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Coronavirus cases in India near 1.3 million: Live updates
July 24, 2020 - Written by editor
  • India reported more than 49,000 fresh cases of the coronavirus with 740 new deaths, marking the biggest daily surge in infections.

  • Papua New Guinea has put out a call for emergency assistance to the WHO, fearful it might be facing widespread community transmission of the disease.

  • More than 15.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and at least 8.8 million people have recovered, while more than 633,000 have died – according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the updates:

Friday, July 24

17:10 GMT – Nicaraguans stuck at Costa Rica border after Managua bars re-entry on virus fears

Hundreds of Nicaraguans are stuck in limbo between Costa Rica and Nicaragua after their homeland refused to allow them back without proof that they are not infected with the coronavirus, authorities said.

Nicaraguans have been exiting Costa Rica since Wednesday through the border post of Penas Blancas but about 300 are now stranded, having been barred from entering Nicaragua by its government, Costa Rica’s immigration department said.

Managua is demanding that the Nicaraguans, who are waiting for the impasse to end by the side of a road, show proof that they have taken a coronavirus test in the last 72 hours.

16:35 GMT – UK PM Johnson says “open questions” on whether lockdown came too late

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were open questions as to whether lockdown was introduced too late, as COVID-19 was poorly understood in its early stages.

Asked whether lockdown came too late, Johnson said: “When you listen to the scientists, the questions that you’ve just asked are actually very open questions as far as they are concerned.

“This was something that was new, that we didn’t understand in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months, and … the single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person,” he told the BBC.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, visits headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asked whether lockdown came too late [File: Ben Stansall/Pool/Reuters]

16:15 GMT – Human trials of second Russian COVID-19 vaccine to start July 27

Human trials of Russia’s second potential coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Siberian Vector institute, will begin on July 27, the TASS news agency cited Russia’s consumer safety watchdog as saying.

An early-stage human trial of a separate vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow, was completed this month, with scientists hailing the results and authorities planning to move to mass production in the autumn.

15:42 GMT – Spain’s total coronavirus cases rise by 2,255

Spain reported a cumulative total of 272,421 coronavirus cases, up 2,255 from the day before, health ministry data showed, with the figure including people who have recovered from the disease but whose antibody tests were taken now.

In the past 24 hours, some 922 new infections were diagnosed, the ministry said, compared with 971 the previous day.

Since lifting a nationwide lockdown a month ago Spain has struggled to contain a rise in new infections.

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Barcelona
Man wearing a face mask in Barcelona, Spain [File: Nacho Doce/Reuters]

15:10 GMT – Italy imposes quarantine on travellers from Romania, Bulgaria

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he had signed a quarantine order for people who have been in Romania and Bulgaria in the last 14 days, in a move aimed at preventing the importation of COVID-19 cases from outside the country.

“The virus is not defeated and continues to circulate. For this reason we still need to be careful,” Speranza wrote on Facebook.

Italy, one of the European countries worst-affected by the novel coronavirus, had already banned entry to people coming from 16 countries including hard-hit Brazil.

Italy Extends Coronavirus Lockdown
A giant Italian national flag hanging over the facade of Palazzo Medolago Albani near Milan [File: Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images]

14:43 GMT – France advises citizens not to travel to Catalonia

France is advising it citizens not to travel to the Spanish region of Catalonia in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

Castex also said the government will reinforce controls at France’s borders in the hope of better containing the pandemic, with people arriving from some countries being subject to compulsory testing.

Castex was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Charles-de-Gaulle international airport, north of Paris.

14:20 GMT – Norway to restrict travel from Spain, open more for Sweden

Norway will re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday after a surge in COVID-19 cases there, while it will ease restrictions on people coming from more counties of Sweden, the government said.

Residents of the European Union, European Economic Area or Schengen countries with fewer than 20 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last two weeks are able to enter Norway without being required to go into self-quarantine.

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed COVID-19 infections in Spain had risen to 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

14:00 GMT – Portugal criticises UK decision to keep it off safe travel list

Britain’s decision to continue to maintain a quarantine regime for travellers coming from Portugal is “not backed by facts”, Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said in a tweet.

13:35 GMT – Germany to test people returning from high-risk countries for coronavirus

Health ministers from Germany’s states agreed to require people returning from high-risk countries to take a coronavirus test at the airport or face two weeks’ quarantine as part of efforts to prevent a new wave of infections.

Anyone who cannot show a negative test result will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days, Berlin’s Health Minister Dilek Kalyci told reporters following a meeting of the state ministers.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim taking over from my colleague Farah Najjar.

11:56 GMT – Drop in UK COVID-19 infections has levelled off, statisticians say

The number of people in Britain infected with COVID-19 has stopped falling, and now stands at around one in 2,000 people who are not in hospitals or care homes, the Office for National Statistics said.

“Despite decreases in the level of COVID-19 infection from mid-May to mid-June this has slowed in recent weeks and has now levelled off. As the Government relaxes lockdown measures, we are closely monitoring these results for any changes,” ONS statistician Heather Bovill said.

The data is primarily based on 114,674 swab tests conducted in the six weeks running up to July 19. 

09:56 GMT – Three-year-old dies as Belgian virus cases grow

A three-year-old girl was among the latest series of deaths from the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium, officials said, as the country confronts a worrying growth in new infections.

Health spokesman Boudewijn Catry said  three people die each day in Belgium from COVID-19, including recently the toddler and an 18-year-old.

“It’s true that it’s rare that a young person dies of COVID-19, but it’s clear that no-one is immune,” he warned, after the number of new infections per week in Belgium jumped by 89 percent.

09:55 GMT – Bulgarian PM Borissov isolated, awaits COVID-19 test results

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has gone into quarantine after the head of his political office tested positive for coronavirus late on Thursday, the government press office said in a statement.

Borissov, 61, whose first test for coronavirus came out negative, will stay in self-isolation until the results of a second test taken early on Friday come out, a government spokeswoman said.

Bulgaria has registered a spike in coronavirus infections in the past month. On Friday, the Balkan country had 268 new cases, bringing the total to 9,853 including 329 deaths. 

09:13 GMT – India sees record 49,000 new cases, drug shortages in places

India reported over 49,000 fresh cases of the coronavirus with 740 new deaths, marking the biggest daily surge in cases even as officials in some states complained of shortages of vital drugs for those hospitalised.

As the number of cases neared 1.3 million in India, local authorities scrambled to procure generic versions of remdesivir, the drug that has shown promise in clinical trials in treating severely-ill patients.

“Demand is huge as cases are rising rapidly in the state,” said a senior drug regulatory official in the western state of Maharashtra. “Supplies of the drug are limited, but companies have assured us they will provide more in a week.”

09:10 GMT – WHO scientist sees regulators cooperating to speed vaccine approval

Regulators that normally work within their own countries or regions will likely harmonise efforts on potential COVID-19 vaccines to speed up their approvals once they become available, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.

Swaminathan, answering questions on social media platforms, also said testing vaccines for safety and efficacy – usually a years-long process – could be accelerated to just six months in the midst of the pandemic, if data satisfied regulators that they have enough information to issue approvals.

Still, she said, safety would be paramount. “Whilst speed is important, it cannot be at the cost of compromising on the safety or the efficacy standards that one is setting for oneself,” she said.

“It’s not the case that the first vaccine is going to be rushed through into injecting millions of people without having established the fact whether it’s really protecting you and whether it’s safe enough for use in large populations.” 

Vaccine COVID-19
A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe [File: Dado Ruvic/Daylife]

09:07 GMT – UK PM Johnson: We will be past coronavirus by mid-2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he thought the country would be through the coronavirus crisis by mid-2021 but his fear was that there would be second spike.

“Whether it came from … a bat, a pangolin or however it emerged, it was a very, very nasty thing for the human race. And I think by the middle of next year we will be well on the way past it,” he told reporters.

Speaking a year since he became prime minister, Johnson said his experience was that government needed “to move faster and be more responsive to the needs of the people.”

He mentioned that people were unable to get their passports in time and a backlog of court cases.

“Sometimes government can be slow,” Johnson told reporters

08:59 GMT – Hong Kong reports 123 new cases as local transmissions stay high

Hong Kong reported 123 new cases, including 115 that were locally transmitted, a new daily record, as authorities warn the city faces a critical period in containing the virus.

The global financial hub reported 118 new cases on Thursday, after it extended strict social distancing measures this week.

Since late January, more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 16 of whom have died. 

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