The novel coronavirus has infected nearly 9.3 million people around the world. Here are updates for June 23:

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other health officials testify before the House Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US June 23, 2020.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other health officials testify before the House Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US June 23, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 23

Fauci hopeful for a vaccine by late 2020, early 2021

US expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that he is cautiously optimistic there will be a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021, but warned that the next few weeks will be critical to tamping down coronavirus hot spots around the country.

Fauci and other top health officials also said they have not been asked to slow down testing for coronavirus, an issue that became controversial after President Donald Trump said last weekend that he had asked them to do just that because it was uncovering too many infections. Trump said on Wednesday that he wasn’t kidding when he said that.

“We will be doing more testing,” Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, told a House committee.

The US has tested more than 27 million people, with about 2.3 million – or 8.4 percent - testing positive.

French nursing homes weekly toll halve to 31

The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 57 to 29,720 on Tuesday, as the health ministry included weekly data for the death toll in nursing homes.

The number of people who died in hospitals increased by 26 to 19,232, compared to 23 on Monday and an average of 20 over the past seven days.

The ministry also reported that in the past seven days 31 people died of the virus in nursing homes, less than half of the 73 reported a week ago. 

Turkey's coronavirus tests pass 3M mark

Turkey has now done over three million coronavirus tests since the outbreak began, the country’s health minister has announced.

A total of 1,315 more people won their battle against Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally of recoveries to 162,848, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

Koca said the number of recovered patients was greater than the number of new cases.

Turkey reported 27 new Covid-19 fatalities over the past day, bringing the total death toll to 5,001, the data showed.

The country's healthcare workers did 42,982 tests for the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the total count to more than 3 million.

According to test results, the total number of coronavirus cases nationwide to date reached 190,165, with new 1,268 infections reported.

A total of 893 patients remain in intensive care units across the country.

UK's deaths rise to 42,927

The number of people in Britain who have died after being confirmed to have Covid-19 has risen to 42,927, from 42,647 the day before, health officials said on Tuesday.

The increase includes 171 new deaths reported as of 1600 GMT on June 22, plus 109 deaths that occurred in April, May and June which had been reclassified as caused by Covid-19.

Seven more Pakistan cricketers test positive

Seven more Pakistan players due to tour England in August have tested positive for coronavirus, the country's cricket board has said, taking the total to 10 since the first results were announced this week.

Pakistan are due to depart for England on Saturday ahead of a series that will see them play three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals against England, starting in August.

Despite the new cases, the Pakistan Cricket Board's chief executive Wasim Khan insisted the tour would go ahead.

Djokovic positive for coronavirus

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus, bringing a premature end to the exhibition tournament he hosted during the pandemic and raising serious questions about the sport's planned return in August.

Djokovic, who was not showing any symptoms, joined fellow players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki in testing positive for Covid-19 during the second leg of his Adria Tour where social distancing was minimal, players were filmed dancing bare-top in a nightclub and embracing each other over the net.

Djokovic said his wife Jelena also tested positive while the results of their children were negative.

"I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection," said the 33-year-old Serb, who has said he would be against a compulsory coronavirus vaccination if it became a requirement for tennis players to travel to tournaments.

"I hope that it will not complicate anyone's health situation and that everyone will be fine," the 17-time Grand Slam winner said, adding that he would now go into self-isolation for the next 14 days.

Germany puts Guetersloh in lockdown

The premier of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said he was putting the Guetersloh area into lockdown until June 30 after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant there.

"We're reintroducing contact restrictions, as in March," Armin Laschet told a news conference. "It is a preventative measure."

Saudi Arabia to allow around 1,000 pilgrims to perform Hajj

Saudi Arabia will allow around 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom to perform Hajj this year, a minister said after it announced the ritual would be scaled back due to coronavirus.

"The number of pilgrims will be around 1,000, maybe less, maybe a little more," Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten told reporters.

"The number won't be in tens or hundreds of thousands" this year, he added.

Philippines records 1,150 new cases

The Philippine health ministry reported 1,150 additional cases, the country's biggest single-day increase in infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total cases have reached 31,825, while deaths have increased by nine to 1,186.

UK death toll tops 54,000 including suspected cases

The UK's suspected death toll has hit 54,089, according to a Reuters tally of official data sources that underline the country's status as one of the worst-hit in the world.

The Reuters tally comprises fatalities for which Covid-19 was mentioned on death certificates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland up to June 12 and up to June 14 in Scotland. It also includes more recent hospital deaths.

Unlike the lower death toll published daily by the government, the death certificate figures include suspected cases.

Indonesia reports 1,051 new infections, 35 new deaths

Indonesia reported 1,051 new infections, taking its total number of cases to 47,896.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 35 more deaths reported, with total fatalities now at 2,535.

Indonesia's toll of deaths related to Covid-19 is the highest in East Asia outside of China.

India adds nearly 15K cases as more states worry

India has added nearly 15,000 new infections to its coronavirus caseload as some of the states less affected by the initial surge of the virus are considering new lockdowns to staunch growing numbers.

India’s health ministry said  that the nationwide tally had reached 440,215 cases, including 14,011 deaths. The state of Delhi, which includes the capital of New Delhi, has reported 62,655 cases with the rate of new infections rapidly expanding in recent weeks as a nationwide lockdown has eased.

States remote from the capital, including Assam, in the northeast that initially reported few cases have plans to reimpose stringent lockdowns in certain districts.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi lifted months-long restrictions on movement and industrial and commercial activity to restart India’s ailing economy, which has shed millions of jobs.

But Sonia Gandhi, president of the main opposition Congress party, has asked the government to extend a three-month free food distribution program for India’s poorest that is due to expire soon to address a “hunger crisis.”

Russia's case tally approaches 600,000

Russia reported 7,425 new cases, pushing its nationwide case total to 599,705, the world's third highest tally.

The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said 153 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,359.

Japan to partly ease travel restrictions with Vietnam

Japan will partially ease travel restrictions with Vietnam, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said, with flights between the two countries to be permitted from June 25 to 27.

The Japanese government is weighing different options for easing entry bans put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Chinese firm gets approval to begin human testing for vaccine

China has approved a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products' unit to begin human testing, the company said in a filing.

The potential vaccine, co-developed by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical and the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has received a certificate from the National Medical Products Administration to launch clinical trials.

Chinese researchers and companies are testing six experimental shots in humans, and more than a dozen vac cines are in different stages of clinical trials globally against the virus that has killed over 470,000 people.

However, none of the them have passed large-scale, late-stage phase 3 clinical trials, a necessary step before entering the consumer market. 

Tokyo Disney parks to reopen from July 1

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will reopen from July 1 after a four-month suspension over coronavirus, its operators said Tuesday, as Japan gradually reopens its economy, including theme parks and professional sports.

Oriental Land said the two resorts will resume operations to a limited number of visitors who bought online, reserved tickets.

The parks will enforce rigorous social distancing measures and use of masks, while also checking guests' temperatures.

"We will operate the parks with caution" by restricting the number of guests and on individual rides, as well a s cleaning and social distancing efforts, Oriental Land said in a statement.

Last month, a group of Japanese park operators, including Oriental Land, released guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.

South Korea reports 46 new virus cases

South Korea reported 46 new cases on after health authorities declared the country was battling a second wave of infections that had been circulating for weeks.

The South endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside China but appears to have brought it broadly under control thanks to an extensive "trace, test and treat" programme, while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.

Social distancing rules were relaxed after a public holiday in early May and the country has since been returning largely to normal.

But in the last month, the South has seen around 35 to 50 cases a day, mostly in the Seoul metropolitan area, where half of the population lives.

Virus sets off new school closures in Australia

Australia’s Victoria state has recorded 17 new cases resulting in the closing of two primary schools in Melbourne. State Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be “significant community transmission” among the new cases.

Andrews said one of the new cases was from a person in hotel quarantine, two were from known outbreaks, three were from routine testing and 11 were under investigation.

The two schools have been closed for thorough cleaning after students from both schools tested positive for the coronavirus.

The suburbs where the schools are located are two of six local government hot spots in recent weeks.

Last weekend, Andrews said large family gatherings had been the catalyst for the virus taking off again in some areas after lockdown rules were eased.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 503 to 190,862

The number of confirmed cases in Germany rose by 503 to 190,862, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 10 to 8,895, the tally showed.

China reports 22 new cases, 13 in Beijing

China reported 22 new coronavirus cases for June 22, 13 of which were in the capital Beijing, the National Health Commission said.

This compared with 18 confirmed cases a day earlier, nine of which were in Beijing. Authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.

Another seven asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, those who are infected but show no symptoms, were reported for June 22, the same as a day earlier. China does not count these patients as confirmed cases.

Mexico's confirms 4,577 new infections and 759 deaths

Mexico reported4,577 new infections and 759 additional deaths from the novel coronavirus, the health ministry said, bringing the total number in the country to 185,122 cases and 22,584 deaths.

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

Brazil registers 21,432 additional cases, 654 deaths

Brazil recorded 21,432 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 654 new deaths resulting from the disease, the country's health ministry said.

Brazil has registered 1.1 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths reached 51,271, according to the ministry.

South Africa cases surge past 100,000

South Africa said it had over 100,000 coronavirus cases, the highest in the continent, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.

"As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa has breached the 100 000 mark at 101,590," the health ministry said.

Sixty-one deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths to 1,991.

Despite the grim death toll, data shows that the mortality rate in South Africa is at two percent, while 52.6 percent of virus patients have recovered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies