Global toll rises to 6,54,477

No indication new coronavirus is seasonal: WHO

Agence France-Presse . Geneva | Published: 17:30, Jul 28,2020 | Updated: 00:12, Jul 29,2020


The spread of the novel coronavirus does not appear to be impacted by seasonality, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday, warning against false beliefs that summer is safer.

‘Season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus,’ WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing.

She pointed out that some of the hardest-hit countries are currently in the midst of different season.

While it is summer in the United States, which with nearly 1,48,000 deaths and close to 4.3 million cases is the hardest-hit country, the second most affected country Brazil, which counts more than 87,000 deaths, is in winter.

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 6,54,477 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Tuesday.

At least 1,65,14,500 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 9,347,300 are now considered recovered.

And yet, Harris said, there ‘seems to be this fixed idea about this virus being seasonal’, and that COVID-19 will come in waves.

This is because people are mistakenly viewing the pandemic through ‘a flu lense, because that is the way the flu behaves.’

‘What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus... and even though it is a respiratory virus and even though respiratory viruses in the past did tend to do these different seasonal waves, this one is behaving differently,’ Harris said.

Instead of expecting the virus to behave like other viruses that are more familiar, she said people should look at what is actually known about how to stop transmission of COVID-19.

What works, she said, is physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask where appropriate, always covering up sneezes and coughs, staying home when experiencing symptoms, the isolation of cases and quarantining of contacts.

‘But at the moment, we aren’t doing that, because people seem to have it fixed in their heads that there is this seasonal thing and there seems to... be this persistent belief that summer is not a problem,’ Harris said.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 87,618 deaths from 24,42,375 cases, the United Kingdom with 45,759 deaths from 3,00,111 cases, Mexico with 44,022 deaths from 3,95,489 cases, Italy with 35,112 deaths from 2,46,286 cases and China with 4,634 deaths from 83,959 cases.

Asia 58,743 deaths from 25,76,309 cases, Middle East 25,983 deaths from 11,07,841 cases, Africa 18,173 deaths from 8,61,970 cases, and Oceania 198 deaths from 17,029 cases.

The disease control agency in Germany voices ‘great concern’ over rising virus numbers in the country — in the last seven days it has registered an average of 557 new cases a day, up from around 350 in early June.

German authorities also update their travel advisory, recommending against travel to three regions in northern Spain, all grappling with renewed outbreaks.

The British government defends its decision to quarantine all travellers arriving from Spain after open criticism from the Spanish prime minister.

Pedro Sanchez had called the move to impose a 14-day quarantine on all those entering Britain from Spain as ‘unbalanced’, insisting parts of his country are safer than the UK.

The fast-food company reports a steep 68 per cent drop in second-quarter profits on much lower sales due to virus-related closures that affected most of the chain’s worldwide network.

Greece will reopen six of its ports, including Piraeus in Athens, to cruise ships at the weekend, the tourism minister says.

But the government also says it is making masks compulsory again in shops and public services in response to a recent rise in infections.

The Islamic republic reports 235 new deaths from the virus, a record toll for a single day in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.

France says the attendance cap on spectator numbers for football matches will remain at 5,000 until the end of August, ruling out any relaxation of the rules, although local authorities will be able to grant exemptions.

Officials around the world reintroduced a raft of restrictions Monday — from beach closures to quarantine measures — to try to tamp down coronavirus hotspots.

European countries trying to repair the economic damage caused by the earlier lockdowns struggled to balance keeping the lifeline of tourism open while guarding against new flare-ups of infection.

Hong Kong mandated wearing masks in public in response to a new wave of infections.

Belgium tightened its social distancing measures to try to halt what one expert called a ‘worrying’ surge in cases.

In Washington, meanwhile, the White House announced that another senior administration figure, national security advisor Robert O’Brien, had contracted the virus.

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