The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 953,100 people and infected over 30.5 million worldwide. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for September 18:

People wearing face masks as preventive measure against Covid-19 are seen on the street in Mountain Ash, Britain September 18, 2020.
People wearing face masks as preventive measure against Covid-19 are seen on the street in Mountain Ash, Britain September 18, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, September 18, 2020

UK records 4,322 new cases as PM fears second wave

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that it was inevitable that the country would see the second wave of coronavirus and that while he did not want a second national lockdown, the government may need to introduce new restrictions.

Britain was reported to be considering whether to impose a new lockdown across the country, after new Covid-19 cases almost doubled to 6,000 per day, hospital admissions rose and infection rates soared across parts of northern England and London.

"We are now seeing a second wave coming in... It is absolutely, I'm afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country," he said.

The UK recorded 4,322 new positive cases on Friday, an increase of nearly a thousand on Thursday's tally and the highest since May 8, according to official statistics.

Spain region orders partial lockdown in poorer areas

The regional government of the Spanish capital Madrid has ordered a lockdown from Monday in some of the poorer areas of the city and its outskirts that are home to about 850,000 people, after a surge in coronavirus infections there.

Regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso said on Friday movement between and within areas in six districts would be restricted, but people would be able to go to work in Spain's hardest-hit region.

Residents in Madrid's poorer districts had said they felt abandoned, stigmatised, and feared new restrictions would deprive them of income.

France records 154 new deaths from virus

France has reported 154 new Covid-19 deaths taking the toll to 31,249, and recorded 13,215 new infections, official data showed.

France's response to a resurgence in the Covid-19 virus in the country needs to be proportionate, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, as the country battles to contain the virus while ensuring that economic and social activities can continue.

"So we need to be lucid, very transparent, demanding but at the same time proportionate," Macron told reporters on the sidelines of a briefing on plans to help French heritage sites.

France has the seventh-highest death toll in the world.

Palestine registers 692 new virus cases, nine fatalities

Palestine has confirmed 692 new cases of the novel coronavirus and nine fatalities over the past 24 hours.

In a statement, the country's Health Ministry said the virus claimed seven lives in the occupied West Bank, and one in Gaza and East Jerusalem each.

The death toll in the country rose to 286, while the total number of infections surpassed 44,000, including 30,942 recoveries, it added.

Turkey reports over 1,750 new  cases

Turkey has reported 1,771 more cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,060 recoveries.

The country's overall infection count now stands at 299,810, including 264,805 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry's data.

The death toll from the pandemic in Turkey rose to 7,377, with 62 new fatalities reported since Thursday.

A total of 111,113 more coronavirus tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, raising the total to over nine million.

Dutch plans new measures to contain virus surge 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said his government is preparing "regional" measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak in specific hotspots after the Netherlands registered a record 1,972 cases in the past 24 hours.

Europe is seeing a wider surge in Covid-19 cases, but Rutte said the Dutch situation was "worrying" after the country registered a record number of cases for the fourth consecutive day.

"At this rate, the number of infections would double every week and we absolutely cannot have that," he told reporters.

EU endorses dexamethasone for patients on oxygen therapy

The European health regulator has endorsed the use of widely known steroid dexamethasone in the treatment of Covid-19 patients on oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said based on its review of results of a study by UK researchers, it concluded that dexamethasone - a commonly used drug against a range of inflammatory conditions - can be considered a treatment option in adults and adolescents needing oxygen therapy.

The recommended dose in adults and adolescents, from 12 years of age and weighing at least 40 kgs, is 6 milligrams once a day for up to 10 days, the EMA said.

EU seals second vaccine deal 

The European Union has agreed to buy a potential Covid-19 vaccine from Sanofi and GSK in its second such deal to secure supplies, as a deadline for joining the World Health Organization's (WHO) vaccine purchase programme looms.

The deal will see the French and British drugmakers, which have teamed up to manufacture a recombinant protein-based vaccine they hope to get approved next year, provide the EU with up to 300 million doses, according to a tweet from European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

Friday's agreement confirms an announcement made on July 31 by the two companies and follows an earlier deal between the EU and AstraZeneca for up to 400 million shots.

In return for the right to the doses, the European Commission will finance part of the upfront costs faced by vaccine producers. The vaccine doses themselves will be bought by EU countries.

French city of Nice tightens curbs as cases soar

The city of Nice on the French Riviera will ban gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and tighten rules on alcohol consumption outdoors as it seeks to curb Covid-19 infections that are soaring in the region, local authorities said on Friday.

France registered a record 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Thursday, the country's highest single-day count since the pandemic began.

Indonesia reports 3,891 new infections, 114 deaths

Indonesia reported on Friday 3,891 new coronavirus infections, taking the country’s total tally to 236,519, Health Ministry data showed.

The number of deaths rose by 114 to 9,336, the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia signals phasing out of support to businesses 

Indonesia's government will continue to support businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic next year but in a "much more measured way" than this year on expectations that demand will recover, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Friday.

"We're going to start consolidating (fiscal policy) to make sure we can balance the need to continue to support health and economic recovery, but at the same time ... make sure our fiscal (situation) will be sustainable medium- and long-term," she said in a seminar held by the Asian Development Bank.

"We will continue using fiscal support, combining central bank support, to combat economic challenges posed by Covid-19," she added.

Philippines reports 3,257 new cases, 47 deaths

The Philippines' health ministry has reported 3,257 additional novel coronavirus infections, marking the 11th straight day the country has recorded more than 3,000 daily cases.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 279,526, most of which are in the capital, while deaths rose 47 to reach 4,830.

Russia reports 5,905 new cases, 134 deaths

Russia reported 5,905 new coronavirus cases, pushing its tally to 1,091,186, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 134 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 19,195. 

Covid hospital admissions double every eight days in UK

Britain's health minister has said that the novel coronavirus was accelerating across the country, with hospital admissions doubling every eight days, but refused to say whether or not another national lockdown would be imposed next month.

The United Kingdom has reported the fifth largest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the world after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

Asked repeatedly by Sky News about the prospect of a second national lockdown next month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a lockdown was a last resort, but that the government would do whatever it takes to tackle the virus.

Thailand reports first virus death in over 100 days

Thailand has reported its first coronavirus death in more than 100 days after an infected Thai citizen had returned from abroad earlier this month.

The 54-year old man, who was an interpreter based in Saudi Arabia working for the Thai labour ministry, had been treated in a Bangkok hospital for two weeks and died on Friday, Somsak Akksilp, head of the Department Medical Services, told Reuters.

Officials will hold a briefing on the case at 0730GMT.

UK health minister says testing system not chaotic

Britain's health minister has disputed questioning from a reporter who cast the coronavirus testing system as a barely functioning chaotic shambles, instead praising the head of the system for extraordinary work and saying it was not a mess.

Asked by LBC radio why the testing system was such a "shambles", Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Dido Harding, who is in charge of the system, had done an "an extraordinary job."

Asked why the system was chaotic, inefficient and barely functional, Hancock said: "Those three things are not true - they are wrong."

London on course for new curbs

Official figures due for release later on Friday will show a sharp rise in Covid cases in London, putting Britain's capital at risk of restrictions on socialising over the next two weeks, the London Evening Standard said.

The Evening Standard said the number of Covid cases per 100,000 people in London had risen to around 25 from 18.8 in last week's data, and was above 30 in many boroughs.

Rates above 50 mean local lockdowns would be considered, it added. 

Brazil reports 829 deaths

Brazil has reported 829 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, while Mexico saw 201 deaths over the past 24 hours, health authorities said on Sunday.

In Brazil, the third worst-hit country in the world after India with the highest number of cases, the death toll reached 134,935, while confirmed cases to date surpassed 4.45 million with 36,303 new infections.

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, over 3.75 million people have so far recovered from the virus in the Latin American country.

With a population of over 211 million, Brazil is seen as the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the region.

Brazil's vibrant financial hub of Sao Paolo, with a population of nearly 46 million, is the country's most-affected region.

Covid-19 deaths continue to mount in Myanmar

Myanmar has confirmed 15 new Covid-19 linked deaths during the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 61 as of Friday.

A daily release from the Health and Sports Ministry on Friday stated 15 more Covid-19 patients with underlying diseases died of acute respiratory failure.

It added that 404 more patients tested positive on Thursday, the highest single-day surge since the country first detected the virus in late March, taking the tally to 4,299 cases.

Welsh Union gets loan to help regions recover from virus crisis

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has secured a $25.94 million loan that will help the professional game survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the governing body's interim chief Steve Phillips has said.

The loan will be divided among the Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets and was to be repaid over a five-year period, the BBC said.

WRU Chairman Gareth Davies had previously said the governing body was projecting a shortfall of around 50 million pounds in revenue if no more international rugby could be played this year.

Australia pays $3.7 M to help news agency through pandemic

The Australian government has announced a $3.7 million grant to the national news agency as part of pandemic-related assistance to regional journalism.

Australian Associated Press is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85-year history, including a strong contribution to regional news, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

Israel returns to lockdown as cases mount

Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later on Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.

The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 pm (1100GMT) will include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to within a kilometre (0.6 miles) of their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.

There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalised in serious condition.

Israel has reported a total of more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths.

Nigeria registers over 130 more infections

Nigeria has reported over 130 more coronavirus cases and two fatalities.

The country’s overall count since March now stands at 56,735, including 1,093 deaths, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a daily update.

At least 48,092 patients have recovered from Covid-19 so far, according to the NCDC.

Infections and fatalities have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, the authority added.

With over 18,700 cases, the commercial capital Lagos remains Nigeria’s worst-hit city.

India's virus surge continues with over 96,000 cases

India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down.

The Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 5.21 million. It said 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 84,372.

India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have been reported infected, the most in the world.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance as his government chalked out plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

Czech Republic exceeds 3,000 daily cases for first time

The Czech Republic's new Covid-19 infections have accelerated as it reported more than 3,000 cases in a single day for the first time, a day after the daily tally first exceeded 2,000.

The country of 10.7 million has seen one of the biggest spikes in new coronavirus infections in Europe, with daily case numbers topping 1,000 for the first time in September.

According to Health Ministry data released on Friday, the country detected 3,130 new cases on Thursday, up from 2,137 the day before. In total, the country has recorded 44,155 cases.

Germany's cases rise by 1,916 to 267,773

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 1,916 to 267,773, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,378, the tally showed. 

Mainland China reports 32 new Covid-19 cases 

Mainland China reported 32 new Covid-19 cases, up sharply from 9 cases reported a day earlier, the Chinese national health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. It also reported 20 new asymptomatic cases, also up from 14 a day earlier, though China does not classify these symptomless patients as confirmed virus cases.

The total number of virus cases for mainland China now stands at 85,255, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. 

Australia's Victoria state reports 45 new cases

Australia's coronavirus hot spot of Victoria reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections in more than a week as the state began relaxing lockdown restrictions.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reported five deaths from the virus and 45 cases in the last 24 hours. The state reported eight deaths and 28 cases a day earlier, its lowest daily rise in infections in nearly three months.

The southeastern state started easing curbs this week after a hard lockdown helped bring down the daily rise in infections to double-digits after it touched highs of more than 700 in early August. 

Mexico reports 3,182 new virus cases

Mexico's health ministry reported 3,182 new confirmed cases of the virus in the country, bringing the total to 684,113 cases, and 201 new deaths, for a cumulative death toll of 72,179.

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 30 million

More than 30 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 941,452 have died, according to a Reuters tally.  

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies