Global COVID-19 cases top 16.34 million, death toll surpasses 650,000 on Monday: WHO

UNTV News   •   July 30, 2020   •   500

Global confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 16.34 million and death toll reached 650,805 as of 16:52 CEST Tuesday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO coronavirus disease dashboard showed the number of COVID-19 cases in the America is at 8,728,962, covered more than half of the global total.

Europe reported more than 3.26 million cases. Southeast Asia and Eastern Mediterranean reported over 1.83 million and 1.49 million cases, respectively.

Meanwhile the confirmed cases from Africa stood at 726,105, and the Western Pacific at 291,993.

The United States, with the most confirmed cases in the world, reported 33,884 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections up to more than 4.3 million, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The national death toll reached 148,298, 1,013 cases more than the previous day, the CSSE tally showed.

The state of Florida on Tuesday reported 186 new deaths, a record high since the outbreak of the pandemic in the state.

Brazil, second only to the United States both in terms of caseload and death toll, on Tuesday recorded 921 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 88,539.

Meanwhile, tests have detected 40,816 new infections, taking the total caseload to 2,483,191, said its health ministry.

The Autonomous Community of Madrid on Tuesday became the last region in mainland Spain to confirm that wearing a face mask will be mandatory starting from Thursday in all open and closed spaces regardless of whether safe social distancing is or can be practiced.

The Spanish Health Ministry on Monday said that 1,278 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Community of Madrid in the previous week. The new measures aimed at containing the virus include limits on the number of people allowed to meet and on the opening times of late-night bars and discos.

Turkey confirmed 963 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, while the total diagnosed cases climbed to 227,982, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Zimbabweans will mark Heroes’ Day and Defense Forces Day without gatherings this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities said on Tuesday. Instead, virtual celebrations will take place over a period of two weeks and will be broadcast by the state broadcaster ZBC.

Zimbabwe has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections over the past week, which rose from 1,713 on July 20 to 2,704 as of Tuesday with 36 deaths.

India’s COVID-19 tally crossed the 1.5 million-mark on Wednesday, reaching 1,531,669, the federal health ministry said.

The ministry said 768 new deaths from COVID-19 and 48,513 positive cases were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 34,193 and total cases to 1,531,669. (Reuters)

Israeli experts visit PH COVID-19 vaccination, storage sites

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A team of health experts from Israel on Wednesday visited some vaccination sites and cold chain storage facilities in Metro Manila as part of the efforts to assess and help the Philippine government improve its strategies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team of Israeli experts inspected a vaccination hub set up at the Solaire Theater in Parañaque City for the private sector, as well as some cold storage facilities being used in the government’s vaccination program.

They were accompanied by Inter-Agency Task Force and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon and other government officials.

Roque said the team of experts from Israel is in the country to share their strategies and methods in fighting the pandemic, as well as addressing vaccine hesitancy.

“We need to learn from Israel kasi Israel successfully achieved containment [of the coronavirus] and we want to learn from what they did to achieve containment,” he said.

Galvez earlier said that the Israeli delegation’s visit aims to help the government develop more improved strategies on data management, deployment methods, and transition to new normal.

The NTF and Israeli experts initially met at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday to discuss vaccination and jab logistics management.

Galvez said that so far, the team has shared key strategies to effectively contain virus transmission and reduce active cases within communities.

Roque said a press conference dedicated for the Israeli visitors will be held on Thursday where they can share their observations and recommendations on the Philippines’ vaccination drive.

The Philippine government would adopt some Israeli strategies to further improve the country’s vaccine deployment and data management, he added.

“Ang talagang gusto nilang makita is how we actually implementing the vaccination which is ongoing right now… Alam nyo naman sa Israel wala na ngayong mask in public places dahil mayroon na silang containment, mayroon na silang population protection that’s why they are here as our guest and as our resource person because we want to achieve that state,” Roque said.

The delegation from the Israeli Ministry of Health has been in the Philippines for four days now. They arrived last Sunday and will stay until Friday, June 25. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

India reports cases of new COVID-19 variant called ‘Delta plus’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

The government of India has declared a new coronavirus variant, locally called “Delta plus,” a variant of concern after it was found in dozens of cases reported in three states.

In an advisory on Tuesday, India’s Union Ministry of Health said the presence of the Delta plus variant was detected in certain districts of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

“Union Health Secretary has communicated to these three states this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta Districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri Districts of Madhya Pradesh,” the ministry said.

The ministry said that based on recent findings, the Delta plus variant has showed the following characteristics:

• Increased transmissibility
• Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells
• Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response

Twenty-two cases of the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus have been detected in India, with 16 of them being reported from Maharashtra and the remaining from Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, according to the government.

The health ministry also said that India is among the nine countries where the Delta Plus variant has been detected. It said that the variant has been detected in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.

The Delta plus is a mutated version of the Delta variant, first found in India.

With this development, the ministry advised the three states to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters, including preventing crowds & intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

They were also advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are promptly sent to the designated laboratories of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to states.

INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dept. of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole genome sequencing in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past 24 hours, India reported 42,640 new infections, the lowest since March 23, and 1,167 deaths.

Infections now stand at 29.98 million, with a death toll of 389,302, health ministry data showed.

Expert still recommends use of face shield vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease specialist and government adviser still recommends the use of face shields even in open-air settings due to the continuous threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its highly contagious variants.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group said on Friday that he would still insist on the use of a face shield as it offers a layer of protection against COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta and Alpha variants.

Citing several studies, Salvana said the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, is up to four times more transmissible than the original coronavirus and the Alpha variant.

“Sa pag-aaral, ang Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than Alpha, ano ba yung Alpha? Ang Alpha yun yung UK variant, which is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus. So 60 percent plus 60 percent pa so halos four times po ang pwedeng maging increased transmissibility nito,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

He added that preliminary data also show that the Delta variant is about 40 percent more contagious even in outdoor settings.

“So para sa akin, kahit pa sabihin nila na hindi na required ang face shield lalo na with the threat of this Delta variant, gagamit pa rin talaga ako ng face shield, I will recommend it because it is an extra layer of protection,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the existing policy on the use of face shields against COVID-19 will remain in effect pending the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to continue the use of face shields in enclosed or indoor spaces.

These spaces include hospitals, schools, workplaces, commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls and public markets, public transport and terminals, and places of worship.

The task force met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the policy on the use of face shields after some senators shared their conversation with Duterte in Malacañang about the limited use of face shields.

Salvana said that should the president decide to remove or limit the use of face shields, he would still wear one as protection against coronavirus variants.

“Hindi ko pipilitin kung ayaw nyong gumamit ng face shield o kung tanggailn yung mandate but I still strongly recommend it lalo na with the threat of the variants. I, myself, when I’m interacting with other people, I will use this face shield po,” he said.

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