0256 GMT August 13, 2020
A doctor in his 30s working at Bab al-Hawa hospital in Idlib asked to be tested after displaying symptoms, the local health authority said on Thursday evening, theguardian.com reported.
His role as a health care worker means he is almost certainly not the only case. The doctor and those who have come into contact with him have been tested and are in self-isolation, and the hospital has been temporarily closed. All routine medical procedures in Idlib have been canceled.
Idlib’s three-million-strong population has been dreading a seemingly inevitable outbreak of the coronavirus in a province where 1.1 million people are living in tents and makeshift accommodations. The health care system, decimated by years of war and bombing campaigns, is already struggling to deal with malnutrition and other diseases.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 555,036 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Friday.
At least 12.28 million cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 6.56 million are now considered recovered.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.
The US is the worst-hit country with 133,291 deaths from over 3.11 million cases. At least 969,111 people have been declared recovered. On Wednesday, the US set a world record for most COVID-19 cases in one day, with 60,000 reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a senior member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said states needed to pause reopening efforts.
After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 69,184 deaths from more than 1.75 million cases, the UK with 44,602 deaths from 287,621 cases, Italy with 34,926 deaths from 242,363 cases, and Mexico with 33,526 deaths from 282,283 cases.
India currently ranks third in the world in terms of the number of the infections, standing at 798,161, of which 21,656 have died, according to worldometers.info.
China – excluding Hong Kong and Macau – has to date declared 83,585 cases (four new since Thursday), including 4,634 deaths and 78,609 recoveries.
Europe overall has 201,523 deaths from 2.79 million cases, the US and Canada 142,074 deaths from 3.22 million infections, Latin America and the Caribbean 138,136 deaths from 3.18 million cases, Asia 41,368 deaths from 1.65 million cases, Middle East 19,403 deaths from 881,789 cases, Africa 12,397 deaths from 540,845 cases and Oceania 135 deaths from 10,929 cases.
Amid growing signs of a resurgence of the virus in Japan, the capital reported 243 new infections on Friday, more than the previous day’s 224 and the first time that more than 200 cases have been confirmed for two consecutive days, theguardian.com reported.
The metropolitan and central governments have said they would not yet be declaring another state of emergency, after lifting the previous one in mid-May, or putting in place other strict measures, saying the country’s health care system is well prepared.
In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the country would from Monday restrict the number of citizens and permanent residents admitted each week to 4,000 – roughly half the current average.
Australia has so far allowed any citizen who wants to go home to enter the country providing they complete a 14-day quarantine in hotels paid for by state governments, but from next week arrivals will have to pay for their quarantine stays themselves.
A worsening second-wave outbreak has led to the lockdown being reimposed in Melbourne and measures taken to isolate the state of Victoria, which recorded a further 288 coronavirus cases on Friday. Authorities made the wearing of masks mandatory when physical distancing is not possible in places with significant community transmission, such as Melbourne.
Two more leading Latin American politicians – from Bolivia and Venezuela – have said they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the same week Brazil’s president announced he had contracted the coronavirus.
Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s number two official and the leader of the Socialist Party, announced his diagnosis on social media on Thursday evening and said he was in self-isolation. “We will prevail!!” he tweeted.
Jeanine Añez, Bolivia’s right-wing interim president, said she had received the same diagnosis. “I’ve tested positive for COVID-19,” tweeted Añez, who controversially took power after Evo Morales was forced into exile last year.
“I’m OK, I will work in isolation. Together, we will get through this.”
The announcements came two days after Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said he had tested positive and underline the extent to which COVID-19 is sweeping across the region.
Hong Kong is closing all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools early, amid a new outbreak of COVID-19 infections in the city. Summer holidays will begin early on Monday, authorities announced on Friday, and there will be a review to decide if schools can resume the new academic year as scheduled in August or September. Schools have been given the option of delaying tests planned for next week until later in the year.