COVID-19 Apocalypse : Belgium’s weekly average of new infections rises by 62%, 1,525 new cases recorded in Spain, Florida deaths hit another record


1st August 2020 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 17,615,362 with 679,458 deaths as of 1.30am today.

There is no “zero risk” strategy for countries easing international travel restrictions during the pandemic, and essential travel for emergencies should remain the priority, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

In a long-awaited update to its guidance on travel, the United Nations global health agency said cross-border trips for emergencies, humanitarian work, the transfer of essential personnel and repatriation would constitute essential travel.


Europe’s economy shrank by 11.9% in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic plunged the region into a deep recession. The prevalence of coronavirus in the community in England “is likely to be rising for the first time since May” and daily infections have risen to 4,900, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday, citing the weekly survey by the country’s Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Spain recorded 1,525 new coronavirus infections Friday, the highest since 29th April, according to Health Ministry data. The increase is driven in part by a spike in the Madrid region, with 372 new infections compared to 225 the previous day. 

Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.4 percent in the second quarter, Italy’s national statistics bureau Istat said, plunging the country into recession.  

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has designated the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre as “high-risk areas,” according to its most recent update to its list of places believed to be hotbeds of the novel coronavirus.

England will “squeeze the brake pedal” on the next phase of re-opening in a bid to slow down the rising rates of coronavirus infection, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday. More than 4 million people across a large part of northern England must comply with tighter lockdown rules after Boris Johnson’s government rushed to tackle a new spike in cases. 

People in England will be required to wear face masks or other face coverings in cinemas, places of worship, museums and art galleries from 8th August, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Scotland’s government has advised against non-essential travel to Greater Manchester and other parts of northern England which face new lockdown restrictions due to an upsurge in cases.

Formula One driver Sergio Perez has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

People who had visited Italy accounted for more than a quarter of the first reported cases of the new coronavirus outside China, according to a new study that found most initial infections were linked to just three countries.

Belgium’s weekly average of new infections rose by 62% compared to the previous week, with 566 cases recorded this past Monday, health authorities announced Friday. Several countries have imposed travel restrictions on travellers arriving from the country.

Poland registered a record 657 new coronavirus cases on Friday, mostly in Silesia and Mazowieckie regions, with the overall number of infected reaching 45,688, the Health Ministry said on Twitter.

France’s economy has contracted by a record 13.8 percent in the second quarter under the effect of coronavirus lockdowns, the national statistics institute INSEE said.  

The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM will cut 4,500 to 5,000 positions ranging from pilots to cabin crew and ground staff this year and next. Dutch healthcare equipment company Philips said it had not sought to profit by raising the price of the ventilators it manufactures during the coronavirus crisis.

Three members of the crew of Norwegian cruise vessel Roald Amundsen have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the University Hospital of North Norway told Reuters. All 160 crew members have been quarantined, while passengers who have travelled with the ship would be told to self-isolate, ship operator Hurtigruten said.

U.S. and Canada

Trump has repeatedly argued that more testing is leading to more cases in the US. That is comprehensively inaccurate. 

Without a national effort to adhere to preventative measures, it will be impossible to predict how much longer the COVID-19 pandemic will last in the United States, according to the country’s top infectious disease doctor.

The Salt Lake City School District will begin the school year in a remote setting, an announcement on the district’s website said. 

The National Institutes of Health announced Friday that it is investing US$248.7 million in new technologies that should help ease some of the country’s problems with COVID-19 testing.  

The COVID-19 infection rate across New York City has to be below 3% for schools to reopen, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the city’s daily COVID-19 news conference Friday.

Arizona health officials reported 3,212 new COVID-19 cases, a 1.9% rise to 174,010 and an acceleration from the 1.6% rate over the prior seven days. 

For the fourth day in a row, the state of Florida is reporting a record number of coronavirus related deaths. On Friday, the state reported 257 more deaths, breaking the previous record of 253 deaths, which was set yesterday, according to the Florida Department of Health.  The state set previous records on Tuesday and Wednesday. The statewide resident death toll is now 6,843. 

A funeral home in Texas is so overwhelmed with bodies that it is using a refrigerated tractor-trailer to temporarily handle the volume of victims.

Drug giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur said Friday they had won a commitment from the US federal government to pay up to $2.1 billion to help the two companies move forward with their proposed joint coronavirus vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. posted the worst losses in a generation after the pandemic and a global crude glut combined to batter almost every part of their businesses.

Canada on Friday launched a nation-wide contact tracing app to help inform Canadians when they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, part of a broader effort to contain the virus as businesses and public spaces reopen across the country.

Central and Latin America

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he felt weak and might have “mold in the lung” having spent weeks in isolation after catching COVID-19. His wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, has also tested positive for coronavirus, according to the President’s press office.

China and Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the city’s Legislative Council elections slated for 6th September have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Elsewhere in the world

Russia has reported 5,482 new cases, pushing its national tally to 839,981, the world’s fourth-largest caseload.

Vietnam confirmed its first novel coronavirus death on Friday, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported. The patient, a 70-year-old man, died on Friday morning in the Hue Central Hospital, state media said. He was a resident of Hoi An town and was admitted to Da Nang Hospital after developing symptoms on 9th July, according to VNA. He tested positive for the virus on 26th July. 

Namibia will reopen its borders to visitors next week to revive the nation’s tourism industry, President Hage Geingob said.The southwest African nation has recorded 2,129 coronavirus cases and 10 virus-related deaths. The tourism sector in Namibia, which began closing its borders in March, employs more than 100,000 people.

The first of thousands of South African-designed ventilators rolled off a Cape Town assembly line on Friday (Jul 31), responding to requests from hospitals needing them for severe COVID-19 cases but unable to get them on global markets, officials said.

Fiji has announced its first coronavirus death but health officials assured people in the Pacific island nation that it is not the precursor to a major outbreak.

The Philippines reported a record increase in coronavirus infections. The country’s Department of Health said there are 4,063 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 93,354. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended quarantine restrictions in the capital Manila, limiting movements of the elderly and children, and the operations of businesses from restaurants to gyms, until mid-August.

Singapore and China have expanded existing bilateral cooperation to include public health, including developing diagnostics, vaccines and treatments for coronavirus, according to a statement from the city-state’s foreign affairs ministry.

India’s death toll climbed to 35,718, surpassing fatalities in Italy, the former European epicentreee of the epidemic.

Indonesia has reported 2,040 new infections and 73 additional deaths, according to data published on the country’s COVID-19 task force website. This brought Indonesia’s total number of confirmed infections to 108,376 and deaths to 5,131.  Indonesia’s resort island of Bali has reopened to domestic tourists after an almost four-month lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.