Global COVID-19 total tops 24 million infections

Mainly fueled by ongoing surges in the Americas and India, the global COVID-19 total passed 24 million today amid ongoing efforts by containment countries to blunt the impact of flare-ups.

It only took 2 days for the global total to rise from 23 million cases to 24 million. The pandemic total today reached 24,000,302 cases, and 821,933 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

Hot spot cases steadily rise

India yesterday reported the world's highest total for the day, with 57,224 new cases, down a bit from 60,975 the day before. The country has now reported the world's highest number of daily cases for 19 straight days.

India recently passed the 3 million case mark and is closing in on Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases, behind the United States.

In another development from India, government regulators have approved the first rapid test kit made in India, CNN reported. The test, made by Delhi-based Oscar Medicare, tests for antibodies and can give a result in 15 minutes.

In the Americas, Brazil reported the most cases yesterday, with 47,134 more reported, followed by the United States, with 37,986 cases. Colombia, Argentina, and Peru each added more than 5,000 new daily cases to their totals.

Cases and restrictions in Europe

In Europe, a recent spike in cases in Ukraine, which included a record daily high of 2,328 on Aug 22, prompted the government today to ban most foreign travelers until the end of September and extend a lockdown until the end of October, Reuters reported.

Officials are also considering a ban on public events in September. The tightened measures also related to a request from Israel to limit pilgrims from traveling to the Ukrainian town of Uman. where an early leader of the Hasidic Jewish movement is buried.

In Germany, Berlin officials announced that police will enforce a ban on weekend demonstrations against COVID-19 measures after participants at a recent rally didn't wear masks or physically distance, according to Reuters. City officials said in making the decision, they weighed freedom of assembly with the need to protect people, and cases have been rising steadily since early July, accelerating even more quickly in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, in other developments, the World Economic Forum announced today that its annual meeting for 2021, originally slated for January in Davos, Switzerland, has been postponed until early summer due to the ongoing threat from COVID-19. In a statement, it said during the week of Jan 25, it will convene high-level dialogues with key global leaders to air their views on the state of the world.

Also, the Vatican said today that as part of gradual lifting of restrictions, the public will be able to resume attending Pope Francis' weekly general audiences on Sep 2. The weekly Wednesday public audiences have been on hold since March, with the Pope delivering weekly address by video link.

Escalation in Middle East

In Turkey, where cases have hit their highest level since mid-June, shortly after the country eased its lockdown, officials are imposing new measures, such as encouraging state employees to work from home or in staggered shifts, Reuters reported. The interior ministry has also banned some gatherings in 14 of Turkey's provinces, as well as Ankara.

The Palestinian territory of Gaza, which recently reported its first local cases, reported its first local death, a 61-year-old man who had underlying health conditions and was on a respirator. Officials also reported 10 more cases, 6 of them in a refugee camp where the first four local patients live. Four others are from Gaza City.

Restricted borders had limited earlier cases to people whose illnesses were detected in quarantine facilities. Following the recently announced first locally transmitted cases, officials ordered a lockdown. Global health officials are worried about an outbreak in Gaza, due to poverty, crowded refugee camps, and limited health services.

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