India reports 55,000 virus cases, Florida faces hurricane

The major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai might have passed their peaks, a government expert, Randeep Guleria, said. Subways, cinemas and other public facilities are closed until Aug. 31. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2020

India reports 55,000 virus cases, Florida faces hurricane

  • India’s 54,735 cases were down from the previous day’s record 57,118 but raised the country’s total to 1.75 million

NEW DELHI: India reported nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and Japan recorded more than 1,500 for a second day while Florida braced for a hurricane that threatened to hamper anti-disease efforts.
India’s 54,735 cases were down from the previous day’s record 57,118 but raised the country’s total to 1.75 million. The month of July accounted for more than 1.1 million of those cases.
The major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai might have passed their peaks, a government expert, Randeep Guleria, said. Subways, cinemas and other public facilities are closed until Aug. 31.
In Japan, the government said all but five of its 1,540 new cases were transmitted domestically. The daily total was close to Friday’s record of 1,579.
The spike in Japanese cases, most of them in their 20s and 30s, prompted warnings young people were letting their guard down. The governor of Tokyo, which has about one-third of the new infections, says she might declare an emergency to contain the outbreak.
Also Sunday, China and South Korea reported more infections but spikes in both countries appeared to be tailing off.
China had 49 new confirmed cases, up from the previous day’s 45. Thirty were in Xinjiang in the northwest, where authorities are trying to contain an outbreak focused on the regional capital, Urumqi.
South Korea reported 30 new cases but said only eight were acquired in the country.
The government warned earlier case numbers would rise as South Koreans came home from the Middle East and other places with outbreaks. Authorities say cases from abroad are less threatening because arrivals are quarantined for two weeks.
On Saturday, the leader of a secretive Korean church was arrested in an investigation into whether the group hampered the anti-virus response after thousands of worshippers were infected in February and March.
Governments worldwide have reported 684,075 deaths and 17.8 million cases, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has the world’s biggest number of cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths.
Authorities in Florida reported 179 deaths, raising the state’s total to more than 7,000, as Hurricane Isaias headed for its heavily populated coast.
Authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites. The governor warned residents to expect power outages and said they should have a week’s supply of water and food. Officials wrestled with how to prepare storm shelters while enforcing social distancing to avoid spreading the virus.
The storm was expected to be near the Florida coast early Sunday.
On Saturday, South Africa reported 10,107 new cases, raising its total to 503,290.
That put the country fifth behind the United States, Brazil, Russia and India in total cases, though its population of 58 million is much smaller than theirs.
In Europe, the number of new cases reported in Italy dipped below 300 for the first time.
In Austria, an employee in the chancellery tested positive for the virus but didn’t work directly with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Press Agency reported.


EU agrees first COVID-19 vaccine deal with AstraZeneca in WHO blow

Updated 1 min 59 sec ago

EU agrees first COVID-19 vaccine deal with AstraZeneca in WHO blow

BRUSSELS: The European Union has agreed to buy at least 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine in its first such advance purchase deal, which could weaken plans led by the World Health Organization for a global approach.
The European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of all 27 EU member states, said the deal included an option to purchase 100 million additional doses from the British drugmaker should its vaccine prove safe and effective.
The EU’s bilateral deal mirrors moves by the United States and other wealthy states, some of which are critical of the WHO’s initiative, and further reduces the potentially available stock in the race to secure effective COVID-19 vaccines.
The EU agreement follows an initial deal with AstraZeneca reached in June by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states.
The Commission did not disclose the terms of the new deal and declined to say whether it had replaced the IVA’s.
“This new agreement will give all EU member states the option to access the vaccine in an equitable manner at no profit during the pandemic,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.
The EU executive said its deals are aimed at financing part of the upfront costs to develop vaccines. The funding would be partial down-payments to secure the shots, but actual purchases would be decided at a later stage by each EU state.
The EU said over the past two weeks it was in advanced talks with Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for their vaccines under development .
The EU move could make more difficult efforts led by the WHO and GAVI, a global alliance for vaccines, to buy shots on behalf of rich and developing countries with a separate scheme.
The Commission has urged EU states to shun the WHO-led initiative because it sees it as too expensive and slow, EU officials told Reuters in July.
Now the Commission is openly saying that vaccines bought from AstraZeneca, and from other vaccine makers, could be donated to poorer states, effectively taking on the very task that the WHO is pursuing with the so-called ACT-Accelerator Hub.
Brussels has publicly said that its purchasing scheme is complementary to the WHO’s, but in private told EU states that there may be legal issues if they joined the WHO program.