World News in Brief: June 20

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, with Thursday (June 17)'s 150,000 new cases the highest in a single day and nearly half of those in the Americas, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO). He urged people to maintain social distancing and "extreme vigilance."

Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.
Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday (June 19) reported 2,178,710 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 23,138 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 733 to 118,365.

* Coronavirus deaths in Mexico surpassed 20,000 on Friday after the health ministry reported 647 new fatalities and 5,030 new confirmed cases. Total cases now stand at 170,485, with 20,394 fatalities.

* 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. Brazil reported 1,032,913 confirmed cases on Friday, with 1,206 new deaths to take total official fatalities to 48,954, the Health Ministry said. Friday also saw a new record daily number of cases, with 54,771, suggesting the outbreak is far from over. Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.

* Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 47 on Friday, against 66 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases decreased to 251 from 333 on Thursday. The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 34,561 the agency said, the fourth highest in the world after those of the United States, Brazil and Britain. The number of confirmed cases amounts to 238,011 the eighth highest global tally. People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 21,543 from 23,101 the day before.

* Russia on Saturday reported 7,889 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 576,952 since the crisis began. The national coronavirus response centre said 161 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,002.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 601 to 189,135, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 11 to 8,883, the tally showed.

* Spain's health ministry raised its coronavirus death toll to 28,313 on Friday after ironing out database inconsistencies, and said the disease was under control in Spain's nine remaining active clusters as it prepared to reopen to tourism. The death toll had not been updated since June 7, when Spain reported 27,136 deaths while it was implementing a new methodology for logging cases and deaths. The new tally includes 53 fatalities over the past week till Thursday.

* The number of deaths in France from coronavirus infection rose by 14 on Friday to 29,617, the lowest increase in five days. But the number of new confirmed cases rose by 811 over the past 24 hours to 159,452, double the average daily number of new cases recorded since the beginning of June, which stands at 405. New fatalities were halved compared with the two previous days, and were well below this week's daily average of 24. France's death toll is the fifth-highest in the world.

* US President Donald Trump on Friday threatened unspecified action against any protesters at his weekend re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a warning that his campaign said was not directed at peaceful demonstrators. Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Trump's campaign, said Trump was referring to agitators and not peaceful protesters.

* Britain, France and Germany said on Friday they would not support US efforts to trigger the reimposition of UN sanctions on Iran. "We firmly believe that any unilateral attempt to trigger UN sanctions snapback would have serious adverse consequences in the UN Security Council," the three foreign ministers said in a joint statement after meeting in Berlin to discuss Iran.

* Ireland's 14-day quarantine for people arriving from other countries will remain in place at least until July 9 and the government will review the issue at a meeting next week, acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

* US Special Presidential Envoy Marshall Billingslea will travel to Austria on Monday and Tuesday to discuss "mutually agreed topics related to the future of arms control" with Russian Deputy Foreign Sergei Ryabkov, the US State Department said on Friday.

* 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. Daily deaths have exceeded 100 most of this week, for the first time in two months. The Health Ministry announced 120 deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 9,392, and 2,615 new cases for a total of 200,262.

* Morocco’s Health Ministry reported 539 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the biggest daily rise so far, most of them in a cluster north of Rabat. There are now 9,613 confirmed cases in Morocco, with a mortality rate of 2.2% and a recovery rate of 84.5%, according to official figures.

* Costa Rica's government will halt reopening the country's economy due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases over recent days, a senior official said on Friday, in a blow to the Central American nation which has already lost 100,000 jobs. Over the last 24 hours, Costa Rica has registered a record 119 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,058. Twelve people have died from the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus.

* Swiss drugmaker Novartis is halting its trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) against COVID-19 after struggling to find participants, it said on Friday, as data emerged from other studies raising doubts about its efficacy. Novartis' trial began in April and sought to test the drug in 440 hospitalized patients. But the project only managed to recruit a handful.

* Iran's Foreign Ministry on Friday blasted a resolution by the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA, saying Tehran has cooperated with the body, in a statement by state media. The UN nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors called on Iran in the resolution earlier on Friday to stop denying the agency access to two suspected former sites and to cooperate fully with it, diplomats attending the meeting said.

* The world's poorest countries could save over US$12 billion owed to sovereign and other creditors this year through their participation in a debt-relief program, with Angola alone saving some US$3.4 billion, according to estimates published Friday in a new database from the World Bank.