International update: Global Covid infections near 44.5 million – UK cases approach 1 million

29 October 2020 (Last Updated October 29th, 2020 09:16)

29 October

Global: Global coronavirus infections are nearing 44.5 million, reaching 44,495,972. The global coronavirus death toll is 1,174,225 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 516,898 new infections were registered worldwide on Tuesday, according to an AFP tally from health authorities around the globe – a record figure, although experts caution that most coronavirus cases were undiagnosed during the first wave.

Europe: An international team of scientists tracking the virus’s genetic mutations says a variant that originated in Spanish farm workers has spread through much of Europe since the summer, accounting for a majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries – including more than 80 % in the UK, the Financial Times reported.

US: US Covid-19 infections exceed 8.8 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 227,700 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

New York coronavirus cases topped 500,000, while hospitalizations in neighboring New Jersey exceeded 1,000 for the first time since July. New York reported a 3.8% positive testing rate in hot spot areas, and 1.3% excluding them. Hospitalizations there have exceeded 1,000 for several days in a row. In New Jersey, 80 Covid patients are on ventilators, and 194 are in intensive care. The state has 1,010 hospitalized, up from less than 500 at the beginning of the month.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, has praised Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying he ‘would like to say the same for the United States’. Fauci also pleaded with Americans to set politics aside and wear face masks to stop the rise in Covid-19 cases.

One of the last coronavirus-free sanctuaries in the world has been breached, with the US military importing two cases of Covid-19 into the remote Marshall Islands.

India: India’s Covid-19 tally surpassed the 8-million mark on Thursday, according to the health ministry, after 49,881 new cases were confirmed. India’s total coronavirus infections stood at 8,040,203 on Thursday.

UK: The Covid pandemic has reached a “critical” stage in England, with prevalence doubling since last month with the fastest increases in the south where the R number has risen above 2, research has found.

Infections are doubling every nine days and an estimated 960,000 people are carrying the virus in England on any given day, according to findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, which is conducting one of the country’s largest studies of the disease.

The UK policy response to coronavirus isn’t succeeding in controlling the disease’s spread, scientists warned, adding pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce another national lockdown.

Belgium: With 5,924 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital, Belgium has surpassed its previous peak from April 6. A record 743 people were admitted to hospital Wednesday, following a revised 690 on Tuesday. There are now 993 patients in intensive care, but that’s more than 20% below the peak of the first wave. Belgium also reported more than 100 deaths for a second straight day.

Taiwan: Taiwan celebrated 200 days without a single locally transmitted case on Wednesday. Despite being incredibly close to China and with high volumes of travel and trade, Taiwan has recorded just 550 cases and seven deaths so far this year.

Germany: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 16,774 to 481,013, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

Mexico: Mexico’s Senate has tested over 800 legislators and staffers after a lawmaker died of the coronavirus.  Senator Joel Molina of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party died on Saturday after catching the virus.

Mexico reported 5,595 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 906,863 infections and 90,309 deaths.

China: reported 47 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on 28 October, up from 42 a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase in more than two months, the country’s national health authority said on Thursday.

Iran: Iran declared “full-scale war” with coronavirus as it reported a record death toll Wednesday for a second straight day and surging infections overload a health care system struggling with US sanctions.

Vaccine news

US: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said vaccines against Covid-19 won’t be available in the US until January at the earliest.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said data from a late-stage clinical trial suggest that its antibody cocktail therapy for Covid-19 significantly reduces virus levels and the need for further medical care.

Japan: Shionogi & Co. plans to carry out clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine by year-end in a move that could make it the first Japanese company to produce the doses domestically, Reuters reported.

Lockdown updates

Singapore: More than 300,000 migrant workers who have spent months mostly confined to dormitories in Singapore will soon be allowed to visit recreation centres on their days off, as coronavirus measures are relaxed.

Germany: Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from 2-30 November under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the country back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.

Spain: Five more Spanish regions, including Madrid, said on Wednesday they would close their borders ahead of the All Saints’ Day long weekend to try to halt a surge in coronavirus infections, AFP reports.

Australia: Australia’s Covid-19 hotspot state Victoria reported only one new infection on Thursday, a day after it lifted a four month lockdown in the city of Melbourne.

Poland: Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski told public Radio 1 he hopes Poland won’t introduce a full lockdown from Monday, but Friday’s data on fresh cases will be key.

Economy updates

Global: A global debt crisis is unlikely in the next year or two -assuming economies and private-sector demand recover, S&P Global Ratings said in a report. The rebound in economies is predicated on the wide availability of a Covid-19 vaccine by mid-2021.

Central banks became gold sellers for the first time in a decade as some producing nations exploited near-record prices to soften the blow from the pandemic. Net sales totaled 12.1 tons of bullion in the third quarter, compared with purchases of 141.9 tons a year earlier, according to a report by the World Gold Council.

US: Boeing Co. is almost doubling its planned job cuts as the coronavirus pandemic and prolonged grounding of the 737 Max jet dim prospects for financial recovery. Executives said they would eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected loss from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people — or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce — by the end of 2021.

New York’s technology and finance bosses are tempering their expectations for bringing people back to work. Only 15% of office workers are projected to return by the end of this year, according to the Partnership for New York City, which surveyed major employers in Manhattan over the past two weeks. That’s down from an August estimate of 26%.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told parliament he would monitor the domestic and international situation and take steps on the economy as needed, including via increased spending. His comments come as Tokyo reported 221 new Covid-19 cases in the capital.

Thailand: Thailand’s economy will shrink this year by less than previously estimated as government support measures alleviate the impact of the pandemic, according to the Finance Ministry.

Singapore: There’s a risk of cross-border coronavirus transmission through the $1.5 trillion global agri-food market, according to a scientist who has studied the phenomenon. It’s possible that contaminated food imports can transfer the virus to workers as well as the environment, said Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases physician at Singapore’s National University Hospital.