COVID-19 Apocalypse: Belgium’s foreign minister tests positive, record 7,830 daily cases recorded in Germany


17th October 2020 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 39,690,770 with 1,110,632 deaths as of 10.30pm today.


Londoners will be banned from mixing with other households indoors, while residents of Paris and eight other major French cities will be confined to their homes between 9pm and 6am for four weeks.

A professor who has advised the British government on its COVID-19 testing programme said on Saturday a short nationwide lockdown was needed due to “eye-watering” levels of infection in parts of England.

A divided world has failed to rise to the challenge of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday and warned concerted action was needed to prevent millions of people being pushed into poverty and hunger.

Germany recorded another daily record in new coronavirus infections, the country’s centre for disease control reported on Saturday. The Robert Koch Institute said 7,830 new infections have been confirmed in a span of 24 hours, an increase about around 500 cases on the day before.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to citizens to do more to fight rising numbers of coronavirus infections across the country, urging Germans in a video message to abide by the regulations set out by the government.   She urged Germans to curb social contacts and keep travel to a minimum on Saturday after federal and state governments struggled to agree on how to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Italy is considering tightening nationwide restrictions in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases, the head of the north-western region of Liguria said on Saturday. Giovanni Toti said Italian health minister Roberto Speranza met local authorities on Saturday to discuss possible new steps.

A man living in the same Vatican residence as Pope Francis has tested positive for COVID-19 and gone into isolation, the Vatican said on Saturday.

Belgium’s foreign minister Sophie Wilmes said on Saturday she had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Czech Republic registered 11,105 new coronavirus cases on Friday, new data from the Ministry of Health revealed, marking a new record high in the daily number of new infections across the country.  

U.S. and Canada

The U.S. reported the most daily infections in two months as temperatures begin to dip across the U.S., students return to classrooms and more people stay indoors where the virus spreads easily. Total cases topped 8 million. The nation posted its largest fiscal deficit on record after lawmakers opened the spending spigots to soften the pandemic’s blow.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that she would probably talk to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the weekend for the latest round of negotiations on coronavirus relief.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden addressed the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin in a statement released the same day President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the state. “Wisconsin is in the grips of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. Jill and I are praying for the health of those who’ve contracted the virus, and for the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one. We have lost far too many lives to this pandemic — and the sad fact is, it didn’t have to be this way,” Biden said in the Saturday statement.

There were 3,861 new cases of coronavirus reported in Wisconsin on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, charting a new record high number of cases for the state. 

The New York City Police Department is observing “an uptick” in coronavirus cases, Detective Sophia Mason, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement to CNN.

The federal government hopes to start vaccinating people against coronavirus within a day or two of Food and Drug Administration emergency authorisation, officials said Friday.

As the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rises in the United States, an increase in the number of deaths will likely follow, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, warned Friday

China and Hong Kong

Qingdao, a coastal city in eastern China, has completed COVID-19 testing for its 11 million residents following an outbreak and found no new infections so far. As of Friday, the 10.9 million samples came back negative.

Hong Kong reported 17 new cases today, all of which were imported cases.

Elsewhere in the world

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd have received renewed approval to conduct late-stage clinical trials in India of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, the sovereign wealth fund said on Saturday. Large-scale trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in India were first announced and then knocked back by Indian regulators, who said the scale of Phase I and II trials conducted in Russia earlier this year was too small, requesting that they be repeated.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand delivered the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party in half a century on Saturday as voters rewarded her for a decisive response to COVID-19.

 Iran, the Middle Eastern country hardest-hit by the coronavirus, extended restrictions and closures in the capital Tehran into a third week on Saturday as its death toll rose above 30,000. Last week, a mandatory city-wide mask rule was implemented and President Hassan Rouhani announced fines for people and businesses who fail to adhere to the rules.

India’s coronavirus infections rose by another 62,212 cases over the previous day and a local media report said on Saturday that the government had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the vaccine first when it is ready.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) warned players and officials of expulsion if they breach COVID-19 protocols after 12 people violated the “bio-secure bubble” at the ongoing National Twenty20 Cup in Rawalpindi.

Singapore reported three new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Saturday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its preliminary update. There is one new case in the community, one living in a dormitory and one imported infection. 

Thailand has recorded its first two locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus in more than one month, the COVID-19 administration centre said on Saturday.

The developing nation, Malaysia reported 869 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, its highest daily count so far, health authorities said. All of the new COVID-19 cases are local transmissions, involving 745 citizens and 124 non-Malaysians, Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said. The country is fast becoming the new epicentre of South East Asia.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.