Covid-19 wrap: WHO warns coming months 'tougher' with more deaths, millions return to school in Italy

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Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

FOLLOW LIVE | Media has played traditional watchdog role, supported effort to contain Covid-19 - Ramaphosa

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 28.93 million, death toll at 921 437

More than 28.93 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 921 437 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.


October, November to be 'tougher' with more coronavirus deaths: WHO Europe

Copenhagen – The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects Europe to see a rise in the daily number of Covid-19 deaths in October and November, the head of the body's European branch told AFP.

Cases in Europe have risen sharply in recent weeks, especially in Spain and France. More than 51 000 new cases were reported on Friday alone in the 55 countries monitored by WHO Europe, which is more than the highest peak in April, according to the organisation.

"It's going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality," WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said.

Even though the continent is experiencing a surge of cases, the number of deaths has remained relatively stable. But the resurgence is expected to lead to an increase in daily fatalities, the WHO said.

"It's a moment where countries don't want to hear this bad news, and I understand," Kluge told AFP in an interview, stressing that he wanted to send the "positive message" that the pandemic "is going to finish, at one moment or another".

The WHO Europe's over 50 member states are holding an online meeting on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their response to the new coronavirus and agree on their overall five-year strategy.

 - AFP

Millions return to school in Italy after virus closure

Rome – Millions of Italian children returned to the classroom on Monday as most schools reopened more than six months after they were closed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some Italian schools opened earlier this month, roughly 5.6 million students from a total of eight million went back to school on Monday, confronting a new reality of restrictions.

Italy was one of the first in Europe to be hit by the pandemic, which has now officially killed over 35 500 people out of a total of 280 000 cases.

Premier Giuseppe Conte admitted on Sunday that Italian schools faced a difficult situation, including a lack of teachers, single-seat benches and surgical masks.

"There will be difficulties and inconveniences, especially in the beginning," Conte wrote on Facebook.

He also saluted teachers, who he said had "made an extraordinary effort in the months of confinement to continue lessons and distant learning".

"We are grateful to you," he said.

With the country registering more than 1 500 infections a day, Conte also had particular words for youngsters.

"You have to do your part. You have to commit yourselves to the rules of caution that will allow you to protect your health and the health of the people you love," he said.

Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said more than 5 000 extra classrooms had been created to give pupils more space.

 - AFP

New Zealand to lift coronavirus curbs in most of country on September 21

WELLINGTON – New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on September 21, except in its biggest city Auckland, which is the epicentre of a second wave of infections.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next week. She also said it was decided to immediately ease all physical distancing requirements on planes and other public transport.


Israel to reimpose virus lockdown as WHO reports record cases

Jerusalem – Israel said it will reimpose a national lockdown to battle a coronavirus surge, as the number of daily infections around the world reached a record high.

Britain, France, Austria and the Czech Republic also reported spikes, as global cases rapidly approached 29 million with more than 921 000 Covid-19 deaths, according to an AFP tally.

The Israel lockdown will last three weeks starting on Friday, keeping people to within 500m of their homes. It is the first developed economy to take such drastic steps to contain a second wave of infections.

"I know these measures will exact a heavy price from all of us," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 307 930 new cases worldwide on Sunday, the highest daily figure in its database since the beginning of the pandemic.

The surge has sparked concern in Europe, where Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz warned that his country was facing "the beginning of the second wave".

 - AFP

Australia sees lowest one-day rise in coronavirus cases in almost 3 months

SYDNEY – Australia reported its lowest one-day rise in novel coronavirus infections in nearly three months on Monday as authorities began to ease restrictions aimed at slowing its spread.

Thirty-nine people were found to be infected with the virus in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day increase in new cases since 26 June, when 37 infections were detected.

With dwindling numbers of new infections, the epicentre of Australia's latest outbreak, Victoria state, has begun easing restrictions, allowing people to leave their homes for longer periods for exercise and shortening a curfew at night.

Still, frustrations are high, with hundreds of people taking part in protests over the weekend against the weeks-long coronavirus lockdown. Authorities urged patience.

Brett Sutton, Victoria's chief health officer, likened the cautious easing of restrictions to "baby steps".

"We can't have short-term memories on this," Sutton told reporters in Melbourne, referring to the virus. "It starts with small numbers and it explodes."

Australia's second largest city was placed under strict lockdown in early August after more than 700 cases were detected in Victoria state in a single day.


India coronavirus cases surge to 4.85 million

MUMBAI – India has recorded 92 071 new cases of the coronavirus, taking total cases to 4.85 million, the federal health ministry said on Monday.

The world's second-most populous country lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been reporting more daily cases than the United States since mid-August.

Deaths have been relatively low so far compared with the number of infections, but are seeing an uptick. More than 1 100 people died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the ministry said, taking the total number of fatalities from the disease to 79 722.


Mexico's confirmed coronavirus deaths approach 71 000 - health ministry

MEXICO CITY – Mexico reported 4 408 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 217 additional fatalities on Sunday, bringing its totals to 668 381 infections and 70 821 deaths, according to updated Health Ministry data.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely to be significantly higher than the confirmed cases.


Brazil registers 415 coronavirus deaths on Sunday

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil registered 415 deaths from the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours and 14 768 additional cases, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The nation has now registered 4 330 455 total confirmed coronavirus cases and 131 625 deaths.

In terms of total coronavirus deaths, Brazil trails only the United States. However, new cases and deaths have stabilised over the last several weeks in Latin America's largest country.


Indonesia reports 3 141 new coronavirus infections, 118 deaths

JAKARTA – Indonesia reported 3 141 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 221 523, data from the country's Covid-19 task force showed.

The data added 118 new deaths, taking the total to 8 841, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia.


Philippines reports another record spike in daily coronavirus deaths

MANILA – The Philippines on Monday reported a record daily increase in new coronavirus deaths for the second time in three days, adding 259 more fatalities to bring the total to 4 630.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said the Southeast Asian country also recorded 4 699 newly confirmed cases, taking its total infections to 265 888, the highest in the region.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 927 to 260 355 - RKI

BERLIN – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 927 to 260 355, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

The reported death toll rose by one to 9 350, the tally showed.


Russia reports 5 509 new coronavirus cases, 57 deaths

MOSCOW – Russia reported 5 509 new coronavirus cases on Monday, pushing its national tally to 1 068 320, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 57 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 18 635.


Czech Republic's daily count of coronavirus cases drops below 1 000 after 5 days

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic recorded 792 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, a drop after five consecutive days with more than 1 000 cases each, Health Ministry's data showed on Monday.

The ministry has not yet updated the daily number of tests. There are usually fewer tests done over weekends.

The overall number of confirmed cases rose to 36 188 in the country of 10.7 million.


Mainland China reports 10 new Covid-19 cases, same as day earlier

BEIJING – China on Monday reported 10 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for 13 September, the same as a day earlier, the health authority said.

All of the new infections were imported, the National Health Commission said in a statement. There were no new deaths.

China reported 39 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 70 a day earlier.

As of Sunday, mainland China had a total of 85 194 confirmed infections of the coronavirus, it said. The Covid-19 death toll remained unchanged at 4 634.


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