The head of the World Health Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported yesterday — the highest single-day number so far.
In a media briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.
“We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that restrictive measures are still needed to stop the pandemic. “Many people are understandably fed up with being at home, [and] countries are understandably eager to open up their societies.”
But Tedros said that the virus is still “spreading fast” and that measures such as physical distancing, mask wearing and handwashing are still critical.
WATCH | WHO sees pandemic picking up speed:
He said the toll would be especially great on refugees, of whom more than 80 per cent live in mostly developing nations.
“We have a shared duty to do everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to the transmission of COVID-19 detected among refugees in hospitals.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are over 8.6 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 458,000 deaths.
What’s happening in Canada with COVID-19
WATCH | Canada surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 cases:
As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 100,629 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, with 63,003 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial information, regional health data and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,396.
Quebec accounts for more than 54,500 cases, and there are more than 33,000 recorded cases in Ontario.
As provinces take initial steps to reopen economies, many are already looking ahead to fall and trying to plan for a potential second wave. Ontario’s education minister revealed the province’s plan for a return to school this fall, and Saskatchewan released back-to-school guidelines.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Friday that the number of deaths will “always be too high,” but said that: “We have seen a significant decline in the daily number of deaths reported from a peak average of 177 deaths reported daily in early May to an average of 39 deaths reported daily over the past seven days.”
Tam said “our collective hard work is paying off,” and said a top priority going forward must be to keep COVID-19 away from older people and high-risk populations.
WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on what we’ve learned about COVID-19:
WHO’s emergencies chief has confirmed that China shared coronavirus sequences from its latest outbreak with the global community and says it appears the virus was imported to Beijing from strains circulating in Europe.
At a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Michael Ryan said that “strains and viruses have moved around the world” during the pandemic. He says that many viruses in New York “were of European origin” but that doesn’t mean Europe necessarily was the original source.
He says analysis of the genetic sequences so far suggests that the virus spread to people in China from other humans instead of jumping from animals directly into humans.
Ryan called for a detailed investigation into the recent Beijing outbreak to determine how the imported cases sparked such a large cluster.
After the novel coronavirus was first detected in people in Wuhan, China, in late December, officials speculated that it likely jumped into people at a wildlife market, although the species responsible has never been identified.
New cases remained stable in China’s capital Friday, a day after a public health official declared Beijing’s latest outbreak under control.
Beijing recorded 25 new cases, up by just four from Thursday, out of a total of 32 cases reported nationwide.
Brazil’s government says the country has surpassed more than a million confirmed coronavirus cases. Internationally, that is second only to the United States.
The country’s health ministry reported Friday that the total of cases had risen to 1,032,913, up more than 50,000 from the previous day. The ministry says the sharp increase was due to corrections from previous days.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 fatalities in three months. He says the impact of social isolation on Brazil’s economy can be more deadly.
Specialists believe that the actual number of cases could be up to seven times higher, with the coronavirus now heading into underequipped smaller cities inland, where there are fewer health professionals.
German authorities say the number of confirmed coronavirus infections linked to an outbreak at a slaughterhouse has risen to 803.
Officials in Guetersloh county in western Germany said Friday that 463 tests so far have been negative. They have tested over 3,500 people so far at the Tönnies Group site in Rheda-Wiedenbrüeck and are awaiting the results of the remaining tests.
The number of confirmed cases was up from 730 on Thursday. The source of the infections remained unclear.
The flurry of cases at the site contributed to Germany’s biggest daily increase in virus cases in a month.
Following a series of earlier coronavirus clusters at abattoirs, the German government pledged to crack down on the practice of using subcontractors, who often hire migrant workers and house them in cramped accommodations. But some lawmakers have warned of the risk that jobs might move abroad.
The United States accounts for over 2.2 million cases, with more than 118,000 deaths.
In Florida, The Toronto Blue Jays shut down their spring training complex after a player presented symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The team’s announcement came hours after the Philadelphia Phillies shuttered their site after five players and three staff members tested positive for the virus. The Phillies’ camp in Clearwater is about eight kilometres from Toronto’s complex.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facilities Thursday after five team employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because the NHL and the team are not announcing the closure. The NHL is also no longer announcing which teams’ individual players tested positive.
It was not clear how many Lightning players tested positive.
The closure comes some two weeks after players were allowed to return to their respective facilities to take part in voluntary on- and off-ice workouts. Players were allowed to skate in groups of up to six at a time.
The move to open facilities was the next step in the NHL’s bid to resume its season with a proposed 24-team expanded playoff format, with games being played in two hub cities.
The NHL projects teams to open training camps on July 10.
Portugal’s government is lashing out at some of its European Union partners who have barred Portuguese from entering their country due to fears over the spread of COVID-19.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Friday that some countries are basing their risk evaluation solely on the number of new cases reported each day.
Portugal has in recent weeks been reporting around 300 new infections a day due to a spate of isolated outbreaks, and Portuguese are now shut out of a half-dozen other EU countries.
Santos Silva said in a statement that Portugal has been carrying out more tests than most EU countries, with its tally of 98,700 tests per million inhabitants making it the sixth-highest in the EU. He said that strategy increases the number of cases detected.
Also, he said that Portugal’s COVID-19 death toll is relatively low in EU terms, at 149 per million inhabitants.
Singaporeans can wine and dine at restaurants, work out at the gym and get together with no more than five people after most lockdown restrictions were lifted Friday.
The city-state has one of the highest infection rates in Asia with 41,473 confirmed cases, mostly linked to foreign workers’ dorms. The government says the infections have declined, with no new large clusters emerging.
Cases outside the dorms were also stable despite a partial economic reopening two weeks ago.
Malls, gyms, massage parlours, parks and other public spaces reopened Friday, with strict physical distancing and health and safety rules. Minor prohibitions remain, including on contact sports and mass religious congregations.
Entertainment venues such as cinemas, karaoke rooms and bars are still shut, while big events including trade fairs and concerts are banned.
The coronavirus continues to spread in South Korea, particularly in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region, which is home to half the country’s 51 million people.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 49 new cases for the nation Friday, with 26 of them in Seoul and the nearby port city of Incheon. South Korea has had a total of 12,306 infections, including 280 deaths.
Officials have been reporting around 30 to 50 new cases a day since late May, inspiring second guessing on whether officials were too quick to ease physical distancing guidelines in April after the country’s first wave of infections waned.
Hundreds of cases in the Seoul area have been linked to leisure and religious activities and low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home.
India has recorded the highest one-day spike of 13,586 coronavirus cases, raising the total to 380,532.
India’s death toll on Friday reached 12,573, a rise of 336. The number of recoveries touched 52 per cent at 204,711.
India stands behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia in the number of cases. But the country is continuing with unlocking the economy.
The lockdown, imposed on March 25, is now restricted to high-risk areas. The worst-hit states are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi. They account for 60 per cent of all cases.
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