Globally, there have now been more than 11.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, and more than 534,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Nearly 240 scientists want the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take the coronavirus’ airborne risk more seriously. They say hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people.
India has recorded 24,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, and has now overtaken Russia to have the third-highest number of cases of the virus in the world.
Scientists in India have warned that the August deadline for developing a coronavirus vaccine is unrealistic. The deadline was set by the country’s medical council.
Right now there are around 120 vaccine programmes under way. Oxford University and Imperial College London have both started human trials. In terms of when one might become available, some health officials have expressed optimism that a vaccine will be in production by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Others say that later in 2021 is more likely.
At the same time the head of the US drugs regulator, the FDA, also has cast doubt on President Donald Trump’s claims that a vaccine will be ready this year. The top infectious diseases expert in the US, meanwhile, has said the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine against Covid-19 should be known by “early winter”.
In Australia, New South Wales is shutting its border with neighbouring Victoria to try and fight a surge in cases there. This is the first time in a century the border between the states is closing. Some 6.6 million people in virus-hit Victoria State will be locked down. Authorities forced to take drastic action to control a coronavirus outbreak in the city of Melbourne.
Bolivian Health Minister Eidy Roca has tested positive for the virus—the third member of the country’s cabinet to be infected in just four days.
The world-famous Louvre museum in Paris, France, has reopened today after being closed for nearly four months. There will be new safety measures in place, including mandatory masks and a limit on the number of visitors.
Authorities in the Spanish regions of Galicia and Catalonia have imposed local lockdowns on some 300,000 people following outbreaks of the virus.
In South Africa there’s been a surge in new cases, yet authorities have pressed ahead with the phased reopening of schools. On Monday, pupils in Grade R (five-year-olds), Grade Six (11-year-olds) and Grade 11 (16-year-olds) returned to classrooms after months of lockdown.
Coronavirus clinics are being shut down in Tanzania, with only 11 of 85 remaining. But the current rate of infection, number of patients, and deaths are not known, as the government does not regularly give updates.
Meanwhile in Kenya, travel restrictions into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties are being lifted. Local flights will begin next week, and it’s expected that international flights will follow on 1 August.