Lockdowns set to return as global Covid-19 cases top 44 million

China, Germany see spikes in cases as Melbourne emerges from long lockdown
Empty tables of a restaurant are pictured as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak continues, in Berlin's Mitte district, Germany on October 28, 2020.(Reuters Photo)
Empty tables of a restaurant are pictured as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak continues, in Berlin's Mitte district, Germany on October 28, 2020.(Reuters Photo)
Updated on Oct 29, 2020 01:24 AM IST
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Paris/London/Beijing | ByHT Correspondents and Agencies

The World Health Organization reported that 2 million Covid-19 cases were reported globally in the past week, a new record, as Europe moved towards new restrictions and lockdowns to curb an unabated second wave.

Global cases have passed 44 million, according to a Johns Hopkins university tally.

Reports said France may enter into a fresh month-long national lockdown as President Emmanuel Macron prepares to address the nation on Wednesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel met state premiers in a video conference on Wednesday and agreed on a partial lockdown that will see bars and restaurants closing from November 2 to 30. Shops will be allowed to remain open on condition that they set strict social distancing limits, people familiar with the talks said.

Records were broken in daily infections and deaths in several countries: Germany reported a new high of 14,964 new infections; Russia saw unprecedented daily deaths at 346 and Iran registered 415 fatalities, its worst ever. The United States added nearly 500,000 cases in a week.

The situation is so bad in Belgium that even Covid-positive doctors and nurses have been asked to work as long as they don’t have any symptoms. Belgian hospital admissions soared to a record 689, surpassing the peak reached on March 28.

UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure for a new lockdown amid 367 more deaths recorded on Tuesday, and warnings that hospital patient numbers could double in weeks to more than 25,000. In Italy, business owners and opposition politicians rebelled against new virus restrictions, even as the country registered 24,991 daily cases, a record for the second consecutive day.

China has reported 42 new cases of Covid-19 including 22 local transmissions, recording the sharpest increase in several weeks, national health authorities said on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s tally was sharply up from 16 on Monday, with all the 22 new local cases reported in the past 24 hours from the remote Xinjiang region’s Kashgar prefecture.

Canada’s death toll has crossed 10,000, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said the situation “really sucks”, warning that if the current trajectory continues, it may impact family gatherings during the Christmas season.

On the vaccine and treatment front, the US agreed to pay Eli Lilly & Co $375 million for 300,000 vials of its experimental Covid-19 antibody.

Drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc agreed to make 200mn doses of their experimental vaccine available to Covax, a global effort to provide shots for developing nations.

The drugmakers signed the supply arrangement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, according to a statement. Gavi is among the groups working with the World Health Organization to ensure access to immunization for people around the world.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has submitted applications to the World Health Organization for an Emergency Use Listing and prequalification of its coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said on Tuesday.

The only good news came from Melbourne. There was exhilaration and relief as the five million people of Australia’s second largest city were able to return to shops and restaurants after months at home. The pandemic lockdown in the city had lasted 111 days.

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