Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Wednesday, September 23

As of Wednesday, the global confirmed death toll in the pandemic had reached 972,435, with more than 31.6 million known to be infected.

Here are the latest developments from around the world overnight.

Americas

United States

The death toll from the spread of the coronavirus in the United States exceeded 200,000 on Tuesday, by far the highest number of any nation.

The United States is now losing about 800 lives each day to the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday set an October 16 deadline for states to submit plans for distributing COVID-19 vaccines - even before it becomes clear when any will be available - according to a presentation to a panel of experts who make recommendations on US vaccines.

Canada

Canada is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases that risks ballooning to higher levels than were seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring if people do not take stringent precautions, health officials said on Monday.

"Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path," said a statement from the Public Health Agency.

According to a worst-case scenario outlined by the agency, cases could rise more than 1000 per day for the next 10 days to 155,795 by October 2, with the death toll hitting 9300. On Monday, Canada had reported 145,415 total cases and 9228 deaths.

Europe

United Kingdom

Some pubs and restaurants already reeling from the pandemic face ruin, owners warned on Tuesday, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered them to close early for the next six months to help curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infections.

Some operators said the new restrictions, which include a ban on serving customers at the bar, could sound the death knell for businesses that were forced to shut for 15 weeks earlier this year.

"We may as well not open some of our bars," said Martin Wolstencroft, CEO of Arc Inspirations, which runs 17 bars and restaurants in northern England. "After 10 o'clock is really when we start making money because that's when we get busier."

"This is going to be the final nail in the coffin for many, many operators," he told BBC radio.

Czech Republic

The new Czech health minister said on Tuesday tighter restrictions on bars and public events were imminent after his predecessor resigned following a doubling of COVID-19 infections in the country over the past three weeks.

The Czech Republic recorded 837 new coronavirus cases so far on Tuesday, after 1,476 on Monday, health ministry data showed, bringing the overall number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic in March to 51,637.

Spain

Spain's cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections rose by nearly 10,800 on Tuesday from the previous day to reach 682,267, health ministry data showed, as the region of Catalonia said it would further limit public gatherings.

That included 3,125 cases diagnosed in the last 24 hours, but these daily figures tend to end up much higher after retroactive updates of the infection tally, having exceeded 10,000 cases per day for most of last week.

With 21 deaths from the virus in the last day, the total number of COVID-19 fatalities has reached 30,904.

Sweden

Sweden, which so far has decided against lockdowns, is seeing early signs that cases are rising again and could impose new measures in Stockholm.

France

France again registered more than 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections over 24 hours, for the sixth time in 12 days.

The health ministry reported 10,008 new cases on Tuesday, compared to 5298 on Monday - which usually sees a dip due to weekend data delays - and 10,569 on Sunday, but below the 13,498 high set on Saturday. The new cases pushed the total to 468,069.

Africa and the Middle East

Jordan

Jordan reported 634 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily count since the start of the pandemic in March, and health officials warned the novel coronavirus was spreading fast across the country.

"This huge rise proves that personal measures from social distancing and wearing masks are crucial to protect our people," Health Minister Saad Jaber said in a statement.

The kingdom has reported a total of 5,679 COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths form the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe will gradually re-open primary and secondary schools from October 26 for all pupils, ending a break of seven months that was precipitated by the coronavirus outbreak, the information minister said on Tuesday.

The government had earlier this month said only students who are taking their final examinations would return to school.

Economic impact

Global airlines called on Tuesday for airport COVID-19 tests for all departing international passengers to replace the quarantines they blame for exacerbating the travel slump.

Rapid and affordable antigen tests that can be administered by non-medical staff are expected to become available in "coming weeks" and should be rolled out under globally agreed standards, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said during an online media briefing.

"We don't see any alternative solution that would be less challenging or more effective," IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said.

Medical developments

COVID-19 may damage immune cells in the bone marrow

Even bone marrow may not be a safe harbor from the ravages of COVID-19, according to a study that found previously unrecognised changes in newly produced immune cells, called monocytes, released into the blood from bone marrow. 

Another reinfection

Another case of reinfection after recovery from COVID-19 has been reported, this time in a healthy young military healthcare provider at a US Department of Defense hospital in Virginia. 

He was first infected by a patient in March. He recovered within 10 days and "returned ... to excellent health," his doctors reported on Saturday in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Fifty-one days later, he was reinfected by a household member. Genetic studies showed the first and second infections to be from slightly different strains of the virus. The reinfection made him sicker, perhaps because the second strain was more potent, or the household contact infected him with a higher load of virus, doctors said. 

It was also possible antibodies from the first infection may have triggered his immune system to respond more strongly to the virus the second time his body encountered it. 

Vaccine progress

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the World Health Organization should be strengthened to coordinate the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and proposed a high-level conference on vaccine cooperation.

"We are proposing to hold an online high-level conference shortly for countries interested in cooperation in the development of anti-coronavirus vaccines," Putin said.

"We are ready to share experience and continue cooperating with all states and international entities, including in supplying the Russian vaccine which has proved reliable, safe, and effective, to other countries," he said.

Reuters