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AFP
September 20, 2020

Eastern EU members log record new virus count

World

AFP
September 20, 2020

WARSAW: Poland on Saturday reported a record of 1,002 new coronavirus cases, while neighbouring EU members Lithuania and Slovakia also logged their largest daily tallies since the pandemic began.

The Eastern European figures are in line with a surge in cases across Europe since August that has caused many countries to move back towards tougher restrictions.

“The numbers that we’re seeing now are a result of people having returned to normal, everyday life, a return to work,” Polish health ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz said.

“It’s what we’re seeing in the streets everyday: more people, more contact,” he told the Polish news agency PAP.

The increase brings the total of reported coronavirus cases in the nation of 38 million people to 78,330.

The ministry also reported Saturday 12 new Covid deaths, putting that total at close to 2,300.

In neighbouring Slovakia, a nation of 5.4 million people, the latest figure of 290 new infections brought its total to more than 6,500 cases.

“Now we have a new record. Today, the situation is becoming critical,” Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic wrote on Facebook.

“However, if we remain responsible, we will live relatively freely despite the pandemic.”

Lithuania, a Baltic state with a population of 2.8 million, reported its highest daily count as well.

The 99 new infections put the country’s total at more than 3,600 cases.

The Czech Republic for its part reported more than 2,100 new cases, a day after registering a record of 3,130 new infections.

Deaths in Iran from the novel coronavirus have topped 24,000, the health ministry said on Saturday, blaming reduced use of face masks by the public.

Figures “show that the use of masks is declining, and at the same time we see a rise in daily infections and hospitalisations,” ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in televised remarks.

“Let us not forget that the current condition of the virus reflects our observance of health protocols and mask usage,” she said.

Since late February, Iran has been battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of Covid-19.

Infections and deaths have been on a rising trajectory this month.

Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.

In the 24 hours to Saturday, 2,845 people tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the total to 419,043, the health ministry said.

A further 166 deaths from the disease were recorded, bringing the overall toll to 24,118.

There has been scepticism at home and abroad about Iran’s official figures, amid concerns the real toll could be much higher.

Iran has made wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and repeatedly called on the public to refrain from non-essential travel.Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is spending the weekend considering whether to tighten Covid-19 measures in England, after saying the UK was “now seeing a second wave”.The government is understood to be looking at a ban on households mixing, and reducing opening hours for pubs. At least 13.5 million people, roughly one in five of the UK population, are already facing local restrictions.Former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said new measures were needed “sooner rather than later”.The scientist, whose advice was crucial to the decision to go into lockdown in March, said: “If we leave it another two to four weeks, we will be back at (infection) levels we were seeing more like mid-March.The UAE on Saturday recorded 809 new cases of Covid-19 and one death.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said the total number of infected cases since the pandemic began has reached 84,242, while the total deaths has reached 404.

A further 722 people recovered from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 73,512 recoveries. The ministry said 103,000 new tests have been conducted on various groups of society, using the best and latest medical examination techniques.

The UAE health minister Abdul Rahman Al-Owais received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, after the UAE authorized the use of the vaccine for doctors and frontline workers.

The ministry said in a statement that the minister received the vaccine “in line with the ministry’s plan that was announced last week, which includes providing the coronavirus vaccine to specific groups in the first line of defense,” state news agency WAM reported.

Al-Owais said: “By presenting this vaccine, we seek to provide all safety measures for the heroes of the first line of defense and protect them from any dangers that they may face due to the nature of their work.”

He added that the clinical trials of the vaccine conducted by the country’s health sector “showed positive results, and proved that it is safe and effective and will contribute to reducing the losses caused by the pandemic to preserve lives.”

The United Kingdom reported 4,422 new daily cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, 100 more new cases than on Friday and the highest daily total since May 8.