Transmission easing in many parts of the world, says WHO
The World Health Organisation has suggested the pace of Covid-19 transmission is easing in many parts of the world.
Governments have been ramping up efforts to contain the disease, which has claimed the lives of almost 814,000 people and infected at least 23 million since late last year.
WHO data said fatality and infection rates were easing in most regions, notably in the hard-hit Americas, except Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean.
In Africa, WHO regional director Matshidiso Moeti said new cases were declining after the continent passed “what seems to have been a peak”.
But Health Minister Zweli Mkhize of hard-hit South Africa warned that “our biggest worry is whether in fact this is the first surge and there might be another one”, pointing to the latest developments in Spain.
One of the worst affected countries in Europe, Spain is to use 2,000 soldiers trained in tracking to help regions identify those who have been exposed to infected people.
“We can’t let the pandemic once again take control of our lives… we must take control and halt this second curve,” prime minister Pedro Sanchez said.
Although fatality rates have been falling, the WHO said it recorded more than 1.7 million new coronavirus cases and some 39,000 new deaths in the week to August 23.
That represented however a five-percent decrease in new cases globally and a 12-percent drop in new deaths compared with the week before.
Good morning/afternoon/evening, wherever these words find you. My name’s Ben Doherty, I’m in Sydney, helming The Guardian’s rolling coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic for the next few hours. Correspondence and comments welcome: you can reach me by email email@example.com or on twitter @BenDohertyCorro.
A summary of recent developments:
- UK prime minister Boris Johnson drops advice against face mask use in English schools. Pupils in England will no longer be advised against using face masks in schools after prime minister Boris Johnson made an 11th-hour U-turn days before students head back to the classroom.
- The number of Americans newly diagnosed with the coronavirus is falling. About 43,000 new cases are being reported daily across the country, down 21% from early August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Experts credit the development at least partly to increased wearing of masks, even as the outbreak continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the US each day.
- Turkey recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases since mid-June. Another 1,502 infections were confirmed on Tuesday, according to government data, taking the official tally over 261,000.
- India reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases globally for the 18th straight day. Infections rocketed by another 1.5 million since the start of August, taking India’s total to around 3.1 million, more than in the US and Brazil. The rate of new cases in the country is increasing rapidly, climbing by 60,975 in the latest 24-hour period, according to the federal health ministry.
- Gaza entered a 48-hour lockdown after the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the general population. Four cases of coronavirus were confirmed in a single family in a refugee camp, the first in Gaza that did not involve people quarantined in border facilities after crossing over from Egypt and Israel. Health authorities in the Hamas Islamist-run territory of 2 million people are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak.
- Two European patients were confirmed to have been reinfected with coronavirus, raising concerns about immunity. Regional public broadcasters said a patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium had also been reinfected. It follows a report this week by researchers in Hong Kong about a man there who had been reinfected four and a half months after recovering.
- The German economy contracted by a record 9.7% in the second quarter, the sharpest decline since Germany began to record quarterly GDP calculations in 1970. The statistics office said it came as consumer spending (10.9% down), company investments (19.6% down) and exports (20.3% down) all collapsed at the height of the pandemic.
Source: The Guardian