Global COVID total passes 48 million; Greece locks down

Statue with mask
Statue with mask

John Perivolaris / Flickr cc

As the global total topped 48 million, Greece became the latest country in Europe to announce a lockdown and cases surged to new single-day highs in a number of other countries in the region.

Greece lockdown amid surges in Europe

Greek officials today announced a 3-week lockdown to curb its sharp spike in COVID-19 activity, which takes effect on Nov 7, Reuters reported. The order shutters all businesses except supermarket and pharmacies and limits when people can be outdoors, it but allows primary schools to stay open.

The country's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said without a lockdown, pressure on the healthcare system could become unbearable, and it's better to take drastic measures sooner rather than later.

Greece joins a host of other European nations in ordering a second round of lockdowns. The UK parliament yesterday approved a 1-month lockdown, which begins today, proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Europe continues to be one of the world's biggest COVID-19 hot spots, and its countries continue to report new record daily cases, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Sweden.

Denmark announces lockdown in mink-cull region

Following the detection of a mutated coronavirus strain that passed from minks to people and plans for culling all the animals on mink farms, Danish officials announced a lockdown for the northern part of the country where the facilities are located, Reuters reported.

The lockdown affects seven cities and will limit movement between counties, shutter bars and restaurant, and close schools and public transport until Dec 3.

The government said yesterday that the mutated SARS-CoV-2 virus had been found in both humans and minks and exhibited decreased antibody sensitivity, which authorities worried could reduce the efficacy of future vaccines.

UN to host pandemic summit

The United Nations General Assembly today voted unanimously, with three abstentions, including the United States, to hold a 2-day summit on the COVID-19 response to begin on Dec 3, the Associated Press reported. The meeting will include speeches from world leaders and a discussion led by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD.

In advance of the summit, the World Health Assembly (WHA) will resume its annual meeting virtually next week, following a shortened version in May that tackled COVID-19 issues, and COVID-19 again will be on the agenda. The group will consider a draft resolution to strengthen nations' preparedness for health emergencies through more stringent compliance with International Health Regulations.

Also, an independent oversight committee that has been reviewing the WHO's emergency response is expected to release its final report at the WHA. In its interim report in May, the panel suggested a tiered alert level for warning about outbreaks.

In other global COVID-19 developments:

  • In a new preliminary analysis, the WHO's African Regional office today said the pandemic has shaken health services in Africa, prompting worries that the continent's health challenges could worsen. In a review of health service indicators such as malaria treatment and inpatient admissions from January to September, it found sharp declines in 14 countries compared with the previous 2 years, with the widest gaps seen during country lockdown months.

  • The WHO's Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today released results from a new survey that found countries are falling short in implementing mental health services at a time when COVID-19 stress has increased demand for mental health support. At a press briefing today, PAHO Associate Director Jarbas Barbosa, MD, PhD, MPH, said data from 29 countries show that 27 have integrated mental health services into COVID-19 plans, but only two were adequately funded.

  • The pandemic total today rose to 48,461,273 cases, and 1,229,758 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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