WHO says worst of pandemic ‘yet to come’ – latest updates


Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 10.3 million people and claimed at least 506,000 lives with more than 5.5 million people recovered from the disease. Here are updates for June 29:

Passengers from Germany, who were frontline workers during the coronavirus disease outbreak, arrive on a TUI Airways flight at Kos International Airport on the island of Kos, Greece, June 29, 2020.
Passengers from Germany, who were frontline workers during the coronavirus disease outbreak, arrive on a TUI Airways flight at Kos International Airport on the island of Kos, Greece, June 29, 2020.
(Reuters)

Monday, June 29

Turkey’s recoveries near 172,000

The number of patients recovered from Covid-19 in Turkey has neared 172,000, according to the latest Health Ministry data.

A total of 1,214 patients won the battle against the Covid-19 virus in Turkey over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally of recoveries to nearly 171,809, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing the Health Ministry data.

Turkey registered 1,374 new cases of Covid-19 in the past day, and the total number of infections nationwide reached 198,613, showed the ministry data.

“Turkey is determined to drop the number of coronavirus infections, but not cautious enough in following the measures,” Koca warned.

He said the number of patients who have been hospitalised is in balance with the number of the newly discharged.

“The rise in patients under intensive care is within ordinary range,” he added.

The country’s death toll from coronavirus rose to 5,115 with 18 new fatalities reported.

Over 1,000 patients remain in intensive care, according to data.

Turkey’s health care professionals conducted 51,014 tests for the disease in the past day, raising the total count to over 3.33 million.

Greece not to allow direct flights from UK, Sweden 

Direct flights from Britain and Sweden to Greece will not be allowed until July 15, Greek authorities said on Monday, adding that they would use EU guidelines to determine which countries were considered at high risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

British holidaymakers are a primary market for the Greek tourism sector, which is facing a plunge in bookings due to the Covid-19 pandemic that is crippling economies worldwide.

Greece reopened its main airports in Athens and Thessaloniki to more international flights on June 1 5, and will reopen all others on July 1.

While flights from most European destinations will be permitted from that date, those from the UK and Sweden will not.

After six months, worst of pandemic ‘yet to come’: WHO

Six months since the new coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic is still far from over, the World Health Organization said Monday, warning that “the worst is yet to come”.

Reaching the half-year milestone just as the death toll surpassed 500,000 and the number of confirmed infections topped 10 million, the WHO said it was a moment to recommit to the fight to save lives.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.

“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.

“We’re all in this together, and we’re all in this for the long haul.

“We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead.

“We have already lost so much — but we cannot lose hope.”

Tedros also said that the pandemic had brought out the best and worst humanity, citing acts of kindness and solidarity, but also misinformation and the politicisation of the virus.

In an atmosphere of global political division and fractures on a national level, “the worst is yet to come. I’m sorry to say that,” he said.

“With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

Cuomo says Trump should mandate masks in public

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that President Donald Trump should issue an executive order mandating that people wear masks in public and he should lead by example and cover his face.

“The other states are just starting to do it now, states that were recalcitrant, governors who said ‘we don’t need to do this, masks don’t work,” Cuomo said at a media briefing. “Now they’re doing a 180…let the president have the same sense and do that as an executive order.”

Cuomo once again criticised the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the White House has been “in denial” from the start of the public health crisis, and that it was not doing enough to tackle a surge of in Covid-19 cases in several US states that has emerged over the past few weeks.

France’s deaths up 35 over three days

The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 35 to 29,813 over the last three days, health authorities announced Monday and hospitalisations for the disease have followed their long-running downward trend.

For the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, no daily figures were given over the weekend by the authorities, who said that would now be the new procedure.

UK confirmed death toll rises by 25 to 43,575

The death toll from confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom rose by 25 to 43,575, health officials have said.

Greece eases more restrictions

Movie theatres, casinos and children’s summer camps reopened in Greece on Monday, while concerts, conferences, commercial fairs and artistic events can once again be held, in the latest phase of the country’s easing of lockdown measures.

Outdoor summer movie theatres have already been open for several weeks, but this is the first time indoor theatres will be able to operate since the lockdown was imposed in March.

Greece’s government imposed a lockdown early on in the country’s coronavirus outbreak, a move that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill patients low.

On Sunday, Greece reported no new deaths and 10 new cases, for a total of 191 deaths and 3,376 confirmed cases. The country has gradually been easing restrictions.

Frankfurt airport starts fast-track testing

Frankfurt airport opened a walk-in testing centre where passengers can pay to take a coronavirus test and get their results within hours, in a bid to reassure anxious travellers as the summer holidays kick off.

Passengers will be notified of the result via a “secure digital platform” and the information can be connected to a boarding pass for those flying to countries requiring a negative test before entering, German biotech Centogene said in a statement.

The first Covid-19 test centre at a German airport will help avoid quarantines and “serves as a blueprint to opening international borders”, said Centogene, which launched the project with airline giant Lufthansa and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport.

A standard test costs $66 (59 euros), with results expected within six to eight hours. For 139 euros, passengers can opt for a fast-track test that will gave an answer in two to three hours.

Chinese vaccine approved for military use

China’s military has approved a coronavirus vaccine for use within its ranks that has been developed by its research unit and a biotech firm, the company said.

Organisations around the world are racing to find ways to treat and prevent the deadly pathogen, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has since killed over half a million people worldwide.

More than half of 17 candidate vaccines identified by the WHO that are in clinical evaluation involve Chinese companies or institutes.

Hong Kong-listed CanSino Biologics said in a filing to the stock exchange that data from clinical trials showed the Chinese military vaccine had a “good safety profile” and potential to prevent disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

CanSino said Monday that China’s Central Military Commission approved the use of the vaccine on June 25, for one year.

The vaccine was jointly developed by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, part of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

Czechs open borders for Poles, Britons 

The Czech health minister said Monday his country would open borders for travellers from Britain and Poland from this week despite a recent spike in Covid-19 cases at home.

The EU member state sealed off its borders on March 16 because of the pandemic.

“Poland’s Silesia region has moved up to the green zone so travellers won’t need negative tests or to undergo quarantine,” the minister Adam Vojtech told reporters.

“The same goes for Great Britain.”

Czech authorities expect to further ease the measures they adopted in March to combat the novel coronavirus, though they will leave them in place in certain problem spots.

From July 1, Czechs will no longer have to wear face masks except in hospitals, retirement homes, the Prague underground and two northeastern districts where the virus is spreading among miners and their relatives.

UAE federal government employees to return to work 

Employees of the United Arab Emirates federal government will return their work sites from July 5, while implementing social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the UAE official news agency WAM said.

Only employees suffering chronic disease are exempted from the decision to return to on-site working, it added on Twitter, citing the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

Indonesia reports 1,082 new cases, 51 deaths

Indonesia has reported 1,082 new cases, taking the total number of infections to 55,092. 

The Southeast Asian nation also recorded 51 more deaths, according to the health ministry, taking the total number of Covid-19 fatalities to 2,805, the highest in East Asia outside China.

Britons fatter than most in rest of Europe – PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britons were significantly fatter than people in most of the rest of Europe, admitting he had lost weight after contracting the novel coronavirus.

Speaking to Times Radio, Johnson said: “I have taken a very libertarian stance on obesity but actually when you look at the numbers when you look at the pressure on the NHS (National Health Service), compare, I’m afraid this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others, apart from the Maltese for some reason. It is an issue.”

“Everybody knows that this is a tough one, but I think it’s something we all need to address.”

Johnson did some press ups to show he was “as fit as a butcher’s dog” in an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper, just months after he fought for his life in hospital against the coronavirus.

Russia reports lowest number of infections since April 29

Russia on Monday reported 6,719 new cases, the lowest one-day reported increase since April 29, pushing its nationwide tally to 641,156.

The national coronavirus task force said 93 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,166.

India sees nearly 20,000 new virus cases

India has reported nearly 20,000 new infections, a new record for the country, as several states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.

India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said. 

In all, the country has confirmed 548,318 cases, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil, and Russia. 

India’s death toll has reached 16,475.

China ‘seals off’  Anxin county amid spikes in cases 

The county of Anxin, less than 160 km from the Chinese capital, has announced it would seal off residential compounds and villages until further notice.

Anxin, which forms a part of the Xiongan New Area launched in 2017 to provide living space for Beijing, has also instructed residents to stay indoors, with “the epidemic prevention and control situation now extremely serious”, according to state media.

The total number of Covid-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 83,512, while the total death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. 

EU to prepare list of Covid-safe nations

The European Union will have a list of Covid-19- safe countries for travel purposes ready by Tuesday at the latest, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya has said.

EU officials are preparing a list of 15 countries that are safe for open borders based on epidemiological criteria, she told local radio Cadena SER, as the coronavirus pandemic wanes on most of the continent. 

Czech Republic’s daily new cases highest since April 3

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rose to 305, the highest since April 3, health ministry has said. 

That is the fourth straight daily rise and brings the total number of cases to 11,603. There have been 348 deaths in the country of 10.7 million.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech said the bulk of the new cases have been in a mining region in the east of the country. 

Qatar to ease curbs as infections pass peak

Qatar aims to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches, and parks, as infections have passed their peak and the rate was subsiding, authorities have said.

The nation of about 2.8 million people has the second-highest tally of infections among the six Gulf Arab states, after much larger neighbour Saudi Arabia. 

It announced 750 new cases on Sunday, taking its total to 94,413, with 110 deaths.

Thailand reports seven new cases, all imported

Thailand has reported seven new coronavirus cases, all of which were imported, marking 35 days without community transmission.

The seven cases were Thais returning from India and the United States who had tested positive while in state quarantine, said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health ministry’s permanent secretary, on Monday.

The coronavirus has killed 58 people in Thailand, among 3,169 infections, of which 3,053 patients have recovered.

Germany’s confirmed cases rise to 193,761 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 262 to 193,761, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

The reported death toll rose by four to 8,961, the tally showed.

Meanwhile, workers at six Amazon sites in Germany will go on strike in protest over safety after some staff at logistics centres tested positive for coronavirus, labour union Verdi said.

Verdi said that the strike would last at least 48 hours, under the motto ‘Good and healthy work’, to denounce what it called a lack of transparency by the US retail giant after workers tested positive for Covid-19.

“We have information that at least 30 to 40 colleagues were infected,” said Verdi representative Orhan Akman.

Brazil caps record week 

Brazil had its worst week yet of the coronavirus pandemic in terms of new cases, registering 259,105 infections in the seven days through Sunday, according to health ministry figures.

The country also reported its second-highest weekly death toll, with 7,005 people killed, just below the record of 7,285 set the previous week.

Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of infections and deaths worldwide after the United States, has struggled to set a strategy for dealing with the pandemic.

The latest grim figures came as protesters in various cities across the country and as far away as Stockholm, London and Barcelona held demonstrations against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the health crisis.

Australia sees biggest daily rise in cases in two months

Australia’s second most populous state said it is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months.

While many states and territories have yet to report their latest numbers, Victoria said it has detected 75 cases in the past 24 hours – enough to make it Australia’s biggest daily outbreak since April 11.

The growing figures have stoked fears of a second wave in Australia after several weeks of fewer than 20 new cases a day.

As cases have mounted, Victoria has embarked on a massive testing regime and the state’s chief health officer said the state is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions.

Seoul considers new curbs as virus cases climb

South Korea has reported 42 new infections of Covid-19 as infections steadily climb in the greater capital area, forcing authorities to consider stronger social restrictions.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought the national caseload to 12,757, including 282 deaths.

Twenty-four of the new cases were reported from capital Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas, which have been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May. At least 12 of the new cases were linked to international arrivals a s the virus continues to strengthen its hold elsewhere around the world.

South Korea was reporting hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March following a major surge surrounding the southeast city of Daegu, where the majority of infections were linked to a single church congregation with thousands of members.

China reports 12 new cases

Mainland China reported 12 new confirmed Covid-19 cases as of end of June 28, down from 17 reported a day earlier, the country’s National Health Commission (NHC) said.

The NHC said in a statement that five of the new Covid-19 cases were so-called imported infections involving travellers from overseas, compared with three such cases reported a day earlier. The seven local infections were all in the capital city of Beijing, which is trying to manage a new wave of infections.

There were also six new asymptomatic cases reported, compared with seven such cases a day earlier.

The total number of Covid-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 83,512, while the total death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Meanwhile, authorities in the Chinese capital say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far, in a further sign that the recent outbreak has been largely brought under control.

Saliva test used to test for virus in Australia

Health authorities are using what they describe as a world-first saliva test for coronavirus in Australia’s second-largest city where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.

Officials say 49 people tested positive to Covid-19 in Melbourne on Sunday and only four cases were detected elsewhere in Australia.

Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday the saliva test was being rolled out in Victoria state, where Melbourne is the capital, and its effectiveness was still being tested.

Coatsworth said the less-comfortable nasal test remained the preferred option and may be more accurate, but the saliva test “will be great, particularly for kids.”

US virus death toll at 288 in 24-hours, infections remain high

The United States added 288 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tally showed Sunday, with the infection rate remaining high as the country struggles to control a new surge of the disease.

The world’s largest economy is the hardest-hit country by the pandemic, with 125,768 dead out of more than 2.5 million cases, according to the Baltimore-based institution at 8:30pm (0030 GMT Monday).

Bars in Los Angeles and six other Californian counties were ordered to close again on Sunday as parts of the country reimpose shutdown measures to try to quell a recent sharp jump in coronavirus cases.

Demonstrations against mandates to wear masks were also held in Austin, Texas, where people thronged outdoor eateries and bars amid the virus outbreak, many of whom were not practising social distancing or wearing masks.

Mexico posts more than 4,000 new confirmed cases

Mexico’s health ministry reported 4,050 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 267 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 216,852 cases and 26,648 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies



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