Coronavirus has now infected some 15.4 million people and has killed more than 632,000. Here are the latest updates for July 23:

US President Donald Trump points to a US map of reported coronavirus cases as he speaks about reopening schools during a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) news briefing at the White House in Washington, US, July 23, 2020.
US President Donald Trump points to a US map of reported coronavirus cases as he speaks about reopening schools during a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) news briefing at the White House in Washington, US, July 23, 2020. (Reuters)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Trump cancels Republican convention in Florida 

President Donald Trump said he would no longer hold part of the Republican Party's nominating convention in Florida in August because of a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

Trump already moved part of the convention from North Carolina to Florida because of restrictions on gathering due to the virus, but the surge in cases had led some Republicans to pull out of attending the Florida event.

Trump said it was not the right time to hold a "crowded convention."

"The timing for this event is not right," Trump said in a White House press briefing. "It's just not right with what’s happened recently, the flare up in Florida. To have a big convention it’s not the right time."

He said he ordered his aides to cancel the event "to protect the American people."

Brazil registers nearly 60,000 new virus cases

Brazil registered 59,961 additional cases of the new virus cases, the second-highest daily jump after a record on Wednesday, bringing total confirmed cases to nearly 2.3 million in the world's worst outbreak outside the United States.

Brazil's Health Ministry also reported 1,311 more deaths from Covid-19, pushing the official death toll past 84,000. 

Bolivia postpones general election until October

Bolivia postponed its general elections for a second time because of the pandemic, putting it off until October 18, officials said.

The poll was originally supposed to be held in May but had been rescheduled to September 6 after the country went into lockdown following the virus outbreak.

Salvador Romero, who heads the country's electoral court, said the decision to delay the elections again came after medical experts warned that virus infections would peak in Bolivia in late August or early September.

"The definitive date for the election gives better conditions for health protection, outside voting facilities and the arrival of international observer missions," said Romero.

US cases took 16 days to go from 3 to 4 million

The total number of virus cases reported in the United States has passed four million, reflecting a rapid acceleration of infections detected in the country since the first case was recorded on January 21.

It took the country 98 days to reach 1 million cases, but just 16 days to go from 3 million to 4 million, according to Reuters and Worldometer tally. 

The average number of new US cases is now rising by more than 2,600 every hour, the highest rate in the world.

While the pandemic has spread widely over the country, moving from the early epicentre of New York to the South and West, federal, state and local officials have clashed over how to fight it, including over how and when to ease social and economic restrictions aimed at curbing the infection rate.

Iran virus deaths top 15,000

Iran's death toll from the virus surpassed 15,000, health authorities have announced, as the country struggles to contain the Middle East's deadliest outbreak.

The fatalities bring the total number of deaths to 15,074 in the Islamic republic.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari urged Iranians to avoid all non-essential travel, enclosed spaces, and large gatherings to help stem the spread of the virus.

Uganda reports its first death from coronavirus

Uganda recorded its first death from the virus, the Ministry of Health said, making it one of the last nations on the continent to report a fatality since the pandemic reached it in March.

US sees jobless claims rise again 

Newly jobless Americans filed nearly 1.42 million claims for jobless benefits last week, reversing recent months of decline as the world's largest economy grapples with a surge in virus cases.

The worse-than-expected Labor Department data comes as lawmakers in Washington debate whether to extend additional weekly payments made to unemployed people provided under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March as businesses shut down to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Those closures prompted a spike in new weekly jobless benefit claims, which peaked at 6.9 million in late March but declined to 1.3 million earlier this month — a figure nonetheless more than twice any single week of the global financial crisis 12 years ago.

South Africa official figures questioned

South Africa witnessed some 17,000 extra deaths from natural causes or 59 percent more than would normally be expected between early May and mid-July, scientists said, suggesting many more people are dying of Covid-19 than shown in official figures.

New data by the South African Medical Research Council, released overnight, showed that just in the week to July 14 — the latest figures available — there was an excess of 5,022 deaths by natural causes, about half more than usual.

Africa's most industrialised nation is in the middle of a runaway epidemic of the virus, with cases increasing by more than 10,000 days and the current total just shy of 400,000. 

But its recorded death toll has so far been low, at 5,940 deaths or less than 1.5 percent of cases.

White House campus cafeterias closed by virus

Two White House campus cafeterias have been closed after a person involved in food service tested positive for the virus.

Pamela Pennington, a spokesperson for the US General Services Administration, says numerous protocols were in place at the locations, including the use of masks and gloves, plastic shielding at check out and no dine-in service.

She says the White House Medical Unit has performed contact tracing and determined the risk of transmission to others is low.

Wear a mask even at home – Madrid

Face masks should be worn even at home if you are with people you do not live with, an official from the Madrid region said, even though he conceded there was no way to enforce such a recommendation.

Spain already has Europe's strictest rules on masks. 

In Madrid, they are mandatory everywhere in public unless people are outdoors and can keep a 1.5 metre distance. 

In most of the country, they must be worn in public regardless of safe distances, but with no rules on wearing them at home.

Madrid was one of the hardest-hit regions at the peak of the pandemic, but has over the past weeks reported far fewer cases than Catalonia and Aragon, where most of the new clusters have been reported.

Belgium tightens virus measures as infections spike

Belgium will tighten virus measures on July 25 after a rise in infections, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said, requiring the use of face masks in crowded outdoor public spaces and tracing measures at restaurants and bars.

The country imposed a lockdown on March 18 in an effort to contain the outbreak, which has claimed 9,808 lives in a country that has one of the world’s highest fatality rates per capita.

The government later eased the lockdown and had planned to loosen restrictions further on Thursday, but a series of localised outbreaks and a 91 percent spike in nationwide infections last week forced an about-turn.

Baghdad airport reopens

Baghdad International Airport reopened for scheduled commercial flights after months of closure during the pandemic, which has hit Iraq especially hard in recent weeks.

The country has recorded 102,226 infections and 4,122 deaths, and regularly reports more than 2,000 new cases each day. Today's tally was 2,361, according to Health Ministry figures.

Iraq suspended all flights to and from Baghdad in March, with only irregular or chartered flights operating and advance permission required for travel.  

EU prolongs duty-free import of face masks, medical gear

The European Commission extended until the end of October a waiver of customs duties and sales taxes on imported face masks and other medical gear to help tackle shortages as the bloc fights the pandemic. 

The measure was initially adopted in April for the period covering the first six months of the year, and has now been extended to October 31. It will also be applied by the United Kingdom.

Masks, testing kits, and ventilators are among imported items that will continue to be exempted from sale tax and customs duties in the 27-nation bloc and Britain.

Paris sewage reveals virus still not flushed away

Samples of wastewater from the Paris sewage system have been showing traces of Covid-19 again since the end of June, having vanished when France imposed a lockdown, according to the head of the laboratory leading the research.

Infection rates in France are subsiding, but officials this week made the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces compulsory after a series of localised flare-ups. 

To date the virus has killed over 30,000 people in France.

Early studies by scientists in The Netherlands, France, Australia and elsewhere suggest sewage sampling for signs of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could help estimate the number of infections in a geographic area, without having to test every person

Russia's total infections near 800,000

Russia reported 5,848 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, pushing its national tally to 795,038, the fourth largest in the world.

In their daily readout, officials said 147 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing Russia's official death toll to 12,892. 

Melbourne orders compulsory masks

Anyone venturing out in Australia's second-biggest city has been ordered to wear a mask as authorities struggle to contain multiple coronavirus clusters in the country's southeast.

Most people seen on the quiet streets of Melbourne's city centre wore masks in the second week of a six-week local lockdown.

Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, recorded 422 coronavirus cases on Thursday – a dip from a record peak of 484 on Wednesday, but its 18th consecutive day of triple-digit rises.

The mandatory mask order allows police to issue fines of $140 (Aus$200) to anyone who refuses to cover their face in public, although previous lockdown rules have generally been enforced with warnings.

Elsewhere in Australia, masks are rare.

Australia has now recorded more than 13,300 cases of the virus and 133 fatalities among its population of about 25 million.

Czech Rep reports over 200 cases for seconnd day

The day-to-day increase of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Czech Republic has surpassed 200 for the second straight day.

One of the latest clusters appeared in Prague where 76 people have been infected in a nightclub.

The Health Ministry says the number of infected reached 247 on Wednesday, the biggest increase since June 28.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech said the government will discuss a possible return to some nationwide restrictions but did not give any details.

The Czech Republic has had 14,570 cases with 364 deaths.

Hong Kong reports daily record of 118 cases

Hong Kong has reported 118 new coronavirus cases, a daily record, including 111 locally transmitted cases, adding to a deluge of new infections that have hit the global financial hub in the past two weeks.

Hong Kong extended strict social distancing measures on Wednesday as authorities reported 105 locally transmitted infections.

Since late January more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 14 of whom have died. Authorities have warned the city faces a critical period in containing the virus.

Authorities on Wednesday also said they were extending the period that non-essential civil servants would work from home until August 2.

Philippines confirms 2,200 more cases, 28 deaths

The Philippine health ministry has reported 2,200 new coronavirus infections and 28 new deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said on Thursday total deaths have increased to 1,871 and infections have risen to 74,390.

The Southeast Asian nation's coronavirus task force on Thursday reimposed a ban on non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos, two weeks after it lifted it.

Japan's capital sets new daily record of 366 cases

Japan's capital has reported 366 new coronavirus cases, Yuriko Koike, a new daily record fuelling fears of a second round of infections.

As Japan began a four-day stretch of holidays, the city's government declared its highest alert against the disease. Thursday's figure took cumulative infections to more than 10,000 in Tokyo, topping a daily high of 293 cases last week.

Although Japan has suffered about 28,000 infections and more than 1,000 deaths, it has escaped the kind of explosive surge seen elsewhere.

But recent signs of a spurt in infections in Japan, as well as other major economies, such as the United States, have prompted authorities to raise renewed alerts against the virus.

Indonesia reports 1,906 new cases, 117 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,906 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total infections to 93,657, data from the country's Covid-19 taskforce showed.

The number of Covid-19 deaths in the Southeast Asian nation rose by 117 on Thursday to bring the total to 4,576, the data showed. 

Germany's cases rise by 569 to 203,368

Germany has reported 569 new coronavirus cases, taking the nation's tally to 203,368.

Its death toll from the Covid-19 has risen by six to 9,101.

Germany has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe.

Worker in building attached to White House tests positive

A cafeteria employee who works in a building where some White House staffers have offices has tested positive, NBC News reported.

The White House is conducting contact tracing after the worker in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House, tested positive, NBC News said.

"The White House Medical Unit has done contact tracing and determined that the risk of retransmission is low," a spokesperson for General Services Administration (GSA), which manages the Eisenhower Building, told NBC News.

The White House declined to comment.

The cafeteria is operated by a government contractor, NBC News said. 

"All proper protocols were in place by the vendor, including masks, gloves, plastic shielding at check out, and no dine-in service," the GSA spokesperson told NBC News.

President Donald Trump has said he is tested for the coronavirus every two or three days.

Mainland China reports more cases

China reported 22 new cases in the mainland for July 22, up from 14 cases a day earlier, the health commission said.

Of the new infections, 18 were in the far western region of Xinjiang and one was from the northeastern Liaoning province, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

The other three were imported cases.

China reported 31 new asymptomatic patients, up from 22 a day earlier.

As of Wednesday, mainland China had 83,729 confirmed cases, the health authority said. 

The death toll remained at 4,634.

Mexico reports more than 6,000 new cases

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 6,019 new confirmed infections and 790 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 362,274 cases and 41,190 deaths.

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

Coronavirus cases in Latin America pass 4 million

More than 4 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, half of them in Brazil.

The region is one of the hardest-hit in the world, with 4,040,925 recorded Covid-19 cases and 172,886 deaths. 

Brazil alone has registered 2.2 million cases, the second-highest number in the world after the US.

California becomes new virus epicentre in US

California overtook New York, the original epicentre of the nation's outbreak, as the worst-hit state with infections.

Total cases in the most populous US state climbed above 414,000 with just a handful of California counties reporting 4,700 new cases so far.

New York has recorded by far the most deaths of any US state at over 32,000 with California in fourth place with nearly 8,000 deaths.

If California were a country, it would rank fifth in the world for total cases behind US, Brazil, India and Russia. 

New York currently has over 412,800 total cases and is adding on average 700 new cases a day in July.

In California, there is an average of 8,300 new cases a day.

Two Phoenix Sun players test positive

Two Phoenix Suns players, guard Ricky Rubio and forward Aron Baynes, revealed that they have tested positive.

Rubio has been cleared and joined the team in Florida following a positive result in Phoenix. 

The team’s starting point guard was able to practice, but wasn’t sure how much he would play in the team’s upcoming scrimmages.

Baynes is still in Phoenix and said in a video interview with Stadium that he’s “trying to pass some steps to get reunited with the team out there in Orlando.” He said he hasn’t tested “passable” in about 30 days.

Baynes said the virus hit him pretty hard and he “slept for four days straight” but he’s starting to feel better now. He said his wife and two kids also tested positive but had “very minimal” symptoms.

More US states implement mandatory mask law

Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota are the latest states to require residents statewide to wear masks.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order requiring Minnesotans to wear a face-covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings. The order takes effect Saturday.

Indiana will have a statewide face mask mandate starting Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb said. The order will apply to anyone ages eight and older in any indoor public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing can’t be maintained.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the state’s mask requirement will be expanded statewide.

It goes into effect Thursday evening for people 10 and older. He had resisted making the order statewide but said more counties are seeing increasing numbers.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown announced she is expanding the state’s mask order to also apply to children five years and older.

She also decreased the capacity for bars, restaurants, churches and other indoor places from 250 people to 100. The new mandates go into effect Friday. Currently, anyone who is 12 years or older must wear masks

“When we see the numbers rise, we must respond,” Brown said.

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she will issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside homes, an unprecedented step in the nation’s capital.

South Africa reports record number of daily virus deaths

South Africa announced a record 24-hour increase of 572 coronavirus deaths, bringing its total number of fatalities to 5,940.

The country is the worst-affected in Africa and among the top five in the world in terms of confirmed cases, with 394,948 infections reported to date.

"Regrettably we report 572 new Covid-19 related deaths. This brings the cumulative number of deaths to 5,940," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.

Almost half the total number of deaths have been reported in the Western Cape province, while the majority of positive cases are in Gauteng, South Africa's financial hub and epicentre of the outbreak.

The mortality rate has remained low, however, at around 1.5 percent.

Almost 60 percent of the country's Covid-19 patients have recovered from the virus.

Ukraine extends lockdown

Ukrainian authorities are extending restrictions until August 31, after reports of more than 800 new infections a day.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says keeping restrictions in place will allow the government to control the level of contagion. Ukraine imposed a tight lockdown in March, when it only had a handful of cases. Now the caseload exceeds 60,000.

Several restrictions have been significantly eased in mid-May, and regional governments could decide which restrictions to keep. Wearing a mask in public places and keeping 1.5 metres of social distance remains a requirement for all regions.

Travellers from other countries must self-quarantine for two weeks or take a virus test.

Brazil's president still testing positive

Brazil’s government says President Jair Bolsonaro is still testing positive following his July 7 announcement.

The positive test came after a follow-up check on July 15. The government says he remains in good health.

The World Health Organization says the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately two weeks.

The government say Bolsonaro will keep holding videoconferences instead of face-to-face meetings. He had to cancel a trip to northeastern Brazil. At least four members of Bolsonaro’s Cabinet have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Bolsonaro repeatedly dismissed the disease as a “little flu” and often mingled in crowds, sometimes without wearing a mask. 

He is treating his symptoms with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, although it has not been proven effective against the virus and can be dangerous for some people.

Brazil’s government says the country has recorded more than 2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 81,000 deaths.

Lockdown impacts waistlines of Spaniards

Frequent snacking and a lack of exercise during over two months of mandatory home confinement against the spread of the coronavirus has taken a toll on Spaniards’ waistline.

A survey by Spain’s Obesity Society, or SEEDO, says 44 percent of Spaniards gained weight during the spring mandatory order to stay at home. Of those, 73 percent added between one to three kilogrammes.

The study suggests anxiety and boredom led to more alcohol consumption and frequent trips to the pantry in search for sugar-heavy snacks. The difficulty of exercising while at home contributed to the weight gain.

More than half of the respondents say they exercised less than before mid-March, when Spain enacted a strict lockdown to fight the pandemic. One third of the 1,000 surveyed by telephone say they spent an average of five hours per day watching television.

Currently, the country is dealing with 224 smaller outbreaks. Spain has reported more than 28,400 deaths from the virus.

Romania sees uptick in cases

Romania has confirmed more than 1,000 new daily cases for the first time.

The 1,030 new confirmed cases and 27 deaths were reported by the government. That raises the totals to 40,163 confirmed cases and 2,101 deaths.

The village of Cartojani, outside of the capital of Bucharest, will be quarantined for two weeks starting Wednesday after 32 people were confirmed infected. They reportedly took part in a private event on the coast of the Black Sea.

According to new regulations, quarantines can be imposed on locations were the number of confirmed cases is above three per 1,000 residents and no other measures are deemed capable of containing the spread of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced Tuesday that 954 localities had reported at least one coronavirus case in the past two weeks, up from around 350 locations in early June.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies