Covid-19 has infected more than 14.2 million people, of whom over 8.5 million have recovered and over 600,000 have died. Here are the updates for July 18:

Palestinian Hamas police officers wear protective suits as they take part in a simulation of possible coronavirus infections exercise in Gaza City, Saturday, July 18, 2020.
Palestinian Hamas police officers wear protective suits as they take part in a simulation of possible coronavirus infections exercise in Gaza City, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"The deepest global recession since World War II"

Coronavirus has revealed the "fragile skeleton" of societies and could push 100 million people into extreme poverty, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.

Speaking on the 102nd birthday anniversary of the late Nelson Mandela - South Africa's first black president - Guterres said coronavirus was "shining a spotlight" on global injustice. 

"We have been brought to our knees - by a microscopic virus. The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world."

"Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months," he warned at a virtual memorial lecture organised by the Johannesburg-based Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The economic fallout of the pandemic, which has infected more than 14 million and killed over 600,000 people worldwide, is being disproportionately felt among informal workers, small businesses and women, Guterres said.

"We face the deepest global recession since World War II," he said. "One hundred million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty. We could see famines of historic proportions."

Recoveries top 200,000 mark in Turkey

Turkey's health minister has announced 1,179 more recoveries from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to over 201,013.

The nationwide count of infections rose to 218,717, as 918 more cases were reported over the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter citing Health Ministry data on Saturday.

The country's death toll from the virus rose to 5,475, with 17 new fatalities reported.

Healthcare professionals conducted a total of 40,943 tests for the disease in the past day, raising the overall count to over 4.23 million.

Hospitalisations down, 11 more deaths in New York

The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in New York state dropped to 743 and 11 more people died, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.

Daily statewide statistics show New York with 754 newly confirmed cases, representing 1.08 percent of all tests performed. The number of people hospitalised Friday was down 22 from the previous day.

"We remain alarmed by spikes in much of the country and the risk of a lack of compliance at home as the state pursues a phased, data-driven reopening,” Cuomo said in a prepared release.

France to enforce mask-wearing 

France will enforce mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces including banks, shops and indoor markets from July 20, Health Minister Olivier Veran has said, as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of Covid-19 across the country.

The government has accelerated plans to make it compulsory to wear masks after series of indicators have suggested the virus could be gaining momentum, especially in areas in western and southern France that had been relatively spared during the height of the outbreak between March and May.

"From Monday, mask-wearing will be mandatory in closed spaces," Veran said on Twitter. "That concerns shops, buildings open to the public, covered markets and banks."

UK pauses daily death toll update over data concerns

Britain has said it was pausing its daily update of the death toll from the coronavirus after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concerns the toll might have been exaggerated.

Academics have said the way that Public Health England (PHE), the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures in England means they may be distorted compared to other parts of the United Kingdom.

"Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death," a message on the government's website said.

"There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number. We are therefore pausing the publication of the daily figure while this is resolved."

Rouhani says 25 million Iranians infected

At least 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and another 35 million are at risk of acquiring it, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said.

The figures, which Rouhani said were based on a new health ministry report, are far higher Iran’s official toll of 269,440 infected. Rouhani in a televised speech did not address the discrepancy.

Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, is Middle East's hardest-hit country by the epidemic.

"Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said in the speech.

"There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk," he said.

"In total, more than 200,000 people have been hospitalised," he said.

Australian suspends parliament for two weeks

Australia's parliament will be suspended for two weeks over fears that politicians could bring coronavirus from outbreak hotspots to the country's capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.

The postponement comes a day after the nation's second-biggest city reported a record rise in Covid-19 infections.

Citing medical advice, Morrison said the government could not ignore the risk that legislators might spread the disease to Canberra.

The announcement means parliament will not reconvene until at least August 24, having resumed on June 8.

Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai, daughter, hospitalised

Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter have been hospitalised for Covid-19 treatment days after her husband and father-in-law were admitted.

Rai's father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan, and son Abhishek Bachchan, also major Bollywood celebrities, were admitted to Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital early this week, becoming the highest-profile patients the pandemic sweeping India.

At the same time, Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World who regularly appears on "most beautiful" lists and her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan, tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, but have since been in home quarantine.

India, which has registered over a million coronavirus cases, has the world's third-highest number of infections, and more than 26,000 people have died of Covid-19. 

Philippines confirms 113 new deaths, 2,357 more cases

The Philippines' health ministry has reported 113 more new coronavirus deaths and 2,357 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,773 while confirmed cases have reached 65,304, with the capital and Cebu City in central Philippines accounting for the bulk of the infections as the virus spreads.

The Philippines confirmed 162 novel coronavirus deaths, Southeast Asia's biggest daily rise in Covid-19 deaths.

Russia reports 6,234 new cases

Russia has reported 6,234 new coronavirus cases and 124 deaths in past 24 hours.

It had reported 6,406 new cases and 186 deaths on Friday,

Russia's has more than 765,000 infections and over 12,200 fatalities from the novel coronavirus.

India sees new jump in infections

A surge of 34,884 new coronavirus cases has taken India’s tally to 1,038,716, as local governments continue to reimpose focused lockdowns in several parts of the country.

The health ministry also reported 671 deaths during the past 24 hours for a total of 26,273. The ministry said the recovery rate had slightly come down to 62.9 percent.

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing. Over 300,000 samples are being tested every day.

About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, only allowing essential food supplies and health services.

Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the infection spread in rural areas.

Germany's cases rise by 529 to 201,372

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany have increased by 529 to 201,372.

The country's reported death toll rose by one to 9,083, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

Cases drop by half in Australia's Victoria state

Australia’s Victoria state has seen a marked drop in new Covid-19 infections – from Friday’s record high of 428 to 217 – a total that Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says was “a relief after yesterday’s numbers”.

The health department said that two more Victorians, a man and a woman both aged in their 80s, had died, taking the state’s death toll to 34 and Australia’s national total to 118.

Officials in the southern state of Victoria, for which Melbourne is the capital, said the region had recorded more than 200 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours following a rise on Friday of 438.

Melbourne is battling a recent surge that has seen more than five million residents placed on lockdown.

Nationwide Australia has reported more than 11,400 cases of Covid-19 so far in a population of about 25 million, with 118 deaths from the illness.

Mainland China reports 22 new cases

Urumqi, the capital of China's far western region of Xinjiang, said it has launched emergency response plan after the city reported 16 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The regional government said all recent new infections and asymptomatic cases reported in the autonomous region were in Urumqi.

Xinjiang, home to most of China's Uighur ethnic minority, has so far mostly avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

As of July 17, the region reported a total of 17 coronavirus cases, plus 11 asymptomatic cases. Another 269 people were under medical observation, according to the regional health commission.

Including the 16 cases in Urumqi, China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 17, up from 10 cases a day earlier, the health authority said on Saturday. Six others were imported cases.

China reported 14 new asymptomatic patients, up from five a day earlier.

As of Friday, mainland China had 83,644 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The Covid-19 death toll remained at 4,634. 

South Korea registers 39 new cases

Authorities in South Korea say most of the country's new coronavirus cases are coming from abroad.

The officials have expressed optimism that the recent resurgence of infections is being brought under control.

They say imported cases are less threatening than local transmissions because South Korea is mandating testing and enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from other nations.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that at least 28 of 39 newly confirmed cases were tied to people arriving from abroad. It says 18 others involved local transmission in the densely populated Seoul area, which was at the center of the virus resurgence that began in late May as people increased economic and social activities.

In all, South Korea has reported 13,711 confirmed cases during the pandemic, including 294 deaths.

South Africa reports 13,373 new virus cases

South Africa on Friday reported 135 more virus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,804.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that 13,373 new cases were recorded, bringing the total number of infections to 337,594. A total number of recoveries reached 178,183.

He said the country has conducted 2.3 million tests for the virus with 48,130 new tests concluded over the past 24 hours.

South African health officials expect an increase in infections as the country is currently in its winter season.

Turkey sends medical aid to Venezuela

Turkey's planeload of medical aid has landed to Venezuela in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our plane carrying medical aid materials to be used in the fight against Covid-19 has landed in Venezuela. It was welcomed by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and our Ambassador Sevki Mutevellioglu,” the national defence ministry said on Twitter.

The boxes of supplies also carried a message for the people of the South American nation whose economy is crippled by US sanctions.

Turkey has sent medical aid to nearly 140 countries to help them combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas has its worst day yet in Covid-19 deaths

The deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas continues, with state officials reporting 174 new deaths, the most in one day since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Texas also reported more than 10,000 confirmed new cases Friday for the fourth consecutive day. The rate of positive cases also climbed above 17 percent for the first time.

Officials on the Texas-Mexico border, which has been especially hard hit, say hotels could be converted into medical units as early as next week.

The grim markers were announced hours after Texas gave public schools permission to keep campuses closed for more than 5 million students well into the fall.

Nearly a third of the more than 3,700 coronavirus deaths in Texas have come in July.

Argentina confirms highest daily coronavirus case load 

Argentina's government announced on Friday it will gradually loosen a lockdown that has lasted nearly four months in and around Buenos Aires to stem the spread of coronavirus, though it later confirmed its highest daily infection count since the pandemic began.

President Alberto Fernandez said the gradual return to normal life will happen in several stages, with the first stage lasting until August 2.

In capital Buenos Aires, which has been under the tightest restrictions in the country since March 20, shops, hair salons and some professional services will reopen.

Outdoor recreation activities will also be permitted. Schools will remain closed while officials analyse options for reopening, said Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, who joined Fernandez for the announcement from the presidential palace.

The government had come under pressure to begin reopening after facing criticism from opposition lawmakers and growing protests in the streets of Buenos Aires against the lengthy lockdown.

Later on Friday, the government reported 4,518 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily count yet. The country now has 119,301 confirmed cases, with 2,178 deaths, according to official data, numbers that are relatively low compared to many of Argentina's South American neighbours.

WHO reports record daily increase in global cases

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 237,743 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the US, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. The previous WHO record for new cases was 230,370 on July 12. Deaths have held steady and averaged less than 5,000 a day in July.

Total global coronavirus cases were approaching 14 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than 590,000 people in seven months. 

Trump says he will not consider a national mask mandate

US President Donald Trump said he would not consider a national mandate requiring people to wear masks to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Asked in an interview on Fox News to be broadcast on Sunday if he would consider a mandate, Trump said: "No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that."

Egypt reports lowest daily figure since late May

Egypt reported 703 new cases on Friday, the health ministry said, the lowest figure since late May.

In total, 86,474 cases have been reported and 4,188 deaths, including 68 on Friday, the ministry said in a statement.

Egypt reopened resorts to foreign tourists on July 1 after tourism came to a halt in March under measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak. But Egypt has not made it yet to a "safe list" of countries for resumption of non-essential travel to the European Union, which is reviewed every two weeks.

Tourism accounts for 5 percent of Egypt’s economic output, according to the government. Analysts put the figure as much as 15 percent if jobs indirectly related to the sector are included. 

Brazil reports 34,000 new cases, 1,163 deaths

Brazil registered 34,177 new confirmed cases and 1,163 new deaths on Friday, the health ministry said.

Total cases in Brazil, the world's second most affected country after the United States, have now risen to 2,046,328 while deaths totalled 76,688.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies