The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, with Thursday’s 150,000 new cases the highest in a single day and nearly half of those in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 8.67 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 459,211 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 0400 GMT on Saturday.
* Scientists in Italy have found traces of the coronavirus in wastewater collected from Milan and Turin in December 2019 – suggesting COVID-19 was already circulating in northern Italy before China reported the first cases.
* Several hundred new coronavirus cases per day and a growing outbreak after a party in the Algarve region are threatening Portugal’s image as a safe holiday destination while some EU nations are limiting entry for Portuguese visitors.
* The Germany region of North Rhine Westphalia faces the threat of a renewed coronavirus lockdown amid a spiralling outbreak at a major slaughterhouse, the region’s premier said on Friday.
* Brazil passed 1 million coronavirus cases on Friday and approached 50,000 deaths, a new nadir for the world’s second worst-hit country as it struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.
* Troubling spikes in infection rates were reported on Friday in several U.S. states, mainly in the South and West, a day before President Donald Trump was due to preside over an Oklahoma campaign rally that will be America’s largest indoor gathering in months.
* Hopes that sport in the United States might soon return to business as usual suffered a blow on Friday as athletes from golf to hockey tested positive for the coronavirus, triggering a shutdown of some facilities.
* Officials in Beijing are carrying out nucleic acid tests on all food and parcel delivery personnel as they ramp up efforts to rein in a coronavirus outbreak in the capital, state-backed Beijing News reported on Saturday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 200,000 on Friday, as state media continued to warn about a lack of proper social distancing despite a new surge of infections.
* The number of cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 150,000 on Friday following a rise in new infections over the past 10 days.
* A sixth experimental vaccine from China is now being tested in humans after Clover Biopharmaceuticals said an early-stage study of its candidate was underway with vaccine boosters from UK’s GSK and U.S. based Dynavax.
* Several U.S. hospitals in hard-hit states have started treating patients with dexamethasone rather than await confirmation of preliminary results of a British study, which said the inexpensive steroid saves lives.
* The European Central Bank’s chief said the European Union’s economy is in a “dramatic fall” due to the coronavirus crisis but EU leaders made little progress towards agreeing a massive stimulus plan.
* Two U.S. Federal Reserve officials sounded increasing pessimism on the swiftness of any economic recovery from the epidemic and said the unemployment rate could rise again if the disease is not brought under control.
* Russia’s central bank slashed interest rates on Friday to the lowest level since the collapse of the Soviet Union, pledging to consider the need for even lower rates amid waning inflationary risks and a shrinking economy.