International Update: Global Covid-19 cases pass 16.7 million as deaths exceed 660,000 – vaccine expected by December

29th July 2020 (Last Updated July 29th, 2020 10:51)

29 July

Global: Global coronavirus infections passed 16.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins university. Global deaths from Covid-19 now exceed 660,000.

The WHO says the Covid-19 pandemic is “one big wave”, not seasonal. It warned against complacency in the northern hemisphere summer since the infection does not share influenza’s tendency to follow seasons.

US: Florida reported another record one-day rise in coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, and cases in Texas passed the 400,000 mark, fuelling fear that the United States is still not taking control of the outbreak and adding pressure on Congress to pass another massive economic aid package.

China: China’s National Health Commission has reported 101 new cases – up from 68 previously – the highest since mid-April. Of the new cases, 89 were found in the far western region of Xinjiang where mass testing is underway.

Australia: Victoria recorded 295 new cases of coronavirus and nine more deaths. It was a reduction of 89 from yesterday’s figure of 384, which in turn was 150 fewer than were recorded in the record high numbers on Monday. Nine people have died, which is close to the national record ten deaths reported in the state last week.

India: Over half the people living in Mumbai slums have had Covid-19, according to a city-commissioned study. Blood tests on 6,936 randomly selected people found that 57% of slum-dwellers had virus antibodies.

Germany: An urgent track and trace operation is underway in Berlin after a couple tested positive for coronavirus after returning from Manchester. 50 people who have had contact with the couple since their return are in quarantine, of whom 13 have so far tested positive.

Vietnam: The Vietnamese government is warning authorities in Hanoi to prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak. The warning follows local media reports that a person working at a pizza restaurant in the capital had tested positive for the virus.

Japan: Mortality across Japan dropped by 3.5% in May from a year earlier, with the nation recording a total of 108,380 deaths from any cause, data released Tuesday by the nation’s Health Ministry show.

Vaccine news

US: “It’s a reasonable statement to make that by December we’re going to have a safe and effective vaccine,” Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, said on a webcast with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Lockdown updates

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has sounded an alarming warning over the city’s health system. With the new wave of mostly locally transmitted infections, Hong Kong was “on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly”, she said. This came as the city’s strictest anti-virus measures yet came into force today, as it recorded its seventh consecutive day with case numbers in the triple figures and the government faced backlash over its extensive quarantine exemptions.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s government announced it will start charging some travellers for the cost of their two-week stay in quarantine. The announcement comes as the country recorded two new cases of Covid-19, both diagnosed in returning travellers to the country who are quarantined in managed isolation facilities.

New Zealand’s national airline, Air New Zealand, has frozen all new ticket bookings to Australia until 28 August. In a statement, the airline said the hold was due to Australian government restrictions on the number of passengers arriving in the country.

Spain: Spain insisted it was still a safe destination for tourists despite tackling 361 active outbreaks and more than 4,000 new cases. Several countries have nonetheless imposed quarantines on people returning from Spain, including its biggest tourist market, Britain.

Italy: Italy extended its state of emergency until October. This means the prime minister will continue to have the power to impose a lockdown and other safety measures without needing the approval of parliament.

Economy updates

Global: Global air travel is recovering more slowly than expected and it will take until 2024 to return to pre-pandemic levels, the trade association for the airline industry has said.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) is urging the US diagnostics firm Cepheid to “refrain from profiteering off of the pandemic” and cut the price of its Covid-19 tests (Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2) to $5 per test, from the nearly $20 it currently charges in the world’s poorest countries.

US: Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress are divided over a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package that Republicans announced on Monday.