By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 961,000 people worldwide.
Over 31 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 6.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 199,513 deaths.
California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 786,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 713,000 cases and over 683,000 cases, respectively.
Nearly 170 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least six of which are in crucial phase three trials.
Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:
Sep 21, 10:52 am
Hundreds of asylum seekers test positive for COVID-19 in Greece
More than 200 asylum seekers who recently resettled at a new temporary camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, after the old one had burned down, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Greek government spokesmen Stelios Petsas.
During a regular press briefing Monday, Petsas said that all 7,064 individuals who were admitted to the new Kara Tepe camp, near the island’s capital Mytilene, had been tested for COVID-19 and that 243 of them were found to be infected.
The average age of those who tested positive was 24, and most didn’t have any symptoms, according to Petsas.
Another 160 people who had come into contact with the migrants, mostly police officers and administrative staff at the camp, were also tested for the virus but all had negative results, Petsas said.
The new facility is not far from the remains of the Moria camp, where fires forced some 12,000 migrants to flee last week and seek shelter. Greek police believe the blazes were set deliberately by a small group of migrants angered by a lockdown imposed after a COVID-19 outbreak at the overcrowded camp. Six people, all Afghan nationals, have been arrested on suspicion of arson.
Sep 21, 9:21 am
CDC updates COVID-19 guidance to acknowledge airborne spread
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on its website to say the novel coronavirus is most commonly transmitted “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.”
“These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection,” the site now says. “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
Previously, the CDC website said that COVID-19 most often spreads between people who are in close contact with one another — within about 6 feet — “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.” The page was updated Friday.
“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the site now says. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”
The World Health Organization acknowledged in July that the novel coronavirus could spread through the air, after hundreds of scientists called for the global health arm of the United Nations to recognize the risk of airborne transmission.
Sep 21, 7:42 am
New Zealand to lift restrictions except in its biggest city
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that all remaining coronavirus-related restrictions will be lifted across much of the country, except for the most populous city.
The restrictions will end late Monday.
Auckland, where a fresh outbreak now appears to be under control, will continue to have some regulations for at least another 16 days. The plan is to increase the cap on gatherings in the city from 10 to 100 on Wednesday and then remove the limit altogether two weeks later, according to Ardern.
“Auckland needs more time,” Ardern told reporters Monday. “Whilst we have reasonable confidence we are on the right track, there is still a need in Auckland for that cautious approach.”
A cluster of cases emerged in Auckland last month, ending New Zealand’s 102-day streak without any local transmission of the novel coronavirus. The outbreak prompted the government to impose a temporary lockdown in the region and reschedule national elections.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has identified 1,815 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases as well as 25 coronavirus-related deaths. There are currently 62 active cases and three coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the country.
There were no new cases confirmed in the nation of five million people on Monday.
Sep 21, 6:55 am
UK could see 50,000 new cases per day, chief medical officer warns
The United Kingdom could see about 50,000 new COVID-19 cases a day by mid-October if the current rate of infection is not curbed, the government’s chief scientific adviser warned Monday.
“At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days,” Sir Patrick Vallance said in a televised address from London. “If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days… if that continued, you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.”
That rate of infection would be expected to lead to 200-plus deaths per day by mid-November, according to Vallance, who noted that there are already measures in place to prevent the country from hitting those grim milestones.
“That requires speed, it requires action, he said, “and it requires enough in order to be able to bring that down.”
Vallance said the increase in COVID-19 infections has been among “every age group” and that the number of people in the country showing antibodies for the disease remains low, meaning the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible.”
“As the disease spreads, as it spreads across age groups, we expect to see increasing hospitalizations,” he added. “And unfortunately, those increasing hospitalizations will lead to increasing deaths.”
Sep 21, 6:13 am
California’s death count surpasses 15,000
California’s death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 15,000, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The state’s tally of coronavirus-related fatalities, which currently stands at 15,016, is the fourth-highest in the country, after New York, New Jersey and Texas.
California has reported the most COVID-19 infections of any U.S. state since the start of the pandemic, with more than 786,000 confirmed cases.
Sep 21, 5:54 am
England introduces hefty fines for breaking self-quarantine
People in England who violate an order to self-quarantine will face fines of up to 10,000 British pounds, amid an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new penalties mean people “are legally obliged” to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 or are traced as a close contact to someone who did. The fines, which take effect next week, will start at 1,000 British pounds (approximately $1,300) but could increase to up to 10,000 pounds (about $13,000) for repeat offenders.
The higher fines could be applied to “the most egregious breaches,” including those who prevent others from self-isolating, such as business owners who threaten employees with losing their jobs if they don’t come into work.
Low-income workers who face a loss of earnings as a result of having to self-quarantine will be eligible for a one-time support payment of 500 British pounds (approximately $650).
The new fines will come into force in England on Sept. 28. Officials are in talks with the devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales about expanding them U.K.-wide.
“The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus,” Johnson said while announcing the new rules over the weekend. “People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines. We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
An official estimate shows that new COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions are doubling every seven to eight days in the United Kingdom. There were 3,899 new infections and 18 fatalities reported Sunday, bringing the country’s tally to 394,257 cases and 41,777 deaths, according to the latest figures from the U.K. government
Sep 21, 4:40 am
US death toll from COVID-19 inches closer to 200,000
An additional 230 coronavirus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Sunday, as the country’s death toll inches closer to the 200,000 mark, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Sunday’s tally of COVID-19 deaths is well under the country’s record set on April 17, when there were 2,666 new fatalities in a 24-hour reporting period.
There were also 38,978 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed across the nation on Sunday, down from a peak of 77,255 new cases reported on July 16.
A total of 6,805,630 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 199,512 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July. The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then.
Week-over-week comparisons show that the number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both decreasing, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News last week.
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