International update: Global Covid-19 cases near 21.7 million – Virus continues to mutate sparking fears of ineffective vaccines

17 August 2020 (Last Updated August 17th, 2020 12:17)

17 August

Global: Worldwide Covid-19 infections have raced to almost 21.7 million with deaths now numbering 775,489.

US: The US death toll has passed 170,000, with more than 5.4 million infections. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection, the rolling 7-day average for new cases now stands at 52,182.

A new cluster of Covid-19 cases has broken out at a University of North Carolina residence, the fourth in the last three days, the Daily Tar Heel reported on Sunday. A university spokesman said it would not say how many students were infected, according to the student newspaper. The university defines as five or more cases in “close proximity.”

A third high school in a Georgia county hit by a Covid-19 outbreak said it would close after 25 students tested positive and 500 were quarantined, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Germany: Bavarian authorities have admitted that they are still haven’t been able to contact 46 of more than 900 people who tested positive for the new coronavirus upon entering Germany recently, but didn’t receive the results. Germany has reported a total of 224,014 cases and over 9,200 deaths.

India: India reported a daily jump of 57,981 infections, taking the total to nearly 2.65 million, third only behind the United States and Brazil. The death toll jumped by 941, with the total now 50,921.

Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe entered a hospital on Monday for a medical check-up, a government source said, after a top official voiced concern the premier was suffering from fatigue because of his workload during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bolivia: Bolivia has surpassed 100,000 coronavirus cases, the country’s Ministry of Health reported, predicting that the virus would reach its peak there in September, according to Reuters news agency.

South Korea: South Korea reported 197 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday as it battles sporadic outbreaks in densely populated Seoul and its neighbouring area, according to Yonhap news agency.

Mexico: Mexico’s health ministry has reported 4,448 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 214 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 522,162 cases and 56,757 deaths as of the end of Sunday, according to Reuters news agency.

China: China reported on Monday 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 16, compared with 19 cases a day earlier, Reuters reported quoting the National Health Commission. All of the new infections were imported cases, the agency said in a statement. There were no new deaths.

Australia: Australia has reported the deadliest day of the pandemic with 25 fatalities from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 282 new cases in the state of Victoria, according to the government. The previous record for Australia was 21 deaths in one day.

Lebanon: Lebanon has registered a record daily number of coronavirus infections, with 439 people contracting the virus and six fatalities. The new infections bring to 8,881 the total number of people reported infected in the small country of just more than five million. Some 103 have died because of Covid-19.

France: France reported 3,015 coronavirus cases in 24 hours, marking the second straight day with more than 3,000 new infections. One additional death was reported.

UK: Cases increased by more than 1,000 for the sixth consecutive day and five more people died of Covid-19, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.

New Zealand: New Zealand postponed its general election for a month as its Auckland Covid cluster grew to 58.

Vaccine news

Russia: Russia reached an agreement in principle to conduct clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the head of its sovereign wealth fund.

China: Chinese authorities have granted the first patent to the pharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc. for the development of a new coronavirus vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, according to the state-owned Global Times. Earlier, it was reported that Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with China to begin clinical trials of the vaccine.

Zhong Nanshan, a top virus expert in China, said at a meeting on Sunday that China and Russia have plans to jointly conduct vaccine clinical trials, without giving further details. The meeting, held in China’s Guangdong province, is about virus cooperation between the two countries and attended by virus experts from both sides, according to local reports.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s Institute of Medical Research (IMR) has detected a mutation of Covid-19 virus in the country, according to the country’s top health official. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a social media post that the mutation would likely make existing vaccines ineffective against the disease.

Mexico: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced that a Covid-19 vaccine could be available in the country and throughout Latin America by the first quarter of 2021. In a video posted on social media on Sunday, Obrador said Mexico has reached a deal with Argentina’s AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to produce a vaccine for distribution throughout Latin America.

Lockdown updates

Spain: Spain will start shutting nightspots this week after they were blamed for spikes in cases that triggered new travel warnings. Suspending operations again was one of 11 measures Spain’s regional governments agreed to take to curb the fastest virus growth rate among Europe’s major economies.

Italy: Italy has also ordered nightclubs to close and broadened rules on wearing protective masks.

Vietnam: Dak Lak province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands coffee belt removed a 14-day stay-at-home order applied to its capital city of Buon Ma Thuot and a lockdown of four locations in the city as the coronavirus outbreak is under control, it said in a statement.

Economics update

Thailand: Thailand’s economy contracted the most in more than two decades, deepening its recession as the nation’s key drivers of trade and tourism remain hobbled by the global coronavirus pandemic.