Coronavirus: All you need to know in under 500 words

Virus reported to have originated in China’s Wuhan has killed more than 584,000 people and infected over 13.5 million.

16 Jul 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, a pandemic. 

As of July 16, the global death toll surpassed 584,000 amid more than 13.5 million cases. Over 7.5 million people have recovered from the disease worldwide, according to the data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Here is what you need to know:

What is a coronavirus?

The coronavirus family causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), according to the WHO.

They circulate in animals and some can be transmitted between animals and humans. Several coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

The new coronavirus, the seventh known to affect humans, has been named COVID-19.

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What are the symptoms?

Common signs of infection include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, multiple organ failure and death.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is thought to be between one and 14 days. It is contagious before symptoms appear, which is why so many people get infected.

Infected patients can be also asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems.

Where did it come from?

China alerted the WHO to cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan on December 31.

COVID-19 is thought to have originated in a seafood market where wildlife was sold illegally.

On February 7, Chinese researchers said the virus could have spread from an infected animal to humans through illegally trafficked pangolins, prized in Asia for food and medicine.

Scientists have pointed to either bats or snakes as possible sources. 

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Should I worry? How can I protect myself?

The WHO declared the virus a pandemic on March 11 and said it was “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak.

The WHO recommends basic hygiene such as regularly washing hands with soap and water, and covering your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing.

Maintain “social distancing” – keeping at least 1.8 metres (six feet) between yourself and others – particularly if they are coughing and sneezing, and avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid unnecessary, unprotected contact with animals and be sure to thoroughly wash hands after contact. 

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Coronavirus cases top 14 million globally: Live updates

Trump refuses to order Americans to wear masks, India cases surge for another day, China battles new outbreak.

by &

18 Jul 2020 09:23 GMT
  • More than 14 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than 7.8 million have recovered and more than 600,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
  • The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 237,743 in 24 hours.

  • India’s coronavirus caseload topped one million, with the United States and Brazil the only other nations with more infections.

Here are the latest updates.

Saturday, July 18

09:15 GMT – Philippines confirms 113 new coronavirus deaths, 2,357 cases 

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 113 more new coronavirus deaths and 2,357 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,773 while confirmed cases have reached 65,304, with the capital and Cebu City in central Philippines accounting for the bulk of the infections as the virus spreads.

Coronavirus precautions in Philippines
Filipino jeepney drivers show how safe distancing can be implemented inside their passenger jeepney through the use of plastic covers [File: Anadolu]

08:35 GMT – Rouhani says 25 million Iranians infected with COVID-19 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and that another 35 million are at risk of acquiring it.

The figures, which Rouhani said were based on a new Health Ministry report, are far higher Iran’s official toll of 269,440 infected. Rouhani in a televised speech did not address the discrepancy.

Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the epidemic.

“Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said in the speech. “There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk,” he said.

“In total, more than 200,000 people have been hospitalised,” he said.

The Health Ministry on Friday said 13,791 people had died from COVID-19. 

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08:20 GMT – Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai, daughter, hospitalised for COVID-19

Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter were hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment, the Times of India reported on Saturday, days after her husband and father-in-law were admitted.

Rai’s father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and son Abhishek Bachchan, also major Bollywood celebrities, were admitted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital early this week, becoming the highest-profile patients the pandemic sweeping India.

At the same time, Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World who regularly appears on “most beautiful” lists, and her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan, tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but they have since been in home quarantine.

“After Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter Aaradhya have been shifted to Nanavati hospital,” the newspaper said, adding that they were admitted to the top Mumbai private hospital on Friday.

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07:15 GMT – India coronavirus cases rise by 34,884 to 1,038,716 

A surge of 34,884 new coronavirus cases took India’s tally to 1,038,716, as local governments continue to reimpose focused lockdowns in several parts of the country.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 671 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 26,273. The ministry said the recovery rate had slightly come down to 62.9 percent.

About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, only allowing essential food supplies and health services.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to take concrete steps to contain the pandemic. He warned that the number of infections will double to 2 million by August 10 at the current pace.

Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the infection spread in rural areas.

07:05 GMT – South Korea says most new cases from abroad 

Authorities in South Korea say most of the country’s new coronavirus cases are coming from abroad.

The officials have expressed optimism that the recent resurgence of infections is being brought under control. They say imported cases are less threatening than local transmissions because South Korea is mandating testing and enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from other nations.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that at least 28 of 39 newly confirmed cases were tied to people arriving from abroad. It says 18 others involved local transmission in the densely populated Seoul area, which was at the center of the virus resurgence that began in late May as people increased economic and social activities.

In all, South Korea has reported 13,711 confirmed cases during the pandemic, including 294 deaths.

South Koreans Perform At Gyeongbokgung Palace Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic
Authorities in South Korea have so far reported more than 13,700 coronavirus cases [Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]

06:55 GMT – Confirmed virus cases top 14 million globally 

Confirmed coronavirus cases around the world have topped 14 million and deaths have surpassed 600,000, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday. 

The World Health Organization reported a single-day record of new infections: over 237,000. Experts believe that the true numbers are even higher.

The United States, Brazil and India top the list with the highest number of cases. India on Friday exceeded 1 million confirmed infections, and Brazil’s cases passed 2 million, including 76,000 deaths, on Thursday. 

06:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 529 to 201,372

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased  by 529 to 201,372, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

The country’s reported death toll rose by one to 9,083, the tally showed.

06:35 GMT – Mexico reports 736 new coronavirus deaths, 7,257 cases

Mexico’s Health Ministry have reported 7,257 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 736 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 331,298 cases and 38,310 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

India coronavirus infections top one million (2:05)

05:44 GMT – Hong Kong sets new rules for incoming travellers

Hong Kong set new conditions for incoming travellers from countries deemed at high risk for COVID-19, meaning arrivals need an official certificate to prove they have tested negative for the coronavirus before they can enter the semiautonomous city.

The new measures, effective from midnight (16:00 GMT) next Saturday, will affect travellers who have visited Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa in the 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong.

The policy comes as Hong Kong grapples with a new wave of infections and authorities announced an all-time single-day high of 67 cases on Thursday.

Restrictions reimposed in Manila after surge in infections (2:24)

04:49 GMT – New cases drop by half in Australia’s Victoria

Australia’s Victoria state saw a marked drop in new COVID-19 infections – from Friday’s record high of 428 to 217 – a total that Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says was “a relief after yesterday’s numbers”.

The Health Department said on Saturday that two more people, a man and a woman in their 80s, had died, taking the state’s death toll to 34 and Australia’s national total to 118.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the latest numbers were encouraging but warned it was just one day.

03:52 GMT – China battles new outbreak in Xinjiang

China’s National Health Commission reported 11 new cases in the far western region of Xinjiang, taking the total number of cases in the capital, Urumqi, to 17. 

Authorities in Urumqi have reduced subways, buses and taxis and closed off some residential communities, according to Chinese media reports. They also placed restrictions on people leaving the city, including a suspension of subway service to the airport.

As of Friday, mainland China had 83,644 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

03:27 GMT – Morrison cancels Australia’s parliament sittings

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison cancelled the next two-week sitting of the country’s parliament, citing “significant risks” of COVID-19 spread as cases rise in the states of Victoria and New South Wales.

Parliament was due to sit from August 4 to 13 and would not meet again until the next planned two-week sitting starting on August 24.

Morrison said he had written to the parliamentary speaker to ask for a cancellation. The request is considered a formality.

Australian Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly confirmed the session would be delayed and said there was a “risk” associated with a meeting of Parliament due to increased community transmission of COVID-19 in the state of Victoria and the “emerging situation” in New South Wales, which has also seen a rise in cases.

02:22 GMT – US sets another virus record with 77,638 new cases

The US marked a record number of coronavirus cases on Friday for the third consecutive day, notching 77,638 new infections in 24 hours, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.

The country also recorded 927 deaths in that period, according to a count at 8:30pm (00:30 GMT, Saturday). The figures bring the US’s death toll to 139,128 and its caseload to 3.64 million confirmed cases.

02:02 GMT – US economy ‘will drop 6.6 percent in 2020’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the US economy would shrink 6.6 percent this year, pounded by the coronavirus and the lockdowns meant to contain it.

The forecast is actually an upgrade from one the IMF made last month when it foresaw the American economy contracting 8 percent in 2020. But the lending organisation warned that the US economy faces downside risks from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

01:44 GMT – Azerbaijan extends restrictions until August 31

Azerbaijan has extended coronavirus lockdown restrictions, including the closure of its borders, until August 31 after a further rise in the number of infections.

The government said people in big cities, including the capital Baku, would be allowed to leave their homes only with special permission from July 20 until August 5.

Shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and museums in those cities remained closed, while beauty salons will be reopened.

01:04 GMT – Trump will not consider a national mask mandate

US President Donald Trump ruled out a national mandate requiring people to wear face masks despite record rises in new coronavirus infections across the United States.

In an interview with Fox News that will air on Sunday, Trump said: “No, I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that. No, and I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask, everything; suddenly, it all disappears.”

He added: “Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask and all of a sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask and, as you know, masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks, I think masks are good.”

00:33 GMT – EU leaders deadlocked over COVID-19 recovery plan

EU leaders failed to make headway in negotiations over a massive stimulus plan to breathe life into economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, returning to their hotels in Brussels shortly before midnight to rest and try again in the morning.

Many of the 27 heads declared on arrival for their first face-to-face summit for five months that a deal was crucial to rescue economies in free fall and shore up faith in the EU.

But officials said a thrifty camp of wealthy northern states led by the Netherlands stood its ground on access to the recovery fund in the face of opposition from Germany, France, southern nations Italy and Spain, and Eastern European states.

The proposed sums under discussion include the EU’s 2021-27 budget of more than 1 trillion euros ($1.14 trillion) and the recovery fund worth 750 billion euros ($85.7bn) that will be funnelled mostly to Mediterranean coast countries worst affected by the pandemic.

Diplomats said the 27 remained at odds over the overall size of the package, the split between grants and repayable loans in the recovery fund and rule-of-law strings attached to it.

As the leaders broke up for the day, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted that they were divided by a bundle of issues and said it was “highly probable” that they would fail to reach a deal on Saturday or even on Sunday if the summit drags past its scheduled two days.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also cautious on chances for an agreement, envisaging “very, very difficult negotiations”.



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