Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Saturday, September 26

As of Saturday morning, there had been 32.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 990,797 deaths. 

Here's the latest from around the world overnight.

Europe

Rates of COVID-19 infections and hospital bed occupancy are rising in Europe, where authorities need to work to halt spread ahead of the influenza season, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Friday.

"Europe has a lot of work to do to stabilise the situation and bring transmission under control," Mike Ryan, WHO's emergency expert told a press conference. "Overall within that very large region we are seeing a worrying increase in disease."

France

France reported that its total number of coronavirus cases jumped over 500,000 for the first time, as it registered 15,797 new confirmed cases on Friday, just shy of a daily record of 16,096 set on Thursday.

The total number of cases now stands at 513,034, health ministry data showed.

The number of people who have died from the infection increased by 150 - triple the daily levels of the past week - to 31,661.

Vatican

The poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday.

Speaking from the Vatican in a video address to the UN General Assembly, Francis said the worldwide pandemic had highlighted the urgent need to promote public health and ensure access to vaccines.

"If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources," he said.

Spain

Spain's cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 12,272 on Friday from the previous day to 716,481, health ministry data showed.

Denmark

A second wave of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands is "very worrying" and will require new restrictive measures, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

Rutte was speaking after yet another daily record of COVID-19 infections, which increased by 2777 over the past 24 hours.

"The figures look downright terrible...In short, the situation is very worrisome and will force us to take extra measures," he told journalists.

United Kingdom

London Mayor Sadiq Khan requested that Prime Minister Boris Johnson ban people from different households mixing as part of lockdown measures on the capital to halt the spread of COVID-19, the Guardian reported on Friday.

"One of the things that I said to the Prime Minister is: I think we should be following what's happening around the country and stopping social mixing of households, and I say that with a heavy heart," he said in an interview with the newspaper. 

Britain recorded 6874 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a new record, up from 6634 on Thursday, data published on a government website showed. Thirty-four new deaths were reported.

Americas

United States

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million - more than 20 percent of the world's total - as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest milestone on Thursday comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the United States from COVID-19.

The United States is currently averaging 40,000 new infections per day.

Two former heads of a Massachusetts veterans home have been indicted on criminal neglect charges for their roles in handling a COVID-19 outbreak that killed 76 people, the state's Attorney-General said on Friday.

The case stemmed from a March decision to consolidate two dementia units, putting COVID-19 positive residents within feet of ones without symptoms.

Canada

Canada's two most populous provinces on Friday moved to clamp down further on social gatherings in a bid to slow a second wave of coronavirus cases sweeping across much of the country.

Ontario ordered the closure of bars and restaurants from midnight to 5 a.m. except for takeout and delivery and said strip clubs would have to shut down from Saturday.

Asia

Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to tell the United Nations General Assembly on Friday that Japan is determined to host the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 after the games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a speech draft showed.

The Games were originally scheduled for this summer, but were put off for a year in March by the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government.

"In the summer of next year, Japan is determined to host the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as proof that humanity has defeated the pandemic," Suga will say in a recorded message, according to the draft made available by the Foreign Ministry.

"I will continue to spare no effort in order to welcome you to Games that are safe and secure," Saga will say as he makes his debut at the United Nations as a new Japanese leader.

Middle East and Africa

Israel

Israel tightened COVID-19 lockdown measures on Friday and critics accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to curb protests against his handling of the health and economic crises.

Netanyahu's government decided on Thursday to tighten a three-week lockdown imposed on September 18, forcing Israelis to stay mostly at home, shutting down most businesses and curbing group prayers during the Jewish high-holiday season.

Medical developments

The global death toll from COVID-19 could double to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely used and could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic, an official at the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Reuters / Newshub.