International update: Global Covid-19 cases pass 22.4 million – new spikes as lockdowns ease – US infections exceed 5.5 million

20th August 2020 (Last Updated August 20th, 2020 09:29)

20 August

Global: Global Covid-19 cases exceed 22.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Deaths are nearing 788,000.

US: Coronavirus cases in the US increased 0.8% as compared with the same time Tuesday to 5.51 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. It was the third straight day that cases rose by 0.8%, which was lower than the average daily gain of 0.9% over the past week. Deaths also rose by 0.8%, to 172,511.

US President Donald Trump is touting the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus, saying he’s “heard fantastic things” about it. Trump made his comments after the New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration had put on hold emergency approval for the treatment because of concerns the data on plasma use was too weak.

Florida’s coronavirus death toll hit 10,000 on Wednesday as the state continues to struggle to get the ongoing pandemic under control. Almost six months since Florida’s first case was identified, the state reported 174 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 10,067. The state reported 584,047 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up 0.7% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1% in the previous seven days. The new daily rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 7.1% for Tuesday, the lowest since June 14. The state has reported 33,146 new cases in the past seven days, the fewest in a comparable period since late June.

Texas reported the lowest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations since late June, according to state health department figures. Hospitals in the second-biggest US state had 5,974 virus patients as of late Tuesday, the fewest since June 29. The strain on medical infrastructure continued to ease even as new cases increased by 7,024 to bring the cumulative total to 557,256.

New York City’s positive test rate for the Covid-19 has fallen to its lowest since the pandemic crisis first hit, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. After more than two months of experiencing positive test rates of less than 3%, the city recorded a 0.24% test rate this week, the mayor reported during a news briefing Wednesday.

Brazil: Brazil’s Health Ministry says there are signs the coronavirus outbreak in the country – the world’s second-worst – could be about to slow. The number of confirmed cases dropped to 304,684 last week, compared with a peak of 319,653 in the week ending July 25. The number of deaths reported on a weekly basis has also fallen to 6,755 from a peak of 7,677 in the last week of July.

India: India has recorded its highest daily total of new cases, with 69,672 infections. This is the fourth highest daily total reported globally, only exceeded by the US on three occasions in second half of July.

Germany: Germany has recorded its highest daily case numbers since April, with 1,707 new infections. On 18 April the country recorded 3,609 cases.

South Korea: South Korea has recorded seven straight days of new cases in triple figures, and authorities have warned of a “nationwide pandemic”, with infections seeding across the country.

China: China has reported seven new cases of Covid-19, all of which the national health commission says were imported (3 in Jiangxi, 1 in Tianjin, 1 in Shanghai, 1 in Shandong) Cases, 1 in Sichuan). There were no new deaths and no new suspected cases, it said. It’s the fourth day in a row with no local transmissions.

Spain: Spain’s health ministry said 3,715 coronavirus infections were diagnosed in the 24 hours to Wednesday, a new single-day record since the country emerged from a three-month lockdown in mid-June.

France: France on Wednesday recorded new coronavirus cases at the fastest daily rate since May, official figures showed, as the country prepared for the return from summer holidays. Almost 3,800 infections were confirmed.

Italy: Italy recorded 642 new infections in a day on Wednesday, hitting a new record since May when the country cautiously emerged from one of the longest lockdowns in the world after more than 30,000 Covid-related deaths.

Indonesia: Indonesia has officially reported 6,346 deaths from Covid-19, the highest toll in South-East Asia, but Reuters reports that including people who died with acute Covid-19 symptoms but were not tested, the death toll is three times higher.

Australia: The state of Victoria has reported 240 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, up slightly on the 216 announced on Wednesday. It also reported 13 deaths.

Thailand: Thailand reported seven new coronavirus cases, all found in state quarantine, continuing the nation’s almost three-month streak of zero local infections. The government is conducting contact tracing after it was found a woman who had completed 14-day quarantine could have the virus.

UAE: The United Arab Emirates is seeing a jump in new cases and the government blamed the increase on social gatherings and the failure to adhere to precautionary measures. The country reported 435 new infections on Wednesday, the highest daily increase in over a month.

Vaccine news

New Zealand: Three quarters of New Zealanders intend to get immunised against coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available, new research has found.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: E Hospital in Hanoi has been locked down after an 87-year-old patient tested positive for the coronavirus, Voice of Vietnam reported, citing the head of the health ministry’s administration of medical examination and treatment. The patient was found to have contracted the virus six days after being admitted into the hospital. The source of the patient’s infection hasn’t been detected. Vietnam has 994 confirmed cases and 25 deaths.

Puerto Rico: Facing a spike in cases, Puerto Rico is clamping down again, closing beaches, bars, gyms, theaters and casinos through 11 September, and putting strict new controls in place for other establishments. All businesses except grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals will be closed on Sundays, and all residents are being asked to stay home on Sundays unless it’s an emergency.

Greece: People will have to wear masks both indoors and outdoors on the island of Mykonos and in the northern region of Chalkidiki, the Greek government said. It also suspended any kind of events and prohibited gatherings of more than nine people in the two tourist areas.