COVID-19 Apocalypse: Spain has become the first Western European country to record more than 1m cases, volunteer in clinical trial dies


22nd October 2020 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 41,303,841 with 1,132,991 deaths as of 1.30am today.


There are at least 8,282,666 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 221,247 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Cases of coronavirus are rising across Europe, and the continent’s second wave has prompted some countries and areas to implement new restrictions.

Spain has become the first Western European country to record more than a million coronavirus infections since the onset of the pandemic, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, after 16,973 cases were added to the tally since the previous day.

Greece recorded 865 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its highest daily case count since the pandemic began. 

France is extending a red-alert status to more regions across the country as coronavirus cases surge and ICUs fill up.

Croatia and Bulgaria both recorded their highest ever number of daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Croatia reported 1,424 new cases in the last 24 hours, and Bulgaria 1,336, according to government data and John Hopkins University.

Spanish football giants FC Barcelona on Wednesday began the process of introducing new salary reductions for players and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a crippling effect on the club’s finances.

Italy reported record new infections on Wednesday just a day before Milan, the country’s financial capital, starts a night-time curfew. New virus cases rose by 15,199, a 40% increase compared to Tuesday and well above previous record of 11,705. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he cannot rule out further regional curbs as the country faces an accelerated spread of the pandemic. Milan, Italy’s financial capital, will be under nighttime curfew starting Thursday in a bid to contain the renewed spread of the coronavirus, even as Giuseppe Conte’s government weighs softer nationwide measures.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday and placed himself in home quarantine, the Health Ministry said.

The Czech Republic has banned free movement across the country from 6am. local time on Thursday until 3rd November due to a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases. The measures come as the Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Jan Hamacek test positive for the virus. The Czech government imposed a partial economic shutdown to combat Europe’s worst current outbreak. Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s government decreed all non-essential shops must close starting Thursday. It also banned people from leaving home aside from exceptions such as buying essentials and commuting to and from work.

“The reason why we are doing this is hospital bed capacity,” Babis said in a televised news conference Wednesday. “Even though we have a robust health-care system, one of the most robust in Europe, if we didn’t take these measures, it would collapse between 7th and 11th November.”

South Yorkshire is the latest North England region to be placed under “Very High Alert” and will move into the toughest level of restrictions.  Scotland will introduce a new coronavirus five-tier system starting on 2nd November and existing restrictions have been extended for a third week.

Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset urged citizens to observe social distancing rules, saying that the government was preparing a new round of restrictions that would target events and crowds of people.

Poland’s total number of confirmed coronavirus infections has doubled in less than three weeks and now exceeds 200,000, the health ministry said, as it announced a new daily record of 10,040 new cases. Poland has now recorded 202,579 cases and 3,851 deaths, 130 of those reported on Wednesday (Oct 21). It passed 100,000 infections on 4th October.

U.S. and Canada

Before leaving the press conference upon news of proximal exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said hospitalizations are at the highest they have been in three months.

New York’s test positivity rate including the oversampling of hotspot areas is 1.62%, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio focused on vaccines Wednesday morning, outlining how that the city will prioritize frontline workers and vulnerable populations when a vaccine is approved for use. New York state posted more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since March, a surge that officials are desperate to head off as they prepare to distribute vaccines in the new year.

New York City is planning for wide-scale distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine next year. New infections in Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany reached a record, and the Czech government warned its health system is at risk of collapse as the pandemic worsened in Europe.

The Pennsylvania department of health reported 1,425 new cases of COVID-19, the 16th consecutive day the state has reported over 1,000 new infections of coronavirus. 

In Michigan, there are now 445 cases of COVID-19 in 84 schools. At least 80 of those cases are from new outbreaks at 24 different schools. These cases include staff and student numbers, according to the state’s official tracker.

All public school instruction in Boston will be remote starting Thursday, following a rise in COVID-19 cases, according to a statement released Wednesday by Boston Public Schools.

The health department in El Paso, Texas, is reporting a seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate of 13.74%, the highest average in the city since the pandemic began. 

U.S. inspectors found quality-control problems at an Eli Lilly & Co. plant used to help produce its Covid-19 antibody therapy, posing a potential obstacle to the company’s goal of producing 1 million doses by year-end.

Central and Latin America

Brazilian health authority Anvisa said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has died, stating it had received data from an investigation into the matter. The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which is helping coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil, separately said that the volunteer was Brazilian.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister on Wednesday, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state.

Mexican authorities are calling on cemeteries to close to public visitors ahead of the Day of the Dead, a celebration that usually draws hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, as officials strive to avert another wave of coronavirus infections. The 1st and 2nd November celebration blends Catholic rituals and the pre-Hispanic belief that the dead return once a year from the underworld, and believers throng cemeteries and public plazas on those days.

China and Hong Kong

A city in China’s Zhejiang province will offer experimental coronavirus vaccines to its residents, as China broadens an emergency use programme to people in non-priority groups. Residents aged between 18 and 59 in the city of Shaoxing, who are not in priority groups, can apply online for inoculation, the city’s health commission said on Tuesday on its WeChat account.

Elsewhere in the world

Coronavirus cases in South Africa’s Western Cape province have risen by 42% in the past seven days, leading the country’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to warn of a “resurgence” of the virus. 

Children under the age of five are at “lowest risk” of contracting COVID-19 from adults, according to a Singapore study of household transmission of the virus. The study by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) drew on data of children who were household contacts of COVID-19 cases and were screened for the disease at the hospital between March and April.

The Philippines on Wednesday lifted a ban on non-essential foreign trips by Filipinos, but the immigration bureau said the move did not immediately spark large numbers of departures for tourism and leisure.

More than 750,000 employees in the Klang Valley, Sabah and Labuan in Malaysia have been ordered to work from home effective today, in line with the conditional movement control order (CMCO) enforced in these areas.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that his country will provide 50 billion yen (US$473 million) in low-interest loans to Indonesia to support its fight against COVID-19.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.