The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 40 million people and claimed over a million lives around the world. Here are updates for October 18:

Girls wearing face masks walk past a sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz outside Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, October 18, 2020.
Girls wearing face masks walk past a sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz outside Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, October 18, 2020. (AP)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Italy daily Covid-19 cases hit new record

Italy has registered 11,705 new infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, up from the previous record of 10,925 posted on Saturday.

There were also 69 deaths, up from 47 the day before, the ministry said — far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April, when daily fatalities peaked at more than 900.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit hard by the virus and has the second-highest death toll in the region after Britain, with 36,543 fatalities since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.

UK records 16,982 new cases 

Britain has recorded 16,982 new daily cases in the space of 24 hours, according to government data, up from 16,717 the previous day.

The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test was 67, down from 150 the previous day. 

Britain needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown restrictions immediately to stop cases spiralling, government scientific adviser Jeremy Farrar said, adding that current regional measures would not be effective.

Turkey reports 1,815 new patients

Turkey has registered 1,815 new patients in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The country’s overall tally now stands at 347,493, the ministry reported.

Some 1,504 more patients recovered over the past day, raising the count to 304,003, while the death toll increased by 72 to reach 9,296.

France reports almost 30,000 new infections

The French health ministry has reported 29,837 new confirmed cases after reporting 32,427 on Saturday and 85 new deaths after 90 the previous day.

The total number of infections since the start of the year now stands at 897,034 while the total number of deaths stands at 33,477. 

Swiss tighten measures to combat second wave

Switzerland has announced tighter restrictions to tackle the second wave hitting the country, including a nation-wide obligation to wear masks and a ban on large scale public gatherings.

Gatherings of more than 15 people in public places will be banned from Monday and masks must be worn in all indoor public places, the government announced following an extraordinary meeting.

Switzerland, a country of 8.6 million people, on Friday reported the highest daily number of infections since the crisis began, with 3,105 new cases. So far 74,422 people have been infected, and 1,823 have died.

Over 40M infected around the world

The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has surged past  the 40 million mark, according to a worldometer tally. 

Over a 1.1 million people have died from the virus, while almost 30 million people have recovered.

The US is the hardest-hit country, followed by India and Brazil.

Philippines reports 2,379 new infections, 50 more deaths

The Philippines' health ministry reported 2,379 new confirmed cases and 50 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 356,618 cases and 6,652 deaths.

It also said 14,941 more individuals had recovered, bringing total recoveries to 310,158. 

Indonesia reports 4,105 new infections, 80 deaths

Indonesia reported 4,105 new infections, taking the total to 361,867, data from the country's Covid-19 task force showed.

The data added 80 new deaths, taking the total to 12,511.

Both the number of cases and deaths in the Southeast Asian country are the highest in the region.

Thailand closes Myanmar border crossings

Thailand has closed all border crossings between its northern province of Tak and Myanmar after five people in the Thai border town of Mae Sot tested positive for the virus.

The five, none of whom exhibited symptoms, are the first locally transmitted cases confirmed in Thailand since early September, when a prison inmate tested positive.

All five are members of a family of Myanmar nationals residing in Thailand. Two were initially confirmed to be affected and added to Saturday’s total of Thai cases, while three were officially added Sunday.

Along with cases found among people quarantined after arriving from abroad, seven additions on Sunday brought Thailand’s total number of cases to 3,686, including 59 deaths.

In response to the new cases, schools in the Mae Sot area were ordered closed for seven days and only take-out service is allowed at restaurants and food stalls. Shops, malls and fresh markets remain open but must take temperature checks and enforce social distancing.

Thai authorities in the past two months have sought to tighten crossings in northern Thailand, which shares a long border with Myanmar, where there has bee n a surge of coronavirus cases since August.

Russia reports 15,099 new cases, 185 deaths

Russia recorded 15,099 new cases, pushing the national tally to 1,399,334, officials said.

They also said 185 people had died in the previous 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 24,187, and that 1,070,576 people had recovered from the virus.

Almost 7.5M people now infected in India

India has added 61,871 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total to almost 7.5 million.

The Health Ministry also registered 1,033 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 114,031.

The country is continuing a downward trend in new cases, but virus-related fatalities jumped after recording the lowest daily figure of 680 in nearly three months on Friday.

Some experts say India’s numbers may not be reliable because of poor reporting and inadequate health infrastructure. India is also relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.
Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread during the religious festival season beginning later this month. New Delhi is also bracing for high air pollution levels, making the coronavirus fight more complicated in upcoming months.

China passes biosecurity law to prevent infectious diseases

China's top legislative body passed a new biosecurity law aimed at preventing and managing infectious diseases, state news agency Xinhua reported late on Saturday.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee voted to adopt the law on Saturday, according to Xinhua, and it would come into effect on April 15, 2021.

The law would establish systems for biosecurity risk prevention and control, including risk monitoring and early warning, risk investigation and assessment, and information sharing.

It would also have provisions to prevent and respond to specific biosecurity risks, including major emerging infectious diseases, epidemic and sudden outbreaks, and biotechnology research, development and application, reported Xinhua.

Thailand reports three more local infections

Thailand reported three additional locally transmitted cases of the virus, a day after reporting its first local infections in more than a month.

The three new patients are family members of two Myanmar nationals who previously tested positive for the virus this week in the country's northern province bordering Myanmar, the government's coronavirus taskforce said.

Before this week's five cases, Thailand last reported a confirmed local transmission on September 11. In total, Thailand has reported 3,686 cases of the virus and 59 deaths. 

Coronavirus survives on skin five times longer than flu: study

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

"The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic," it said.

The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitisers.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 5,587 to 361,974

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 5,587 to 361,974, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 10 to 9,777, the tally showed. 

Navajo Nation reports 53 new cases, no deaths

The Navajo Nation, which sprawls across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, reported 53 new cases and no new deaths on Saturday.

The total number of cases on the reservation is now 10,913. The total number of deaths remains at 571.

Daily prayers now allowed in Mecca's Grand Mosque

Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens and residents living in the kingdom to perform prayers in one of Islam's most religious sites, Al-Haram Grand Mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months, state television reported.

Earlier this month Saudi Arabia allowed citizens and residents to perform the Umrah pilgrimage at Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, after a seven-month pause due to virus concerns. 

Mainland China reports 13 new cases vs 13 a day earlier

China reported 13 new cases in the mainland for October 17, the same as 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 34 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 11 a day earlier.

As of Saturday, mainland China had 85,672 confirmed cases, the health authority said. The death toll stands at 4,634.

Outbreak infects 33 inmates at Alaska prison

State officials say an outbreak has infected 33 inmates at a prison in Fairbanks, causing the facility to go into quarantine for 14 days.

 The Alaska Department of Corrections says 32 of the cases at the Fairbanks Correctional Center are men and one is a woman. All of those infected were housed in the general population. Other inmates are being tested for virus, with results expected by Monday.

The inmates with coronavirus are being isolated in a separate unit of the prison. The facility serves northern Alaska and has male and female inmates, some o f whom are serving sentences and others of whom are awaiting trial.

Global coronavirus rise by one-day record of 400,000

Global cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.

Europe, which successfully tamped down the first surge of infections, has emerged as the new coronavirus epicentre in recent weeks and is reporting on average 140,000 cases a day over the past week.

As a region, Europe is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the United States combined.

Of every 100 infections reported around the world, 34 were from European countries, according to a Reuters analysis. The region is currently reporting a million new infections about every nine days and has reported more than 6.3 million cases since the pandemic began.

Latin America is the worst-affected region with about 27% of total cases followed by Asia, North America and Europe, according to a Reuters analysis.

India is reporting fewer cases this month compared with September, with 69,000 cases per day, according to Reuters analysis.

In the United States, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalised patients since early September.

Brazil registers 461 deaths in 24 hours

Brazil has reported 24,062 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 461 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 5,224,362 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 153,675, according to ministry data, in the world's most fatal outbreak outside the United States.

New Zealand reports one new case in community

New Zealand has reported one new case of coronavirus in the community, as the virus re-emerged in the country after many days of no transmission within its borders.

The Health Chief Ashley Bloomfield said in a news conference that the infected person was identified early, and risk of transmission was contained.

Mexico reports 5,447 more cases, 355 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 5,447 more cases of the novel coronavirus and 355 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 847,108 and the death toll to 86,059.

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

India gives nod for Russian virus vaccine trials

India has given a go-ahead for clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in the country.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, a pharmaceutical firm based in the southern Hyderabad city, and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have been allowed by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to begin phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials in the South Asian country.

The Indian firm and Russian body reached an agreement for clinical trials in September, but the country’s drug regulator had earlier denied permission.

“As part of the partnership, the RDIF shall supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to Dr. Reddy’s upon regulatory approval in India,” the RDIF tweeted on Saturday.

India is the second worst-hit country in the world, with over 7.4 million Covid-19 cases, including over 113,000 deaths.

Australia's virus hotspot to partially lift restrictions

Australia's state of Victoria, the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak, will see some of its months-long restrictions eased as of Monday but retailers and restaurants must wait longer, the state's premier said.

After more than 100 days in a strict lockdown, the five million people living in Melbourne, Victoria's capital, will be able to spend as much time outdoors as they wish, but must stay within a 25-kilometre radius from their homes, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Public gatherings will remain tightly limited, and retailers and restaurants must operate only on take-away or delivery orders, with the state government eyeing their reopening by Nov. 1, Andrews said.

On Sunday, Victoria recorded two new cases of Covid-19, extending its streak of single-digit infections to five days and down from more than 700 cases a day in early August.

With 816 deaths, Australia's second-largest state accounts for more than 90 percent of all lives lost to the Covid-19 in Australia this year. 

Australia has recorded just over 27,300 infections, according to health ministry data, a fraction of what has been seen in some other countries. 

Paris, other French cities go under nighttime curfew

Paris and several other French cities have gone under a nighttime curfew that will last at least a month. 

The need for action in France was underlined as the country recorded another record for new cases, with over 32,000 registered in 24 hours.

About 20 million people in the Paris region and eight other French cities were facing a 9 pm-6 am curfew from Saturday after cases surged in what has once again become one of Europe's major hotspots.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies