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Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Thursday

Australia’s COVID-19 hot spot marks new daily case record

The Associated Press · Posted: Jul 16, 2020 7:04 AM ET | Last Updated: 8 minutes ago

A man wears a face covering as he jogs through Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens. The state of Victoria set a new record of daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Australia’s coronavirus hot spot — the state of Victoria — is reporting a record 317 newly confirmed cases in a day. The tally for Thursday surpassed the state’s previous high of 288 on July 10.

The previous one-day Australian record was 212 cases set March 28 by New South Wales state during the first peak of the pandemic. New South Wales reported only 10 new cases Thursday. Two men in their 80s died in Victoria in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll for the pandemic to 113.

Victoria’s government is reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries allowed in hospitals to increase beds available for COVID-19 patients. State officials had planned to restore hospitals to normal medical services by the end of July before infections began to rise in recent weeks.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said of the latest caseload: “It’s a big number. It needs to turn around.”

As of 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, the global coronavirus case count stood at 13,589,273, with 584,990 deaths and 7,607,033 cases considered recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

While hopeful the lockdown will help lower the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains concerned about the situation. 0:29

Meanwhile, Australian authorities said a COVID-19 patient apparently became infectious within a day of contracting the coronavirus. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd gave no details of how the patient was infected in New South Wales state or whether that patient infected anyone else before the coronavirus was diagnosed.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the country’s peak decision-making body for public health emergencies, reported such a short incubation was “unusual,” but “not implausible,” Kidd said.

People usually develop symptoms within five to seven days but may become infectious a day or two before their symptoms develop, Kidd said. A person becoming infectious within 24 hours was unlikely to be evidence of the virus changing, Kidd said.

It more likely reflected differences in individual reactions to the virus, he said.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 108,829 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 72,485 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,848.

Colin Furness says the low number of coronavirus cases from early B.C. serology tests show how vulnerable Canadians still are to COVID-19.  ‘We have a susceptible population in Canada, coast to coast,’  he said. 5:43

A Russian hacking group has gone after COVID-19-related vaccine research in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Canada’s cyber spies.

The Communications Security Establishment, responsible for Canada’s foreign signals intelligence, said APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and the Dukes — is behind the malicious activity. The group “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services,” the CSE said in a statement released Thursday morning in co-ordination with its international counterparts, an allegation the Kremlin immediately denied.

Cozy Bear has been identified by Washington as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network and stole emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The other group is usually called Fancy Bear.

It’s also unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about the vaccine research hacking, but British officials believe such intelligence would be highly prized.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

The number of laid-off workers in the United States seeking unemployment benefits remained stuck at 1.3 million last week, a historically high level that indicates many companies are still cutting jobs as the viral outbreak intensifies.

The elevated level of applications for jobless aid is occurring as new confirmed cases of coronavirus are spiking across much of the Sunbelt, threatening to weaken the economic recovery. Case counts are rising in 40 states and 22 states have either paused or reversed their efforts to reopen their economies, according to Bank of America.

Rising infections paralleled rising applications for aid in some states getting hit right now, and fell in states with declining infections. In Florida, claims doubled to 129,000, and in Georgia they rose nearly one-third to 136,000. In California, they increased 23,000 to nearly 288,000. Applications also rose in Arizona and South Carolina, while applications fell in Texas, New Jersey and New York.

The U.S. is the worst-affected country in terms of infections, followed by Brazil and India. More than 137,000 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus, the highest of any country.

Spain paid tribute Thursday to the nation’s victims of the novel coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic with a solemn state ceremony in Madrid. Relatives of around 100 people who died during the pandemic, and representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers, joined King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government members and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.

The guests, masked and seated in a physically distanced fashion surrounding a central cauldron, included representatives from a dozen religious organizations and ambassadors. As a live performance of string music took over from the speeches, attendees left white roses by the cauldron.

Spain has officially recorded 28,413 victims who died after testing positive for the coronavirus, although excess mortality figures suggest the actual figure is thousands higher. The country is grappling with dozens of fresh outbreaks after it emerged from a strict lockdown last month.

The ceremony in Madrid also honoured front-line health-care workers. The disease hit Spain hard, killing more than 28,000 people to date.   1:00

In France, new Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks will be mandatory in closed public places as of next week, sooner than Aug. 1 as announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron.

The change in date comes as the Mayenne area of the Loire region has seen several COVID-19 outbreaks, and authorities have recorded a marginal increase in infections in the Paris region.

Calling the situation in Mayenne “problematic,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran said he asked the prefect of Mayenne personally to make masks compulsory in closed public places without waiting for the later date.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a new daily record with 286, raising alarm Japan may be reopening too quickly. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said one reason for the recent rise in cases is increased testing, which numbered more than 4,000 on Thursday.

She said 760 people are hospitalized, seven of them in serious condition, while more than 350 are quarantined at hotels and homes.

Separately, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged a need to re-examine the government’s tourism campaign offering discounts for travelling within Japan, set to start next week. “We are looking at the situation with a high level of nervousness,” Abe said.

Japan has had fewer than 23,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and about 1,000 deaths.

People in Tokyo wear protective face masks as the city recorded a new daily high of COVID-19 cases. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Israel reached a new daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases, the country’s Health Ministry said Thursday, as a new nationwide lockdown to curb the pandemic appeared imminent.

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 1,898 new cases of the virus. The country has registered more than 44,500 total cases. At least 380 Israelis have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Adding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s troubles, a new economic bailout plan announced by the embattled premier came under tough criticism from some of the government’s top economic experts.

The growing coronavirus outbreak, coupled with a struggling economy, have marked a dramatic turnaround for Netanyahu. The Israeli leader received widespread praise for moving quickly to contain the coronavirus last spring.

But since lifting a series of restrictions in May, the country has experienced a surge in cases. With unemployment over 20 per cent, the pandemic’s economic impact is generating domestic unrest and Netanyahu’s approval rating is plummeting.

A paramedic with Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency medical service holds a tube containing a swab from a COVID-19 test. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Hospitals in Iran face acute shortages of medical personnel and beds as the country tackles a powerful second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior official of Tehran’s anti-coronavirus task force said on Thursday.

Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, began relaxing its lockdown in mid-April. But a second wave of infections emerged in early June and has proven much more serious than the first one, said Reza Jalili-Khoshnood, who is himself infected, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic and answers to questions about masks, vaccines and catching the virus are still evolving. We check in with Dr. Lynora Saxinger and Dr. Raywat Deonandan for the latest insights. 7:20

Iran recorded 13,608 related deaths as of Thursday, including 198 in the previous 24 hours, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari, who was speaking on state TV. Sadat Lari told state television that the total number of diagnosed cases in the country had reached 267,061, up by 2,500 in the last 24 hours.

Jalili-Khoshnood was quoted as saying that at one hospital — Tehran’s Shohada, where he is hospitalized — 172 medical staff have been infected themselves or are caring for infected family members. He said he there were also shortages of beds, including of intensive care beds.

His comments contrast with President Hassan Rouhani’s regular assurances that Iran has sufficient supplies of medical personnel and facilities. While struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19, Iranian authorities are concerned that tougher measures against it could wreck an economy already reeling under U.S. sanctions.

A woman wears a protective face mask as she walks through the Nasr Shopping Center in Tehran. (Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press)

India’s virus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the national count closer to one million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it reopened to tourists.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 968,876. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported a record number of 606 deaths for a total of 24,915.

The Indian Medical Association said 99 doctors have died and another 1,302 are infected with the coronavirus. It called for shortening of working hours for health workers following safety concerns. It also said the fatality rate among doctors was 7.6 per cent, much higher than the national average of about 2.5 per cent.

About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, allowing only essential food supplies and health services.

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