Global toll rises to 743,199

Britain pushed into record recession, NZ mulls election delay

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 01:35, Aug 13,2020


The novel coronavirus has killed at least 7,43,199 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

At least 2,03,82,260 cases have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 1,23,47,300 are now considered recovered.

Since Tuesday, 6,605 new deaths and 259,064 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were Brazil with 1,274 followed by United States with 1,110 and Mexico with 926.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 1,64,545 fatalities from 51,41,879 cases. At least 17,14,960 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 1,03,026 deaths from 31,09,630 cases, Mexico with 53,929  from 4,92,522 cases, United Kingdom with 46,526 from 3,12,789 cases and India with 46,091 from 23,29,638 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 85 fatalities per 1,00,000 inhabitants, followed by United Kingdom on 69, Peru 65, Spain 61, and Italy 58.

China has to date declared 84,737 cases (25 new since Tuesday), including 4,634 deaths (0 new), and 79,342 recoveries.

Overall, Latin America and the Caribbean have 2,25,596 deaths from 57,20,309 cases, Europe 2,14,083 from 34,09,484 infections, the United States and Canada 1,73,571 from 52,62,140 cases, Asia 74,770 from 36,28,276 cases, Middle East 30,879 from 12,71,779 cases, Africa 23,915 from 10,66,129 cases and Oceania 385 deaths from 24,149 cases.

Meanwhile, the global coronavirus pandemic pushed Britain into its deepest-ever recession, data showed Wednesday, as New Zealand warned the re-emergence of COVID-19 could delay its upcoming election.

The British economy — the world’s seventh in size — contracted by an unprecedented 20.4 per cent in the period from April to June, far worse than any of its European neighbours and also well below the so-called Group of Seven richest countries in the world.

By comparison, France’s economy contracted by 13.9 per cent in the second quarter, Canada 12 per cent, Germany 10.1 per cent, the United States per cent and Japan 7.6 per cent.

On the other side of the world, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the upcoming election in September could be postponed as the coronavirus seems to have re-entered the Pacific country.

With 1.5 million people under stay-at-home orders, and millions more at risk of a wider outbreak, Ardern said she was seeking advice on delaying the election currently scheduled for September 19.

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

‘At this stage, it’s too early to make any decision but this means there is some flexibility if required,’ said Ardern, who is well ahead in opinion polls and expected to win a second term.

With the number of coronavirus cases worldwide surpassing 20 million and the number of deaths fast approaching 750,000, the World Health Organization has warned that a second wave is ‘almost inevitable’.

So, with no vaccine still in sight, countries across the globe are starting to reintroduce restrictions as the number of infections tick higher.

In Belgium, which is battling one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, authorities made the wearing of face masks in public compulsory in the Brussels region from Wednesday.

Belgium has one of the highest per capita death rates from COVID-19 in the world and infections are again rising after earlier success in bringing the epidemic under control.

In Italy, too, regions have begun to order new quarantines for people returning from higher-risk European countries such as Spain and Greece, as they hope to stem new outbreaks of coronavirus.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte will be a guinea pig for a controversial Russian coronavirus vaccine, his spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian nation emerged as a frontrunner for overseas clinical trials.

On Tuesday, Russia had claimed it had developed the world’s first vaccine offering ‘sustainable immunity’ against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness.

President Vladimir Putin insisted the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed ‘Sputnik’ after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

But western scientists have concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organisation’s spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in ‘close contact’ with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval.

‘Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data,’ he said.

Indonesia is meanwhile launching a Phase 3 human trial of a vaccine candidate from China’s Sinovac Biotech.

Phase 3 refers to trials involving large numbers of human test subjects and is usually the last step before regulatory approval.

The WHO says that 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3.

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