The global coronavirus pandemic has infected over 42 million people and claimed over a million lives. Here are updates for October 24:

Pink patrollers, who help and advise people to keep social distance and wear masks, walk inside the Weston Favell Shopping centre, as the spread of Covid-19 continues, in Northampton, Britain October 23, 2020
Pink patrollers, who help and advise people to keep social distance and wear masks, walk inside the Weston Favell Shopping centre, as the spread of Covid-19 continues, in Northampton, Britain October 23, 2020 (Reuters)

Saturday, October 24, 2020

France reports record of over 45,000 new cases

France has reported 45,422 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, a new record, after reporting 42,032 on Friday.

Health Ministry data also showed that 138 people had died from coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 34,645.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 1,086,497, after breaking above the 1 million mark for the first time on Friday.

Britain records 23,012 new cases

Britain has recorded 23,012 new cases, up from 20,530 on Friday, government data showed.

There were 174 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from 224 on Friday.

Italy's daily virus cases reach nearly 20,000

Italy has reported 19,644 new cases, despite a few thousand fewer swab tests performed, according to the Health Ministry.

Lombardy, where the outbreak has been most devastating, registered more than double the number of daily cases than any other region.

The nation’s confirmed death toll, second highest in Europe after Britain’s, rose to 37,210, after 151 more deaths.

Chile surpasses 500,000 cases

Chile has identified more than 500,000 cases since the outbreak began in March, the health ministry said.

The ministry said 500,542 Chileans were now confirmed to have suffered from the virus, including 1,631 cases added in the past day and 48 deaths, taking fatalities to a total of 13,892. Active cases are at a record low of 9,900, it added.

Chile, which was among the worst-hit nations in July, ranking only behind Qatar globally for cases per head of the population, has in the past two months gradually eased lockdowns.

Sri Lanka closes harbours after 609 test positive

Authorities in Sri Lanka closed at least two fishery harbours and many stalls after a surge of 609 cases linked to the country's main fish market.

The government also widened the curfew in parts of Colombo, the capital. At least 11 villages were isolated in densely populated Western province, which includes Colombo.

Authorities say the outbreak is related to a cluster in a garment factory early this month, which has grown to 3,426 cases, almost half the country's total of 6,287. It broke a two-month lull in infections.

Turkey reports over 2,000 new virus cases

Turkey has registered 2,091 new patients over the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

The country’s overall tally now stands at 359,784, the ministry said.

Some 1,573 more patients recovered over the past day, raising the count to 313,093, while the death toll rose by 69 to reach 9,727.

Spain's regions urge government to impose state of emergency

Spanish regions are urging the central government to take measures that would give them legal backing to impose curfews as the country battles a resurgent epidemic.

As of Saturday, 10 of Spain's 17 regions, including Valencia, Asturias, Castilla-La Mancha and the Basque Country, had called on the government to decree a state of emergency, which would allow regions to limit people's movement.

Regions expect the government to call an extraordinary Council of Ministers on Sunday to approve the measure, Spanish media including El Pais reported.

While many regions favour some form of curfew, the powerful Madrid region opposes it, which has so far prevented a nationwide decision.

Bulgarian capital Sofia shuts nightclubs as infections surge

Bulgaria's capital Sofia, home to some 2 million people, will close nightclubs and discos for two weeks as it grapples to contain a surge in infections straining its health system, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.

Speaking on national BTV television, Fandakova also urged Sofia universities to switch to online education and appealed to businesses to have as many employees as possible work from home.

"The situation is Sofia is becoming increasingly alarming. We have a new increase in infections and of people who need hospital treatment. This is straining the hospitals," she said.

Malaysia reports 1,228 new cases, biggest daily jump

Malaysia reported 1,228 new cases, a record daily jump since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number of cases to 25,742.

The health ministry also said seven new deaths were recorded across the Southeast Asian country. 

US sets daily record of over 83,000 virus cases

The United States has hit a daily record of cases with more than 83,000 reported infections, thousands more than the previous US peak in July.

The US death toll, meanwhile, has grown to nearly 224,00, according to the tally published by Johns Hopkins University. The total US caseload reported on Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

The numbers are an ominous sign that the disease still has a firm grip on the nation that has more confirmed virus-related deaths and infections than any other in the world. 

Many states are reporting a surge of cases and say hospitals are running out of space in places where the pandemic seemed remote only months ago.

Slovakia reports 2,890 new cases, highest daily tally

Slovakia reported 2,890 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily tally yet, as the country launched an experimental testing programme.

The country of 5.5 million has recorded 159 deaths connected to the pandemic so far.

Thousands of Slovaks lined up to be tested in the country's worst-affected areas on Friday, taking part in a pilot programme that will eventually go nationwide. 

Istanbul mayor tests positive for the virus

The mayor of Turkey's metropolis Istanbul has tested positive, an official announced.

"The health condition of our mayor, whose treatment process started at the hospital, is good," Murat Ongun, spokesman of Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, said on Twitter.

On Friday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that Turkey's largest city housed 40% of cases in the country.

Czech Republic's daily tally tops 15,000 for first time

The Czech Republic reported 15,252 new cases for October 23, its highest daily tally, as the country faces Europe's fastest spread of the infection.

The total number of cases rose to 238,323 in the country of 10.7 million, with 126 new deaths taking that total to 1,971.

French Open winner Swiatek will quarantine after contact

French Open winner Iga Swiatek said she feels good, but will quarantine, after she met Polish President Andrzej Duda who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

"Neither I nor members of my team have symptoms of coronavirus. We carry out tests regularly. We will quarantine ourselves in accordance with current procedures," the 19-year-old tennis star said said in a Twitter post.

Indonesia reports 4,070 new infections, 128 new deaths

Indonesia reported 4,070 new infections, taking the total number of cases to 385,980, official data from the country's task force showed.

It also reported 128 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 13,205.

4,119 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 309,219. 

Philippines reports 2,057 new cases, 19 more deaths

The Philippines' health ministry recorded 2,057 new infections and 19 additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 367,819 while deaths have reached 6,934.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of cases and deaths in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. 

Slovenian foreign minister tests positive

Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar has tested positive for the virus.

The Foreign Ministry says Logar has displayed no symptoms of the disease and is self-isolating in the next 10 days.

The official STA news agency says Logar was on a tour of the Baltics earlier this week and attended a session of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg earlier this month.

He is the highest-ranking Slovenian official to have contracted the virus. Slovenia has faced a surge in new cases that have soared beyond 1,500 infections per day in the countr y of 2 million people.

Non-essential shops, kindergartens and hotels closed down on Saturday after authorities had already imposed an overnight curfew in an effort to curb the virus spread.

Russia reports 16,521 new cases

Russia reported 16,521 new cases after hitting a record high of over 17,300 the previous day.

This brings Russia's national tally of cases to 1,497,167 in total. Authorities said 296 people had died  in the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 25,821.

Polish President Duda infected

Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive but is feeling good, presidential minister Blazej Spychalski announced on Twitter.

"The president yesterday was tested for the presence of coronavirus. The result turned out to be positive. The president is fine. We are in constant contact with the relevant medical services," Spychalski said. 

Thailand reports one more local infection

Thailand reported one more locally transmitted case, after confirming five domestic infections last week.

The new patient is a 57-year-old French woman in the southern province of Surat Thani who tested positive for the virus a few days after completing a 14-day quarantine, the country's coronavirus taskforce said.

The patient's husband and child tested negative, health officials said.

Before the six cases, Thailand reported its first confirmed local transmission in over 100 days on September 3. In total, Thailand has reported 3,731 cases of the virus and 59 deaths.

N.Korea says China dust could spread Covid-19

North Korea has warned its citizens to stay indoors, saying seasonal yellow dust blowing in from China might carry the new virus into the country.

"As the new coronavirus infections continue to spread around the world, the need to deal with the yellow dust and take thorough measures has become more critical," North Korea's official party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said on Thursday.

The claim that the virus that causes Covid-19 could spread to North Korea from the Gobi desert, 1,900 km (1,200 miles) away, appears unsupported. 

The North Korean newspaper said citizens should refrain from outdoor activities and must follow prevention guidelines such as wearing masks when they go outside.

North Korea has reported no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a claim that health experts question. 

Pyongyang has imposed strict border controls and quarantine measures to prevent an outbreak. Analysts say an outbreak could be devastating for the economically and politically isolated country.

India's Covid-19 cases pass 7.8M

India has reported 53,370 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the overall tally past 7.8 million.

The Health Ministry also reported 650 deaths, driving the country’s toll to 117,956.

The highest number of new infections is coming from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka states. They’re also reporting the maximum number of daily recoveries.

Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third, even as testing has remained consistent.

India is still adding more than 50,000 cases a day as the country prepares for a festival season when large crowds gather. Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread.

Hundreds clash with Naples police over virus curfew

Hundreds of protesters in Naples threw projectiles at police and set rubbish bins on fire late on Friday during a demonstration against restrictions in the southern Italian city.

Calls were issued on social media to challenge a curfew that took effect in the Campania region ahead of the weekend, enacted in response to a spiralling second wave of infections that saw nearly 20,000 new cases detected in the last 24 hours.

Italy was the first European country to be badly hit by the virus.
It has now registered nearly 500,000 cases and 37,000 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

Sri Lanka closes harbours after 609 test positive

Authorities in Sri Lanka closed at least two fishery harbours and many stalls after a surge of 609 cases linked to the country's main fish market.

The government also widened the curfew in parts of Colombo. At least 11 villages were isolated in the densely populated Western province, which includes the capital.

Health authorities on Wednesday temporarily closed the fish market on Colombo's outskirts after 49 traders tested positive for the coronavirus. By Saturday, the number of cases went up to 609.

Hundreds of traders and fishermen are being tested.

Authorities say the outbreak is related to a cluster in a garment factory early this month, which has grown to 3,426 cases, almost half the country's total of 6,287. It broke a two-month lull in infections.

Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home. Schools and key public offices are closed, gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.

Sri Lanka has had 14 deaths since March.

Malaysia's king to consult with rulers amid talk of emergency

Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah will consult with other rulers to discuss proposals by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the palace said, after sources told Reuters the premier had asked the king to declare a state of emergency.

Muhyiddin met with the king on Friday to present the emergency proposal that includes a suspension of parliament, sources said - a move that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim denounced as an attempt by the premier to cling to power amid a power struggle.

The proposal comes as Malaysia sees a resurgence in coronavirus cases and as Muhyiddin faces a leadership challenge from Anwar, who last month said he had majority support in parliament to oust the premier.

The palace did not identify the recommendations made by Muhyiddin, and said the king will soon hold the consultation with other Malay rulers.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 14,714 to 418,005

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 14,714 to 418,005, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 49 to 10,003, the tally showed.

Victoria shuts down two Melbourne schools

All staff and students from two schools in northeast Melbourne have been told to immediately get tested for Covid-19 after the emergence of seven new cases on Saturday. 

There were no deaths.

Both schools will be closed for the next two weeks. Already about 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak. 

Warnings have been circulated to workers, including taxi drivers, who might have visited the area.

The state’s death toll remained at 817 on Saturday and the national figure at 905, with only one death in the past week.

South Korea's to test Seoul hospitals

South Korea has reported 77 new cases, mostly from the greater capital area where officials are scrambling to stem transmissions at hospitals and nursing homes. 

Figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country’s caseload to 25,775, including 457 deaths.

Among the 1,484 active cases, 60 are in serious condition. 

Fifty-nine of the new cases were reported from densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak since summer. 

Hundreds of cases have been linked to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes. Officials are testing thousands of medical workers to stem infections. 

Eleven of the new cases were tied to international arrivals, including passengers from the United States, the Philippines and India. 

AstraZeneca, J&J resume US tests of vaccines

Two drugmakers have announced the resumption of US testing of their Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data.

The two coronavirus vaccines are among several candidates in final-stage testing, the last step before seeking regulatory approval.

The drugmakers said they got the go-ahead on Friday from the Food and Drug Administration to restart tests in the US.

Such temporary halts of drug and vaccine testing are relatively common: In research involving thousands of participants, some are likely to fall ill. Pausing a study allows researchers to investigate whether an illness is a side effect or a coincidence.

Testing of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has already resumed in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa and Japan.

AstraZeneca’s study involves 30,000 people in the US, with some getting the vaccine and others a dummy shot.

Johnson & Johnson said it’s preparing to resume recruitment soon for its US vaccine study. 

The company added that it’s in talks with other regulators around the world to resume testing in their countries.

South Africa records 1,897 new cases, 48 deaths

South Africa has recorded 1,897 new cases, bringing the nationwide number to 712,412, according to its health minister.

“Regrettably, we report 48 Covid-19 related deaths today. This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 18,891,” Zweli Mkhize said at a daily update.

The top health official said of the 48 deaths, seven occurred in the past 48 hours.

The country’s recovery rate now stands at 90 percent, which is equivalent to 643,523 people.

South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases on the African continent and is the 12th most affected country in the world after the UK, Mexico and Peru reported higher numbers.

Mexico reports 6,604 new cases, 418 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 6,604 additional cases of and 418 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 880,775 and the death toll to 88,312.

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

Brazil reports 30,026 new cases, 571 deaths

Brazil recorded 30,026 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 571 deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 5.3 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 156,471, according to ministry data.

Brazil okays import of 6M doses of Sinovac vaccine

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa has authorised Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute biomedical centre to import 6 million doses of a vaccine candidate developed by China's Sinovac.

The vaccine, known as CoronaVac, is still in phase 3clinical trials in Brazil and has not been registered for wider use in Brazil, Anvisa said.

Turkey sees 2nd Covid-19 peak in Anatolian region

Turkey is seeing a second Covid-19 peak in the Anatolian heartland region, with a dangerous rise in the number of patients, the country's Health Ministry said.

"The pandemic is in its second peak in Anatolia. We are facing a risky increase," Fahrettin Koca told a news conference following a meeting with local officials.

Koca also offered good news, saying that Turkey expects to have some 5 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine – possibly one from China or from the drug company Pfizer – with few side effects ready by December.

“In line with our expectations, in December if immunity levels are well developed, we think this vaccine will be applied in Turkey,” he said.

But Koca again urged continued measures to stem the virus’ spread.

“We must minimize the time we spend outside. Let's stay at home except for our occupations and obligations,” he said.

If people neglect protective measures, “winter will be a period of defeat for all of us with the effect of indoor environments,” he added.

Looking ahead to flu season, Koca said Turkey is currently acquiring two times more influenza vaccine than it did last year, adding: "We are working to increase the number to 3 million or even more."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies