18 August

Global: Global Covid-19 cases are rapidly approaching 22 million, with more than 21,900,000 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 774,000 deaths attributed to the virus.

The World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific says younger people – those in their 20s, 30s and 40s – are increasingly driving the coronavirus pandemic. Takeshi Kasai told a virtual briefing that many were unaware they had the disease.

US: Los Angeles County said it is continuing to see declines in daily hospitalizations and deaths, adding to signs of stabilization in the epicenter of California’s virus outbreak. Hospitalizations have dropped by 37% in the past month, the Department of Public Health said in a statement. Average deaths per day have fallen to 30 from 43 in late July. There were 19 new deaths reported Monday.

Texas became the fourth state to have more than 10,000 people die of the coronavirus, following California earlier this month. Texas reported 51 new virus deaths Monday, for a total of 10,034 total fatalities. New York has had more than 32,000 people die, and New Jersey almost 16,000.

Coronavirus cases in the US increased 0.8% as compared with the same time Sunday to 5.42 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was lower than the average daily gain of 1% over the past week. Deaths rose by 0.3% to 170,277. Arizona reported no deaths, as virus cases continued to decline. Hawaii experienced a 4.5% increase in the number of cases.

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India: India has carried out nearly 900,000 coronavirus tests in a single day, a record for the country. The health ministry said a record 899,000 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to Tuesday. Only the US has ever carried out more daily tests, conducting 926,876, on 24 July.

Germany: Germany recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in nearly four months, and the infection rate held above the key threshold of 1.0. There were 1,693 new infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, the most since 25 April and bringing the total to 226,700.

South Korea: South Korea reported 246 more cases of coronavirus – 235 of them locally acquired – on Tuesday, its fifth day of triple digit increases. Of the new cases, 131 were reported in Seoul and 52 in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s reported 13 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours. 12 of the cases are linked to an existing cluster that forced the lockdown of Auckland – the country’s biggest city.

Australia: The state of Victoria has reported its lowest number of coronavirus cases in a month, raising hopes that the second wave outbreak in the state is slowing. Victoria reported 222 cases of the disease in the last 24 hours.

Researchers at the University of Sydney have found a link between lower humidity and increased spread of the coronavirus in Australia, estimating that Covid-19 transmission rates could double if the relative humidity drops by 10%.

France: France reported 493 new infections from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, a sharp drop from a day earlier, according to data posted on the website of the country’s public health agency. Total deaths rose by 19 to 30,429.

Lebanon: Lebanon’s health minister has warned that hospitals are reaching maximum capacity to treat coronavirus patients after the deadly Beirut blast either damaged or overwhelmed clinics and triggered a spike in Covid cases.

China: China reported 22 new cases on Tuesday, the same as a day earlier, the health authority said. All were imported cases, making it the second straight day for zero new locally transmitted cases. There were no new deaths.

Vaccine news

China: China’s state media is reporting that a potential vaccine being developed by a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), will cost no more than 1,000 yuan ($144.27) for two shots.

Lockdown updates

US: Looser lockdowns were a factor in allowing the coronavirus to flourish in the US compared with some European countries, said Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease specialist. Data from Spain and Italy show that their control over the virus was preceded by long periods when people’s trips to parks, public spaces, grocery stores and pharmacies were far rarer than in the US, he told a meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in an online address Monday.

Argentina: Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across Argentina to show their opposition to President Alberto Fernandez and his plans to extend coronavirus restrictions in the region around Buenos Aires. Argentina has recorded nearly 300,000 cases of the disease and 5,750 deaths. About 90 percent of the cases have been in Buenos Aires where the coronavirus curbs have been extended until 30 August.

Vietnam: Hanoi’s Deputy Mayor Nguyen Van Suu urged authorities to ask residents to avoid leaving their homes for non-essential reasons as the risk of a city-wide virus outbreak is a concern, according to a post on the city government’s website.

China: Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said the city was “still in a very severe situation as far as the Covid-19 epidemic is concerned” as she unveiled a third round of pandemic stimulus funding. Strict social distancing measures currently in place were extended for at least another week.

Malta: Malta will close its bars and nightclubs once again after a surge in coronavirus cases. On Monday, Italy closed nightclubs for three weeks due to a surge in cases.