Surges and resurgences push global COVID-19 total higher

Social distancing
Social distancing

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Countries — such as India — battling their first waves of COVID-19 activity pushed the global COVID-19 total past 13.5 million, as countries that successfully contained the virus, including Japan and Hong Kong, took aim at new flare-ups.

The world's total grew to 13,666,118, along with 586,369 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

India, Iran among countries fighting surges

India, the world's third hardest-hit country, today reported a record daily high of 32,695 cases, with yet another state ordering a new lockdown, National Public Radio reported. Goa state, on the country's western coast, ordered a 3-day lockdown and nighttime curfew, which comes just 2 weeks after it reopened to tourists.

Earlier this week, other parts of India ordered new lockdowns, including the tech hub city of Bengaluru in Karnataka state, as well as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states.

Elsewhere, Iran, one of the first countries affected outside of Asia, has been grappling with a second wave since early June and now faces shortages of hospital personnel and beds, a senior official with the country's coronavirus task force told ISNA News Agency. The warning comes on the heels of new closures of public places in Tehran and runs counter to the Iranian president's assurances that there are enough caregivers and facilities.

Reza Jalili-Khoshnood, who is hospitalized with a COVID-19 infection, told the news service that the second wave is worse than the first and that the virus infected 172 health workers in his facility while they were taking care of patients or sick family members. Iran has the Middle East's highest COVID-19 total.

Hong Kong, Tokyo report record daily highs

Among countries that have suppressed virus activity but are facing recent rebounds, Hong Kong today reported 67 cases, its highest daily total since the outbreak began, the New York Times reported. Some health officials have said Hong King is experiencing its third and most serious wave. Health officials recently reimposed distancing measures.

The Center for Health Protection (CHP) yesterday said a hospital cluster had been detected, which included three patients and a healthcare worker.

Meanwhile, Tokyo, which has been experiencing an uptick in cases since late June, reported a daily high total of 286 cases today, the Japan Times reported. Cases began rising after restrictions were loosened and have been trending higher in younger adults, with clusters reported in workplaces. Officials have expanded testing, especially among people working in nightclubs.

Cases have increased in other parts of Japan, including at US military bases in Okinawa.

In other global developments:

  • Russian state-sponsored hackers are reportedly attacking researchers in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada who are working on COVID-19 vaccine, The Guardian reported, citing a report from the UK's National Cyber Security Center. British officials did not say if the attacks resulted in the theft of scientific information but said none of the research work had been compromised.

  • The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yesterday posted an epidemiologic alert about an increase in COVID-19 cases among the Americas' indigenous populations. It said there's no indication that pandemic activity has peaked yet in Latin America and that several factors put indigenous communities at risk, including increased contact with outsiders, coinfections with other diseases such as tuberculosis, and higher population density in isolated villages. It called on countries to step up their efforts to prevent further spread in the vulnerable communities.

  • South Korea, which successfully contained a large outbreak early in the pandemic, needs to prepare for a disease outbreak that would be worse than COVID-19 and needs to address a weak spot in its response, which is a low proportion of public hospital beds, thought to make up 10% of the country's total, Reuters reported. The assessment comes from Dr Kim Yong-ik, the president of the country's National Health Insurance Service.

  • Italy today added three more countries—Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro—to its travel ban, according to Reuters. The countries are among Eastern European nations reporting rising cases.

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