More than 37.9 million people have tested positive for Covid-19 globally, while over a million have died from the virus. Here are the updates for October 12:

World Health Organisation Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus, gestures during a special session on the Covid-19 response, October 5, 2020.
World Health Organisation Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus, gestures during a special session on the Covid-19 response, October 5, 2020. (AP)

Monday, October 12, 2020

 WHO leader warns against herd immunity solution

The head of the World Health Organization has warned against the idea that herd immunity might be a realistic strategy to stop the pandemic, calling such proposals “unethical.”

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Monday that health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity — where the entire population is protected from a virus when the majority are immune — by vaccination. Tedros noted that to obtain herd immunity from measles, for example, about 95 percent of the population must be vaccinated.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.

UK reports 13,972 daily cases, unveils new measures 

With virus cases surging and hospital admissions rocketing, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a new three-tier system of local lockdowns to curb its spread, with pubs and bars closed down in "very high" alert areas.

Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles and famed for its soccer team, the current Premier League champions, and its surrounding region will be the first to be placed in the highest alert tier, meaning its drinking establishments face closure from Wednesday.

The daily number of new cases in the UK rose to 13,972 on Monday, and the number of deaths was 50, government data showed.

Turkey reports 1,614 new cases

Turkey's Health Ministry has reported 1,614 infections over past 24 hours with 1,301 recoveries and 58 fatalities on Monday.

Turkey has a national total of 337,147 confirmed cases and 8,895 deaths.

Czech Republic's death toll reaches 1,045

The Czech Republic's death toll reached 1,045 as of Monday, Health Ministry data showed.

The death toll rose from 987 reported on Monday morning and included 27 deaths on Monday as well as 31 deaths assigned in revisions to previous days.

Czech businesses, arts establishments and sports facilities called for state support on Monday, after new restrictions aimed at curbing one of the world's sharpest spikes in cases were expected to cause further financial pain.

Germany to deploy 15,000 soldiers against virus

Germany's Defence Ministry has said it will deploy up to 15,000 soldiers to reinforce civilian authorities increasingly stretched in their battle against rising numbers of infections that have reached the highest level since April, on Monday.

The country has managed to suppress the pandemic more than many of its neighbours and keep the death toll lower but the daily number of new cases leapt above 4,000 last week, with cases surging in big cities like Berlin and Frankfurt.

Germany reported 2,982 new cases and 9 new deaths on Monday bringing its national totals to 329,273 confirmed cases and 9,711 deaths. 

Croatia imposes nationwide indoor mask mandate

Following a recent spike in the number of new cases, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic has announced that mask wearing will be mandatory in all enclosed spaces, including churches and restaurants.

On Monday, the total number of confirmed infections in Croatia — a country of some four million — stood at over 20,600, including 327 deaths.

The spread of infection in Croatia has been accelerating recently, with a seven-day total of new cases nearly quadrupling from three weeks ago to reach 763 this Sunday.

Iran reports its highest daily virus death toll 

For the second day in a row, Iran announced its highest single-day death toll from the virus with 272 people killed.

The announcement by Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari saw Iran also give its single-day highest count of new cases with 4,206 new patients.

Iran has been struggling with the virus since announcing its first cases in February. Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 500,000 confirmed cases. It has seen over 28,800 deaths and 409,000 recoveries.

Belgium sounds alarm amid spike in cases

Authorities in Belgium, one of the European countries hit hardest by the virus, are warning that the number of cases is rising at a “quite alarming” rate and that 10,000 people could be catching the virus each day by the end of the week.

Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s virus crisis centre, says that “all the indicators continue to rise, it must be said, in a quite alarming way, in all provinces and all age groups.”

An average of 4,145 new cases of the disease were being recorded every day in Belgium in the week of October 2-8, an increase of 89 percent over the previous week, according to new data released.

Thailand to manufacture AstraZeneca's vaccine

The British government said that Thailand's Ministry of Public Health and Siam Bioscience have agreed to manufacture and supply AstraZeneca's experimental virus vaccine in the southeast Asian country.

Britain orders three temporary hospitals in northern England

British health officials have ordered three temporary virus hospitals in northern England that were mothballed when the outbreak receded over the summer to prepare to reopen as new infections surge.

Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, said that the “Nightingale” hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate were being readied to admit new patients if needed.

The temporary facilities were set up rapidly inside conference centers and other venues earlier this year to treat virus patients if hospitals became overwhelmed.

Russia reports 13,592 cases

Russia has reported 13,592 new virus cases, almost the most recorded in a single day since the pandemic began, pushing the national tally to 1,312,310.

Officials also said 125 people had died in the previous 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 22,722.

Russia, which has a total population of around 145 million, has recorded the fourth-highest number of infections in the world. 

Delhi stops displaying notices at homes of patients

Delhi authorities have stopped putting notices outside the homes of people infected with the virus because this amplified the social stigma associated with the disease and in turn caused others to hide their illness.

Early on during the outbreak in the Indian capital, officials would paste a poster on the homes of people in quarantine after they had tested positive for the virus to make sure everyone in the neighbourhood was careful. It also deterred people from violating the quarantine.

But more than six months into the pandemic people were fully aware of the virus, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, and there was less need to publicise the cases, city officials said. Instead, it was important to instil confidence in people to come forward and test themselves.

Italy to ban parties among new rules to curb virus

Italy is set to ban private parties and limit the numbers of guests at weddings and funerals among new restrictions aimed at curbing a surge in virus infections, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters.

The decree, which could be issued as early as Monday, prohibits people from hosting more than 10 guests in their homes or at any other private premises.

It also states that no more than 10 guests will be allowed at weddings, and no more than 15 people can be present at funerals.

Italy on Friday topped 5,000 new virus cases in a single day for the first time since March.

China to test city of 9 million amid new cases

China’s government says all 9 million people in the eastern city of Qingdao will be tested for the virus this week after nine cases linked to a hospital were found.

The announcement broke a string of weeks without any locally transmitted infections reported in China.

The National Health Commission said authorities were investigating the source of the infections found in eight patients at Qingdao’s Municipal Chest Hospital and one family member. The commission said the whole city will be tested within five days.

China, where the pandemic began in December, has reported 4,634 deaths and 85,578 cases, plus nine suspected cases that have yet to be confirmed.

Indonesia’s capital moves to ease restrictions

Authorities in Indonesia’s capital have moved to ease virus restrictions despite a surge in cases nationwide.

Jakarta previously imposed large-scale social restrictions from April to June, then eased them gradually. 

The city reimposed strict restrictions last month as the virus spread significantly and overwhelmed its health system.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said that his administration decided to ease restrictions beginning on Monday as the increase in infections had stabilised.

He said people can return to offices with limits on employee numbers, while transport services will run at half capacity.

French PM does not rule out local lockdown 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said he did not rule out local lockdowns in France due to a resurgence of new infections.

"Nothing must be excluded," Castex told franceinfo radio after he was asked about potential local lockdowns.

Castex also said the country was facing a "strong" second wave of new infections. 

UK needs further curbs to get virus under control: minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government needs to impose further virus restrictions and the risk of spreading the virus is higher in pubs, restaurants and nightclubs, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

"The purpose of these measures is to get the virus under control," Dowden told Sky. "The point of moving to this tiered system is so that in those most highly affected areas, we have got measures in place to control the virus."

He said he hoped the virus would be under control by Christmas or sooner.

Cases in India surge past 7 million

India's total cases rose by 66,732 in the last 24 hours to 7.12 million, data from the health ministry showed.

Deaths from infections rose by 816 to 109,150, the ministry said.

It has the second-highest number of infections, behind the United States which is approaching the 8 million mark.

South Korea's Celltrion gets approval for Phase 3 trials of antibody drug

South Korean drugmaker Celltrion Inc said it has received regulatory approval for Phase 3 clinical trials of an experimental virus treatment.

The approval comes as the company plans to seek conditional approval for its antibody drug CT-P59 for emergency use by the end of this year.

The treatment, the most advanced antibody drug in terms of research in South Korea, is directed against the surface of the virus and designed to block it from locking on to human cells.

South Korea reports 97 cases

South Korea has confirmed 97 new cases of the virus, a modest uptick from the daily levels reported last week, just as officials ease social distancing restrictions after concluding that transmissions have slowed following a resurgence in mid-August.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency brought the national caseload to 24,703, including 433 deaths.

Sixty-three of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where health workers have struggled to track infections tied to various places and groups, including churches, hospitals, schools, workers and troops.

Greece reports 280 cases

Greek health authorities have announced a daily record of 13 deaths from the virus, along with 280 new confirmed cases of infections.

The country's total number of cases since the pandemic started is 22,358, with 449 deaths.

New restrictions on the number of people allowed inside restaurants, museums and archaeological site are being imposed in Athens and several regions around Greece where the incidence of new cases is considered particularly high.

Slovakia imposes new restrictive measures

Slovakia is imposing new restrictive measures in hopes of curbing a surge in infections.

Starting Thursday, it will again be mandatory to wear face masks outside in all cities, towns and villages and there will be a ban on public events, including religious services in churches. Exceptions include weddings, funerals and baptisms with a limited number of participants.

Major professional sports competitions are allowed to continue without fans.

Fitness and wellness centres and public swimming pools will be closed.

New Zealand signs deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for vaccine

The New Zealand government signed a deal to buy 1.5 million virus vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Germany's BioNTech, with delivery potentially as early as the first quarter of 2021.

The government did not disclose financial terms of the deal, its first vaccine purchase, which will provide enough doses to vaccinate 750,000 people.

Officials said talks were continuing with other drug companies to secure more vaccine supplies for the country of 5 million people and further announcements were expected next month.

Germany reports 2,467 cases

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 2,467 to 325,331, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed..

The reported death toll rose by 6 to 9,621, the tally showed. 

British PM Johnson to outline new virus lockdown system

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to present a new three-tiered alert system for coronavirus cases in England, with northwestern Liverpool expected to be the only city placed in the top category.

Like governments throughout Europe, Johnson's conservative cabinet is seeking to balance bringing down the rate of new infections against concern about the economy and frustration among voters.

The new alert system, which will classify all areas as either "medium", "high" or "very high" risk, is an attempt to bring transparency and uniformity to restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the disease.

Johnson is set to present the system in parliament on Monday afternoon and MPs will be called to vote on the measures later in the week, a source in his office said.

The national death toll from coronavirus in Britain is more than 42,000, which is the worst in Europe.

China reports 21 new virus cases

Mainland China has reported 21 new cases, matching the number of new cases a day earlier.

The National Health Commission said in a statement all of the new cases were imported infections that originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed cases, rose to 32 from 23 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed cases in Mainland China now stands at 85,578, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,6 34.

Mexico's virus cases rise to 817,503

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 3,175 new cases and 139 additional fatalities, bringing the total to 817,503 cases and 83,781 deaths.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

Singapore and Indonesia to open border for business

Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to reopen borders between the two countries for essential business and official travel after they were shut to curb the spread of the virus.

Indonesia has recorded over 333,000 cases, the second-highest rate in Southeast Asia behind the Philippines, and its capital Jakarta has been subject to strict social curbs. Singapore, meanwhile, is seeing just a handful of cases daily.

Those who meet the requirements for the arrangement will be subject to pre- and post-travel swab tests, the foreign ministries of the neighbouring countries said in a joint statement.

Soaring virus infection puts more French cities on alert

Two more French cities have joined Paris and Marseille and four others in maximum alert status to fight back the virus, surgical strikes with strict new measures to stop the spread of infections.

The prefecture of Montpellier, in the south, announced a maximum alert status for the city and surrounding towns starting Tuesday. Measures include the closing of cafes and bars. The southwest city of Toulouse was doing likewise after a day of meetings between mayors of surrounding towns and the prefect, the local state authority, the Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported.

Soaring infections and increased hospitalisations put four other cities on the maximum alert list on Saturday: Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne in the southeast and Lille in the north.

National health authorities reported on Saturday nearly 26,900 new daily infections in 24 hours.

South Africa registers 1,575 new cases

South Africa has recorded 1,575 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 692,471.

The country's health ministry said at least 107 more people died of the virus, putting the total number of fatalities at 17,780.

Recoveries exceed 623,765 and over 4.4 million tests have been performed since the first case was reported in the country in March.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies