India reported another record surge of COVID-19 infections on Monday, adding 28,701 new cases over the previous 24 hours. Authorities in several cities are reinstating strict lockdowns after attempting to loosen things up to revive an ailing economy.
The new cases raised the national total to 878,254. The Health Ministry also reported another 500 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,174.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states introduced weekend curfews and announced strict lockdowns in high-risk areas to slow down infections, including parts of the India-administered region of disputed Kashmir.
India is third in total coronavirus caseload, behind only the United States and Brazil. As of 8:30 a.m. ET, the global coronavirus case total stood at 12,932,741, with 569,676 deaths as a result of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, two World Health Organization experts were part of a mission in China to trace the origin of the pandemic. The virus was first detected in central China’s city of Wuhan late last year. Beijing had been reluctant to allow a probe but relented after scores of countries called on the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation.
Regarding the WHO experts in China, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said they would work with Chinese scientists and medical experts on “scientific co-operation on the new coronavirus tracing issue.”
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What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 6:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 107,590 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 71,467 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,819.
Canadian public health officials are being placed at land borders with the U.S. to bolster screening for COVID-19, the Public Health Agency of Canada said. The news follows a surge in new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., paired with an increase in traffic across the international border at airports and land crossings, as restrictions are loosened.
Masks or face coverings will soon be mandatory in all indoor public spaces across Quebec, Radio-Canada has confirmed. Premier François Legault is expected to make the announcement at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET.
The regulation could come into effect as early as Saturday, according to Radio-Canada’s Sébastien Bovet.
As of this morning, Montreal public transit users over the age of 12 are required to wear a mask or face covering. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) is allowing a two-week grace period for riders to get used to the new rule, but as of July 27, passengers can be refused on board if they are not wearing a mask. Riders without a mask can go to a ticket booth to get one from an attendant.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to reveal details of the province’s Stage 3 opening during his daily news briefing today. Last week, CBC News reported the province could potentially be heading into the third stage of reopening as Ontario’s cases have seen a steady decline.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
Two experimental coronavirus vaccines jointly developed by German biotech firm BioNTech and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have received “fast track” designation from the U.S. drug regulator, the companies said on Monday. The candidates, BNT162b1 and BNT162b2, are the most advanced of the at least four vaccines being assessed by the companies in ongoing trials in the United States and Germany.
Earlier this month, the companies said BNT162b1 showed potential against the virus and was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials. Early data from the German trial of BNT162b1 is expected to be released in July, the companies said.
If the ongoing studies are successful, and the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval, the companies said they expect to make up to 100 million doses by the end of this year and potentially more than 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
The companies said they expect to begin a large trial with up to 30,000 participants as soon as later this month, if they receive regulatory approval. The fast track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is granted to speed up the review of new drugs and vaccines that show the potential to address unmet medical needs.
The United States was grappling with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world on Monday, as Florida shattered the national record on Sunday for a state’s largest single-day increase in new confirmed cases.
Deaths from the virus have been rising in the U.S., especially in the south and west, though still well below the heights hit in April, according to a recent Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins.
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“I really do think we could control this, and it’s the human element that is so critical. It should be an effort of our country. We should be pulling together when we’re in a crisis, and we’re definitely not doing it,” said University of Florida epidemiologist Dr. Cindy Prins.
Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, called mask-wearing in public, which has been met with resistance in some U.S. states, “absolutely essential.” Giroir, the assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that “if we don’t have that, we will not get control of the virus.”
Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state recorded only 177 new coronavirus cases on Monday, but a health official is warning the disease’s spread might yet worsen. The new cases were substantially down from 273 cases on Sunday and a record 288 on Friday.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was too early to say whether the lower count meant the spread was being contained. “It’s great it’s lower than our peak. But it may not be our peak yet,” Sutton said. “So I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers before I come and say I have greater confidence about the direction we’re going in.”
Melbourne, Australia’s second-most popular city, and a part of its surrounds in Victoria returned to lockdown last week in a bid to contain the disease spread. Australia has recorded around 10,000 COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths.
Authorities in Pakistan are banning open-air livestock markets in cities for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” to contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, people will be allowed to buy and sell sacrificial animals at the designated 700 markets, which will be set up on the outskirts of cities across the country. These markets will only remain open from dawn to dusk.
Monday’s move comes as Pakistan reported 69 more COVID-19 deaths, taking total fatalities to 5,266; Pakistan now has 251,625 confirmed cases. Eid-al Adha will be celebrated in Pakistan on July 31, subject to the sighting of the moon.
Kazakhstan will extend its second coronavirus lockdown by two weeks, until the end of July, and will once again offer financial aid to those who have lost their source of income, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Monday.
“There are first signs now that the situation is beginning to improve,” he said in a tweet. “The next two weeks are important for the full stabilization of the situation.”
Organizers cancelled Hong Kong’s annual book fair two days before it was due to start, as COVID-19 infections rise in the territory. The book fair, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, will be rescheduled together with three other public fairs.
Hong Kong has seen a spike in the number of locally transmitted cases, prompting a suspension of all schools and tightened physical-distancing measures. The city reported 30 new local infections on Sunday. So far, Hong Kong has reported 1,470 infections and seven deaths.
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to wear face coverings in shops and other tight indoor spaces — but stopped short of making it mandatory. Critics have accused Johnson’s government of failing to offer clarity on the mask issue in the days since he began backtracking on previous advice suggesting such coverings were not necessary.
But Johnson said the scientific research is now showing that masks help stop the transmission of the virus. Speaking to reporters during a visit to the London Ambulance Service, Johnson said “face coverings do have a real value in confined spaces and I do think the public understand that.”
When pressed on whether it should be mandatory, Johnson said: “We will be looking at the guidance, we will be saying a little bit more in the next few days.”
Masks became mandatory in Scotland last week.
In Spain, a judge overturned a decision by the Catalan regional government to confine more than 140,000 people to only leaving their homes for work and other essential activities, arguing that only central authorities can issue a lockdown that restricts freedom of movement.
Authorities in northeastern Catalonia had announced the stay-at-home order on Sunday, a week after they had already limited travel to and from El Segria county because of an outbreak of the virus that causes COVID-19. But a judge in Lleida, the largest municipality in the county, ruled overnight that because the measure is “indiscriminate” and “disproportionate,” it has to be applied under a state of emergency, which can only be enacted by the nation’s government.
Regional Vice-President Pere Aragones has said that the Catalan government plans to appeal the judge’s decision. The outbreak in the rural area is connected to farm work and seasonal day workers, many of whom work and live in precarious conditions.
Spain’s 17 regional governments are now largely in charge of handling the response to the pandemic after a three-month nationwide lockdown ended in mid-June. The virus has claimed at least 28,000 lives in the country, according to official records.
Officials in Mexico said on Sunday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, making it the country with the fourth highest total.
A count by Johns Hopkins University has only the United States, Brazil and Britain with more confirmed deaths from the novel coronavirus. Sunday’s rise to 35,006 confirmed deaths moved Mexico, a country with 130 million inhabitants, past Italy.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador insisted the development of the pandemic in Mexico “is positive, it is good” because only nine of the country’s 32 states had increases in infections.
“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” he said.
Nevertheless, some days this past week have seen record daily numbers of new infections.
Deputy Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose to 299,750 on Sunday.
In South Africa, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of all the reported coronavirus cases in Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that the country would reimpose a ban on alcohol sales to reduce the volume of people needing emergency care so hospitals have more beds to treat COVID-19 patients.
South Africa is also reinstating a nighttime curfew to reduce traffic accidents and has made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks in public.