The global coronavirus pandemic has infected almost 40 million people and claimed over a million lives around the world. Here are updates for October 16:

A traffic policeman talks on the phone at the Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, in Milan, Italy, October 16, 2020.
A traffic policeman talks on the phone at the Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, in Milan, Italy, October 16, 2020. (AP)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Italy registers record 10,010 new cases

Italy has registered 10,010 new infections over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, the highest daily tally since the start of the country's outbreak and up from the previous record of 8,804 posted on Thursday.

The ministry also reported 55 deaths, down from 83 the day before and 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 sufferers in intensive care continued to rise, reaching 638 on Friday from 586 on Thursday and compared with a low of around 40 in the second half of July.

WHO study finds remdesivir didn't help patients

The World Health Organization will assess monoclonal antibodies and other antiviral drugs in its trial of medicines that could potentially treat the virus, after the trial found Gilead's remdesivir had no impact on survival rates.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference the so-called Solidarity Trial would continue after it was launched in March in 500 hospitals in 30 countries to assess the efficacy of remdesivir and several other drugs in patients. 

France reports over 25,000 new infections in past 24 hours

The French Health Ministry has reported 25,086 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, after reporting a record 30,621 on Thursday.

It also reported that 122 people had died in hospitals in the past 24 hours, compared to 88 on Thursday. Including deaths in retirement homes – which are often reported in multi-day batches – the death toll increased by 178 on Friday.

The cumulative total number of infections since the start of the year now stands at 834,770, the cumulative number of dead at 33,303.

UK records 15,650 new cases

The United Kingdom has recorded 15,650 new cases, government data showed.

A day earlier, the data had shown 18,980 new cases.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would intervene with further localised restrictions to fight a rapidly growing second wave of the pandemic after more of northwest England was put on the highest virus alert level.

Turkey registers over 1,800 new cases

Turkey has registered 1,812 new patients over the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. 

With 1,419 additions in the past 24 hours, 301,098 of nearly 344,000 registered patients have so far recovered, the ministry reported. 

The ministry also said a total of 73 new patients succumbed to the disease and the country's death toll rose to 9,153. 

Belgium shuts restaurants for four weeks 

Belgium will close all cafes and restaurants for four weeks on Monday as it seeks to tackle a sharp rise in cases.

The move was announced by deputy prime minister Georges Gilkinet following a meeting of the Belgian government's crisis unit.

Belgium reported 10,448 new infections and 49 deaths bringing the nation's tally to 191,959 confirmed cases and 10,327 fatalities.

Greece tops 500 daily infections for first time

Greece has recorded 508 new confirmed infections, topping the 500 daily mark for the first time, health authorities said, as they urged compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing.

Of the 508 new cases, 227 were recorded in the Athens metropolitan area and 63 in Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city. There were eight deaths from the disease.

"For the first time we went over 500 daily diagnoses of coronavirus," said epidemiologist Gikas Magiorkinis. "The drop in temperatures may tilt the balance, intensifying the epidemiological trend."

Curfew comes into force in French cities

French restaurants, cinemas and theatres are trying to figure out how to survive a new curfew aimed at stemming the flow of record new virus infections.

France registered more than 30,000 virus cases Thursday, it's highest single-day jump since the pandemic began, and nearly 200 cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told Le Parisien newspaper she is negotiating for exceptions to a monthlong curfew between 9 pm and 6 am across the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas. 

The curfew comes into effect at midnight, and France is deploying 12,000 extra police to enforce it.

England seeing 27,900 new cases per day - ONS survey

England saw an average of 27,900 new cases per day in the week to October 8, sharply rising again as Prime Minister Boris Johnson bids to drive down a second wave of the coronavirus with local restrictions, a weekly survey showed.

The Office for National Statistics' weekly infection survey showed that 1 in 160 people in England had the coronavirus, up from 1 in 240 the previous week.

Britain puts Lancashire region into highest alert tier

Britain put the area of Lancashire in northwest England into the highest Covid alert level, meaning it will face the toughest restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of pubs.

Cases have surged in the region that is home to towns such as Burnley, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston, forcing Lancashire into the very high alert level of Tier 3, along with nearby Liverpool and Merseyside.

Under terms agreed between the national government in Westminster and local officials, pubs will close unless they are selling substantial food and people have been told not to socialise with anybody indoors that they do not live with.

The change will come into force on Saturday and from Monday betting shops, casinos, bingo halls and soft play areas for children must also close.

Wimbledon plans return in 2021, with or without fans

The Wimbledon tennis tournament is planning its comeback in 2021.

Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam tournament cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the All England Club announced plans for its return next year.

The tournament, cancelled this year for the first time since 1945, is scheduled to run next year from June 28-July 11.

It could be held at full capacity, reduced capacity or without fans, the club said.

All of the options are dependent on the status of government and public health guidelines, the club said.

Virus lockdown reimposed in northern Greek region

A densely populated northern Greek region went into a new lockdown after scores of new infections this month.

The curbs will remain in place until October 29 in the Kozani region, home to some 150,000 inhabitants, Greece's public protection agency said.

The order shuts most businesses, including restaurants, cinemas, courts, retail shops, hair salons and gymnasiums.

However, in contrast to the first-wave nationwide lockdown in March, schools will remain open.

Over 200 new cases have surfaced in October in the Kozani area, some 475 kilometres (295 miles) north of Athens, according to health officials.

Finnish PM leaves EU summit to self-isolate

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin left an EU summit to self-isolate as a precaution after attending a meeting this week with a Finnish MP who has since tested positive for Covid-19, the government said.

Marin will return to Finland, where she will be tested for the novel coronavirus and then she will self-isolate at the prime minister's residence in Helsinki, the statement said.

The move was described as a "precautionary" measure after Finnish parliamentarian Tom Packalen announced on Friday that he had tested positive for the virus.

The two had attended a joint meeting in Finland's parliament on Wednesday, Finnish media reported.

Swiss Covid-19 infections hit another record

Switzerland reported another daily record of 3,105 new cases as a second wave of infection gripped the country.

The public health agency reported a total of 74,422 confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein. The death toll rose by five people to 1,823.

Since phasing out most emergency measures in June, the country of 8.6 million people has so far held off from new nationwide restrictions, urging residents to follow existing social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Switzerland has added to its list of places from which travellers must enter quarantine, while neighbouring Germany warned against visiting 10 Swiss cantons.

Rudolf Hauri, president of the Swiss cantonal doctors association, said he feared the infection rate could rise to 4,000 cases per day.

Although Swiss hospitals can cope with the current level, their capacities to absorb new patients could soon be stretched, he told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.

Kremlin worried by surge in cases but says situation "under control"

The Kremlin said it was worried by a record surge in cases in Russia but that the situation was under control.

Russia reported a record high of 15,150 new cases in the previous 24 hours, including 5,049 in the capital Moscow.

Nearly all of Moscow's pre-trial detention facilities have stopped taking in new suspects as a precaution, the TASS news agency cited a prison monitor group as saying.

"The Kremlin is indeed worried by these statistics.

We see the epidemic is spreading substantially," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "The situation is currently under control despite this sad trend."

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, the worst-affected area, has said this week could prove decisive in trying to curb the spread of the virus.

On Friday, he said about 1,200 people were being admitted to hospital each day in the capital, an increase from a daily rate of 1,000 last week, and that he hoped authorities would prevent that number from going over 1,500.

NIH tests therapies to help cut hospital stays for patients

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has started a late-stage trial to evaluate if immune-modulating therapies from three drugmakers can help reduce the need for ventilators for Covid-19 patients and shorten their hospital stay.

The NIH said it has selected three agents for the study Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Research's Remicade, Bristol Myers Squibb's Orencia and Abbvie Inc's experimental drug cenicriviroc.

The study will enroll up to 2,100 hospitalized adults with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms in the United States and Latin America.

Immune-modulating therapies are medications that alter the way the immune system works. Severe infections are believed to be triggered by an over-reaction of the immune system, known as a "cytokine storm", and drugs that suppress certain elements of the immune system can play a role in arresting a rapid escalation of symptoms.

This can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple organ failure, among other life-threatening complications.

Russia's new cases surge to record high of 15,150

Russia's daily tally surged to a record high of 15,150, including 5,049 in the capital Moscow, pushing the national total to 1,369,313 since the pandemic began.

Authorities reported 232 Covid-related deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 23,723. 

Aussies eye end to lockdown as virus numbers tumble

Australians living under lockdown in the southeast of the country are eyeing a return of freedoms this weekend as coronavirus numbers reached a four-month low.

The state of Victoria recorded just two new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, signalling a major step toward reopening Melbourne, the country's second biggest city, after months of lockdown.

Australia was beginning to relax virus restrictions in June when a bungled hotel quarantine system in Melbourne leaked coronavirus into the community, sparking a second wave which infected thousands and killed more than 800.

After months of restrictions that included an overnight curfew in Melbourne, bans on public gatherings and roadblocks, the nation's prime minister congratulated Victorians on suppressing the outbreak.

Azerbaijan to suspend use of metro until November 2

Azerbaijan will suspend secondary school classes and the use of Baku's metro system from October 19 until November 2 to curb the spread of the pandemic, authorities said.

The former Soviet republic in the South Caucasus of almost 10 million people had reported 43,280 cases and 619 deaths as of Thursday. 

Czech Republic's new cases hit another one-day record

The Czech Republic recorded 9,721 new infections on Thursday, setting a single-day record for a second day running, Health Ministry data showed.

The country of 10.7 million has registered the biggest surge of new coronavirus cases in Europe, with the total number of infections detected since the pandemic hit in March having more than doubled to 149,010.

Ukraine sees record daily high of 5,992 new cases

Ukraine registered a record 5,992 cases in the past 24 hours, the national security council said, up from a previous record of 5,804 new cases on October 9.

The total number of cases climbed to 287,231, including 5,394 deaths, with 92 in the past 24 hours.

Ukraine has recorded over 5,000 new cases almost daily since the start of October. The spike in infections prompted the government to extend lockdown measures until end-2020. 

Indonesia reports 4,301 new cases, 79 more deaths

Indonesia reported 4,301 new cases, taking its tally to 353,461, health ministry data showed, the highest in Southeast Asia.

The country also reported 79 more deaths, with total fatalities at 12,347, also the region's highest.

Philippines confirms 3,139 novel cases, 34 more deaths

The Philippines' health ministry reported 3,139 new infections and 34 additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had reached 351,750, while deaths had increased to 6,531, with the Philippines recording the second highest number of casualties in Southeast Asia. 

China says Qingdao outbreak linked to hospital

Authorities say they have completed tests on more than 10 million people in the northern Chinese port city of Qingdao after a hospital outbreak there blamed on “inappropriate disinfection.”

Testing is set to continue to cover 11 million people.

Authorities say a total of 13 cases have been discovered in the city, but none since the mass testing program was launched earlier this week.

Health officials say the cluster of infections, the first locally transmitted cases reported in China in about two months, appears to be linked to “inappropriate disinfection” in the CT room at the Qingdao Chest Hospital.

Officials said the possibility of community transmission outside the hospital had been ruled out.

The National Health Commission reported 24 new cases, all of them imported.

Chinese hospitals are currently treating 253 people for Covid-19, with another 381 people being monitored in isolation for having testing positive for the virus without showing symptoms or for being suspected cases.

Sinovac coronavirus vaccine offered by Chinese city for emergency use costs $60

A Chinese city is offering Sinovac Biotech's experimental vaccine to essential workers and other high-risk groups as part of a national programme for about $60.

The eastern city of Jiaxin's center for disease control and prevention (CDC) said in a statement on WeChat that two doses of the vaccine candidate, called CoronaVac, will cost 200 yuan ($29.75) per dose and that vaccinations for key groups including medical professionals have begun.

Chinese authorities have to date not released pricing details for potential Covid-19 vaccines.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been given experimental vaccines in late-stage trials as part of an emergency inoculation programme launched in July.

It was not clear if Jiaxin city's pricing includes subsidies. The city's CDC declined to comment.

India's coronavirus infections nears 7.4M

India's tally of infections stood at 7.37 million, having risen by 63,371 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

Deaths from infections rose by 895 to 112,161, 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. 

First 'no-quarantine' flights arrive into Australia as virus cases fall

Hundreds of New Zealand plane passengers started arriving in Sydney as part of a new trans-Tasman travel bubble amid a rapidly falling growth rate in cases at the epicentre of Australia's outbreak.

In a tentative re-opening to international tourism, travellers on the approved flights won't be required to quarantine in Sydney, authorities said.

The arrangements, however, are not yet reciprocal, with New Zealand requiring arrivals to be quarantined for two weeks under supervision at the cost of NZ$3,100 ($2,045) for the first person and more for additional family members.

Around 90 percent of those travelling with Air New Zealand are booked to travel one-way, the airline said.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hoped New Zealand would loosen restrictions on people arriving from Australia shortly.

China's CNBG vaccine candidate shows promise in human test

One of China's front-running vaccine candidates was shown to be safe and triggered immune responses in a combined early and mid-stage test in humans, researchers said.

The potential vaccine, dubbed BBIBP-CorV, is being developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).

It has already been approved for an emergency inoculation programme in China targeting essential workers and other limited groups of people facing high infection risk.

However, whether the shot can safely protect people from the Covid-19 disease that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide will only become clear when final Phase III trials - which are ongoing outside China - are complete.

BBIBP-CorV is one of at least 10 coronavirus vaccine projects globally to have entered Phase III trials, four of which are led by Chinese scientists, according to the World Health Organization.

Japan to test anti-virus measures at near-full baseball stadium

Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at around 80 percent capacity later this month as Japan looks to test its countermeasures at big events ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year.

Professional sports stadiums in Japan have been limited to 50 percent capacity as part of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with the vast majority of games going ahead without issue.

Economic revitalisation minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who heads Japan's Covid-19 fight, told reporters that if the "experiment" was a success all professional stadiums would be allowed to boost capacity.

The Yokohama Baystars, who play at the 34,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium, which will also be used during the Olympics, confirmed in a statement that three games would be played at the venue with capacity set at around 80 percent.

On Thursday at the Tokyo Dome, where the Yomiuri Giants hosted Hiroshima Carp, 19,000 fans attended the game with full coronavirus countermeasures on display.

As well as having their temperature checked upon entry and disinfectant being available through out the venue, which can host up to 45,000, all fans had to give their contact details to staff in case of an outbreak.

Vietnam cancels 2020 F1 race due to pandemic

Vietnam's first Formula One grand prix has been officially cancelled due to the pandemic, organisers said.

The Vietnamese Grand Prix was originally scheduled to take place in April on the streets of Hanoi as the third race of the season, but sources told Reuters in March that it was under threat.

"This has been an extremely difficult but necessary decision to reach in view of the continued uncertainty caused by the global coronavirus pandemic," Vietnam Grand Prix Corp said in an emailed statement, adding that it would refund all tickets sold.

Vietnam has recorded over 1,110 Covid-19 infections, with 35 deaths, Ministry of Health data showed.

Philippines Covid-19 task force lifts overseas travel ban for citizens

The Philippines' coronavirus task force has lifted a ban on overseas travel for Filipino tourists, the presidential office said.

Non-essential overseas travel could resume starting October 21, ending a restriction in effect since July and potentially increasing customers for Philippine carriers that have suffered amid the pandemic.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 7,334 to 348,557 -RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 7,334 to 348,557, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The death toll rose by 24 to 9,734, the RKI data showed. 

Fujifilm applies for approval of Avigan as Covid-19 treatment in Japan

Fujifilm Holdings Corp said it had applied for approval in Japan of its anti-influenza drug Avigan as a treatment for Covid-19.

The company had said in September a late-stage study of Avigan had shown reduced recovery times for Covid-19 patients with non-severe symptoms and it would seek to file for approval as early as this month. 

Low risk of infection on planes if masks worn: US military

The risk of being infected on an airliner is very low if passengers wear masks, according to a study carried out aboard Boeing long-haul jets by the US military.

Researchers using sensors and fluorescent tracers measured the volume of airborne contagious matter emitted by a dummy simulating an infected person breathing normally.

The study concluded that 99.7 percent of Covid contaminant particles were eliminated by the sophisticated ventilation systems on the planes before they reached the passengers seated closest to the dummy.

Expanding outward to the 40 seats closest to the infected person, the elimination rate is 99.99 percent, the study said.

Brazil registers another 713 deaths

Brazil has registered 713 additional deaths over the last 24 hours and 28,523 new cases, the nation's Health Ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 152,460 total coronavirus deaths and 5,169,386 total confirmed cases.

Mainland China reports 24 new cases vs 10 a day earlier 

China has reported 24 new cases in the mainland for October 15, compared with 10 cases a day earlier, the health commission said.

All of the new infections were imported, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

China reported 10 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 23 a day earlier.

As of October 15, mainland China had 85,646 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. 

The country's Covid-19 death toll stands at 4,634.

Mexico's death toll rises to 85,285

Mexico's health ministry has reported 5,514 new confirmed cases infection and 387 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 834,910 cases and 85,285 deaths.

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

NHS in talks on rollout of potential Covid vaccine

The National Health Service (NHS) is in talks with the British Medical Association (BMA) and others around mobilising the rollout of a potential vaccine from December, Pulse website for health professionals reported.

There is optimism around the first cohorts being given a vaccine in December but there is a 50/50 chance of the vaccine being available by that time, Pulse reported, citing a person close to the discussions.

Talks are taking place between NHS England, the BMA and other groups over who will administer vaccines and who will receive it first, Pulse reported, citing multiple sources.

The government had proposed in August to allow more healthcare workers to administer vaccines.

There is debate on whether the first people to be vaccinated will be care home patients and their staff, or health care professionals, including general practitioners.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday there were some hopeful signs that a vaccine would be secured for Covid-19 but that the country must be realistic because it could not be taken for granted.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies