The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than 481,900 lives and infected more than 9.4 million people across the world. Here are updates for June 24:

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak at St James' Park stadium in NewCastle, England, June 24, 2020.
A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak at St James' Park stadium in NewCastle, England, June 24, 2020. (AP)

Wednesday, June 24

UK coronavirus death toll passes 43,000 mark

The coronavirus death toll in the UK has passed the grim milestone of 43,000, health officials have announced.

The total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has risen to 306,862, with 653 new cases over the past 24 hours.

“As of 5 pm on 23 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 43,081 have sadly died,” the Department of Health and Social Care said, adding there we re 154 deaths since yesterday.

The UK has the highest coronavirus death toll across Europe, and the third-highest in the world after the US and Brazil.

Aside from the official statistics so far, the true number of victims could be as high as 50,000, according to some estimates based on data by the Office of National Statistics on excess deaths.

France's deaths sharply down

The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 11 to 29,731, down sharply versus Tuesday when the weekly data for nursing homes were included.

That is the lowest increase in Covid-19 fatalities in five days. France's death toll is the fifth-highest in the world. 

Turkey not experiencing 2nd wave of virus

Turkey is not experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus and the country is still facing the impact of the first phase, the country's health minister has said.

As many as 1,386 patients recovered from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 164,234, Fahrettin Koca told a news conference following a scientific committee meeting in the capital Ankara.

"Spread of virus has not slowed down, there is no scientific evidence that it has become less potent," Koca said.

"Average age of coronavirus-related fatalities increased from 71 to 74," he added.

Turkey reported 24 new Covid-19 fatalities over the past day, bringing the death toll to 5,025, according to the minister.

The country's healthcare workers conducted 53,486 tests for the virus over the past 24 hours, raising the total count to more than 3.08 million.

The total number of coronavirus cases nationwide to date reached 191,657, with new 1,492 infections reported.

A total of 914 patients remain in intensive care units across the country.

US states reimpose virus measures

With coronavirus cases surging across the US South and West, officials are once again imposing tough measures, from stay-at-home advice in worst-hit states to quarantines to protect recovering areas like New York.

The world's largest economy is the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with a mounting death toll of over 121,000 dead.

Some officials - including the Texas governor - who loosened restrictions on business, dining, public gatherings and tourism, are now urging residents to again stay home.

Three northeastern states that made progress beating back the pandemic - New York, New Jersey and Connecticut - on Wednesday urged visitors arriving from US hotspots to quarantine themselves.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the advisory applied to visitors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

UK medical leaders warn of second wave

Some of Britain's leading medical experts have called for a swift review into the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak to learn lessons before what they said was a "real risk" of a second wave this winter.

The call comes the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively brought to an end a nationwide lockdown imposed in late March to try to stem the rapid spread of Covid-19.

In a joint letter, the presidents of around a dozen medical organisations including the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Emergency Medicine and Nursing said lessons must be learned - and quickly.

"The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame. Rather it should be a rapid and forward-looking assessment of national preparedness," they wrote in the British Medical Journal.

Virus yet to peak in Americas: WHO

The World Health Organization has said it expected coronavirus cases to hit 10 million worldwide in the next week, as it warned the virus was yet to peak in the Americas.

"In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost four million cases have been reported," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference.

"We expect to reach a total of 10 million cases within the next week."

"This is a sober reminder that even as we continue research into vaccines and therapeutics, we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives."

Brazil starts testing Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Researchers in Brazil began administering an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University to volunteers, the Federal University of Sao Paulo said Wednesday.

The vaccine, developed together with pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca, is one of the most promising of the dozens that researchers worldwide are racing to test and bring to market.

Known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, it is already being tested in volunteers in Britain, and is due to start being administered this week in South Africa, as well.

Iraq registers record new cases

Iraq registered 2,200 new coronavirus cases and 79 deaths, the health ministry has said.

This brings the total number of cases to 36,702, with 1,330 deaths, it said. Nearly 16,814 people have recovered.

The daily tally of cases has been rising since the holy month of Ramadan and as many Iraqis flout coronavirus lockdown measures.

Slovenia reimposes mandatory masks requirement

Slovenia has reinstated the mandatory use of face masks in indoor spaces after recording a rise in coronavirus cases following the lifting of restrictions earlier this month.

People will once again be required to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces and on public transport -- and disinfect their hands when entering those spaces.

"This measure is urgent, it's necessary, since it has proved to be effective in the past," Health Minister Tomaz Gantar told journalists after a meeting of the government.

The decision to re-impose restrictions would be revisited in 14 days, he added.

Croatia partly restricts travelling for Balkan nations

Croatia will re-instate mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers from Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia due to an increase of coronavirus infections in the Balkans, the government said Wednesday.

The measure, which takes effect at midnight (2200 GMT), will not apply to travellers who are only transiting through Croatia, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic told reporters.

Germany hit by local infection spikes

Germany has reimposed coronavirus lockdown measures in two northwestern districts on Wednesday after local outbreaks linked to a meat processing factory.

The North Rhine-Westphalian authorities have announced that in Guetersloh and Warendorf, schools and public venues such as cinemas, gyms and bars were closed until at least June 30.

Also, gathering of more than two people in public were banned.

Over 1,550 workers of the meat factory in Guetersloh, owned by Germany’s market leader Toennies, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to local media reports.

Coronavirus cases in Philippines top 32,000

The number of coronavirus cases in Philippines, which extended lockdown in the capital Manila for another two weeks on June 15, crossed 32,000-mark on Wednesday, authorities said.

The Southeast Asian country has thus far confirmed 32,295 cases, including 1,204 deaths and 8,656 recoveries, the Department of Health said in a statement.

It said that of the 470 new cases, 357 were “fresh” while 113 were “late."

Taiwan investigates possible first local virus case in two months

Taiwan has put more than 100 people under quarantine while it investigates its first possible local case of coronavirus infection in more than two months, a Japanese woman who tested positive last week, the government said on Wednesday.

Taiwan's early and effective response has kept the pandemic at bay, with just 446 infections and seven deaths, the majority of cases being imported and having already recovered.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said Japan had notified them on Tuesday that the woman, who arrived on the island as a student in late February, tested positive after returning to Japan on June 20, though she was asymptomatic.

More than 100 people who had contact with her in Taiwan have been placed under quarantine, it added.

France closes two Paris schools as precaution after coronavirus cases

French authorities have closed two schools in Paris as a precautionary measure after the discovery of coronavirus cases but they have not been classed as potentially dangerous clusters, authorities said Wednesday.

France, unlike some other European countries which have taken a much more cautious approach, on Monday resumed obligatory schooling for all pupils after the coronavirus shutdown.

Some schools had already been open at least partially for several weeks after the initial easing of the lockdown.

But a school in the 12th district of Paris with 180 pupils has been closed until the end of the week after three cases were discovered, the local health authority told AFP.

Call for mandatory masks as Iran virus toll nears 10,000

An Iranian official called for mask-wearing to be made compulsory as the country on Wednesday reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll in more than two-and-a-half months.

"It is certainly required that the wearing of masks becomes mandatory," said Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi.

"If we use masks, especially in closed spaces and gatherings, we can very much reduce the virus' spread," he added in remarks broadcast on television.

Iran reported its first Covid-19 cases on February 19, and it has since struggled to contain the outbreak at the death toll nears 10,000.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Wednesday that the 133 fatalities in the past 24 hours brought the country's overall virus death toll to 9,996.

That made it the deadliest day in Iran since April 6, when the government reported 136 virus fatalities.

Indonesia cases rise as stigma hinders fight

Indonesian authorities are complaining that hundreds of people have refused testing for the new coronavirus as social taboos emerge as another obstacle to stopping its spread in the world’s fourth-most populous nation.

Indonesia has the highest number of reported infections in Southeast Asia, surpassing 49,000, while at least 2,573 people have died, according to official data, the highest Covid-19 death toll in East Asia outside China.

Despite an acceleration in infections, this week hundreds of traditional traders in Bali and Sumatra refused to get tested, even as bustling, densely packed markets have emerged as common coronavirus infection points, officials said.

At least 28 migrants rescued off Italy test positive

Sicily’s governor says 28 migrants who were rescued at sea have tested positive for the virus, confirming a new complication in Italy’s efforts to manage waves of migrants smuggled across the Mediterranean from Africa.

The migrants were being held on a ship off Porto Empedocle where they're taken to quarantine after being rescued.

Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci said in a Facebook post that the positive tests confirmed that he was right to demand special at-sea quarantine measures for migrants to prevent new clusters from forming in Italy, the onetime European epicentre of the pandemic.

Health workers say Burundi infections serious

Health workers in Burundi are warning that the coronavirus is more serious there than the government admits.

Several workers spoke anonymously to Human Rights Watch, which is urging the country’s new president to make the pandemic a priority.

Former president Pierre Nkurunziza died this month of what the government called a heart attack, though concerns remain that Covid-19 killed him.

His government recently kicked out the World Health Organization’s country director and allowed massive campaign rallies ahead of the May election, and new President Evariste Ndayishimiye was sworn in last week in front of a crowd with few face masks in sight.

Speaking to Human Rights Watch, health workers alleged that the National Institute for Public Health is refusing to conduct virus tests or properly inform the public on the extent of infections.

They also alleged that a national hotline for Covid-19 often goes unanswered, and that supervisors tell them to keep quiet about shortages of medical equipment.

Data show more infected men as women deprioritised

An international aid group says virus data in some countries show a sharp discrepancy between cases in men and women amid concerns that women lack proper access to testing and health care.

The International Rescue Committee highlights several socially conservative countries including Somalia and Afghanistan, where Health Ministry data this week show 72 percent of cases are male and 28 percent are female.

In Yemen, 75 percent of cases are male and in Pakistan and Chad, it’s 74 percent. The global breakdown is roughly 50 percent.

An IRC emergency health adviser, Stacey Mearns, says in a statement that “while men in these places have more freedom of movement and tend to be out in the community socialising more, many go home to women.

Also, women are usually caretakers of the sick and elderly in these cultures and therefore exposed to Covid-19.”

She adds that “what we are seeing is a situation in which women are potentially being left out of testing and their health deprioritised.”

UK medical leaders warn of 'real risk' of virus second wave

Medical experts warned the British government to prepare for the "real risk" of a coronavirus second wave just a day after the biggest lifting yet of lockdown restrictions in England.

"While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk," said the experts in an open letter printed in the British Medical Journal.

The letter added that the overriding task was "to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase."

It was signed by 16 leading experts, including the heads of the Royal College of Surgeons, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal College of Nursing.

France rushes aid to stem virus in French Guiana

The French government is sending medics and aid to the South American territory of French Guiana amid a surge in virus infections there.

The French military has ferried patients from Guiana, which borders Brazil, to hospitals in the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

The minister for overseas territories, Anick Girardin, travelled to Guiana on Tuesday and promised more aid, saying “the state will be there for you,” according to local broadcaster Guyane la 1ere.

She said she would discuss the possibility of reimposing confinement measures for the territory’s 300,000 people and cancelling upcoming elections to stem the spread.

The R number, which indicates how many people will be contaminated on average by an infected person, is above 2 in French Guiana, according to the national health agency, which called the situation “very worrying.”

Guiana has reported more than 2,500 infections, compared to 161,000 in all of France. The number of virus patients hospitalised in Guiana has been rising steadily in recent days even as the number on the mainland and in other territories steadily falls.

Slovak president quarantined, scraps meetings

Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova has cancelled her meeting with her Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen to get quarantined after a member of her office met with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The presidential office says Caputova will stay quarantined at her home until Friday and in the meantime cancelled all her scheduled appointments.

Slovakia is one of the least affected countries by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. It has had a total of 1,607 cases with 28 deaths.

Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 600,000
Russia reported 7,176 new cases, pushing its nationwide case total to 606,881, the world’s third highest tally.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 154 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,513.

Ukraine to open more hospitals amid surge

Ukraine is opening more of its hospitals to coronavirus cases as the institutions initially chosen to accept patients no longer have enough beds to cope with a surge in infections, the health minister said.

The daily rise of virus cases hit a new high of 940, bringing the total to 39,014, with 1,051 deaths. Most new cases were registered in west Ukraine and the capital.

At the start of the epidemic, Ukraine divided hospitals into categories, with the best prepared institutions taking patients in the first wave.

Second-line hospitals would accept cases once the other institutions had no more places.

Officials say some citizens have not stuck closely enough to guidance on social distancing and other precautions to prevent the virus spreading, leading to a surge in cases.

South Africa records highest daily toll of 111 dead

South Africa has recorded its highest daily death toll from the virus: 111.

More than 2,100 people have died in the country that makes up nearly one-third of the virus cases across Africa with more than 106,000.

South Africa will begin vaccinating people in the first vaccine trial for Covid-19 on the continent, while the World Health Organization chief joins the African Centers for Disease Control for a conference to discuss the race for a vaccine.

Africa now has nearly 325,000 virus cases as countries loosen restrictions under economic pressure from citizens who say they have to feed their families.

Shortages of testing materials and medical supplies remain a problem as Africa could become the world’s next hot spot.

Tokyo's new cases climbed to 55

Tokyo's new virus cases climbed to 55, public broadcaster NHK said, the highest tally in one to one-and-a-half months after a cluster of infections was found at an unnamed office in the Japanese capital.

Tokyo will record "quite a large number" of virus cases after a cluster of infections was discovered at an office, Governor Yuriko Koike said, speaking before the latest figure was reported.

"Clusters in the workplace have become a big problem lately," Koike told reporters, adding that test results from the same unnamed company were expected to add to the seven infections found there previously.

In addition, more than 10 positive results are expected from group testing in Shinjuku, Koike said, referring to an area of the Japanese capital known for it s night life.

'Players are reporting to training camps,' MLB union says

Major League Baseball and its players' association (MLBPA) appeared to have cleared the last major obstacles to the start of the 2020 season after weeks of fierce debate.

"All remaining issues have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps," the MLBPA said on Twitter, a day after team owners voted unanimously to proceed with the season amid the Covid-19 outbreak. 

India reports highest spike of 16,000 cases

India has recorded the highest spike of 15,968 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to to 456,183, with Mumbai and New Delhi as the worst-hit cities in the country.

The Health Ministry also reported a record 24-hour increase of 465 deaths due to Covid-19, driving fatalities to 14,476.

The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 56.38 percent.

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons, such as limited testing.

South Korea continues upward trend in new infections

South Korea has reported 51 additional cases over the past 24 hours, a continuation of an upward trend in new infections.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 12,535 with 281 deaths.

It says 10,930 of them have recovered while 1,324 people remain in treatment for the virus.

The KCDC says 20 of the 51 newly reported cases came from overseas while 31 patients were infected locally.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 587 to 191,449

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 587 to 191,449, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 19 to 8,914, the tally showed.

China announces further decline in newly confirmed cases

China has announced a further decline in newly confirmed coronavirus cases both nationwide and in the capital Beijing where a roughly two-week old spike in cases appears to now be firmly on the wane.

A total of 12 cases were reported for the country, down from 22 the day before. Beijing reported seven cases, down from 13, while the two other cases were reported in neighbouring Hebei province and three were listed as having been brought from abroad by Chinese travellers.

No new deaths were reported and 359 remained in treatment for Covid-19, with another 118 in monitoring and isolation for testing positive for the virus while showing no symptoms or being suspected cases.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from among 83,430 cases of the virus since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Beijing’s June outbreak saw more than 200 cases, most linked to the city’s biggest wholesale market, and led to some new lockdowns and the cancellation of classes. Since then, 3 million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city, a senior municipal health official said on Tuesday.

A total of 249 people have been infected in Beijing since June 11.

Portugal starts easing lockdown measures

Portugal's government brought back restrictions in some parts of the Lisbon metropolitan area as authorities struggled to break the chain of coronavirus transmission in towns around the capital.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa, after a four-hour meeting with municipal officials on Monday, said that the virus hot spots are in 15 parishes.

He said that from midnight, a 10-person limit at gatherings in those areas will be reintroduced and commercial establishments will have to close at 8 pm.

Health officials will step up inspections at construction sites and construction workers' transport, which have been identified as an important source of new infections, Costa said.

A project called Healthy Neighbourhoods will aim to involve communities more closely in the fight against the outbreak.

Novak Djokovic tests positive 

Novak Djokovic, the men's world number one tennis player, tested positive for the virus and then apologised to all individuals who contracted the virus after playing in an exhibition tournament he organised in Serbia and Croatia.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, Croatia's Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki have previously tested positive after playing in Djokovic's Adria Tour exhibition tournament in the Balkan region.

Djokovic's fitness coach Marco Panichi and Dimitrov's coach Christian Groh have also tested positive.

Libya reports largest single day rise in cases

War-ravaged Libya has reported its biggest daily increase yet in coronavirus infections and deaths, raising fears that a major outbreak could overwhelm its health system, left in shambles by nine years of conflict.

Libya’s National Center for Disease Control announced 639 total virus cases, including 17 fatalities, after recording 44 new virus cases and four deaths on Tuesday. With such little testing, experts believe the number could be higher.

The North African country has become split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by an array of fractious militias and foreign powers. The National Center for Disease Control is one the few state institutions to bridge the country’s divide.

Libya’s case count has more than quadrupled in the last few weeks, largely due to its repatriation of stranded citizens from abroad. An alarming hot spot is the city of Sabha in the remote southern desert, where health facilities are drastically under-equipped and many citizens remain uninformed.

Australia reports first death in more than a month

Australia's second most populous state said a man in his 80s died overnight from the coronavirus, the country's first death from the virus in more than a month, as the state logged a double digit rise in cases for the eighth straight day.

Victoria state reported 20 overnight cases, Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne, taking the state tally to nearly 1,900 after recording 17 on Tuesday and 16 the day before.

The upswing in new cases in Victoria has sparked fears of a second wave, with 241 cases in the state so far identified as community transmission, an increase of eight from Tuesday.

Authorities in Victoria, which has become the virus hotspot in Australia, have been trying to contain the spread of the virus in half a dozen suburbs in the largest city of Melbourne hit by a spike in cases.

UN confirms 28 of its staff died from virus

The UN announced that 28 of its staff have died due to the novel coronavirus.

In a statement, UN Information Services Director Alessandra Vellucci said they were among the 1,140 staff that had contracted the virus as of June 21.

Brazil registers 39,436 new cases, 1,374 deaths

Brazil recorded 39,436 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,374 new deaths resulting from the disease, the country's Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 1.1 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths reached 52,645, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile a judge in Brazil ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask in public after the right-wing populist attended political rallies without one in the middle of the world's second-worst coronavirus outbreak.

Mexico announces a record one-day total for new infections

In recent weeks Latin America has emerged as the epicentre of the pandemic, with a spike in cases and deaths even as the tide of infection recedes elsewhere on the planet.

Mexico registered 6,288 new infections and 793 additional deaths from the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, the health ministry said, bringing the totals for the country to 191,410 cases and 23,377 deaths.

US adds 800 more deaths

The United States added 792 deaths in 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tally showed, as the country's top infectious diseases expert warned there were "historic" challenges ahead.

The world's largest economy is the hardest-hit country by the pandemic, with 121,176 dead out of more than 2.34 million cases, according to the Baltimore-based institution at 8:30pm (0030 GMT Wednesday).

Many states have largely lifted lockdown measures, and New York – the country's epicentre for the pandemic – took a big step on Monday by allowing non-essential businesses to reopen. But some 20 states, primarily in the south and west, have seen a rebound in infections.

Meanwhile, the White House Correspondents' Association announced that due to the pandemic it would cancel this year's annual dinner.

More than 220 police dead in Peru, 15,000 infected

At least 223 police officers in Peru have died after contracting the coronavirus while enforcing one of South America's longest lockdowns, the interior ministry announced.

"We have to date 223 police dead and 15,500 infected," Interior Minister General Gaston Rodriguez told a virtual press conference.

The death toll is 30 percent higher than two weeks ago, when the ministry announced 170 officers had died and just under 10,000 were infected, out of a total force of 130,000.

Peru is the second-worst-hit country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 257,000 cases and 9,000 deaths.