The global coronavirus pandemic has infected almost 11.5 million people and claimed over 534,000 lives. Here are updates for July 5:

Staff of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in protective suits transport the body of a Covid-19 victim for burial in the West Bank city of Hebron, on June 29, 2020.
Staff of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in protective suits transport the body of a Covid-19 victim for burial in the West Bank city of Hebron, on June 29, 2020. (AFP)

Sunday, July 5

Covid-19 is airborne: scientists

Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization to revise recommendations, the New York Times has reported.

The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with Covid-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. 

In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said. 

The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkey reports 1,188 new recoveries

Almost 1,200 people recovered from the novel coronavirus in Turkey over the past 24 hours, the country's health minister has said. 

Death toll from Covid-19 also rose to 5,225, with 19 new fatalities reported.

Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that overall recoveries from the virus now climbed to 180,680 out of 205,758 total cases, which means that there are currently fewer than 20,000 active cases in the country.

UK toll rises by 22

Britain's death toll from confirmed Covid-19 cases has risen by 22 to 44,220, the department of health has said.

The number of deaths registered at the weekend is often lower than during the week. Including deaths from suspected cases, the toll is over 54,000, according to a Reuters tally.

Virus outbreak in Hebron 'out of control': Palestine

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al Kaila has described the coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank city of Hebron as “out of control” as 173 virus infections were registered in Hebron on Saturday.

The health minister is set to visit the city on Sunday to check on the health situation there. According to the minister, 50 Palestinian medics have so far contracted the virus.

Philippines records highest single-day jump

The Philippines reported its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases on Sunday, adding 2,434 confirmed infections and taking the total count to 44,254, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry said the rise could be attributed to increased contact among people as the country began easing lockdown measures to help reduce the pandemic's damage to the economy.

The Philippines also recorded seven new deaths, the ministry said, bringing total fatalities to 1,297.

Iran reports new record one-day virus death toll of 163

Iranian health authorities announced 163 new deaths due to the Covid-19 disease, the country's highest official one-day death toll since the outbreak began in February.

The previous record of 162 deaths was announced on Monday in the country, which has been battling the Middle East's deadliest outbreak. 

US dips under 50,000 new coronavirus cases

The United States has dipped under 50,000 new virus cases for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the July 4th Independence Day weekend will act like rocket fuel for the nation’s surging outbreak.

Johns Hopkins counted 45,300 new coronavirus infections in the US after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases. The lower figure on Saturday does not necessarily mean the situation in the US is improving, as it could be due to reduced reporting on a national holiday.

The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world, with 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 dead, according to the university. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is significantly higher, due to people who died before they were tested and missed mild cases.

India's cases hit another daily record

India has reported another record 24-hour jump in coronavirus cases as the World Health Organization cautioned against the country’s plans to release a vaccine by August.

The Health Ministry added 24,850 confirmed cases, bringing the nationwide total to 673,165, making India the fourth hardest-hit in the world behind the US, Brazil and Russia.

India’s death toll rose to 19,268.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the agency leading the country's Covid-19 response, said last week that it had set August 15 —  India’s independence day —  as a target for developing a coronavirus vaccine and asking clinical trial investigators to enroll participants by July 7.

Cases rising in Saudi Arabia, UAE after curfews lifted

Saudi Arabia's infections have passed 200,000 and neighbouring United Arab Emirates 50,000, with the number of new cases climbing after the Arab world's two largest economies fully lifted curfews last month.

Restrictions had been in place in both countries since mid-March and their gradual lifting has allowed commercial businesses and public venues to reopen.

Saudi Arabia, which has the highest count among the six Gulf states, reported more than 4,100 cases on Friday and on Saturday to take its total to 205,929, with 1,858 deaths. The daily tally first rose above 4,000 in mid-June, but had dipped.

The United Arab Emirates, where daily infection rates recently dropped to between 300 and 400 from a peak of some 900 in late May, registered more than 600 cases on Friday and over 700 on Saturday, taking its toll to 50,857, with 321 deaths.

Australia's Victoria state reports 74 new cases

The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria has recorded 74 new cases after announcing a record 108 new infections.

The increase resulted in state Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a lockdown of nine inner-city public housing blocks containing 3,000 people, where 27 cases have been detected.

Police are guarding every entrance of the housing estates and residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

Russia's cases surpass 680,000

Russia reported 6,736 new cases of the virus, raising the nationwide tally to 681,251.

The authorities said that 134 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 10,161.

Indonesia reports highest daily tally of deaths

Indonesia reported 82 new deaths in its highest daily tally, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said, taking the toll to 3,171.

Infections rose 1,607, for a total of 63,749 cases, he added.

South Korea has more than 60new virus cases for 3rd day

South Korea has recorded 60-plus Covid-19 cases for a third consecutive day, a continuation of a virus spread beyond the greater Seoul area.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has confirmed 61 additional cases, bringing the national total to 13,091. It says the death toll remained at 283.

The agency says 43 of the newly reported cases were locally infected patients. All but two of those cases were either from the Seoul metropolitan area or two central cities, Gwangju and Daejeon. The remaining 18 cases were linked to international arrivals.

South Korea has been grappling with an uptick in new infections since it eased social distancing rules in early May. South Korea recorded 63 new cases on both Saturday and Friday.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 239 to 196,33

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 239 to 196,335, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 2 to 9,012, the tally showed.

South Africa reports 10,000 new cases

South Africa reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily jump on record for the country as it hurtles towards an anticipated spike.

Daily tallies released by the health ministry showed 10,853 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, taking the cumulative tally since March when the virus first arrived in the country to 187,977.

The death toll stands at 3,026 after 74 new fatalities were recorded.

Health authorities have been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed on March 27.

Mexico's death toll surpasses 30,000

Mexico's health ministry on Saturday reported 523 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 30,366, and 6,914 of new infections, bringing the total to 252,165.

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

Citing unpublished figures from the country's civil registry, broadcaster Milenio reported that as of June 19 almost twice as many people h ad died from the virus than reported by Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell.

Brazil registers 37,923 new cases

Brazil recorded 37,923 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,091 deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 1.5 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 64,265, according to the ministry.

Street vendors protest lock-down in Mexico City

About 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The sidewalks of the colonial-era downtown are usually crowded with vendors who lay out their wares on wire racks or blankets. But since March, the city has banned such informal commerce and closed most established businesses in the district to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Protesting vendors carried signs and chanted slogans claiming they could no longer bear the lockdown. Most have no unemployment insurance, and after three months of not selling many are growing desperate.

Officials had allowed a partial reopening of downtown this week although virus cases continue to climb, but they reversed course Friday after a lack of sanitary measures were reported at some stores. 

Reopening plans in other parts of the city were not affected by the reversal on the downtown area.

WHO halts hydroxychloroquine, HIV drugs trials

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with Covid-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

The setback came as the WHO also reported more than 200,000 new cases globally of the disease for the first time in a single day. 

"These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised Covid-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect," the WHO said in a statement, referring to large multicountry trials that the agency is leading.

The UN agency said the decision, taken on the recommendation of the trial's international steering committee, does not affect other studies where those drugs are used for non-hospitalised patients or as a prophylaxis.

Another branch of the WHO-led trial is looking at the potential effect of Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir on Covid-19. The European Commission on Friday gave remdesivir conditional approval for use after being shown to shorten hospital recovery times.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies