Coronavirus update: US death toll crosses 140,000 as cases continue to rise across the country, 85 infants test positive for COVID-19 in Texas
The US death toll from the novel coronavirus has now crossed 140,000, according to the latest John Hopkins University data.
July has been the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas, with nearly a third of the more than 3,700 coronavirus deaths in the state reported so far this month.
In one county, 85 infants under the age of one have tested positive.
Meanwhile, the capital of China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, has gone into “wartime mode” after new coronavirus cases were recorded in the city.
This story was last updated at 4:15pm on Sunday.
Sunday’s key moments:
US coronavirus deaths cross 140,000 as outbreak worsens
The US death toll from the novel coronavirus is now more than 140,000, as cases continue to rise in 43 out of 50 states over the past two weeks, the latest John Hopkins University data shows.
America is losing about 5,000 people to the virus every week. By contrast, neighbouring Canada has reported total deaths of 8,800 since the pandemic started.
In just one week, the United States records about as many deaths as the 5,600 lives Sweden has lost since the pandemic began earlier this year.
In the hardest-hit US counties, officials are running out of places to store bodies as their morgues fill up.
Arizona’s Maricopa County, home to the state’s largest city, Phoenix, is bringing in 14 coolers to hold up to 280 bodies and more than double morgue capacity ahead of an expected surge in coronavirus fatalities, officials said on Thursday (local time).
In Texas, the city of San Antonio and Bexar County have acquired five refrigerated trailers to store up to 180 bodies.
The appearance of such mobile morgues has fed the sense in some Southern states that the pandemic appears to be spinning out of control.
Texas reports deadliest month for COVID-19 as 85 infants test positive
Eighty-five infants under one year of age have tested positive for coronavirus in one county in the state of Texas, according to a report by CNN.
“We currently have 85 babies under the age of one year in Nueces County that have all tested positive for COVID-19,” Annette Rodriguez, director of public health for Corpus Christi Nueces County, told CNN.
“These babies have not even had their first birthday yet. Please help us stop the spread of this disease.”
After a flattening trend, new coronavirus cases skyrocketed in Texas this month and local officials have urged people to wear masks and practise social distancing.
July has been the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas with nearly a third of the more than 3,700 coronavirus deaths in the state reported so far this month.
On Friday, state officials reported 174 new deaths, the most in one day since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Texas also reported more than 10,000 confirmed new cases for the fourth consecutive day on Friday. The rate of positive cases also climbed above 17 per cent for the first time.
Officials on the Texas-Mexico border, which has been especially hard hit, said hotels could be converted into medical units as early as next week.
The grim markers were announced hours after Texas gave public schools permission to keep campuses closed for more than 5 million students until March next year.
Britain pauses daily coronavirus death toll update over data concerns
Britain has paused its daily update of its coronavirus death toll after the Government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concerns the toll might have been exaggerated.
Academics said the way that Public Health England (PHE), the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures in England means they may be distorted compared to other parts of the United Kingdom.
“Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death,” a message on the Government’s website said.
“There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number. We are therefore pausing the publication of the daily figure while this is resolved.”
Britain has been the European country worst hit by the virus, with an official death toll of more 45,000.
But the Government has said international comparisons are misleading because countries record coronavirus deaths differently.
Health Minister Matt Hancock on Friday (local time) ordered a review into the PHE’s reporting after academics said patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but were successfully treated, would still be counted as dying from the virus “even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later”.
WHO reports another record daily increase in global infections
The World Health Organization has reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, with the total rising by 259,848 in 24 hours.
The biggest increases reported on Saturday were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.
The previous WHO record for new cases was 237,743 on Friday.
Deaths rose by 7,360, the biggest one-day increase since May 10. Deaths have been averaging 4,800 a day in July, up slightly from an average of 4,600 a day in June.
Total global coronavirus cases surpassed 14 million on Friday, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed nearly 600,000 people in seven months.
The surge means that 1 million cases were reported in under 100 hours.
Xinjiang city enters ‘wartime mode’ after climb in cases
Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, has gone into “wartime mode” and launched an emergency response plan after the city reported 16 new coronavirus cases.
State broadcaster CCTV cited unnamed officials as telling a press conference on Saturday (local time) that the city had suspended gatherings and ordered communities to restrict visits to other households.
It urged people not to make unnecessary trips outside the city and ordered infection tests for anyone who needed to leave Urumqi, aiming to prevent the spread of the virus.
It has also carried out city-wide free infection tests, officials told the press conference as part of what the officials termed a “wartime” response.
Rui Baoling, director of the disease control and prevention centre in Urumqi, told the news conference that recent cases in the city were associated with a cluster of activities, with all confirmed cases and asymptomatic infections reported in Tianshan District, CCTV said.
She did not say what activities were involved.
“The epidemic has developed rapidly,” Ms Rui was quoted saying.
Xinjiang, home to most of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority, has so far mostly avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
France makes masks mandatory indoors
France will enforce mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces including banks, shops and indoor markets from Monday, as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 across the country.
The French Government has accelerated plans to make it compulsory to wear masks after a series of indicators suggested the virus could be gaining momentum, especially in areas in western and southern France that had been relatively spared during the height of the outbreak between March and May.
“From Monday, mask-wearing will be mandatory in closed spaces,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Twitter.
“That concerns shops, buildings open to the public, covered markets and banks.”
COVID-19 moves South Korea’s mud festival online
The Boryeong Mud Festival has been halted this year because of COVID-19 and instead moved online, with people across South Korea enjoying mud pools and mud packs in their homes.
The annual mud extravaganza, in Boryeong on the coast 130 kilometres south-west of the capital Seoul, is South Korea’s most popular festival for international visitors.
Visitors typically flock to the beach in their hundreds for mud slides, mud wrestling and other revelry.
This year the city set up a large screen in a studio streaming images of hundreds of people, some with mud kits consisting of a mini-pool, mud packs, mud soaps and colourful mud powders.
Daubed with blue, red and yellow mud powders, many watched singers perform online.
Some 3,000 people, including K-pop fans from overseas, watched the live event on YouTube.
Boryeong launched the festival on Daecheon Beach in 1998 to rejuvenate a local economy hit by the Asian financial crisis.
The event promoted mud-based cosmetics said to be good for the skin — turning a beach into one of South Korea’s biggest tourist attractions.