The coronavirus pandemic has now infected over 18.5 million people and has killed more than 700,000. Here are the latest updates for August 4:

An analysis by the WHO of 6 million coronavirus infections between February 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%.
An analysis by the WHO of 6 million coronavirus infections between February 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%. (Reuters)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Proportion of youth with Covid-19 triples – WHO

Young people who are hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in fresh virus cases across the world.

An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between February 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15 percen from 4.5 percent.

Apart from the US which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people.

Turkey reports 994 more recoveries 

Turkey records 994 more recoveries from novel coronavirus, bringing the total national tally to 218,491. 

The country's health ministry reported 1,083 new daily cases for the first time in three weeks. 

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca advised citizens to avoid close contact during the events such as Eid and other holidays to prevent the spread of the virus  

Lukashenko has recovered from virus

The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, says he has recovered from the virus and advises people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. 

The Belarus leader, who dismissed concerns about the virus as "psychosis", had announced last week he had been infected with the virus but was asymptomatic.

According to officials, the country had recorded 68,166 confirmed cases and 571 deaths by Monday.

Greece reports 121 new cases, highest in weeks

Greece's top scientific adviser warns against complacency over risks lurking from the virus after the country reported its highest single-day increase in infections in weeks.

Authorities reported 121 new coronavirus cases  after a steady rise over the past 10 days. 

Tuesday's tally was the highest since April 22, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 4,855 since the start of the outbreak in late February.

There have been 209 deaths recorded in total.

Trump adviser back to work after diagnosed with virus

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, has returned to work at the White House following his recovery from a mild case.

O'Brien "has already met with the President, who warmly welcomed him back to the West Wing, "National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said in a statement.

"He has been cleared by doctors after two negative tests for the virus, and has been asymptomatic for over a week," Ullyot added. 

WHO asks Russia to follow vaccine guidelines

WHO has urged Russia to follow the established guidelines for producing safe and effective vaccines after Moscow announced plans to start swiftly producing Covid -19 jabs.

Russia said on Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine in September and turn out "several million" doses per month by next year.

Scientists in the West have raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners after coming under pressure from the authorities to deliver.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters that the organisation had not been officially notified of any Russian vaccine on the verge of being deployed.

Pandemic may shrink global imbalances further - IMF

The International Monetary Fund has said that global current account imbalances narrowed in 2019 as trade slowed, and the coronavirus could narrow them further in 2020, but some vulnerable emerging market economies are facing major investment outflows.

The IMF's annual report on currencies, the External Sector Report, showed that continued weakness in trade, coupled with massive fiscal expansion, was projected in many countries to shrink both current account deficits and surpluses.

The Fund said net current account balances fell by 0.2 percentage point to 2.9 percent of global GDP, and could narrow by 0.3 percent of global GDP in 2020, though the outlook is highly uncertain.

French homecare workers to get $188M bonus package

France's 320,000 homecare workers would each be granted a Covid-19 bonus of $587 (€500), a package worth $188.08 million ( €160 million). 

"These men and women were the forgotten ones of the Covid bonus", French President Emmanuel Macron said during a press conference in the southern city of Toulon.

The announcement comes two months after the government issued decrees enacting exceptional bonuses of  $1,175 (€1,000) to $1760 (€1,500) for hospital staff and nursing home workers.

Denmark should not reopen further – epidemiologist

Denmark should not allow nightclubs and music venues to reopen given a recent increase in the virus infections and should pause a planned fourth phase of relaxing its lockdown measures, says its state epidemiologist.

“It is not something that I can recommend from a healthcare perspective that you go ahead with,” Kare Molbak, a director at the State Serum Institute, told the Danish technology journal Ingenioeren.

Denmark, which has had 616 virus-related deaths, was the first country in Europe to relax its lockdown in April after seeing infection rates steadily decline, but the number of infections has risen in the past couple of weeks.

Dutch cases doubled over past week

New confirmed cases have nearly doubled in the Netherlands over the past week to 2,588. 

The new cases registered in the week through August 4 were up 95 percent from 1,329 in the week through July 28, the National Institute for health said in its weekly report.

The country had eased lockdown measures in July.

Indonesia sets target of 250M vaccine doses a year

Indonesia will have a capacity to produce 250 million doses a year of a virus vaccine by the end of 2020 pending trials on humans, a minister said. 

Indonesia has confirmed 115,056 virus cases and 5,388 deaths since its first infections in March. It has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases on most days since the start of June.

State-run pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma will begin phase three of clinical trials in humans this week using a vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac.

 If those are successful, Bio Farma has said would produce the vaccine itself.

Paris to make wearing face masks mandatory in some places

Paris wants to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in certain outdoor areas in order to prevent a new spike of coronavirus infection. 

French daily Le Monde reported that mayor Anne Hidalgo would put in a formal request with the Paris prefecture about ordering the use of face coverings in specific areas, after the government on Friday gave local authorities the power to order the wearing of masks in outdoor public spaces.

The outdoor areas targeted would be shopping streets, the banks of the river Seine, parks and gardens, open food markets and all areas where tourists or Parisians have to stand in line.

UN warns of 'generational catastrophe' over school closures

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in mid-July, affecting more than 1 billion students.

In addition, the UN chief said that at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical pre-school year”.

As a result, he warned that the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress and exacerbate entrenched inequalities”.

Philippines reports 6,352 cases 

The Philippines' health ministry reported 6,352 new virus infections, marking the biggest daily jump in cases in Southeast Asia and after posting a record rise in five of the past six days.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 112,593, while deaths rose by 11 to 2,115.

Russia reports more than 5,100 new cases

Russia reported 5,159 new cases of the virus, pushing its national tally to 861,423, the fourth largest in the world.

The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said 144 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 14,351.

Poland reports record daily increase cases

Poland has reported another record daily increase in virus cases, with 680 new infections and six deaths, after a spike driven by outbreaks amongst miners and after public gatherings.

The new daily record comes as Poland considers introducing stricter restrictions, including mandatory testing for travellers returning to Poland and quarantine for those coming from certain countries.

Poland now has a total of 48,149 recorded coronavirus cases and 1,738 deaths.

Norway cruise ship virus count climbs

The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the virus has reached 43, authorities said.

The outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.

The ship's owner on Monday halted all trips and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.

The city of Trondheim reported the two new cases – a man in his 70s with light symptoms and a child under age 10 with no symptoms – saying both had been passengers on the ship.

Aboriginal group blocks access to Uluru park over virus fears

Indigenous residents have forced the closure of Australia's famed Uluru national park after blocking tourists from accessing the sacred site amid fears over the spread of the virus.

About 30 members of the local community physically blocked dozens of tourists arriving from virus-hit eastern Australia from accessing the park entrance, said Glenn Irvine, manager of Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, which handles local community issues.

Locals said they were blindsided by the arrival of 43 tourists on a flight from Brisbane, Queensland and decided to take action.

Millions under lockdown in Philippines

More than 27 million people in the Philippines' main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, went back into a partial lockdown for weeks. 

People have been told to stay home unless they need to go out to buy essential goods, for exercise or for work after the number of recorded infections surged past 100,000.

Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the Philippine and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.

Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorized businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were cancelled, and night curfews will return in places.

The lockdown is milder than was first one imposed, which largely confined most people to their homes for months, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently. It is being imposed in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces for two weeks.

US adds 46,321 new cases 

The US added 46,321 new coronavirus cases during the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Other trackers placed new infections above 48,000.

The world's largest economy also added 532 deaths, the Baltimore-based institution's tracker showed at 0030GMT Tuesday.

The US has now recorded 4,711,323 total cases, with 155,366 deaths, making it by far the worst-hit country in the world.

Monday was the second day to notch a slightly lower caseload, after a string of five days last week had all recorded more than 60,000 new daily infections.

China reports fewer new cases

Both mainland China and Hong Kong reported fewer new cases as strict measures to contain new infections appear to be taking effect.

Mainland China announced 36 new cases across the country, down from 43 the previous day. Of those, 28 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and two in Liaoning province in the northeast.

Hong Kong reported 78 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the first time in almost two weeks that new cases had fallen into double-digits.

Authorities in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city ordered mask-wearing in public places, restrictions on indoor dining, and increased testing to contain the outbreak.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 879 to 211,281

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 879 to 211,281, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by eight to 9,156, the tally showed. 

Harvard researchers want more 'crappy' tests 

The aphorism "perfect is the enemy of good enough" has been played out to tragic effect in the US's inadequate testing for the coronavirus, according to researchers calling for quick tests that cost only about a dollar each, and which may not be as accurate but can be carried out several times a week by the whole population.

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, has for weeks been pushing for what he calls "crappy" tests.

His idea is to move away from the current high-precision molecular tests, known as PCR tests, which are still scarce in large swathes of the country and which people often have to wait hours to get done, and then have to wait days – or up to a week – for the results.

Antibody cocktail prevents and treats virus in animals

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc has said that the Covid-19 antibody drug combination it is developing both prevented and treated the disease in rhesus macaques and hamsters, adding to hope that it might work for people.

The US biotech company said on Monday in the animal study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies was able to "almost completely block establishment of virus infection".

Regeneron said the cocktail was also able to minimise infection in a second study in which animals were infected with a much higher level of the virus. 

The prophylactic effect was greatly diminished with a lower dose of the drug, the company said.

It said the results matched or exceeded effects recently shown in animal studies of vaccine candidates.

Australian state to impose hefty fines

Australia's second-most populous state Victoria has said military personnel would be deployed to enforce Covid-19 isolation orders, with anyone caught in breach of those rules facing tough new fines.

Victoria earlier this week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people's daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.

But nearly a third of those who had contracted Covid-19 were not home isolating when checked on by officials, requiring tough new penalties, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

Andrews said 500 military personnel will this week deploy to Victoria to bolster enforcement of self-isolation orders, with fines of nearly $3,559.00 for breaching stay at home orders. The only exemption will be for urgent medical care.

"There is literally no reason for you to leave your home and if you were to leave your home and not be found there, you will have a very difficult time convincing Victoria police that you have a lawful reason," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

Victoria reported 439 new cases in the past 24 hours. Andrews said 11 people had died from the virus since Monday. In total, Australia has recorded nearly 19,000 cases and 232 fatalities, far few than many other developed nations.

Brazil reports 561 new deaths

Brazil has confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 16,641 to 2,750,318 while deaths rose by 561 to 94,665.

Brazil has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world after the United States.

Mexico's death toll exceeds 48,000

Mexico's health ministry has reported 4,767 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 266 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 443,813 cases and 48,012 deaths.

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

Latin America and Caribbean surpass 5M

Latin America and the Caribbean have surpassed five million coronavirus cases, according to an AFP tally, more than half of which have been registered in Brazil.

Alongside the cases, there have been more than 200,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the region.

Brazil has recorded 2.75 million infections and more than 94,000 deaths.

Three Gambian ministers test positive

Three cabinet ministers in Gambia have tested positive for Covid-19, the presidency said, in a further sign the virus is ripping through the corridors of power after the nation's vice president tested positive last week.

President Adama Barrow is in self-isolation for the next two weeks, the presidency said last week, after Vice President Isatou Touray tested positive.

Finance Minister Mambureh Njie, Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang and Agriculture Minister Amie Fabureh have also been infected by the virus, the presidency said in a statement late on Sunday.

The statement gave no detail on the state of the ministers' health.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies