- Officials warn of second wave as U.K. and France see concerning rise in COVID-19 cases.
- Japanese Olympic officials say Games will go on despite COVID-19 pandemic.
- India reports highest single-day death toll.
- Rising coronavirus case counts in Canada a cause for concern, Tam says.
- UN confirms two coronavirus cases at Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The United Kingdom government faced pressure Tuesday to act fast to keep a lid on coronavirus infections after a sharp spike in new cases across the nation over recent days stoked concerns about the pandemic’s prospective path during winter.
In the wake of figures Monday showing that the U.K. recorded nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running, government ministers and scientists voiced concerns that the easing of the lockdown during the summer has prompted many people, particularly young adults, to let their guard down in a country that has seen Europe’s deadliest virus outbreak.
“This is a big change. It’s now consistent over two days, and it’s of great concern at this point,” said Prof. Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer.
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“We’ve been able to relax a bit over the summer. The disease levels have been really quite low in the U.K. through the summer, but these latest figures really show us that much as people might like to say, ‘Oh well, it’s gone away’ — this hasn’t gone away.”
While noting that the rise is “much more marked” among young people between the ages of 17 and 21, he said there is a “more general and creeping geographic trend” across the U.K.
“People have relaxed too much,” he said. “Now is the time for us to re-engage and realize that this is a continuing threat to us.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet team of top ministers on Tuesday that they must work to stop the spread of the coronavirus from the young to older people to prevent hospitalizations, his spokesperson said.
“The PM said that what had taken place elsewhere was that young people had gone on to infect older generations, who had become seriously ill, and it was vital to ensure that did not happen here,” his office said, adding that Johnson said the government must remain “extremely vigilant.”
The U.K. government has faced criticism for its mixed messages since it started easing the lockdown, which was introduced in March. It spent much of the summer, for example, encouraging people to go out to help the hard-pressed hospitality sector, notably through an August eating-out discount scheme. It is also now making the case that workers should return to their offices.
The U.K. has Europe’s worst death toll from the virus, recording more than 41,500 deaths within 28 days of testing positive. The actual toll is believed to be far higher as the government tally does not include those who died without having been tested.
The spike in U.K. cases follows big increases in Spain and France, both of which have seen the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized rise dramatically during the summer.
France’s COVID-19 situation is “worrying,” with daily new cases at record levels, but a second wave of infections is “avoidable,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday.
The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France rose by 4,203 compared with the previous day to stand at a total of 328,980, as the country battles to contain a likely second wave of the virus.
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Also on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex is to undergo a COVID-19 test as a precaution after he shared a car with the director of the Tour de France cycle race, who has since tested positive for the virus, the PM’s office said on Tuesday.
Castex followed the route of the Tour de France on Saturday and spent time in a car following the race with tour director Christian Prudhomme. Tour organizers said on Tuesday that Prudhomme had tested positive.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 132,498 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 116,698 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 9,186.
Canada’s chief public health officer says a steady increase in the average number of new coronavirus cases being reported daily in the country is a cause for concern.
Dr. Theresa Tam said an average of 545 new cases have been reported during the past week, up from 435 on Aug. 31 and 390 on Aug. 24. The average daily case count has increased by 40 per cent over the same period.
“This summer, Canadians by-and-large followed public health guidance and as a result, nationally, Canada has been able to keep COVID-19 under manageable control, allowing us to carefully resume activities that are important to our social and economic well-being,” Tam said in a statement on Monday.
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“As we enter the fall, Canadians will need to be even more vigilant about following public health guidance, particularly as the cold weather shifts activities indoors.”
Tam said anyone thinking of attending an event or gathering — particularly indoor ones — should assess their own personal risk, the risk of those in their household or personal bubble and the location of the event before agreeing to attend.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 27.3 million. More than 893,000 people have died, while 18.3 million have recovered.
The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers are trying to convince the public that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will take place next year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said last week that the games could go ahead without a vaccine. This week John Coates, the IOC member who oversees the Tokyo Olympics, said the Games would happen despite the pandemic.
Several recent public opinion polls have shown skepticism from the Japanese public and the business community that the Games can go on — or should go ahead at all.
President Xi Jinping honoured the “heroes” of China’s “people’s war” against COVID-19 at a ceremony on Tuesday, lauding the country’s resilience as well as the decisive role played in containment efforts by the ruling Communist Party.
Defying charges from the United States and elsewhere that early failures enabled the coronavirus pandemic to spread more quickly, Xi said that China acted in an open and transparent manner throughout and took decisive actions that saved lives.
“China has helped save the lives of tens of millions of people around the world with its practical actions, showing China’s sincere desire to build a common future and community for humanity,” Xi said at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
China reported 10 new COVID-19 cases for Sept. 7, down from 12 a day earlier, the national health authority said on Tuesday.
India has reported 1,133 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India’s reported tally to nearly 4.3 million — second only to the U.S. and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain.
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The country’s death toll now stands at 72,775.
The rise in cases is partly due to increased testing. The number of daily tests conducted across the country has risen to more than a million. Nearly 3.3 million people in India have recovered from COVID-19 so far.
The lost summer of 2020 drew to a close Monday with many big Labour Day gatherings cancelled across the U.S., with health authorities pleading with people to keep their distance from others so as not to cause another coronavirus surge like the one that followed Memorial Day.
Downtown Atlanta was quiet as the 85,000 or so people who come dressed as their favourite superheroes or sci-fi characters for the annual Dragon Con convention met online instead. Huge football stadiums at places like Ohio State and the University of Texas sat empty.
Many Labour Day parades marking the unofficial end of summer were called off, and masks were usually required at the few that went on.
The U.S. had about 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases around Memorial Day, before backyard parties and other gatherings contributed to a summertime surge. It now has more than 6.3 million cases, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The UN agency for refugees says it has confirmed two coronavirus cases in the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
They are the first infections to be detected among Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, which are home to more than 100,000 Syrians displaced by that country’s civil war.
The UNHCR says the two patients have been transferred to quarantine facilities and their neighbours have been isolated as more testing is carried out.
South Africa’s economy has sunk deeper into recession, with its gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2020 plummeting by 51 per cent, largely as a result of COVID-19 and the country’s strict lockdown, according to statistics released Tuesday.
South Africa imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in April and May in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has now claimed more than 15,000 lives and infected 639,362 people in the country.
The halt to most economic activity during the shutdown caused heavy declines in South Africa’s manufacturing, transport and retail sectors, according to the country’s statistics body StatsSA. South Africa has one of the largest and most developed economies in sub-Saharan Africa.
A major testing and contact-tracing operation at Greece’s largest migrant camp on the eastern island of Lesbos has so far detected 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the overcrowded facility’s 12,500 residents, authorities said Tuesday.
Health and immigration ministry officials said medical teams have carried out 1,900 tests for the coronavirus on migrants at the Moria facility, which was initially designed to hold 2,800 people. Another 100 staff members have been tested, and none were found to have COVID-19.
Gkikas Magiorkinis, a member of a scientific committee advising the government, told a media briefing Tuesday that some optimism was allowed by the fact that most of the 35 migrants were relatively young and didn’t belong to high-risk groups.
The top executives of nine drugmakers likely to produce the first vaccines against the novel coronavirus signed an unprecedented pledge meant to boost public confidence in any approved vaccines.
The companies said Tuesday that they will stick to the highest ethical and scientific standards in testing and manufacturing and will make the well-being of those getting vaccinated their top priority.
The announcement comes amid worries that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be under political pressure to approve a vaccine before tests to prove it is safe and effective are finished.
The pledge was signed by the chief executive officers of American drugmakers Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, and European companies AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi. BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer on one of the vaccines now in the final round of human testing.