Coronavirus latest: US death toll tops 150,000 | News | DW | 29.07.2020
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Coronavirus latest: US death toll tops 150,000

The US epidemic has shown no sign of slowing as the nationwide death toll surpasses the 150,000 mark. Meanwhile, Brazil recorded nearly 70,000 new cases, a new single-day record. Follow DW for the latest.

White clog shoes sit outside the US Capitol to honor the nurses who have died from COVID-19 (Getty Images/AFP/O. Douliery)

White clog shoes sit outside the US Capitol to honor the nurses who have died from COVID-19

  • Lack of discipline has led to a recent spike in virus cases, WHO spokeswoman says
  • Germany is imposing mandatory tests on those returning from high-risk locations
  • Over half of Mumbai's slum residents contracted the virus, reveals study
  • The European Commission has signed a multi-million Euro deal for the antiviral drug remdesivir
  • More than 16.6 million people have contracted the virus worldwide, resulting in nearly 660,000 deaths

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:00 Here’s a roundup of all developments from Asia at the end of Wednesday:

China: The country is struggling to contain an outbreak in the northwestern region of Xinjiang with 101 new cases reported on Wednesday. This is the highest daily increase for China in weeks. 

India is set to open gyms and lift a nighttime curfew that has been in place for months, even as the total number of confirmed infections cross 1.5 million. Schools, colleges, cinemas and bars will remain closed. 

North Korean authorities are reminding foreigners residing in Pyongyang to abide by preventive measures like wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings, as North Korea investigates its first possible infection.

Some areas in Japan are running out of isolation facilities as the country attempts to deal with an uptick in confirmed infections. Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the national government is ready to help regions that are struggling to house and monitor those infected.

22:35 Here's the latest news from North and South America:

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 150,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than half of the country's 50 states have recorded 1,000 deaths. The US has also recorded more than 4.4 million cases since the pandemic began. 

Brazil set a daily record of 69,074 new cases and 1,595 deaths, according to the country's health ministry. Brazil has now recorded more than 2.5 million cases and 90,134 deaths since the pandemic began, both of which are the second highest in the world behind the US.

Ecuador's capital Quito has seen a surge in coronavirus cases since the South American country eased lockdown measures last month. The city has recorded 12,474 cases and 605 deaths since the pandemic began, but half of the cases and 141 deaths have been recorded since June 30. Ecuador has a whole has registered 83,193 cases and 5,623 deaths.

Hospital officials in Guatemala say they have had to bury dozens of unidentified COVID-19 death victims. A hospital has been creating an archive with the hopes of eventually identifying the deceased when the pandemic passes. Workers at one of the country's largest hospitals have begun photographing people too ill to give their personal details when they enter the premises. Guatemala has recorded 47,605 cases and 1,800 deaths since the pandemic began.

Argentina has approved clinical trials of a COVID-19 treatment involving hyperimmune serum from horses. The serum is obtained by injecting a horse with a SARS-CoV-2 protein and extracting plasma with the neutralizing antibodies the horse creates. The clinical trial, which is being conducted by biotech firm Inmunova, will be carried out on 242 people diagnosed with the disease.

19:00 The government of the Netherlands said on Wednesday that it would not formally advise or require people to wear masks in public, saying their effectiveness was yet to be proven.

Minister for Mecial Care Tamara van Ark announced the decision following a review by the country's National Institute for Health (RIVM). She said that the country would instead urge people to be more mindful of social distancing as the country logs a slight uptick in cases. 

Over the past week, the Netherlands has identified 1,329 new cases, an increase of roughly one third on the previous week.

Proving or disproving masks' efficacy is challenging; nobody submits that they provide complete protection, but many countries have been operating on the assumption that they might do some good, especially in limiting how much infected people unwittingly spread the disease.

16:15 Germany has said it will provide 1.4 million COVID-19 tests to the African Union, as an estimated 20,000 new infections on the African continent are currently being reported every day — twice as many as last month.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller said that the pandemic could only be totally defeated if its spread was halted globally.

Testing is an important tool for containing the spread of COVID-19, but many countries in Africa do not have enough test kits.

In South Africa, the hardest-hit African country with 450,000 COVID-19 cases, only around 46 tests have been carried out per 1,000 people, according to Oxford University. In Kenya, the number is around 4.8 and in Nigeria it is 1 per 1,000. By comparison the German figure is around 88 per 1,000 and the US is at 155 per 1,000.

15:10 Israel's Ministry of Health has reported a record 2,093 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, as infections continue to rise after Israeli authorities appeared to have the virus under control in May.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been praised for its initial handling of the outbreak, as COVID-19 case numbers in Israel were only in double digits in May.

However, since lockdowns were lifted at the end of May, cases have steadily risen, and the government has faced widespread protests and public discontent over its handling of the pandemic and other more longstanding grievances.

Israel has logged a total of 66,805 COVID-19 cases and 490 deaths, with over 33,000 cases currently active.

14:20 Germany's Deutsche Bank has announced surprising second quarter profits of €158 million ($185 million), despite the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  

As the pandemic shut down businesses, the bank set aside €761 million to offset losses on loan defaults. But an increase in investment banking revenues and a drop in operating costs managed to push the bank's books into the black.

Deutsche Bank's CEO, Christian Sewing, said that the positive numbers were a product of the bank's ongoing restructuring, which included slimming the workforce and streamlining the bank's areas of operation.

Sewing said he expected Deutsche Bank to remain profitable for the rest of the year and predicted that the number of loan defaults brought on by the pandemic would begin to subside.  

Other European banks have not fared as well during the pandemic, with loan defaults hitting profits. Spain's Santander posted record losses of over €11 billion during the last quarter, while Barclays in the UK announced on Wednesday that its first-half net profits in 2020 had fallen by two thirds compared to the same period in 2019.

Read more:  Despite a massive loss, Deutsche Bank sees a new dawn breaking

11:50 One in five patients hospitalized in Germany over the coronavirus died from the disease, with the fatality rate rising to 53% for those who received ventilation, a study has shown.

Data of 10,000 patients admitted to 930 German hospitals between February and April 2020 was analyzed by the German Interdisciplinary Association of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine, the Technical University of Berlin and AOK health insurance group's research arm WIdO.

The study also found that male patients who were hospitalized had a higher mortality rate than women, with 25% compared to 19%, and those aged above 80 years old were significantly more at risk of death from the virus.

"These high mortality rates clearly show that a relatively high number of patients with a very serious course of disease were treated in hospitals," said Jürgen Klauber, director of WIdO.

"Such serious course of diseases mainly affect older people and people whose health is already compromised, but also occur in younger patients," he warned, urging the population to take necessary precautions to prevent new infections.

11:25 Some member states in the EU had broken a pact to reinstate freedom of movement inside the bloc after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted, said Portugal's foreign minister.

"We understand we were all required to reinstate freedom of movement within the EU from July 1 the latest," the ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters news agency.

"We believe restrictions and decisions taken by member states related to other member states manifestly disregard this bond."

11:00 Muslims in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday began the annual hajj, a five-day pilgrimage taking place on a much smaller scale this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are no security-related concerns in this pilgrimage, but (downsizing) is to protect pilgrims from the danger of the pandemic," Saudi Director of Public Security Khalid bin Qarar Al-Harbi said.

Read more here: Muslims in Saudi Arabia begin scaled-back hajj

10:27 The European Union has signed a €63 million ($73.99 million) contract with Gilead for its COVID-19 anti-viral medicine remdesivir. Under the deal, the EU will get treatment courses for 30,000 patients.

"The Commission signed a contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead for ensuring treatment doses of Veklury — the brand name for remdesivir. As of early August onwards, batches of this medicine Veklury will be made available to member states and the UK," a spokeswoman for the European Commission, Dana Spinant, told a regular news briefing.

"This first batch will, therefore, address just immediate needs. At the same time, the Commission is also now preparing joint procurement for further supplies of this medicine, which will cover additional needs from October onwards," she said.

10:21 A lawmaker in the government of one of Bosnia's two highly independent regions has died at the age of 53, a week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Minister for veteran affairs Salko Bukvarevic died in a COVID-19 hospital in capital city Sarajevo, where he was admitted last week with pneumonia and breathing problems.

He had served in the government of Bosniak-Croat federation since 2015. The region's prime minister, Fadil Novalic, was also hospitalized with COVID-19, but was released Tuesday following two weeks of treatment.

 So far, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the central Balkan country of 3.5 million people, has tallied over 10,700 virus cases, with 297 deaths.  Nearly 80% of all cases were registered since mid-May, when a strict, nearly 2-month-long, coronavirus lockdown was lifted.

08:35 German Research Minister Anja Karliczek says it's unlikely a coronavirus vaccine will be made available to the wider public before the middle of 2021.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, the minister said the government was providing funding grants to three German biotech companies —  CureVac, BioNTech and IDT Biologika — to help speed up the development of their vaccine candidates. But she warned, "We should not expect a miracle."

"We must continue to assume that vaccines for the broader population will only be available from the middle of next year at the earliest," she added.

Karliczek urged people to continue to observe rules designed to stop the virus from spreading. Germany has so far recorded more than 205,000 infections and over 9,000 deaths, but a recent spike in cases has prompted warnings from the country's health agency.

Read more: Fewer Germans willing to get coronavirus vaccine, survey shows

08:00 The head of Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow, has called on the UK to introduce a passenger testing scheme "fast," warning that "European competitors are racing ahead" with testing programs.

"Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette," added Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye.

Passenger numbers in the UK tumbled 96% in the second quarter, following measures put in place to stem the flow of the coronavirus outbreak.

07:45 India's Hetero Labs Ltd has received regulatory approval to sell its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19, the drugmaker said, as coronavirus infections in the world's third worst-hit nation crossed 1.5 million.

The drug, priced at 59 Indian rupees ($0.79, €0.67 ) per tablet, is approved to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 and will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, privately owned Hetero said in a statement.

Anti-viral drugs favipiravir and remdesivir have emerged as the most sought after medicines to treat COVID-19 in India. Its government has already approved the drugs as emergency treatments to fight the outbreak.

Hetero is also among the drugmakers that have a license with US-based Gilead Sciences to manufacture remdesivir.

covid-19 testing stations at frankfurt airport

COVID-19 test stations are open at some German airports, but testing is currently voluntary.

07:30 Statutory health insurers could pay for mandatory COVID-19 testing set to be introduced at German airports, according to a draft plan seen by German news magazine Der Spiegel.

On Monday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said testing for travelers returning from high-risk destinations would be mandatory, yet questions remain over who will cover the costs.

The cash for the tests will come from the health funds' liquidity reserves, the magazine reported.

The plan also includes a rough estimation of costs: a million tests, together with laboratory diagnosis would cost around €50.5 million ($59.3 million).

In order to decrease the risk of transmission, all travelers from abroad should be tested "as long as their entry was not longer ago than 72 hours," said Der Spiegel, quoting the document.

Currently, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is used to check if someone is infected. Results from these tests only show if someone is infected and has a readable viral load at the time they are tested. Tests do not show a positive result if a person is recently infected and the virus load is still low.

Read more: Coronavirus: What you should know about tests

07:12 French Health Minister Olivier Veran urged people to comply with social distancing rules or risk facing another lockdown.

"We are not facing a second wave, the epidemic is continuing ... some people do not respect the rules. We must not let down our guard," Veran told France's national LCI television.

"We do not want to resort to another lockdown, we are examining the situation on a case-by-case basis. The war is not over... people must understand that we are going to live with this virus for a fairly long time," he added.

"This summer, the French need a break after a particularly trying year. But let's not breathe new life into COVID-19. Vigilance is our best weapon!" Veran tweeted, following his appearance.

Meanwhile, French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune urged borders between European countries to remain much as possible. Closing them was "to be avoided." he told public radio France Inter. He acknowledged that political responses to the COVID-19 crisis were always prone to change.

His comments follow renewed concern in Europe as holidaymakers return from popular holiday destinations where clusters of infections have broken out.

06:35 British bank Barclays has reported first-half net profits are down by 66% on the same period last year, as it set aside £3.7 billion ($4.7 billion, €4 billion) to deal with coronavirus fallout.

Profit after taxation dived to £695 million in the six months to the end of June, compared with £2.07 billion in the same portion of 2019, Barclays said in a results statement.

06:28 Central Asian country Kazakhstan will extend its coronavirus lockdown for two more weeks until mid-August, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has announced.

The latest figures for the country show a total of 86,192 infections and a death toll of 793.

Read more: Mystery pneumonia outbreak in Kazakhstan likely to be coronavirus: WHO

06:12 Every province and city in Vietnam is at high risk of coronavirus infections, state broadcaster VTV reported, citing the country's leader. The warning comes days after its first local transmission in more than three months.

"We have to act more swiftly and more fiercely in order to control the outbreak," VTV quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as telling a meeting of government officials. The new "wave" appears to be different from that seen in Vietnam earlier this year, he added.

He singled out tourist hubs in the country, saying they should increase vigilance and that Danang, where the new infections were found last week, would be placed on "strict lockdown."

Watch video 01:27

Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 after virus outbreak in Danang

06:00 China has reported its highest daily case increase in weeks with authorities confirming 101 new cases. The majority of these are in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where the Turkic-speaking minority Uighurs live. A further eight people were infected in the northeastern province of Liaoning and one in Beijing. Another three cases were brought from outside the country by returning Chinese citizens.

Outside of Xinjiang, the virus has been largely contained in mainland China with the death toll from COVID-19 remaining at 4,634 among 84,060 cases registered since the pandemic first emerged from the central city of Wuhan late last year.

05:41 Hong Kong has begun implementing its toughest measures for residents yet, while its leader warned that the territory is on the verge of a "large scale" coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak "may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly," Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned in a statement released to coincide with the new measures.

From today, all those in the densely packed city of 7.5 million must wear masks when they leave their homes, while restaurants can only serve takeaway meals. No more than two people from different households can gather in public. They face fines of up to HK$5,000 ($625, €532) for breaching the new emergency rules.

The strict measures come as confirmed cases in the territory spike. More than 1,000 infections have been confirmed since early July — more than 40% of the total since the virus first hit the city in late January.

03:53 Australia's most populous city Sydney has been declared a virus hotspot by neighboring state Queensland on Wednesday after 19 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Sydney overnight.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is imposing new border restrictions, starting Saturday, which require all people coming from Sydney to quarantine for two weeks. 

The state has controlled the spread of the virus by closing borders but a recent scare involved two women who returned from Melbourne and did not quarantine. They tested positive eight days later.

The premier of the neighboring state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, said she wasn't informed of the restrictions beforehand.

Watch video 02:07

Six-week lockdown imposed on Australia's Melbourne

03:10 Germany has recorded 684 new infections, bringing the national total to 206,926 since the pandemic began, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

It's the fourth time in the last week that Germany's daily tally was above 600 new cases.

Germany also confirmed six new deaths, increasing its death toll from the virus to 9,128.

03:02 Muslim worshippers are set to begin a toned-down hajj pilgrimage as Saudi Arabia aims to prevent any coronavirus outbreaks.

The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, normally attracts millions of Muslims to Mecca, located in the eastern part of the kingdom. Every able-bodied Muslim is required to make one pilgrimage in his or her lifetime.

Read more: Pakistanis dejected over Hajj restrictions this year

This year, only up to 10,000 worshippers already residing in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to take part. Those allowed to participate were subject to temperature checks and were placed in quarantine as they began arriving in Mecca at the weekend.

Pilgrims will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing during the series of religious rites, which will take place over five days.

02:09 Colombia's nationwide lockdown has been extended until August 30, by which time the country will have been under a quarantine for over five months. The announcement came as Colombia recorded over 10,000 confirmed infections in a single day for the first time.

"The preventive compulsory isolation...will be extended until August 30," President Ivan Duque said during a televised address on Tuesday. 

Colombia has extended its lockdown several times as the government races to control the spread of the virus across the country, including the capital city of Bogota. The health ministry has confirmed 267,385 infections and 9,074 deaths.

01:23 The United States has registered 1,592 new deaths due to the coronavirus, the highest single-day death toll in two and a half months, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The nation's 149,209 fatalities accounts for more than 20% of the global death toll from the coronavirus.

The US has also recorded more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the university's data showed.

01:14 A stopgap welfare program in Brazil has caused poverty levels to drop to its lowest figure in decades, though experts warn that poverty could increase once the program ends.

A study by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university and think tank, found that 6.9 million Brazilians, or 3.3% of the population, are living in extreme poverty, the lowest level since the late 1970s.

The federal government has handed out $115 (€98) per month to informal-sector workers and micro businesses since April, with single mothers receiving twice that amount.

But experts have warned that poverty could increase once the payments stop in August.

Brazil recorded 40,816 new coronavirus cases and 921 new virus-related deaths over the past 24 hours. Its 2,483,191 cases and 88,539 deaths are second only to the United States.

Watch video 02:32

Infection rate soars in Rio's favelas

00:57 New measures in Hong Kong came into effect on Wednesday, the toughest since the pandemic began, as the city grapples with a recent surge in coronavirus cases. 

The new regulations include bans on gatherings of more than two people and on close dining in restaurants, and masks are now also mandatory in public places, even outdoors.

Hong Kong reported 106 new cases on Tuesday, 98 of which were locally transmitted, increasing the city's total to 2,882 cases since the pandemic began, 23 of which have resulted in deaths.

The city's leader, Carrie Lam, on Tuesday warned of a large-scale outbreak and encouraged people to stay home as much as possible.

"We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly," Lam said.

"In order to protect our loved ones, our healthcare staff and Hong Kong, I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible."

00:27 China reported 101 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 28, up from 68 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Wednesday.

Of the new infections, 89 were in the far western region of Xinjiang and one in Beijing, while three were imported cases, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. China reported 27 new asymptomatic patients, down from 34 a day earlier.

As of Tuesday, mainland China had 84,060 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

00:14 Lack of discipline has led to a spike in coronavirus cases in countries like Germany, a World Health Organization spokeswoman told DW.

Speaking to DW's Brent Goff, Margaret Harris of the WHO said people have to function differently because "the virus loves the way we love to be together."

"We forgot the very important message that this is a new normal. This virus loves the way we love to be together. So this year we have to function differently," Harris said.

Harris also argued against referring to different waves of the pandemic, saying it was misleading.  

"We don't refer to first or second waves because the fact is that the virus has always been with us," she said. "It's come down, but it hasn't gone rolling out to the sea. It's always been there and it's been waiting for the opportunities."

00:05 Over half of the slum population in Mumbai have contracted the new coronavirus, according to a city-commissioned study.

Blood tests on nearly 7,000 randomly selected people conducted by city authorities found that 57% of slum residents and 16% of non-slum inhabitants had virus antibodies. The results suggested asymptomatic infections were "likely to be a high proportion of all infections" and indicated the virus death rate was likely "very low."

Mumbai, where about 40% of the population live in slums, has reported over 110,000 coronavirus cases and more 6,000 deaths. 

India has recorded nearly 1.5 million cases, the third highest number of infections in the world behind the United States and Brazil.

00:00 Catch up on Tuesday's coronavirus news here.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments, and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

dv/sri (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)