The Covid-19 pandemic has infected over 39 million people and claimed more than 1.1 million lives around the world. Here are the updates for October 15.

A woman, wearing a protective face mask, stands next to sticker with the slogan
A woman, wearing a protective face mask, stands next to sticker with the slogan "wear face mask mandatory" in a temporary testing site for Covid-19, in Lille, France, October 15, 2020. (Reuters)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

France's new cases set new 24-hour record, above 30,000

French health authorities have reported the number of new daily coronavirus infections jumped above 30,000 for the first time since the start of the epidemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a nightly curfew in Paris and eight other big cities where the coronavirus is rampant.

There were a total of 30,621 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, up on Wednesday's 22,591, while hospitalisations and deaths linked to the disease also rose.

The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 infections rose by 88 to 33,125, versus 104 on Wednesday. The cumulative number of cases now totals 809,684.

Patients in Intensive Care Units now total 1,750, an increase of 77 in 24 hours.

Italy cases surge to new daily record close to 9,000

Italy has registered 8,804 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry has said, the highest daily tally since the start of the country's outbreak and up steeply from 7,332 on Wednesday.

There were also 83 Covid-19-related deaths on Thursday, jumping from 43 the day before but still far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April when a daily peak of more than 900 fatalities was reached.

The number of people in intensive care with the virus has risen steadily. It stood at 586 on Thursday, up from 539 the day before and compared with a low of around 40 in the second half of July.

Spain adds 13,300 Covid-19 infections

Spain's cumulative tally of coronavirus infections has climbed by over 13,300 to 921,374 in a slight acceleration from the previous few days, as the region of Catalonia was preparing to shut down bars and restaurants to prevent contagion.

Data from the health ministry, which includes new cases and deaths in the past 24 hours and adds to the total retroactively, also showed the death toll rising by 140 to 33,553.

Still, the number of daily infections in the pandemic's hotspot in Western Europe has come down somewhat from a peak of over 16,000 on September 18, according to health ministry charts.

"Spain is stabilising, but the territorial differences are important. We cannot let our guard down. In none of the regions, we have the incidence indicators we'd like to have," health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon told a briefing.

Turkey sees 1,693 more patients

Turkey registered 1,693 more coronavirus patients and 1,311 new recoveries over the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry has said.

Turkey’s patient count to date now stands at 342,143, with recoveries totalling 299,679, according to the ministry data released on Thursday.

The death toll from the virus reached 9,080, as 66 more patients died over the past day.

In US Midwest states, new infections rise to record highs

Wisconsin and other states in the US Midwest are battling a surge in Covid-19 cases, with new infections and hospitalizations rising to record levels in an ominous sign of a nationwide resurgence as temperatures get colder.

More than 22,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday across the Midwest, eclipsing the previous record of more than 20,000 on October 9. 

Hospitalisations in those states reached a record high for a 10th consecutive day, as some hospitals began feeling the strain.

More than 86 percent of the beds in Wisconsin's intensive care units were in use as of Wednesday.

Faster recovery could add $9T to global income by 2025

Speeding up the recovery from the coronavirus recession can add $9 trillion in global income by 2025, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said, adding that this depended on strong international cooperation, including on vaccines.

Speaking at a news conference after a meeting of the IMF's steering committee, Georgieva also called on the United States and China to keep up strong economic stimulus that can help boost global recovery.

"If we may make fast progress everywhere, we could speed up the recovery. And we can add almost $9 trillion to global income by 2025, and that, in turn, could help narrow the income gap between richer and poorer nations," Georgieva said.

"We need strong international cooperation and this is most urgent today for vaccine development and distribution," she said.

Germany posts record daily increase in coronavirus cases

Germany has posted a record daily increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, adding 6,638 cases and bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 341,223, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

Germany's previous record daily increase was 6,294 on March 28, according to RKI data.

Thursday's tally showed the reported death toll rose by 33 to 9,710.

By European standards, Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates so far during the pandemic, but new daily cases have jumped in recent weeks and Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned there could be 19,200 infections per day if current trends continue.

Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed to tighten mask-wearing rules and make bars close early in areas where virus infection rates are high, an attempt to avoid tougher restrictions now being introduced elsewhere in Europe.

So far, German authorities have called for districts to take action when they report 50 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days. Many major cities have exceeded that mark recently, including Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich.

Officials recommended that mask-wearing, already required since April on public transport and in shops, should also be made obligatory in public places where people are packed closely together when infections hit 35 per 100,000.

They also called for bars and restaurants in those districts to be closed early.

In areas where infections top 50 infections per 100,000 people, gatherings in public and private parties should be limited to 10 people, and bars and restaurants closed at 11 pm.

WHO: Young and healthy may not get vaccinated until 2022

The World Health Organization's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that in terms of vaccine distribution, health workers and highest risks categories will be a priority.

Swaminathan indicated that healthy and young people will probably need to wait until 2022 to be vaccinated. 

“Most people agree, it’s starting with healthcare workers, and frontline workers, but even there, you need to define which of them are at highest risk, and then the elderly, and so on,” Swaminathan said.

“There will be a lot of guidance coming out, but I think an average person, a healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine,” she said.

She added that the WHO hopes to get at least one effective vaccine until next year but only limited quantities are expected.

Czech Republic's daily cases tally hits new record

The Czech Republic reported 9,544 new Covid-19 cases, its highest one-day tally since the pandemic started, Health Ministry data showed.

The number of total cases detected since the outbreak hit in March has nearly doubled in October alone, to 139,290, as the country of 10.7 million people faces one of the world's largest surges in infections.

Large Belgian university moves online again because of virus

One of Belgium’s main universities is moving to online education whenever possible and another is getting ready to follow suit because the virus is continuing to soar across the nation that hosts the European Union headquarters.

Ghent University said the measure will begin October 26 and the Dutch-speaking Free University of Brussels said it already prepared its staff and facilities to do likewise if necessary.

Paris goes under curfew as Europe ramps up virus restrictions

France has become the latest European country to toughen anti-coronavirus measures, imposing a curfew in Paris and eight other cities from Saturday, while Germany and Ireland also ramped up restrictions. 

"We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," President Emmanuel Macron told public television, announcing a shutdown between 1900 GMT and 0400 GMT (9 pm and 6 am local time) that will remain in force for as long as six weeks.

Other major French cities such as Lyon, the Mediterranean port Marseille and southwestern Toulouse will similarly impose curfews, with around 20 million people affected in all, out of a total population of some 67 million.

Just minutes before Macron's announcement, his government had said it would prolong a state of health emergency.

With over one million coronavirus deaths and nearly 40 million cases worldwide, regions like Europe that suppressed the first outbreak are again facing tough choices on how to control a new wave without the economic devastation wrought by nationwide lockdowns.

South Korea reports 110 cases, half in Busan hospital

South Korea has reported 110 new cases of the virus, half of them linked to a hospital in Busan.

The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national caseload to 24,988, including 439 deaths.

At least 54 infections were reported in a hospital for the elderly in the southern port city of Busan.

More than 40 others came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, tied to places including hospitals, churches, schools and offices.

The steady rise in infections is a cause of concern in a country that has just lowered its social distancing measures, allowing high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to professional sports.

Australia's Victoria state says daily virus infections fall to 8-day low

Australia's Victoria state has said it had just six new virus cases in the last 24 hours, its lowest one-day figure in eight days, and no deaths.

Its capital Melbourne, which has been the epicentre of the country's Covid-19 outbreak, is in its third month of a stringent lockdown and Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews is due to update plans to ease restrictions on Sunday.

Australia has reported about 27,500 cases, 75 percent of which have been in Victoria, and 904 deaths due to the virus. Nearly 90 percent of all Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Victoria, which is home to about a quarter of the country's 25 million people.

New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, on Thursday reported 11 new cases.

Chinese city of Qingdao punishes two officials over virus cluster

The Chinese city of Qingdao has said it suspended its health commission head and sacked a hospital director following an outbreak of virus infections that ended China's run of about two months without reporting a local case.

The coastal city has reported 13 recent infections, most of them linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, where infected travellers arriving from overseas had been treated in an isolation area.

Qingdao announced this week that it would test all of its 9 million residents for the virus over a five-day period. 

India's virus infections rise to 7.31 million

India's tally of virus infections stood at 7.31 million, having risen by 67,708 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

Deaths from Covid-19 infections rose by 680 to 111,266, the ministry said.

India crossed the 7 million mark on Sunday, adding a million cases in just 13 days. It has the world's second-highest tally after the United States, where the figure is nearing 8 million.

Around 15 percent of all cases in Mexico are health-care workers

Mexico's health ministry has reported 4,056 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 478 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 829,396 cases and 84,898 deaths.

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

Mexico also reported that a total of 1,744 health-care workers have died so far of Covid-19, and another 164 are suspected to have died of it but their test results are still pending.

The number of doctors, nurses, technicians and hospital employees confirmed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus in Mexico now amounts to 127,053. That means health care professionals account for about 15 percent of all confirmed cases in Mexico, and about 18 percent of all Covid-19 deaths.

The Health Department said that of those who died, 42 percent were nurses, 26 percent were doctors, and 32 percent were technicians, cleaning staff or other hospital employees.

Mainland China reports 11 new cases 

Mainland China has reported 11 new cases of Covid-19, down from 20 a day earlier, the country's health authority said.

The National Health Commission said 10 of the cases were imported infections originating from overseas, compared with 14 a day earlier. One new local infection was reported in Qingdao, where the city government is seeking to test every person this week due to recent cases linked to a hospital treating imported infections.

The commission also reported 23 new asymptomatic cases, up from 18 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 85,622, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Brazil registers 749 deaths

Brazil has registered 749 additional coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours and 27,235 new cases, the nation's Health Ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 151,747 total deaths and 5,140,863 total confirmed cases.

Trump son Barron contracted Covid-19, now tests negative

President Donald Trump's teenage son Barron contracted Covid-19 after both his parents tested positive, but is now negative, First Lady Melania Trump said.

She said that after she and the president tested positive two weeks ago, "Naturally my mind went immediately to our son."

Barron Trump, 14, at first tested negative, she said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies