31 Aug 2020

Covid-19: What's happening around the world

9:19 pm on 31 August 2020

Here's what you need to know about the novel coronavirus from around the world right now.

View of a Coronavirus Covid-19 background - 3d rendering

File image. Photo: 123rf.com

Global records

India reported 78,512 new novel coronavirus infections on Monday, slightly fewer than its record set the previous day when it posted the biggest, single-day tally of infections of any country in the pandemic. On Sunday, India's total of 78,761 new cases exceeded the previous record of 77,299 in the United States on 16 July, a Reuters tally of official data showed.

Despite the surging case numbers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for a return to normalcy to lessen the economic pain of the pandemic, having earlier imposed strict lockdowns of the country's 1.3 billion people.

US cases of the novel coronavirus surpassed 6 million on Sunday as many states in the Midwest reported increasing infections. While the US has the most recorded infections in the world, it ranks tenth based on cases per capita.

More than eight months into the pandemic, the US continues to struggle with testing. The number of people tested has fallen in recent weeks. Public health officials believe the United States needs to test more frequently to find asymptomatic coronavirus carriers to slow the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Mutation found in Indonesia

A more infectious mutation of the new coronavirus has been found in Indonesia, the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology said on Sunday, as the Southeast Asian country's caseload surges.

The "infectious but milder" D614G mutation of the virus has been found in genome sequencing data from samples collected by the institute, deputy director Herawati Sudoyo told Reuters, adding that more study is required to determine whether that was behind the recent rise in cases.

The strain, which the World Health Organization said was identified in February and has been circulating in Europe and the Americas, has also been found in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

Vaccine approval and use underway in China

Sinovac Biotech Ltd's coronavirus vaccine candidate CoronaVac was approved for emergency use as part of a programme in China to vaccinate high-risk groups such as medical staff, a person familiar with the matter said.

China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), also said it had obtained emergency use approval for a coronavirus vaccine candidate in social media platform WeChat last Sunday. CNBG, which has two vaccine candidates in phase three clinical trials, did not say which of its vaccines had been cleared for emergency use.

China has been giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to high-risk groups since July, though officially it has given little details on which vaccine candidates have been given to high-risk people under the emergency use programme and how many people have been vaccinated.

Lighter traffic in Seoul

Private tuition centres shut for the first time and traffic was lighter in South Korea's capital on Monday, the first working day of tighter social-distancing rules designed to halt a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks.

The decision came after earlier restrictions on movement failed to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections from erupting at churches, offices, nursing homes and medical facilities.

A unique approach

Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago 354 km off Brazil's northeastern coast famous for abundant sea life, pristine beaches and dramatic mountainsides rising above the coast, is trying a novel method for fighting the coronavirus.

Only tourists who have already had Covid-19 and recovered will be allowed onto the island chain, according to statements released by local and state governments over the past week.

The move by the tourism dependent archipelago, which has about 3,100 permanent residents according to the most recent census estimate, speaks to the unique ways that state, local and national governments are trying to return to a semblance of normal as new COVID-19 cases and deaths stabilize in many parts of the world.

Brits encouraged to dine out

British finance minister Rishi Sunak urged diners on Monday to keep going out to eat as a popular government scheme offering half-price food in restaurants this month drew to a close.

The "Eat out to Help Out" initiative was designed to boost a hospitality sector that has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It offered 50 percent off the price of meals on the first three days of the week at participating restaurants, up to a maximum of 10 pounds, with the government making up the difference.

So popular has it been that more than 64 million meals had been eaten under the scheme up to 27 August, according to the Open Table online booking website.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Snapshot updates


* Japan's factory output rose in July at the fastest pace on record, driven by automobiles and car parts, signalling a gradual recovery from the coronavirus-led blow.

* A more infectious mutation of the novel coronavirus has been found in Indonesia, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology said.

* India reported 78,512 new infections on Monday, slightly fewer than its record set the previous day.

* The state at the epicentre of Australia's second wave of Covid-19 infections said the number of new cases fell to a near two-month low.


* Government data on Sunday showed the United Kingdom had recorded 1715 daily confirmed cases, the highest level since 4 June.

* British finance minister Rishi Sunak is considering a sweeping set of tax increases to help fix the huge hole in the public finances, two newspapers said.


* A majority of US states have rejected new Trump administration Covid-19 testing guidance in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation's top agency for disease prevention.

* The head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is willing to fast-track a Covid-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, the Financial Times reported him as saying in an interview published on Sunday.

* Total cases in Colombia surpassed 600,000 on Sunday, ahead of the end to more than five months of lockdown.

* Mexico's death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 64,000 and the country reported 4129 new infections.

Middle East and Africa

* Jordan reported 73 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak.

* The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said it would lend 70 million euros to Turkey to help the country deal with the pandemic.

* Schools in Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos will reopen next month.

Medical developments

* Sinovac Biotech Ltd's coronavirus vaccine candidate CoronaVac was approved for emergency use as part of a programme in China to vaccinate high-risk groups such as medical staff, a person familiar with the matter said.

Economic impact

* Asian shares notched a 29-month high on Monday as investors wagered monetary and fiscal policies globally would stay super stimulatory, while an upbeat reading on China's service sector augured well for continued recovery there.

* Four of China's five largest state-owned banks said they have increased their provisions against bad debt to brace for future losses due to the Covid-19 impact.

* India's economy likely suffered its largest quarterly slump on record, data is expected to show on Monday, as coronavirus-related lockdowns add to already-declining consumer demand and investment.

- Reuters

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