The coronavirus pandemic has killed over a million people and infected more than 33.5 million worldwide. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for September 29:

People stroll along the promenade at Marine Drive, amidst the coronavirus disease, in Mumbai, India, September 22, 2020.
People stroll along the promenade at Marine Drive, amidst the coronavirus disease, in Mumbai, India, September 22, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

New study says more than 60 million Indians may have caught virus

More than 60 million people in India – 10 times the official figure – could have contracted the novel coronavirus, the country's lead pandemic agency said on Tuesday, citing a nationwide study measuring antibodies.

According to official data India, home to 1.3 billion people, is the world's second most infected nation, with more than 6.1 million cases, just behind the United States.

But the real figure could be much higher, according to the latest serological survey – a study testing blood for certain antibodies to estimate the proportion of a population that has fought off the virus.

"The main conclusions from this sero-survey are that one in 15 individuals aged more than 10 have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by August," Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director-general Balram Bhargava said at a Health Ministry press conference.

Bhargava said evidence of virus exposure was more prevalent among people tested in urban slums (15.6 percent) and non-slum urban areas (8.2 percent) than in rural areas, where 4.4 percent of those surveyed had antibodies.

The blood tests were collected from just over 29,000 people in 21 states or territories between mid-August and mid-September.

The new figures are a sharp jump from the first sero-survey results, which the ICMR said showed that around 0.73 percent of adults in India – about six million people – were infected by May.

 UK reports record daily figure of 7,143 cases

Britain has reported 7,143 new cases of coronavirus, the highest single day figure to date, and 71 deaths, the biggest toll since July.

Lockdown measures are being imposed across the country as the government tries to limit the spread of the virus.

The 71 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test is the highest level since 97 fatalities were recorded on July 1.

Turkey reports 1,427 new cases

Turkey has reported 1,427 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,452 recoveries over the past 24 hours, according to health ministry said. 

The country's overall case count now stands at  317,272, with recoveries totalling 278,504. 

Nearly 115,000 more coronavirus tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tally to over 10.26 million. 

The death toll from the virus reached 8,130, with 68 more fatalities. 

The figures also showed that the number of patients in critical condition now stands at 1,583. 

Germany to limit parties, family gatherings

Germany will impose a cap on the number of people at parties and family gatherings in areas worst affected by the coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with premiers of the country's 16 states.

With recent huge outbreaks in the country traced to weddings, family gatherings or parties, Merkel said "a reaction is therefore necessary" to halt the spread of the virus.

Any region where infection rates reach 35 per 100,000 would be required to impose a cap of 50 people maximum at gatherings in public spaces or rented venues.

If rates shoot up to 50 per 100,000 people, then only 25 people would be allowed at public gatherings.

New York City to fine people who refuse to wear mask 

New York City will impose fines on people who refuse to wear a face covering as the rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus climbed above 3 percent for the first time in months, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Officials will first offer free masks to those caught not wearing one. If the person refuses, they will face an unspecified fine, de Blasio told reporters.

"Our goal, of course, is to give everyone a free face mask," de Blasio said . "We don't want to fine people, but if we have to we will."

The new rule extends across the city in a similar policy imposed earlier this month by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, controlled by New York state governor Andrew Cuomo, in which commuters who refuse to wear a mask on public transit face a $50 fine.

Botswana extends emergency measures

Botswana has extended its state of emergency for a further six months to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The southern African country will maintain several restrictions, including limits to international travellers and tourism, in contrast to neighbouring South Africa and Zimbabwe, which are opening up their economies.

Botswana, a diamond-rich, landlocked country of 2.3 million people, has reported 3,172 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 16 deaths, according to figures released Tuesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Netherlands sees 3,000 new cases, new single day record

The Netherlands has reported 3,011 new coronavirus cases, a daily record, as it imposed new measures to combat a second wave of infections, data published by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) showed.

"The number of cases rose sharply in almost all regions and in all age groups," the Institute said. 

Northern Ireland pubs to shut early in latest UK curbs 

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Northern Ireland will shut early to stem a surge in coronavirus cases, First Minister Arlene Foster said, the latest tightening of UK restrictions.

From midnight on Wednesday (2300 GMT Tuesday) pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will be forced to close by 11:00 pm with no food or drink to be served later than 10.30 pm.

The curbs will bring Northern Ireland's population of 1.9 million into broad alignment with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Since last week, pubs in England, Scotland and Wales have been forced to shut by 10:00 pm.

There have been 578 Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland, according to latest official figures, but the province is now seeing some of the steepest increases in four UK nations.

Of the 10,949 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, 1,513 were diagnosed in the past seven days.

Iran reports 207 more deaths, over 3,600 cases

At least 207 more coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 25,986, the country's Health Ministry said.

Some 3,677 more people tested positive for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, pushing the overall count up to 453,637, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

She added that 378,727 patients have recovered so far, while 4,079 are hospitalized in critical condition.

Lari warned that 30 of Iran’s 31 provinces are in the red zone with high risk of coronavirus.

Poland to cut bar opening hours in areas worst hit by virus 

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has said that in the regions worst affected by coronavirus infections, restaurants and bars will be allowed to stay open until 1000 PM at the latest.

He also told a news conference, that further limits on the number of people who can take part in weddings will be implemented in some places. 

Wearing face masks will be obligatory outside home in badly hit areas. 

1 million deaths "a very sad milestone", but virus suppressable - WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that one million deaths from Covid-19 was "a very sad milestone", after many victims suffered "a terribly difficult and lonely death" and their families were unable to say goodbye.

The global death toll rose past a million earlier this week, a grim statistic in a pandemic that has devastated the global economy, overloaded health systems and changed the way people live.

"So many people have lost so many people and haven't had the chance to say goodbye. Many people who died died alone... It's a terribly difficult and lonely death," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a UN briefing in Geneva. "The one positive thing about this virus is it is suppressible, it is not the flu."

India's Serum Institute to boost production of vaccine 

Serum Institute of India will make up to 200 million vaccine doses for poorer countries, including India, next year, as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance have doubled their funding, the company said on Tuesday.

The extra funds will help Serum boost manufacturing of the vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc , for delivery under the COVAX scheme as early as the first half of 2021.

The collaboration takes forward an initial agreement signed in August by Serum, GAVI and the Gates Foundation for 100 million doses to be priced at a maximum of $3 each.

The total funding provided is now $300 million, and the expanded collaboration also has an option for the provision of additional doses as needed.

Indonesia reports 4,002 new infections, 128 deaths

Indonesia reported 4,002 new infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 282,724, data from its Covid-19 task force showed.

There were 128 new deaths recorded, taking the total to 10,601 fatalities, among Asia's highest number. 

Russia reports more than 8,000 new cases

Russia reported 8,232 new cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the country's nationwide tally to over 1.1 million.

Authorities said 160 people had died, bringing the official death toll to 20,545. 

Philippines confirms 2,025 new cases, 68 more deaths

The Philippines' health ministry reported 2,025 infections and 68 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 309,303, the highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths have reached 5,448.

Russia to supply 25M vaccine doses to Nepal

Russia's sovereign wealth fund said it had agreed to supply 25 million doses of its potential vaccine to Nepal via Trinity Pharmaceuticals, which it described as a private healthcare firm and key distributor there.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund has struck multiple Sputnik V vaccine supply deals abroad, including to supply 100 million doses to India, where it also expects to hold clinical trials. 

Israel's virus lockdown likely to be extended

Israel's health minister says the country’s nationwide lockdown is likely to be extended.

The Israeli government imposed a second countrywide lockdown ahead of the Jewish High Holidays earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown was initially slated to be lifted on October 11, but in a radio interview on Tuesday Health Minister Yuli Edelstei said that “there is no scenario that in another 10 days we will lift everything and say ‘It’s all over, everything is ok.’”

Israel has recorded more than 233,000 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began and more than 1,500 deaths from the disease, according to the Health Ministry.

While Israel garnered praise for its swift response to the arrival of the pandemic in March, the country’s reopening of the economy in May saw new infections skyrocket over the summer, and now it has one of the highest infection rates per capita in the world.

UK nightclubs could stay shut until vaccine arrives -minister

Britain's nightclubs may have to stay shut until a vaccine is developed, junior skills minister Gillian Keegan said.

"It is hard to see how nightclubs will open until we have some kind of long-term way to deal with coronavirus," she told Sky News.

UN chief says pandemic toll is 'mind-numbing'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the loss of 1 million people is an “agonising milestone" that has been made worse by the “savageness of this disease."

In a statement released after the global death toll from the pandemic crossed 1 million, Guterres called it a “mind-numbing figure."

“They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues,” he said. 

“The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease. Risks of infection kept families from bedsides. And the process of mourning and celebrating a life was often made impossible.”

Guterres warned “there is no end in sight to the spread of the virus, the loss of jobs, the disruption of education, the upheaval to our lives.”

Still he said he said the pandemic could be overcome with responsible leadership, cooperation and science, as well as precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks. He said any vaccine must be “available and affordable to all.”

Germany reports 2,089 new cases

Germany reported 2,089 new cases and 11 more deaths, a tally from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. 

UK students may go home for Christmas - junior minister

British students are expected to be able to go home for Christmas, a junior minister said, amid concern that the second wave could strand them at university over the festive period.

"We would expect students to be able to go home for Christmas of course that is something that absolutely we'll be working towards," junior skills minister Gillian Keegan told BBC Radio.

Moscow extends school holiday over coronavirus

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says the Russian capital would extend a planned school holiday in October to two weeks in bid to stem the virus.

The move follows a recommendation from Sobyanin last week for anyone with chronic health problems or those older than 65 to stay home.

On Tuesday, Sobyanin said students would be off from school from October 5-18, and urged parents to ensure their children remained home during that period.

"Today a significant proportion of the sick - who are often asymptomatic - are children," Sobyanin said on his website.

"When they come home, they easily transmit the virus to adults and elderly family members who get much more sick."

Spain to extend Covid furlough scheme until Jan 2021

The Spanish government is due to approve an extension of the furlough scheme that supports hundreds of thousands of workers in the country until January 31, a labour ministry source told Reuters.

The ministry has reached an agreement with the unions to extend the ERTE scheme, as the furlough scheme is known, but still lacks the support of representatives of businesses, the source said.

Thailand to slowly restart tourism with flight from China

Thailand will receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said.

The first flight will have about 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.

Thailand has kept coronavirus infections low with just 3,559 cases and 59 deaths, but its economy has taken a hit from a ban on foreign visitors since April and is expected to contract 8.5% this year.

Government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul expects 1,200 tourists in the first month, generating about 1 billion baht ($31.55 million) in revenue and 12.4 billion baht over one year, drawing in 14,400 tourists.

Nationalities permitted to enter will be from countries deemed low risk by the government, which will keep tabs on them.

Czech Republic reports 1,287 new  cases

The Czech Republic reported 1,287 new cases, its lowest daily tally since September 20, Health Ministry data showed.

The country has had one of Europe's highest infection rates in September as its total tally of cases jumped by more than 40,000. As of the end of Monday, which was a state holiday, it had reported a total 65,883 cases, with 618 deaths.

India reports lowest daily deaths since August 3

India reported its smallest daily rise in deaths since August 3 of 776, data from the health ministry showed, as global fatalities crossed 1 million and infections surged in several countries.

The South Asian country's case tally rose to 6.15 million after it reported 70,589 new infections in the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data, while total deaths stood at 96,318.

Though India's death toll is a relatively low 1.6% of total cases, the country, along with the United States and Brazil, account for nearly 45% of global Covid-19 fatalities. 

South Korea's daily virus cases at another low

South Korea’s daily increase was the lowest in about 50 days Tuesday as new infections trend lower.

Many experts have warned, however, that the virus could spread again after this week’s traditional Chuseok autumn holidays, when people usually travel to visit their relatives. 

Health authorities have urged people to refrain from travelling this year because of the risk of spreading the virus. 

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the 38 cases added in the last 24 hours took the country’s total to 23,699 with 407 deaths.

Seventeen of the new cases were reported in the Seoul area, which has seen a resurgence that forced more stringent social distancing rules.

Philippine province to go under mild lockdown

Only one southern Philippines province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown and the rest of the country will be put under more relaxed quarantine restrictions next month to boost the battered economy despite the country having the most number of coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine restrictions for October in televised remarks Monday night.

Lanao del Sur province and its capital, Marawi city, will fall under a lockdown starting Thursday due to infection spikes in recent weeks.

Metropolitan Manila and five other cities will remain under general quarantine restrictions with more businesses and public transport allowed to partially operate on condition people wear face masks and shields and stay safely apart.

Classes in public schools are scheduled to resume online belatedly on October.

Brazil sees over 300 deaths

Brazil recorded 13,155 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 317 deaths from the disease, the Health Ministry has said.

Brazil has registered more than 4.7 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 142,058, according to ministry data released on Monday.

Mexico reports over 170 deaths

Mexico's confirmed cases rose to 733,717, according to updated data from the health ministry, along with a total reported death toll of 76,603. 

Authorities reported 3,400 new cases along with 173 deaths on Monday, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing.

China reports 12 new cases

Mainland China had 12 new cases on September 28, down from 21 a day earlier, the country's national health authority has said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. 

The number of asymptomatic patients, who are not counted as confirmed cases in China, rose to 26 from 14 a day earlier. 

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China now stands at 85,384, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634

US to distribute 150M rapid test kits

US President Donald Trump announced the distribution of 150 million rapid coronavirus tests ordered from Abbott Laboratories that are able to deliver a result in 15 minutes in a similar format to a home pregnancy kit.

"Here's our plan: 50 million tests will go to protect the most vulnerable communities," such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, said Trump. 

He added that the other 100 million tests would go to states and territories to assist them in opening their economies. 

Each of the kits cost the federal government $5.

Millions in Chile capital emerge from lockdown

Chile has lifted strict lockdown measures for millions of people in the capital Santiago, a month ahead of a key referendum to amend the dictatorship-era constitution.

Most of the capital's seven million population moved on Monday to phase three of a five-step de-confinement plan, allowing the reopening of bars and restaurants as well as regional transport links.

However, fears are widespread that a new outbreak in infections could drive parts of the capital back into confinement.

"It's like I agree and don't agree at the same time," said Gabriela Flores, a 21-y ear-old student in Puente Alto, Santiago's most populous district.

"What's happening now is that they are acting as if nothing happened. What they want to do is to increase trade and get back to work so they don't have to worry about people."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies