WHO sees worrying coronavirus trends in S Europe, Balkans

  • Worrying trends of coronavirus infection are emerging in southern Europe and in the Balkan region, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, has said. “We’re not out of the woods just yet in the European environment. It requires sustained vigilance,” he added.

  • Almost a quarter of people in New Delhi have had the coronavirus, according to a study that cast serious doubt on the official numbers both in the megacity and across India.

  • More than 14.9 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, nearly 8.5 million have recovered, and nearly 616,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    Wednesday, July 22

    12:30 GMT – US to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95bn for millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses

    Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will get $1.95bn from the US government to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the companies have said.

    The agreement allows the US government to acquire an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense said.

    The Trump administration has agreed to spend billions of dollars for the development and procurement of a potential vaccine.

    11:45 GMT – Switzerland expands COVID-19 quarantine watchlist

    Switzerland has expanded to 42 the number of territories on its watchlist of coronavirus hot spots, new arrivals from which must enter a ten-day quarantine, health authorities said.

    New entries as of Thursday include Bosnia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, the Palestinian territories, Suriname and the United Arab Emirates.

    The number of coronavirus infections in Romania rose by a record 1,030 new cases in a day, the government has said, as the World Health Organization said spikes in southern Europe and the Balkans were worrying.

    Romania has confirmed 40,163 cases since the pandemic reached it in late February and 2,101 people have died. The government has extended a state of alert, in place since May 15, by another 30 days until the middle of August.

    11:15 GMT – Hong Kong sets new virus record

    Hong Kong has reported 113 new coronavirus infections, a new daily record as a sudden surge in cases shows no signs of slowing despite ramped up social distancing rules.

    The finance hub was one of the first places to be struck by the virus when it emerged from central China.

    But the city had impressive success in tackling the disease, all but ending local transmissions by late June.

    However, infections have spiked again this month and doctors say a new outbreak is spreading out of control in the densely packed territory of 7.5 million people.

    The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow around the world. More than 14 million people have now been infected globally.

    But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the true death toll could be 12 times higher.

    10:45 GMT – New COVID-19 vaccine trials under way in Brazil

    Nearly two dozen potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus are under various stages of human testing worldwide, and at least two are being conducted in Brazil – the country with the world’s second-worst outbreak.

    One is a Chinese-made drug that is being tested on 9,000 volunteers, the other was developed by Oxford University. Testing is now under way and is expected to last for about three months.

    10:30 GMT – Belgian official urges action to prevent virus ‘avalanche’

    Belgium is experiencing a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases after relaxing many of its lockdown measures, health officials have said, warning of a possible second wave epidemic.

    The Belgian national security council will meet on Thursday and could decide to postpone the next phase of the country’s staggered return to normal economic and social life.

    10:15 GMT – Iran says 138 medical professionals among dead

    Iran says 138 health care professionals have died so far while battling the coronavirus pandemic.

    The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Hossein Kermanpour, spokesman for the regulatory body for Iranian health care professionals, as saying that the death toll includes 90 doctors and 28 nurses.

    Iran announced earlier his week that 12,000 health care workers have been infected across the country.

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