International update: Global Covid-19 cases pass 22.1 million – deaths exceed 781,000 – US infection rate slowing as cases near 5.5 million

19th August 2020 (Last Updated August 19th, 2020 10:41)

19 August

Global: The number of coronavirus cases recorded around the world has passed 22.1 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Deaths from the virus stand at more than 781,000.

US: Coronavirus cases in the US increased by 0.8% as compared with the same time Monday to 5.46 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was lower than the average daily gain of 0.9% over the past week. Deaths rose by 0.5% to 171,120.

California reported 4,636 new confirmed cases, below the 14-day average of 8,089, according to state data. The most-populous state had 100 additional deaths, less than the 14-day average of 132, bringing its total to 11,342.

Brazil: One in five workers at Brazil’s meat plants have been infected with the coronavirus, according to union estimates. That would make the country home to one of the world’s worst workplace outbreaks.

South Korea: South Korea is struggling to contain an outbreak of the virus in the capital, Seoul. The country reported the highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since early March on Wednesday.

South Korea reported 297 more coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its biggest daily gain since March, amid concern that an uncooperative religious sect at the centre of the flare-up could be spreading infections nationwide.

Australia: The second-most populous state of Victoria says 12 people have died from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours and reported 216 new cases. The state reported 222 cases a day earlier, its lowest one-day rise in a month, and 17 deaths.

China: Hong Kong is seeing a fall in the proportion of infections with unknown origins, boosting hopes that stringent city-wide containment measures can be eased. The share of local cases with untraceable origins has fallen to the lowest level since the start of the current virus wave — the city’s worst outbreak.

Belgium: The pronounced loss of smell that many coronavirus patients suffer could help separate them from flu cases quickly, easing a potential onslaught on health systems this winter, researchers said. The loss of smell is more significant in Covid-19 patients than in those suffering from bad colds, according to a study led by two Belgian universities and published Wednesday in the journal Rhinology.

Vaccine news

Brazil: Brazil’s health regulator has approved final stage trials for Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine – the fourth to get approval for testing in the country. The vaccine will be tested on 7,000 volunteers across seven states, Anvisa, the health regulator, said in a statement.

Australia: Australia has signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to secure a potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed with Oxford University. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the vaccine is one of the most promising and advanced of the drugs currently in development.

Morrison has said he wants to make any potential Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. He outlined plans to “return the country to normal life” as infections from a second wave began to subside.

Lockdown updates

New Zealand: Around 500 New Zealand military personnel will be deployed to help secure hotel quarantine sites as the country tries to contain a new outbreak.

Thailand: Thailand’s Covid-19 management subcommittee will submit its recommendation to extend the state of emergency for another month until the end of September to curb infection risks, said Natthapol Nakpanich, deputy army chief. The emergency rules were first imposed in March, and have been extended four times with the current extension set to end on 31 August.