Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Aug. 4

The latest:

  • Proportion of youth with COVID-19 triples in five months, WHO says.
  • UN chief says more than one billion students have missed out on school due to pandemic.
  • No mandatory masks or reduced class sizes planned for school reopening in Saskatchewan.
  • New study suggests a tiny fraction of Ontario has been infected with COVID-19.
  • Turkey reports daily coronavirus cases back above 1,000.
  • Ireland delays reopening of bars again after COVID-19 rate doubles.
  • Philippines capital back under lockdown as virus cases surge.
  • France’s top scientific body says a second wave is “highly likely” this autumn or winter. 

As deaths continue to rise and some states implement or extend restrictions to combat the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. President Donald Trump says more American lives will be lost to COVID-19.

The president noted the American death toll in a Fox Business Network interview Tuesday, saying somewhat prematurely that 160,000 had died from the disease caused by the virus. He told host Lou Dobbs: “We’re going to lose more.”

Trump added that millions would have been lost had he not intervened and “just let it ride.’

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stood at more than 156,000 on Tuesday evening, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. The total number of confirmed cases was more than 4.7 million. Both figures lead in the world.

A woman wearing a mask struggles with an umbrella while walking through Times Square as New York City feels the effects of tropical storm Isaias on Tuesday. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

In Florida, the coronavirus death tally surged to 245 on Tuesday. That brought its seven-day average in daily reported deaths to 184 — its highest rate yet, and just behind Texas for the past week with 186.

The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals statewide continued a nearly two-week downward trajectory, with 7,797 patients Tuesday from 7,991 the day before. That’s down from highs of more than 9,500 about two weeks ago, according to the Department of Health.

There were 5,446 positive coronavirus tests reported in a 24-hour period. However, many large testing sites were closed over the weekend and into Monday because of tropical storm Isaias. Those sites have since reopened.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he’s setting a statewide order for people to wear masks in public amid a recent surge in confirmed cases.

The Republican also delayed the start of the school year for upper grades in eight counties that are hard-hit by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Louisina, Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’ll continue the statewide mask mandate and the business restrictions he enacted to combat the coronavirus outbreak for at least three more weeks.

The rules were set to expire Friday, but the Democratic governor said Tuesday he’ll extend them through Aug. 28. Several lawsuits are trying to get some of the rules thrown out as overstepping Edwards’ authority.

The governor’s decision comes as Edwards joined the leaders of Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia in announcing an interstate compact to buy three million rapid-use coronavirus tests.

WATCH | Officials worry as beaches, parks overrun during long weekend:  

Scenes of packed beaches, overcrowded parks, and changes to rules on indoor gathering all have politicians and health officials worried after a long weekend for millions of pandemic-weary Canadians. 1:52

Also Tuesday, New York City replaced its top public health official at a key point in its fight to keep the coronavirus from surging. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot is leaving, to be replaced by Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, an official and primary care physician in the city’s public hospital system.

Barbot told staffers in an internal memo she resigned because as the city braces for an expected eventual second surge of the coronavirus, the staff’s “talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies” and the virus fight needs to proceed “without distractions.”

Barbot had prioritized personal protective equipment go to health-care workers and tangled with police officials who made requests for PPE.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 9:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 117,791 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 102,450 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,994. 

Saskatchewan will send its K-12 students back to school next month without requiring them or their teachers to wear masks and without a plan to reduce class sizes, although the Ministry of Education says it’s planning to buy masks in case the COVID-19 situation worsens. 

The ministry on Tuesday highlighted eight priorities it says are captured in the reopening plans for all of the province’s school boards. Those plans account for four potential “levels” of precautions, the province said in a release. It did not detail what would prompt a school board to go from one level to another.

Students going back as early as Sept. 1 will do so under “Level 1,” meaning “as close to normal as possible, with additional health measures and precautions.” Level 1 does not call for masks, reduced class sizes, or on-site testing and screening.

WATCH | High school teacher explains the difficulties of online model:

‘A huge part of student learning is socialization,’ said Tracy Shultis, who said she finds a lot of the curriculum is difficult to deliver online. 3:18

“Many experts have said that you need to provide as normal and reassuring an environment as possible when school starts, especially for younger children,” the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Alberta government announced that students and staff for Grades 4-12 will have to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible.

In Ontario, a new study by the province’s public health agency suggests that the number of people who have been infected by COVID-19 in the province has been a tiny fraction of its total population.

Public Health Ontario’s study, entitled “COVID-19 Seroprevalence in Ontario: March 27, 2020 to June 30, 2020,” measured the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in blood test samples of people across the province.

From June 5 to 30, the study found 1.1 per cent of the samples were positive for COVID-19 antibodies. 

Medical experts say the finding suggests the actual number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario was likely four times higher in June than the official case count.

Dr. Dominik Mertz, associate professor in the division of infectious diseases of the department of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the study shows that people in the province remain at risk of catching the infectious disease.

“Whether it’s one or two per cent or three per cent, it doesn’t really matter in terms of protection,” Mertz told CBC Toronto.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases was more than 18.4 million as of 9:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday. More than 698,000 people have died, while more than 11 million have recovered. The U.S. and Brazil lead case numbers, with a combined total of more than 7.5 million.

Turkey is reporting an increase in daily coronavirus cases, with confirmed infections back above 1,000. Health Ministry figures show 1,083 new cases and 18 deaths Tuesday, bringing total infections to nearly 235,000 and deaths to 5,765.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted the increase was “serious.” Cases had dropped below 1,000 before Turkey began reopening businesses in early June. The cases had decreased to an average of 945 for the past three weeks.

Ultra-Orthodox people wearing protective face masks run after watching Israeli soldiers drive tanks during an exercise in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria on Tuesday. (Ariel Schalit/The Associated Press)

Israel’s military says it will launch a coronavirus command this week meant to assist in reducing the country’s surging infections.

Working with the Health Ministry, the military says the command will attempt to streamline testing, contact tracing, quarantine orders and other elements of pandemic control in a bid to bring down infection numbers. The command will begin work on Thursday.

Israel largely contained its first outbreak in the spring but has seen a surge in cases over the summer. It now has one of the world’s highest daily infection numbers adjusted for population.

Ireland on Tuesday announced a fresh delay to the full reopening of bars, putting off a move to the final stage out of lockdown by three weeks while also tightening travel restrictions after new COVID-19 infections more than doubled in a week.

A woman carrying a bucket and spade walks past a two-metre physical distancing marker on a footpath at Salthill Beach in Galway, Ireland, on Monday. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

“I know that this will come as a blow to pub owners and I want them to know I have enormous sympathy for their plight,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin told a news conference.

“But we are doing what we are doing to save lives and to give our society and economy the best chance we can to open safely and sustainably,” he said, while also trimming Ireland’s “green list” of travel destinations to 10 countries from 15.

The United Kingdom faces a second wave of COVID-19 this winter twice as widespread as the initial outbreak if it reopens schools without a more effective test-and-trace system in place, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Researchers from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine modelled the impact of reopening schools either on a full- or part-time basis, thus allowing parents to return to work, on the potential spread of the virus. They concluded a second wave could be prevented if 75 per cent of those with symptoms were found and tested and 68 per cent of their contacts were traced.

France’s top scientific body also said a second wave was “highly likely” this autumn or winter as the country grapples with a marked increase of new cases of the disease over the past two weeks.

A biologist from the Institut Pasteur de Lille takes a swab sample to test for the novel coronavirus in Lille, northern France. The country’s top scientific body said a second wave was ‘highly likely’ this autumn or winter. (Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images)

“France has the situation under control but it is precarious with a surge of virus circulation this summer. The short-term future of the pandemic mainly lies in the hands of the population,” the scientific committee on the disease said in a statement published on the Health Ministry’s website.

Indian health authorities say phase 2 clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines developed by Indian companies have started.

They involve an inactivated virus vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and a DNA vaccine candidate developed by Zydus Cadila. The phase 2 trials for the vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford will start at 17 locations in the next week.

India is No. 3 in confirmed coronavirus cases at 1.8 million and No. 5 in deaths with almost 39,000.

In the Philippines, commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the capital Tuesday and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.

A cyclist looks on as traffic builds up at a checkpoint on the first day of the government’s reimplementation of a stricter lockdown to curb COVID-19 infections in Marikina, metro Manila, Philippines, on Tuesday. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorized businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were cancelled, and night curfews will return in places.

The lockdown is milder than was first one imposed, which largely confined most people to their homes for months, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently. It is being imposed in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces for two weeks.

Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state has banned people who should be self-isolating from exercising outside their homes and introduced tougher fines for people infected with the coronavirus who continue to go to work.

WATCH: Australia’s Victoria state imposes nightly curfew: 

Australia’s Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, is under a state of emergency. The premier announced stricter lockdown measures and a nightly curfew to try and curb rising coronavirus infections rates. 2:15

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said that military and health teams would repeatedly and randomly door-knock homes to ensure people who should be self-isolating were at home. Teams had door-knocked more than 3,000 homes and could not find more than 800 people who should have been home because they were awaiting a test result or had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The government has also increased the fine for failing to self-isolate from $1,652 Aus ($1,578 Cdn) to $4,957 Aus ($4,737 Cdn). The most serious cases could also be taken to court and fined up to $20,000 Aus ($19,116 Cdn), Andrews said.

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