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Coronavirus digest: Global cases top 20 million

Despite the alarming figure, WHO says "there are green shoots of hope." In New Zealand, after more than 100 days without transmission, a Christchurch retirement village has gone into lockdown. Catch up on the latest.

The number of coronavirus infections in the world has surpassed 20 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US, India and Brazil account for nearly two-thirds of global cases.

Health experts believe the actual number of infections is much higher, given that as many as 40% of people who contract the coronavirus have no symptoms and testing capacity is limited.

"Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering," World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "But I want to be clear: There are green shoots of hope," he added.

"It's never too late to turn the outbreak around," according to the expert.

Read more: Is public negligence causing a surge in cases in India?

Asia

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, famous among other things for having a happiness index rather than an economic index to guide its government, ordered its first nationwide lockdown on Tuesday. Authorities imposed the measure when a resident returning from Kuwait tested positive for coronavirus after being discharged from quarantine following a negative test there. The 27-year-old woman was said to have come into close contact with other people in the capital, Thimphu. Under the lockdown, all schools, institutions, offices and commercial establishments will remain closed.

Despite being heavily reliant on tourism as a source of income, Bhutan banned tourists in March after a US visitor tested positive. It also ordered everyone returning from abroad to go into quarantine for three weeks. The country so far has had a total of 113 cases of infection, the lowest rate in South Asia, while no one there is recorded to have died of COVID-19.

Read moreHow Bhutan wrote its coronavirus success story

Indonesia announced it would launch the third phase of a vaccine candidate from Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the vaccine would be mass produced by the state-owned Bio Farma starting January 2021 if the trial was successful.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co Ltd said it received Indian regulatory approval to test its anti-parasitic niclosamide drug to treat COVID-19 patients in an early-stage human trial.

The first trial, approved by India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), will involve around 30 healthy participants and begin this month. Daewoong is testing the drug in partnership with New Delhi-based Mankind Pharma Ltd, which will continue the second and third phases of trials in India on mild and severe COVID-19 patients.

Read moreGerman firms expect coronavirus restrictions to public life for a further 8.5 months

Europe

Russia declared itself the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, with President Vladimir Putin saying the vaccine conferred "sustainable immunity." At least 5.7 billion doses of the vacccine, Dubbed Sputnik V after the Soviet-era satellite, have been pre-ordered worldwide. But the WHO said the vaccine still needed a rigorous safety review.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Germany increased by 966 to 217,293, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by four to 9,201.

On Sunday, German Economy Minister Altmaier said the country is seeing an "alarming" rise in infections after Germany registered more than 1,000 cases per day for three days in a row earlier last week.

Read more: Is Germany ready for the second coronavrius wave?

As the school summer holidays come to an end, the number of new COVID-19 infections is on the rise again in Germany, as in many European countries.

Despite the surge, kindergartens, schools and educational institutions are being reopened.Schools in the capital of Berlin and the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia returned full-time on Monday.

Meanwhile, the German foreign ministry has extended its travel warning to two more regions in Spain due to rising infections.

Madrid and the Basque Country have been added to the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarra, as places where unnecessary trips should be avoided.

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Temperatures soar in Europe amid COVID-19 threat

Read more: Opinion: Coronavirus outbreak in German slaughterhouse was preventable

Oceania

A retirement village in New Zealand has gone into lockdown after residents showed symptoms of respiratory illness, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The Village Palms retirement home in the South Island city of Christchurch informed of the lockdown in a letter to relatives, the newspaper said.

The news comes as New Zealand recently announced it had gone more than 100 days without community transmission of the coronavirus.

In Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister James Marape said that the two-week lockdown in the capital of Port Moresby would be lifted from Wednesday, despite reported cases of the coronavirus doubling over the past week.

"Whilst the spread is there, we have to adapt to living with COVID-19 this year, instead of taking on drastic measures," Marape told a news conference.

Papua New Guinea had a total of 214 cases and three deaths as of Sunday, the WHO reported, adding that it was likely the real infection numbers were much higher given testing "remains critically low."


mvbdv/dj (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)