COVID-19 Apocalypse: U.S records second-highest single-day rise in cases, France is paying the price for ending the coronavirus lockdown too quickly


23rd October 2020 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 42,172,063 with 1,144,971 deaths as of 11.30pm today.


European governments began to deploy curfews more widely, as the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum across the continent and France reported more than 40,000 new cases for the first time. In Spain, the number of people who have contracted coronavirus is likely around 3 million, some three times as high as official data show.

France extended curfews to around two thirds of its population on Thursday and Belgium’s foreign minister was taken into intensive care with COVID-19, as the second wave of the pandemic surged across Europe.

The five countries with the highest rate of coronavirus infections when measured against population are all in Europe, according to the latest moving averages from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNN. They are the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France. 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments, confining 46 million out of the country’s 67 million population to their homes from 9pm to 6am. “A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Castex said at a news conference. Shortly after the measures were announced, French health authorities reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases, bringing the cumulative total to 999,043.

A high-profile rugby match between England’s national men’s team and the Barbarians, scheduled for Sunday, was canceled because several players broke Covid protocols by leaving their hotel bubble without telling anyone.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out a new five-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions, saying the nation’s slowing rate of infection allows for “cautious optimism.”

Spain’s real total of COVID-19 cases exceeds 3 million, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at a press conference on Friday, citing extrapolations from a nationwide antibody study. During a televised speech on Friday, Pedro Sanchez asked residents to limit their mobility to fight the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Vincenzo De Luca, governor of the southwest Italian region of Campania, is urging the government to implement a national lockdown to control the second wave of coronavirus.

Geneva plans to limit public and private gatherings to five people to slow the spread of the virus. The new measures come into effect at midnight Sunday and will be in place until 30th November.

Germany recorded more than 11,000 new infections for the second day in a row, which the head of the country’s disease and control agency described as “very serious.” Germany’s health minister said a vaccine could be available for the German population at the start of 2021.

In Slovakia, residents will not be allowed to leave their homes from Saturday unless they have a negative coronavirus test or are carrying out an exempted activity. Slovakia went into an official state of emergency on 1st October when its infection rates started going up. The country reported a record high number of new infections on Thursday of 2,581.  All schools will be closed for in-person classes starting Monday, 26th October until Friday, 27th November. 

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he’s “absolutely shocked” by the actions of Health Minister Roman Prymula and has asked him to resign after it emerged he broke the country’s coronavirus rules. Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula says he is “prepared to face the consequences” after being photographed leaving a restaurant in Prague late on Wednesday night, just days after he announced a strict lockdown and pleaded with people to stay home.

The Belgian government said professional sport competitions will take place behind closed doors for at least a month and issued a ban on amateur sport events for adults to reduce social contacts.

Hungary registered record-high new coronavirus cases and deaths according to data published Friday, at 2,066 and 47. Bulgaria also reported a new daily record of 1,595 new cases.

Poland reported 13,632 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the country’s highest number since the pandemic began and more than a 50% increase on Monday’s 7,482 cases. 

U.S. and Canada

The U.S. case count exceeded 70,000 for the first time since late July, evidence that infections are rising less than two weeks before the presidential election.

Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc rose 6% on Friday after its antiviral drug, remdesivir, became the first and only approved treatment for COVID-19 in the United States.

As of Thursday, the federal government has delivered more than 110 million cloth masks to states and territories to help reopen schools, an official from the US Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that household gatherings have become a “major vector” of coronavirus spread.  

Health officials issued a stay-at-home order for all University of Michigan undergraduate students this week amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House is set to host Halloween festivities with COVID-19 precautions on Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic is causing “unacceptable” shortages of US drug supplies in the United States, according to a report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

China and Hong Kong

 The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health in Hong Kongg has announced that as of today, the CHP was investigating four additional confirmed COVID-19 cases taking the number of cases to 5,285 in Hong Kong so far (comprising 5,284 confirmed cases and one probable case).

Elsewhere in the world

Ukraine reported 7,517 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, hitting a new daily high since the start of the pandemic. It also registered 121 coronavirus-related deaths.

Uruguay’s borders will be closed over the county’s summer season as part of an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, President Luis Lacalle Pou announced during a news conference on Thursday. 

Iran’s health ministry reported 6,134 new COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period on Friday, the third time this week the number of daily new cases has hit a new high. The total number of cases in the country now stands at 556,891. 

The country reported 17,340 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, around 1,000 cases more compared to the previous record daily increase reported on 20th October.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has agreed to raise the quota of Australian citizens stranded abroad that can return to the country.

South Korea on Friday reported 155 new cases of COVID-19, including 138 that were locally transmitted, according to a news release from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDA).

India added 54,366 cases in a day, government data showed. The number of confirmed cases in the south Asian country stands at 7.71 million as of 7.30am. Mumbai, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

Singapore and Germany have agreed to start a reciprocal green lane that allows for travel for business or official reasons, according to a joint statement.

The Philippines reported fewer coronavirus cases this week amid a slowdown in testing, with the Red Cross suspending most of its Covid-19 operations after it wasn’t paid by the state health insurer.

Singapore reported 10 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Friday, taking the national total to 57,951. 

As rumours swirl of a possible state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the politcially unstable South East Asian country, Malaysia, opposition politicians have cried foul over such measures.  Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim expressed his deep concern on reports that the Malaysian government, led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, is seeking to implement emergency measures which he said would curb the parliamentary process. “Today, we have a government which lacks legitimacy, and which knows it would fail to demonstrate majority support in parliament, and is using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to justify its abuse of power,” the opposition leader said in a press statement on Friday.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.