The Latest: India: Herd immunity won't work, need vaccine
NEW DELHI, India — India’s Health Ministry says herd immunity in the country can’t be an option due to its large population and it will need a vaccine to beat coronavirus.
Rajesh Bhushan, a senior Health Ministry official, says “With India’s population, to build herd immunity without vaccination is not a strategic choice or option.”
Herd immunity is when a virus can no longer spread easily because enough people are immune to it. India has a population of 1.4 billion people.
For months, the Indian government has highlighted India’s recovery rate, but experts say it is not the best way to measure the effect of the pandemic.
India has 1.5 million coronavirus cases, the world’s third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil. There have been nearly 35,000 confirmed deaths.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Health officials Birx, Fauci recommend face shields, masks
— Misinformation on coronavirus is proving highly contagious
— U.S. is expected to report a record-breaking economic plunge
— Vietnam imposes more restrictions as virus outbreak that started in a popular beach resort destination grows
— Australia’s coronavirus hot spot Victoria makes masks compulsory after record new cases
— U.S. House of Representatives orders broad mask mandates after lawmaker gets virus
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
JOHANNESBURG — The World Health Organization says the number of ventilators has more than tripled across sub-Saharan Africa since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti says the initial 3,000 machines have increased to more than 10,000. She notes the dynamics differ across Africa’s 54 nations but “overall the pandemic is increasing and accelerating.”
African countries locked down early as the virus spread elsewhere in the world. Moeti says she believes they averted a worse situation, but cases will climb as governments ease lockdown measures.
Africa has more than 891,000 confirmed cases and nearly 19,000 deaths.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania is enacting a country-wide curfew for bars and restaurants.
The daily number of confirmed infections has been hitting new highs for three consecutive days, reaching 1,356 on Thursday. Authorities reported 35 virus-related deaths, raising the total to 2,304.
The Romanian government passed an order Thursday requiring all restaurants and bars in the country to shut down by 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. The order takes effect on August 1.
Also, several villages and the small town of Faget, in western Romania, were placed under lockdown by local authorities following a surge of coronavirus cases.
Romania, a nation of 19 million people, has confirmed more than 49,500 virus cases.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark is allowing people to travel to neighboring Sweden, while Norway urged people to avoid non-essential trips to Belgium after a recent surge in coronavirus cases.
The countries issued their announcements on Thursday.
Travelers from Belgium arriving in Norway on Aug. 1 must quarantine for 10 days, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide says.
Meanwhile in Brussels, the European Union announced Algeria is no longer safe to travel to because of the coronavirus.
BRASILIA, Brazil — The fifth member of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s Cabinet has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Science and technology minister Marcos Pontes wrote on Twitter that he tested positive after experiencing flu-like symptoms and headaches. The 57-year-old is now in isolation.
Last week, citizenship minister Onyx Lorenzoni and education minister Milton Ribeiro announced they tested positive. In March, two other Cabinet members were infected.
Bolsonaro told reporters on July 7 he had been diagnosed with coronavirus and was confined to the presidential palace in capital Brasilia for more than two weeks. He announced he tested negative on Saturday.
MIAMI — Two residents of the Florida Keys have been jailed for failing to quarantine after testing positive for the new coronavirus.
Jose Interian, 24, and Yohana Gonzalez, 26, are facing charges of violating isolation rules for a quarantine and violating emergency management disaster preparedness rules, according to jail records. They were arrested Wednesday in Key West.
The Miami Herald reports Interian and Gonzalez had been ordered by the health department to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. But neighbors say they were ignoring the order.
The Florida Keys island chain was closed to nonresidents for two months in the spring to keep outsiders from spreading the new coronavirus. It reopened to visitors in June.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine health officials reported nearly 4,000 confirmed coronavirus infections Thursday in the highest daily total.
The Department of Health says the 3,954 new cases bring the country’s total to 89,374. There have been 1,983 confirmed deaths. The infections in the Philippines are the second highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque tried to allay public concern by underscoring an increase in coronavirus tests.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovar Muslim leaders ordered the Eid-al Adha celebrations wouldn’t be held at the mosques and praying was suspended for the next 10 days dues to the rise of coronavirus cases.
Kosovo health authorities on Thursday reported the highest number of daily deaths in the country, 16, for a total of 212 deaths. They also reported 8,104 confirmed cases.
WASHINGTON — Trump administration health officials say there is evidence to support wearing face shields to protect oneself from the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx has both suggested their use, saying they provide the wearer with some protections, unlike face masks, which are primarily recommended to protect others.
“The mask is to protect others,” Birx told Fox and Friends Thursday. “The thing about the face shields, we think that that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability of them to touch their eyes and spread virus.”
Fauci on Wednesday told ABC News, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.”
LONDON — An analysis shows England has had the highest level of excess deaths among more than 20 European countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics says there have been 53,000 more deaths in England than the five-year average. The overall national deaths for the year through July 17 stands at 362,229.
By the end of May, the cumulative mortality rate in England was 7.55% higher than the five-year average. Spain was second, with 6.65% more deaths than usual.
The U.K. statistics office says Britain was hit by a more widespread outbreak than in many other European nations, where the virus was more localized. It says every region of the U.K. had higher-than-average deaths at the height of the outbreak in April.
Britain’s confirmed death toll from the coronavirus stands at just under 46,000. It’s third highest in the world after the United States and Brazil.
LONDON — Britain is raising the self-isolation period for people who test positive for the coronavirus or have symptoms to 10 days from seven days.
The U.K.’s chief medical officers say there’s evidence people may still be able to spread the virus for more than a week after developing symptoms.
They say “people with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between seven and nine days after illness onset.”
Britain’s seven-day quarantine was among the shortest in Europe. The World Health Organization recommends that people who have symptoms or test positive should isolate for at least 10 days.
The British government says it is concerned about rising infection rates in several neighboring countries. Last week the U.K. reimposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on people arriving from Spain, and officials say other countries may be added to that list.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says “you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores and to tackle it.”
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s top health official says “this is no time for us to panic and fear” as the continent approaches the milestone of 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases.
The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, tells reporters that Africa still has a “very good chance of beating back this virus” if authorities do the right things like test assertively.
But testing in Africa, with over 891,000 cases, is challenged by shortages of materials and sometimes weak health systems, and the International Rescue Committee warns “we are fighting this disease in the dark.”
The aid group in a new statement says fewer than 8,000 tests per million people have been conducted in the 21 African countries where it works, while Britain has conducted more than 205,000 tests per million and the United Arab Emirates more than 472,000 per million.
The Africa CDC director says more than 8 million tests have been conducted across the continent of 1.3 billion people, but the goal is 13 million tests per month.
Meanwhile, the health minister in South Africa’s coronavirus epicenter, Gauteng province, has been forced to step down over corruption allegations related to government contracts for personal protective equipment.
Graft allegations related to South Africa’s $26 billion virus relief package and its support of health workers have caused outrage and President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that corruption is threatening people’s lives.
The president's own spokeswoman has been placed on immediate leave over allegations that her husband’s company was irregularly awarded PPE contracts in Gauteng.
MADRID — Spain is trying to persuade the British government to put some Spanish regions on its safe travel list.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya says the U.K. decision last weekend to require people arriving from Spain to self-isolate for 14 days was based on Spain’s recent national surge in coronavirus cases.
González Laya told Radio Euskadi in an interview Thursday that some Spanish regions are not badly affected, and suggested Britain could allow “travel corridors” between those regions and the U.K.
Spain on Wednesday reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus infections in almost three months, with 1,153.
But the Balearic Islands, including vacation hotspots such as Ibiza and Mallorca, had just one new case while the Canary Islands, another popular destination for British tourists, had only seven.
Spain is the top holiday destination for British tourists, with around 18 million people heading there last year, and their absence is a heavy blow to Spain’s key tourism industry.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases are now above 471,000 as the country with the world’s fifth-largest confirmed caseload makes up well over half the recorded infections on the African continent.
Africa’s 54 countries have a total of more than 891,000 cases as local transmission of the virus is underway in many countries. Severe testing shortages mean the real number of cases is likely much higher. South Africa is also seeing far more “excess deaths” than in recent years.
A new report by the South African Medical Research Council shows more than 22,000 excess deaths from natural causes between May 6 and July 21. Those could be unrecorded COVID-19 deaths or deaths from other diseases as some South Africans, scared by the pandemic, hesitate to seek care. Strained health resources are also being redirected to fighting COVID-19.
LONDON — The number of cars built in Britain dropped to its lowest level since 1954, as carmakers warned of a double whammy on the industry as the result of the coronavirus pandemic and the country's upcoming departure from the European Union.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said 381,357 cars were built in the six months to June, a decline of 42% on the same period last year.
The hit on jobs was extreme, with the trade body reporting that 11,349 jobs have already been cut across manufacturing and retail during the pandemic with “more at stake without dedicated restart support as firms fear double whammy of Brexit tariffs.’’
The SMMT appealed for urgency in talks to secure a deal with the European Union quickly.
NEW DELHI, India — India has registered more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours for the first time.
The record surge of 52,123 reported cases took the national total to 1,583,792 on Thursday.
The Health Ministry also reported another 775 deaths in the past 24 hours, driving total fatalities up to 34,968.
The number of recoveries from the coronavirus in India has crossed 1 million.
India has reported the third most coronavirus cases in the world after the United States and Brazil.
The reported deaths from the virus in India, however, mark a far lower fatality rate than in the other two countries.
BEIJING — China is stepping-up testing for the coronavirus in an attempt to get a handle on new outbreaks that have defied the country’s considerable success in containing the virus that was first detected in Wuhan late last year.
In the northeastern city of Dalian, local authorities have issued a letter to citizens urging all 5.6 million of them to be tested following consecutive days of new cases being reported, largely in the single digits.
As of midnight Wednesday, samples had been collected from more than 4 million people in the scenic port city in Liaoning province and a second round of tests was being launched targeting people living in what have been categorized as high-risk areas.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot of Victoria state is making mask wearing compulsory statewide after reporting a new daily high of 723 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Masks have been compulsory in the state capital of Melbourne and a neighboring semi-rural district for the past week. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Thursday that masks or other face coverings will be compulsory for the whole state beginning late Sunday.
In addition, residents around the city of Geelong will not be allowed to have visitors in their homes beginning late Thursday.
The 723 new cases exceeded the previous high of 532 cases posted Monday. The state also reported a new daily high of 13 deaths.
Melbourne and neighboring Mitchell Shire are halfway through a six-week lockdown, which Andrews says could be extended.
BEIJING — China is reporting 105 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, almost all of them in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang accounted for 96 of the cases, with five others in the northeastern province of Liaoning and one in the capital of Beijing.The remaining three were brought by Chinese travelers arriving rom outside the country.
No new deaths were reported, leaving China’s official toll for the pandemic at 4,634, among 84,165 cases.
While China has largely contained the virus in other parts of the country, the Xinjiang outbreak centered on the regional capital and largest city of Urumqi continues to grow. Authorities have locked down some residential neighborhoods in the city, restricted public transit and ordered widespread testing.
SAO PAULO — Brazil’s health ministry has reported a daily record 1,595 deaths from COVID-19, though the rise partly resulted from the country’s most populous state reporting two days worth of deaths.
Brazil’s previous one-day record death toll was set June 4, with 1,473 fatalities. Deaths have been ticking upwards for five straight weeks as the coronavirus spread into new regions, with deaths averaging more than 1,000 each day.
Authorities say the populous state of Sao Paulo did not report COVID-19 deaths Tuesday because of a counting glitch. As a result, its tally of 713 deaths Wednesday included two days of deaths.
Brazil’s health ministry has recorded 90,134 deaths so far in the pandemic and more than 2.5 million confirmed cases. Those are the second highest totals in the world.