News ID: 273726
Published: 0212 GMT September 04, 2020
Italy’ ex-PM Berlusconi in hospital

Coronavirus kills nearly 870,000; US death toll highest

Coronavirus kills nearly 870,000; US death toll highest

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 869,718 people worldwide since surfacing late last year, according to an AFP count at 1100 GMT Friday based on official sources.

The pandemic has infected well over 26 million.

The US has recorded the highest number of deaths with 186,806, followed by Brazil (124,614), India (68,472), Mexico (66,329) and Britain (41,527).

The number of the infected in Brazil surpassed four million.


Berlusconi in hospital


Italy's former prime minister and media tycoon, Silvio Berlusconi, was hospitalized "as a precaution", his entourage said, after he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.

The AGI news agency said Berlusconi, who turns 84 at the end of this month, was hospitalized in a room that he often occupies when staying at San Raffaele hospital in Milan. AGI added this indicates that his condition is not serious, or he would be in intensive care.

When his party announced his illness on Wednesday, it said he did not have any symptoms. Berlusconi subsequently spoke via video link to a meeting of supporters on Thursday afternoon and acknowledged he had had a fever, but that it had passed.

Italy, hit by one of Europe’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19, contained the contagion after a peak in fatalities in March and April. But the number of new cases rose in August, with experts blaming gatherings associated with holidays and night life.


First in three months


New Zealand recorded its first COVID-19 death in more than three months in a man in his 50s.

Health officials said the man was part of a second-wave cluster of infections that emerged in the biggest city Auckland last month, ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission in the South Pacific nation.


No widespread vaccination before Mid-2021


The World Health Organization said on Friday it did not expect widespread immunization against the virus until mid-2021, despite growing expectations in the US and beyond that a vaccine could be released within weeks.

Across the world, governments are hoping to announce a vaccine as soon as possible and roll out treatments for COVID-19.

The UN health agency welcomed the fact that a "considerable number" of vaccine candidates had entered final stage Phase III trials, which typically involve tens of thousands of people.

"We know of at least six to nine that have got quite a long way with the research already," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva.

However, she stressed, "in terms of realistic timelines, we are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year".


Russian vaccine


Patients involved in early tests of a Russian coronavirus vaccine developed antibodies with "no serious adverse events", according to a research published in The Lancet, but experts say the trials are too small to prove safety and effectiveness.


Differentiating test


Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche said it has received the green light in the US for emergency use of a diagnostic test differentiating between coronavirus and influenza.

Roche said its cobas SARS-CoV-2 & Influenza A/B test won Emergency Use Authorization approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


School closure


France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said 22 schools have had to shut on French territory due to the coronavirus since pupils returned to school this week, emphasizing that over half of these were in the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.

Ten schools have closed in mainland France and 12 on La Reunion, where there has been a recent surge in coronavirus cases, he said. France has some 60,000 schools nationwide.


Health care workers’ death toll


Amnesty International said more than 7,000 health care workers have died of the virus worldwide, including over 1,300 in Mexico alone, the most for any country.


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