World News in Brief: August 18

The spread of the coronavirus is being increasingly driven by people aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s and many are not aware that they have been infected, the World Health Organisation's regional director for the Western Pacific said on Tuesday (August 18). "This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable: the elderly, the sick people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated areas and underserved areas," Takeshi Kasai told a virtual briefing.

A medical worker talks with a traveler returning from Croatia at a COVID-19 test center in Vienna, Austria, on Aug. 17, 2020. The city of Vienna built the drive-in and walk-in test center on the forecourt of the Ernst Happel Stadium, where returning Croatia travelers can be tested for a coronavirus infection free of charge. The offer valid until Aug. 21 applies to all returnees between Aug. 7 and Aug. 16. (Photo: Xinhua)
A medical worker talks with a traveler returning from Croatia at a COVID-19 test center in Vienna, Austria, on Aug. 17, 2020. The city of Vienna built the drive-in and walk-in test center on the forecourt of the Ernst Happel Stadium, where returning Croatia travelers can be tested for a coronavirus infection free of charge. The offer valid until Aug. 21 applies to all returnees between Aug. 7 and Aug. 16. (Photo: Xinhua)

* More than 21.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 772,647 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

* China reported on Tuesday 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 17, same as the tally a day earlier, the health authority said. All of the new infections were imported cases, the National Health Commission said in a statement, making it the second straight day for zero new locally transmitted cases. There were no new deaths. China also reported 17 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 37 a day earlier.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday (August 17) said the number of deaths due to the new coronavirus had risen by 654 to 169,350 and reported 5,382,125 cases, an increase of 41,893 cases from its previous count.

* Brazil registered 684 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 108,536, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday. Meanwhile, 19,373 new cases were reported in the same period, bringing the total number of infections to 3,359,570. Sao Paulo continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the country, with 702,665 cases and 26,899 deaths. The state with the second-highest death toll is neighboring Rio de Janeiro, which has registered 14,566 deaths and 194,651 cases.

* Mexico's government will in two weeks present a plan to revive the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, targeting sectors like construction and energy, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday. The novel coronavirus is spreading in the Americas. Lopez Obrador has said in recent days that the pandemic is losing force in Mexico, but its death toll stands as the world's third highest after the United States and Brazil. Mexico's health ministry has so far reported 522,162 coronavirus cases and 56,757 deaths.

* The total COVID-19 deaths surpassed 50,000, reaching 50,921, in India on Monday, said federal health ministry. According to the latest data issued by the ministry, the total COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 2,647,663, after 57,981 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours. As many as 941 deaths took place since Sunday morning. There are 676,900 active cases across the country, while 1,919,842 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals.

* Restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread in the Philippines' capital city of Manila and the four provinces around it will be lessened to allow the economy to open up. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night placed Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) starting Aug. 19 until Aug. 31. The Philippines now has 164,474 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,681 deaths and 112,759 recoveries.

* Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 91 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 55,838. Of the new cases, six are imported cases, none is community case and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers. Altogether 27 people have passed away from complications due to COVID-19 infection.

* Despite Thailand passing a record 80 days free from locally acquired infections of COVID-19, Thai health experts warned on Monday that the country is not immune to a second wave of infections. According to the Ministry of Public Helath, there are now 1.12 million N95 face masks and 511,000 personal-protective-equipment sets in stock for medical staff.

* New Zealand on Tuesday reported 13 new confirmed cases of coronavirus for the last 24 hours compared with nine a day earlier as the Pacific nation battles to contain an outbreak in the biggest city of Auckland. New Zealand has so far recorded just under 1,300 confirmed cases and 22 deaths.

* Republic of Korea reported 246 more cases of the COVID-19 as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 15,761. The daily caseload soared in triple figures for five straight days with 103 on Friday, 166 on Saturday, 279 on Sunday and 197 on Monday each. The domestic infections surged in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province traceable to church services. One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 306. The total fatality rate stood at 1.94 percent.

* The Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection on Monday recorded 8,328 new COVID-19 infections and 275 more deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the country's total number of confirmed cases to 476,660, with 15,372 deaths. Meanwhile, a total of 301,525 people have recovered from the disease so far, said the ministry.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,390 to 225,404, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by four to 9,236, the tally showed.

* More than 70 people have tested positive for coronavirus at a dessert factory in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region of England, local media reported Monday night. The positive cases were reported at Bakkavor in Newark, which describes itself as "the leading provider of fresh prepared food in the UK," Sky News reported. The cases were confirmed after 701 workers were tested for the virus.

* Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday stressed efforts to ensure that new fiscal funds directly benefit businesses and people to consolidate the foundation of the country's restorative growth. Li made the remarks while presiding over an executive meeting of the State Council. By early August, nearly CNY300 billion (about US$43.3 billion) of the CNY2-trillion newly increased fiscal funds have been used to support tax and fee cuts, according to the meeting.

* The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea plans to convene a key meeting of the ruling party on Wednesday and discuss economic and military issues amid international sanctions and recent flood damage, state media said. The ruling Workers' Party's powerful politburo will gather for its sixth plenary meeting to decide on the issues of "crucial significance in developing the Korean revolution and increasing the fighting efficiency of the party," the official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday.

* The almost entirely virtual 2020 US Democratic National Convention kicked off on Monday night. During the four-day event, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will accept the nomination and California Senator Kamala Harris will be nominated for his running mate.

* The German economy was currently on a "recovery path" after a slump caused by the COVID-19 crisis and is expected to "grow steeply" in the third quarter of the year, Germany's central bank Deutsche Bundesbank said on Monday. In the second quarter (Q2), German gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted by 10.1 percent compared to the previous quarter, the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) recently said. It was the "largest decline since the beginning of quarterly GDP calculations for Germany in 1970."

* The United States and Colombia will work together to bring new investment to rural areas of the South American country, officials said on Monday, as Colombia's president reiterated support for the US candidate to lead the Inter-American Development Bank. The investment initiative will harness up to US$5 billion in private funds for rural areas over three years, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien told local newspaper El Tiempo in an interview.

* The Spanish government delegate in capital Madrid Jose Manuel Franco promised on Monday that the authorities will do all they can to identify and prosecute people who broke rules regarding wearing face masks and safe social distances in an anti-mask demonstration held in the Spanish capital on Sunday. According to the latest figures published by the Spanish Ministry of Health, 359,082 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Spain, with 28,646 deaths.

* Israel's Ministry of Health reported 2,071 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total cases to 94,751. The ministry also reported a total of 692 death cases, with seven new deaths, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 382 to 399, out of 841 patients currently hospitalized. The number of recoveries reached 70,291, with 1,781 new recoveries, while the number of active cases rose to 23,774.

* A senior Palestinian official warned on Monday of an increase in death cases and infections in Palestine if citizens don't abide by public safety and precautionary measures. The Ministry of Health said in a press statement that since March 5, it “has recorded 22,391 COVID-19 cases in the Palestinian territories, including 124 deaths, 13,716 recoveries and 8,551 active cases”.

* Turkey reported 1,233 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the total diagnosed cases to 250,542, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. Meanwhile, 22 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,996, Koca tweeted. The number of isolated active patients with the potential to spread the disease is 12,575, he noted. Turkish health professionals conducted 74,846 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 5,800,088, he said.

* Iran reported on Monday 2,247 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, raising the total number in the country to 345,450, official IRNA news agency reported. Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said during her daily update that 1,255 of the new cases have been hospitalized. Since Sunday, 165 people died from the viral disease, taking the total fatalities over the virus to 19,804 in the country. So far, 299,157 patients have recovered and 3,773 remain in critical condition in ICU.

* The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday said that 31 illegal immigrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast. According to the IOM, over 7,000 migrants have so far been intercepted and returned to Libya this year. Most end up in arbitrary detention.

* Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj on Monday discussed with Turkish and Qatari defense ministers on concerned issues, according to a statement issued by the prime minister's information office. The prime minister met Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah and discussed the latest developments in Libya and the military mobilization near the city of Sirte and the Jufra district in central Libya.

Xinhua, Reuters