The global coronavirus pandemic has infected over 46 million people and claimed more than 1.1 million lives. Here are the updates for October 31:

A child wears a mask as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in Durham, Britain October 31, 2020.
A child wears a mask as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in Durham, Britain October 31, 2020. (Reuters)

Saturday, October 31, 2020

UK confirmed cases surge past one million mark

The United Kingdom has passed one million confirmed Covid-19 cases, a new milestone as the government considers a new national lockdown in England.

"Between 31 January and 31 October 2020, there have been 1,011,660 people who have had a confirmed positive test result," the government said.

Cases rose by 21,915 from the previous day. The death toll increased by 326.

Italy posts daily record of 31,758 new cases

Italy has recorded 31,758 new infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, its highest daily tally since the start of the health crisis and up from the previous record of 31,084 posted on Friday.

The ministry also reported 297 deaths, compared with 199 on Friday

Turkey reports over 2,200 new patients

Turkey has registered 2,213 new patients over the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry data, bringing the country’s overall tally to 375,367.

Some 1,506 more patients recovered over the past day, raising the count to 323,971, while the death toll rose by 75 to reach 10,252.

Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and his family are also under treatment in a hospital after testing positive, the minister said on Twitter.

Austria announces 4-week partial lockdown

Austria has announced a partial shutdown that will see restaurants and bars closed for four weeks, cultural, sports and leisure activities canceled, and residents asked to stay home after 19:00GMT as the government tries to stem a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the restrictions will apply from Tuesday until the end of November. Restaurants and bars will be closed except for deliveries and takeout, and hotels closed to tourists. Companies affected by the shutdown will be compensated with 80 percent of their revenue from last November, but will have to keep on their employees.

The nation of 8.9 million people has reported more than 106,000 confirmed cases, including 1,097 deaths, since the pandemic began.

Million line up as Slovakia launches unique nationwide test

Over a million Slovaks have taken a test swab on Saturday as the country launched a huge logistical operation to test most of its population over the weekend to reverse a rise in the pandemic.

Authorities say the ambitious plan to test most citizens aged over 10 among Slovakia's 5.5 million people is the first of its kind in a country of its size.

As of 1100 GMT, 828,518 people had been tested and 7,947 were positive, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad told a news conference.

Greek PM declares partial coronavirus lockdown

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has declared a partial coronavirus lockdown, shutting down restaurants and other leisure activities in Athens and other major cities from Tuesday.

"We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger," Mitsotakis said in a televised address.

US reports world record of over 100,000 cases in single day

The United States has set a new all-time high for coronavirus cases confirmed in a single 24-hour period, reporting just over 100,000 new infections to surpass the record total of 91,000 posted a day earlier, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily caseload of 100,233 is also a world record for the global pandemic, surpassing the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September.

Five times over past ten days, the United States has exceeded its previous single-day record of 77,299 cases registered in July.

The number of daily infections reported during past two days indicates that the nation is now reporting more than one new case every second.

The spike comes just four days ahead of the US presidential election on Tuesday. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States, has dominated the final stretch of the campaign.

The United States crossed 9 million cumulative cases on Friday, representing nearly 3 percent of the population, according to a Reuters tally of publicly reported data.

On Friday, 16 US states reported their highest one-day coronavirus infections while thirteen states were at record levels of hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

So far in October, 31 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the November 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Poland reports record rise in daily cases

Poland has reported a record 21,897 new coronavirus infections, while the country faces massive protests following an abortion ruling last week.

Poland has seen widespread, but mostly peaceful protests following a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal last week that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.

Indonesia reports 3,143 new infections, 87 new deaths

Indonesia has reported 3,143 new coronavirus infections, taking the country's total to 410,088, according to the health ministry website.

There were also 87 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 13,869.

Indonesia has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

Russia's daily cases stay above 18,000 

Russia's daily tally of coronavirus cases have stood at 18,140, including 4,952 in Moscow, taking the national total to 1,618,116 since the pandemic began.

Authorities also reported 334 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 27,990.

Malaysia reports 659 new cases with no new deaths

Malaysia has reported 659 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 31,548.

The health ministry also said there were no new deaths reported, keeping the total number of deaths at 249.

Hungary reports record 3,908 rise in daily new cases

Hungary has reported a record 3,908 rise in daily new coronavirus infections on Saturday, while then umber of patients in hospitals exceeded 4,000 for the first time, the government said.

The death toll rose by 51 to 1,750.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government has refrained from imposing restrictions on mass events so far, with schools operating as normal and shops open. 

Orban told a radio station on Friday that existing rules on mask-wearing should be obeyed, without flagging any new restrictions.

Ukraine reports record daily high new cases

Ukraine has registered a record 8,752 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the national security council said, up from 8,312 cases on Friday.

Total infections stood at 387,481, it said. 

Philippines reports 1,803 new cases, 36 more deaths

The Philippines' Health Ministry has recorded 1,803 new coronavirus infections and 36 more deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 380,729 while deaths have reached 7,221. 

The Philippines has the second-highest Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia. 

Australia's Melbourne enjoys first weekend out of lockdown

Residents in Australia's second-largest city of Melbourne have enjoyed their first weekend of relative freedom after an almost four-month lockdown as coronavirus case numbers continued to dwindle.

As Melbournians have flocked to parks, tennis courts, restaurants and shops, officials reported just one new Covid-19 case in Victoria state and no deaths. 

That was well down from average daily new cases of around 700 in July and early August.

Some travel restrictions, however, remain and venues including libraries and cinemas remain closed in Melbourne. Officials are expected to announce a further easing of restrictions from Nov. 9.

Australia has fared much better than many countries in managing the pandemic, recording just over 27,500 cases and 907 deaths since the start of the year. As of Friday, there were just under 200 active cases.

Mainland China reports 33 new cases

Mainland China has reported 33 new Covid-19 cases, up from 25 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said.

Of the new cases, 27 were imported infections originating from overseas. The National Health Commission said in a statement that six local infections were reported in the western region of Xinjiang.

The commission also reported 38 new asymptomatic cases, down from 53 a day earlier. China does not count symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Total confirmed Covid-19 cases to date in mainland China stand at 85,973.

The death toll remains at 4,634. 

US signs up pharmacy chains as virus vaccination centres

Several US retail pharmacy chains have agreed to serve as Covid-19 vaccination sites under a federal government plan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A plan by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed companies who have agreed to participate include Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, CVS Health Corp, Walmart Inc, Kroger Co and Costco Wholesale Corp, the report.

The government would provide the vaccines to the pharmacies free of charge, the Wall Street Journal report said, to help expand and accelerate the public's access to vaccines as supplies increase.

The pharmacies would be involved in the second phase of the planned vaccine rollout in the United States, the report said, with the first phase targeted at healthcare workers and others at high risk of infection.

The companies involved in the plan and the CDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Mexico reports 6,000 new cases, 516 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry reported on Friday 6,000 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 516 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 918,811 and the death toll to 91,289.

Health officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. On Sunday, the ministry said the true death toll from Covid-19 may be around 50,000 higher. 

Brazil sees 508 new deaths, 22,282 new cases

Brazil recorded 508 Covid-19 deaths and 22,282 new cases of coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

Brazil has so far had more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 160,000 deaths, official data show. 

UK’s Johnson considering imposition of new national lockdown measures – Times

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering imposing new national lockdown measures from next week amid concerns that hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed by a resurgence in coronavirus cases, The Times newspaper reported on Friday.

Johnson is expected to announce the measures in a news conference next week, the report said. 

Sweden preparing further measures to support Covid-hit companies – DN newspaper

Sweden's government is preparing new measures to support companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Friday.

The centre-left coalition, supported by two smaller centre-right parties has already rolled out several packages of measures, including subsidies for furloughed employees, tax holidays and lower payroll taxes.

"My opinion is that we need another crisis package in order to support Swedish companies and save jobs," Andersson said in an interview in daily Dagens Nyheter.

"Many of the measures we launched in spring are still in place and running. But now we see that other companies are being hit."

Andersson gave few details of planned measures but said that support could go to businesses such as restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas.

Sweden avoided a lockdown in spring, opting mainly for voluntary measures to contain the spread of the virus. It saw more cases and deaths than its Nordic neighbours, but fewer than countries like Spain and Britain.

The number of new cases has picked up again in recent weeks with 2,820 registered on October 28, the highest since the pandemic began, although the lack of testing in spring probably meant the extent of the outbreak then was underestimated.

Covid-19 spreads more extensively, new study shows

The coronavirus can spread more extensively in households than previous research suggests and kids can transmit it at about the same rate as adults do, according to a new study.

The study shows how important it is for people who test positive to isolate themselves within a home and for them and everyone else to wear masks when they are in common areas, researchers said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. The researchers focused on 101 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin.

In each home, after a person was diagnosed, other household members agreed to undergo nasal swab or saliva tests and kept symptom diaries.

Nearly 300 people participated. About 100 were identified as the first to be infected and the other 200 people lived with them.

About 53 percent of the household members tested positive and most were diagnosed within five days of the time the first person got sick. Previous studies have estimated the secondary infection rate at around half that.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies