Coronavirus has infected more than 14.6 million people, of whom over 8.7 million have recovered and over 609,000 have died. Here are the updates for July 20:

Bankruptcies are expected to soar by 57 percent in the US, 45 percent in Brazil, 43 percent in Britain, and 41 percent in Spain.
Bankruptcies are expected to soar by 57 percent in the US, 45 percent in Brazil, 43 percent in Britain, and 41 percent in Spain. (Reuters)

Monday, July 20, 2020

World facing a massive surge in bankruptcies: study

Governments around the world are scrambling to save companies battered by coronavirus lockdowns but the world is nevertheless facing a massive surge in bankruptcies by a third, a study conducted by a trade insurance firm has said.

"Covid-19 is creating an insolvency time bomb," said the report by Euler Hermes, predicting a 35 percent cumulative jump in the number of companies that go bust between 2019 and 2021.

The biggest increase among the world's economic powerhouses will be in the US, with a 57 percent jump in insolvencies in 2021 compared to 2019, before the coronavirus struck.

Bankruptcies are expected to soar by 45 percent in Brazil, 43 percent in Britain, and 41 percent in Spain.

Pandemic 'spreading in Egypt prisons'

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report that several Egyptian prisons and police stations have reported suspected Covid-19 infections.

"At least 14 prisoners and detainees have died, most likely due to Covid-19 complications, in 10 detention facilities as of July 15," the report claimed.

The HRW said that scores of prisoners and detainees have shown mild to severe pandemic symptoms with prisons having insufficient medical care and virtually no access to testing for the virus or symptom screening.

UK secures 90 million possible vaccine doses

UK has signed deals to secure 90 million doses of two possible Covid-19 vaccines from an alliance of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, and French group Valneva, Britain's business ministry said

The UK secured 30 million doses of the experimental BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and a deal in principle for 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, with an option of 40 million more doses if it was proven to be safe, effective and suitable, the ministry said.

With no working vaccine against Covid-19 yet developed, Britain now has three different types of vaccines under order and a total of 230 million doses potentially available.

Russia hopes to produce 200 million vaccine doses 

Russia hopes to complete trials of a coronavirus vaccine in August and produce 200 million doses with foreign partners by the end of the year, the head of its sovereign wealth fund said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which manages some $10 billion, is working with a government research institute on one of several vaccine projects in the country.

RDIF chief executive Kirill Dmitriev said he hoped the project would receive permission next month to begin production, after the first phase of a vaccine trial was completed last week.

India reports record new virus cases

India reported more than 40,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a record high for the country.

The 40,425 new cases raised India's total to 1,118,043, including 27,497 deaths.

The ministry said that India’s coronavirus fatality rate – currently at 2.49 percent – is “progressively falling” due to an effective containment strategy and aggressive testing.

A country of 1.4 billion people, India has been conducting nearly 10,000 tests per million people. More than 300,000 samples are being tested every day now, compared to just a few hundred in March, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body.

Hong Kong reports 108 cases

Health authorities in Hong Kong suggested imposing a curfew as it reported at least 100 new cases for the second consecutive day.

China’s semi-autonomous region reported 108 coronavirus cases on Sunday followed by a mix of 100 preliminary and confirmed cases, daily South China Morning Post said.

It was the first time since the outbreak that Hong Kong reported Covid-19 cases in 3-digits.

Germany's cases rise by 249

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 249 to 201,823, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by two to 9,086, the tally showed. 

Peru's death toll tops 13,000

Peru's coronavirus deaths have crossed 13,000, the health ministry said, a day before the country is scheduled to reopen restaurants as part of easing lockdown measures.

An additional 189 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the toll to 13,187, according to the ministry's daily report.

The report also showed 4,090 new infections had been recorded, bringing the total caseload to 353,590.

China reports 22 new cases

China reported 22 new virus cases in the mainland, up from 16 cases from a day earlier, the health commission said.

Of the new infections, 17 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 13 new asymptomatic patients, down from 42 a day earlier.

As of Sunday, mainland China had 83,682 confirmed virus cases, the health authority said. The death toll remained at 4,634.

Mexico's president promises better health care

Mexico’s president promised to combat chronic health problems and improve health care, as the country’s cases of Covid-19 continued to mount.

The Health Department reported 5,311 more confirmed cases, for a total of 344,224, and 296 more deaths, for a total of 39,184.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a message to the families of coronavirus victims that he would fight chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension that make people more likely to suffer severe cases of Covid-19.

Australia's Victoria state reports 275 new cases 

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria recorded one death from the new coronavirus and logged 275 cases of infections compared with 363 cases a day earlier.

A woman in her 80s died from the virus overnight, Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media briefing in Melbourne, taking the national death toll to 123.

Coronavirus cases have spiked in Victoria in July, mostly in the city of Melbourne, prompting authorities to ask residents to wear face masks when they step outside their houses or risk fines of $139.54 (A$200) for not complying.

Brazil reports 23,529 new cases, 716 deaths

Brazil registered 23,529 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 716 new deaths, the health ministry said.

Total cases in Brazil, the world's second most affected country after the United States, have now risen to 2,098,389 while deaths totalled 79,488.

Mexico reports 5,311 new cases of virus, 296 more deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 5,311 new confirmed infections and 296 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 344,224 cases and 39,184 deaths.

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

South Africa virus death toll tops 5,000

South Africa's death toll from the virus has passed the 5,000 mark, according to official figures released by the continent's hardest-hit country.

South Africa registered 85 new deaths from the virus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 5,033.

A total of 13,449 new infections were also officially diagnosed, taking the number to 364,328, figures released by the health ministry showed.

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhiz urged citizens to respect recommended hygiene measures.

The peak of the pandemic in South Africa is expected over the next few weeks.

Chile eyes gradual reopening

Chilean government officials presented a plan to gradually relax lockdown restrictions after the coronavirus infection rate improved in some regions of the country.

The plan, called "Step by Step," includes five stages that range from total quarantine to advanced opening and will be applied according to epidemiological criteria, the capacity of the healthcare system and the ability to trace cases, officials said.

"These five weeks of improvement allow us to start a new stage today ... This plan, which will be step by step, cautiously, prudently, will be applied gradually and flexibly," said President Sebastian Pinera in the announcement, adding that 12 regions in the country had improved in recent weeks.

Much of the population of the world's largest copper producer, including in the capital Santiago, remains under lockdown as Chile works to control the spread of the virus, currently at 330,000 confirmed cases and more than 8,500 deaths.

The government did not specify when Santiago or the mining regions in the north of the country would move into a gradual reopening.

Since the start of the pandemic in early March, Chile's government has imposed various measures to stem the spread of the virus, including border closures, a shut-down of trade and non-essential services, and a total quarantine for older adults.

Cases near 11,000 in Sudan

The tally of coronavirus cases in Sudan has reached 10,992, authorities said.

Sudan's Health Ministry said in a statement that 230 new cases were reported in the country in the last 24 hours.

Also, 13 more people died in the last 24 hours due to the virus bringing the death toll to 693, the statement added.

More than 5,700 people have recovered from Covid-19 in Sudan.

Las Vegas hospitals add beds and staff

Officials say Las Vegas-area hospitals are adding beds and staff to accommodate an increasing number of Covid-19 patients.

The Clark County fire chief says hospital occupancy isn’t high enough activate a US Army Corps of Engineers plan to use the Las Vegas Convention Center for up to 900 patients. 

But the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that hospitals in Clark County added 441 staffed beds as of Thursday, and the Nevada Hospital Association says another 49 have been added in other parts of the state.

The intensive care unit at the state’s only public hospital was 95% occupied as of Wednesday, with about one in three of those patients diagnosed with Covid-19.

State health officials report that 35,765 people have tested positive for the virus statewide and at least 647 have died.

Flood of appeals leads Louisiana to suspend help

Louisiana officials said they have suspended an emergency rent assistance program to help those hurt by the Covid-19 economic slowdown because they were quickly overwhelmed with applicants.

They said more than 40,000 people had begun the application process in less than four days. The Lousiana Housing Corporation had estimated it had enough money to help about 10,000 tenants, with money paid directly to landlords.

The Corporation had set aside $24 million of federal money for the program and says it will try to find more money after the flood of applications.

When the program was announced on Thursday, housing advocates said it was a good start, but was far too little money, especially with the $600-per-week federal unemployment payments expiring at the end of the month.

“The response to our state’s emergency rental assistance program proves how significant the economic burden of Covid-19 is for our citizens,” Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

Cases jump again in South Carolina

South Carolina has set another record for newly diagnosed cases in a single day.

2,335 people were newly diagnosed with Covid-19, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported.

South Carolina has reported 2,000 new cases three times since the virus was first detected in the state in March. All have been in the past eight days. The state has spent much of the past month in the top four in the nation for new Covid-19 cases when adjusted by population.

Health officials also reported 19 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,138 people.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies