.

Hong Kong has recorded 2,019 infections with 14 deaths. On Tuesday, it reported 58 cases, 25 of them from an unknown source.

Health Minister Sophia Chan is appealing to people to stay at home as much as possible, saying Hong Kong is at a high risk of a community outbreak.

Mainland China reports more cases

China reported 14 new cases in the mainland for July 21, up from 11 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Wednesday.

Of the new infections, nine were in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. 

The other five were imported cases.

China reported 22 new asymptomatic patients, up from six a day earlier.

As of Tuesday, mainland China had 83,707 confirmed cases, the health authority said. 

The death toll remained at 4,634.

Mexico's coronavirus death toll passes 40,000 mark

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 6,859 new confirmed infections and 915 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 356,255  cases and 40,400 deaths.

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

Over 400 infected bodies recovered from Bolivia's streets

Bolivian police said they've recovered more than 400 bodies from streets and homes over a five-day period, with 85 percent of the dead believed to have had coronavirus.

A total of 191 bodies were recovered in the Cochabamba metropolitan area alone from July 15-20, with another 141 collected in La Paz, national police director Coronel Ivan Rojas told journalists.

In the country's biggest city, Santa Cruz, authorities recovered 68 bodies.

The Santa Cruz metropolitan area is the worst affected by coronavirus in Bolivia and accounts for almost half of the country's more than 60,000 cases.

Some 85 percent of the bodies were "positive cases for Covid-19 and cases with Covid symptoms, so they will be recorded as suspected cases", said Rojas.

The rest died of "other causes, meaning death from an illness or a violent cause," he added.

According to the national epidemiological office, the western regions of Cochabamba and La Paz are experiencing a "very rapid increase" in cases.

Qatar allows citizens and permanent residents to travel

Qatar said that its citizens and permanent residency holders can travel outside the country and return at any time, and residents will be allowed to return starting August 1.

The statement also said arrivals to the country from low-risk countries are required to take a coronavirus test and sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week.

These measures come as the third phase of a four-phase plan to lift coronavirus restrictions starts at the beginning of August.

Virus is driving force behind displacements in Yemen

The UN migration agency is warning the pandemic has emerged as a new driver of internal displacement among Yemenis.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says its teams have tallied more than 10,000 people citing fear of the virus or its impact on the economy and services as reasons for moving in the last 3.5 months.

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix has found more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee in Yemen since January because of fighting and insecurity. Those in the country have already dealt with five years of war.

Yemen has 1,610 confirmed cases and 445 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Jordan to reopen airports to tourists in August

The Jordanian government says it will begin reopening airports to international travelers in August after sealing its borders in March to help halt the spread.

Travelers from a list of approved, low-risk countries must pass a test at least 72 hours before departure and will get a second test upon arrival in Jordan, Transportation Minister Khaled Saif says.

Jordan will require incoming tourists to download Aman, the government’s contact-tracing mobile application, for the duration of their stay in the country.

Jordan is heavily reliant on tourism and shutting its borders in response to the pandemic has impacted the economy. But the measures have resulted in 1,218 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.

Trump says he's 'getting used to' wearing mask

President Donald Trump says he’s “getting used to” wearing a mask as he showed off his from the White House briefing room podium.

He’s telling reporters that he has “no problem” wearing one, saying: “I carry it. I wear it ... and I’ll continue.”

Trump’s recent comments are a major change in tone for the president, who spent months resisting wearing a mask in public and once suggested they were a political statement against him.

But he told reporters that he’s “getting used to the mask” and uses one when appropriate.

Trump then pulled his out of a suit pocket and encouraged the public, saying: “if you’re close together, I would put on the mask.”

Trump’s comments came at the end of the return of his evening briefing, which lasted less than half an hour. 

Trump appeared alone, with no public health experts appearing.

Alaska imposes mask law in capital

People in Alaska’s capital city must wear face coverings in certain indoor public places.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed the measure, which is similar to a measure enacted in Anchorage.

It calls for use of face coverings in grocery stores, restaurants, bars, childcare, and personal care facilities.

It’s also required in communal office areas and on public transportation.

Exceptions include people who cannot tolerate a mask due to medical conditions or disabilities, those exercising and children younger than two-years-old.

The ordinance allows for fines up to $25. It also states a violation doesn’t create grounds for harassment.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies