Lockdowns return in Catalonia as coronavirus cases surge

  • India joins many other countries and cities across the globe in reimposing localised lockdowns following sharp spike in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.
  • Researchers in the United States say that the first vaccine tested in the country had worked to boost patients’ immune systems and is set for final testing. This is as the number of cases nationwide rose by 65,682 for a total of 3.45 million with at least 919 new deaths added to the tally of around 136,000.
  • The blood from seriously ill coronavirus patients on ventilators was found by researchers to be highly inflammatory and harmful to the body, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, citing a study by Dutch scientists.
  • More than 13.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 7.4 million have recovered, and more than 579,300 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy have recorded the most deaths.

    Wednesday, July 15

    14:15 GMT – Amid virus spike, North Macedonia holds national elections

    Voters in North Macedonia are donning masks to take part in a general election, following months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    North Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic with a population of around 2 million, has reported more than 8,200 confirmed cases, including 385 deaths. The small country north of Greece saw new cases rise in recent weeks after infection-control restrictions were lifted. 

  • Election campaigns were limited by social distancing rules and calmer than in past elections, which produced vitriolic animosity between the two main parties. 

    Opinion polls suggest no party will achieve an outright victory Wednesday, leaving the winner to seek a power-sharing deal with parties representing the country’s large ethnic Albanian minority. 

    The election is being monitored by a team of international observers and final results are expected Thursday. 

    13:45 GMT – UK PM Johnson commits to coronavirus inquiry, but not yet

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to holding an inquiry into the country’s handling of the coronavirus crisis but said now was not the time as the battle to combat the pandemic was ongoing.

    Opposition lawmakers have been pressing for an inquiry after ministers were criticised for being too slow to lock down, to introduce mass testing and to deliver protective equipment.

    Johnson has repeatedly said his government took the right decisions at the right time but also admits that lessons will have to be learned after the pandemic which has left Britain as one of the worst affected countries.

    “We will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened,” he told parliament.

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