Coronavirus: Over 1 million people infected worldwide

Baltimore – The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide exceeded 1 million on Thursday, with the US accounting for more than a fifth of the total.

A running tally of the global spread of the new respiratory ailment by Johns Hopkins University hit seven digits around 12.30pm Eastern Standard Time, as health authorities in the US struggle to manage a rapid escalation in new cases and deaths.

Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force’s response coordinator, warned on Tuesday that the US was likely entering the most challenging two-week period in terms of new cases and deaths. as the contagion had begun spreading widely in New York City, an epicentre of the outbreak, and other metropolitan areas across the nation before strict stay-at-home orders were put into place.

The US, with more known cases of the coronavirus than any other nation, has over 230,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 5,600 deaths attributable to the illness, according to the Johns Hopkins numbers.

Also on Thursday, the US Labour Department released record-breaking jobless numbers for the second consecutive week. First-time unemployment claims from 3.3 million the previous week – or roughly 10 million jobs lost in two weeks.

The pandemic has claimed more than 50,000 lives worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins tally. More than half the planet is currently under some form of lockdown as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the global economy.

Here are the developments:

France death tally passes 5,000

France reported a jump in coronavirus deaths on Thursday as the country included fatalities in some nursing homes for the first time. Still, a decline in intensive-care admissions suggest the country’s lockdown is starting to slow the pace of the outbreak.

The health ministry reported 471 new hospital deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday. In addition, it reported 884 deaths in a partial count from nursing homes, bringing the total number to 5,387. Nursing homes were not previously included in the statistics.

France is the third-hardest hit country in Europe in number of deaths, behind Italy and Spain. The number of confirmed cases is now at 59,105.

Italy reported another 760 fatalities on Thursday. Its death toll, already the world’s highest, now stands at 13,915. Total infections, including recoveries and deaths, have reached 115,242.

Spain reported 950 more deaths from the coronavirus, the most in a single day, taking the total to 10,003.

US Democratic National Convention postponed

The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of August 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he did not think it would be possible to hold it in mid-July because of the outbreak.

Convention CEO Joe Solmonese confirmed the decision in a statement on Thursday.

“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” Solmonese said.

The party conventions mark the start of the US general election campaign.

Republicans plan to gather August 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are expressing confidence they can pull off their convention as scheduled, but party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel still allows for the possibility that the pandemic could upend these plans.

US warship captain seeks to isolate crew members as coronavirus spreads

World Bank approves US$1 billion in emergency funds

The World Bank on Thursday said its board of executive directors had approved an initial US$1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 countries, and said it was moving quickly on projects in 40 others.

In addition, the World Bank said it was working to redeploy resources in existing World Bank financed projects worth up to US$1.7 billion. The Bank has said it is prepared to spend up to US$160 billion over the next 15 months to combat the pandemic.

India, the third largest economy in Asia, will receive US$1 billion to support better screening for the virus, contact tracing and laboratory diagnostics; pay for personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards for those infected.

World Bank Group President David Malpass said the Bank was moving quickly to strengthen the ability of developing countries to respond to the fast-spreading virus, and shorten the time to economic and social recovery.

“The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest, and our teams around the world remain focused on country-level and regional solutions to address the ongoing crisis,” Malpass said in a statement.

Iran parliament speaker tests positive

Iran’s parliament says speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is in quarantine.

Larijani is the highest-ranking official within Iran’s government to test positive for the virus and the Covid-19 illness it causes.

Parliament announced Larijani’s illness Thursday on its website, saying he was receiving treatment in quarantine.

Iran has one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the virus.

Mass graves in Iran for deceased coronavirus patients

Canada cases top 10,000, death toll jumps

Canada now has more than 10,000 coronavirus cases and the death toll has jumped 21 per cent from a day earlier to 127, according to data posted by the country’s public health agency on Thursday.

It said the number of cases had risen to 10,132 from 9,017 on Wednesday, at which point 105 people had died.

The agency said it was particularly concerned by the spread of the coronavirus in seniors’ residences. At the same time, some medical personnel have raised concerns about a lack of personal protection equipment such as masks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said authorities had received over a million masks late on Wednesday.

“This is in addition to the 10 million masks that have come in over the last days and are being distributed … as quickly as possible,” he told a daily news briefing.

Israel’s health minister has virus

The new coronavirus is forcing more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country’s health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the health ministry said Thursday.

The Middle East has over 82,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of them in Iran, and over 3,600 deaths. Iran’s Health Ministry said Thursday that the new coronavirus killed another 124 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,160.

In a rare acknowledgement of the severity of the outbreak by a senior Iranian official, President Hassan Rowhani said the new coronavirus may remain through the end of the Iranian year, which just began late last month, state television reported Thursday.

“We always have to follow the health protocols provided by the health ministry,” Rowhani added.

(SCMP, Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse)