India's cases top 2.3M, fatality rate drops
NEW DELHI: India's coronavirus caseload has topped 2.3 million after adding 60,963 in the last 24 hours.
India also reported 834 deaths on Wednesday for a total of 46,091. India has the third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil, but only the fifth-highest death toll, and authorities say the fatality rate has dropped below 2% for the first time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference Tuesday with the top elected officials of 10 states that together account for about 80% of India's total cases, urging them to rigorously apply the strategies of containment, surveillance and contact tracing to drive the fatality rate below 1%.
Modi also urged testing to be ramped up in several states as it has been in the capital region of Delhi.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, India's top medical research body, said that more than 733,000 samples were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, but didn't break down how many underwent the gold standard RT-PCR test compared to the antigen test, a cheaper and more efficient though less accurate blood test that looks for antibodies.
HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BEIJING — China's newly confirmed community transmitted cases of coronavirus fell into the single digits on Wednesday, while Hong Kong saw another 33 cases of infection.
The National Health Commission said all nine new cases were found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital Urumqi has been at the centre of China's latest major outbreak. Another 25 cases were brought by Chinese travellers arriving from abroad.
China has largely contained the local spread of the pandemic that is believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading worldwide.
The government has recorded 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 84,737 cases. Hong Kong, a densely populated semi-autonomous southern Chinese city, also recorded another six deaths to bring its total to 58 among 4,181 cases.
Authorities have ordered mask-wearing in public settings, restrictions on indoor dining and other social distancing measures in a bid to stem its latest outbreak. Those measures appear to have been successful in bringing numbers down from the more than 100 new daily cases reported at the end of last month.
SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian state of Victoria on Wednesday reported a record 21 virus deaths and 410 new cases from an outbreak in the city of Melbourne which has prompted authorities to impose a strict lockdown.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said 16 of the deaths were linked to aged-care facilities.
The number of new cases in Victoria is down from the peak, giving authorities some hope the outbreak is waning.
Meanwhile, three Melbourne vloggers were each fined more than $1,000 after posting a video to Chinese social media showing them breaching nighttime curfew rules for a McDonald's run, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The five-minute video, since deleted, showed the international students walking through alleys, dodging police officers and dancing inside a McDonald's restaurant at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the ABC said. Victoria police confirmed each of the students was fined 1,652 Australian dollars ($1,178).
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported 54 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health authorities scramble to stem transmissions amid increased social and leisure activities.
The figures announced by South Korea' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday brought the national caseload to 14,714 infections, including 305 deaths.
The KCDC says 35 of the new cases were local transmissions, all but three of them reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May.
The other 19 cases were linked to international arrivals. Health authorities have said imported cases are less threatening as they mandate tests and enforce two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico reported a near-record 926 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the country's accumulated total to 53,929.
The Health Department reported 6,686 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country's total confirmed cases so far to 492,522.
At that rate Mexico will reach a half million confirmed cases soon, but given the extremely low rate of testing — less than 1.1 million tests in a country of almost 130 million inhabitants — the number would like be a vast undercount. For the most part, only people with considerable symptoms are tested in Mexico.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has won another legal victory defending his COVID-19 executive orders, this time when a judge rejected Lt. Gov. Dan Forest's demand that they be blocked by declaring his lawsuit as unlikely to succeed.
Judge Jim Gale rejected Forest's request for a preliminary injunction on Tuesday.
The Republican lieutenant governor sued Cooper last month, alleging the Democrat's orders limiting business activities and mass gatherings and mandating face coverings were unlawful because he failed to first get support from the Council of State. The 10-member council includes both of them, Attorney General Josh Stein and other statewide elected officials.
Cooper's state attorneys argued that the governor acted properly under portions of the Emergency Management Act that don't require the concurrence of the council.
Cooper and Forest are running for governor this fall.
Forest said in a news release that since the judge ruled "Cooper has 100% of the power during a declared emergency," then the governor also "has 100% of the responsibility" for the results, including permanent business closings.
Cooper has said Forest's legal actions, if successful, could worsen case and hospitalization numbers that have recently stabilized or improved.
"Gov. Cooper has taken decisive action with health and safety measures to save lives," spokesperson Dory MacMillan wrote in an email.
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr Thomas Farley said he plans to tell a visiting group from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that long delays in getting coronavirus test results have been "very problematic" and to press them for a strategic approach to deploying a vaccine once it is available.
Long waits across the country for the results of coronavirus tests renders them virtually useless in helping to contain the spread of the virus, public health officials say.
The group is doing a site visit in Philadelphia through Thursday, part of a tour of a handful of cities around the country, Farley said.
Farley said he views the visit as a way to show what the city has been doing in terms of prevention, contact tracing and social distancing efforts.