Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on Tuesday
Coronavirus reinfection of 2 European patients raises concerns about immunity
- Two European patients are confirmed to have been reinfected with coronavirus.
- Spain ready to send in troops to tackle coronavirus resurgence.
- India's new COVID cases top global tally for 18th straight day.
- EU trade commissioner insists rules were followed during trip to Ireland.
- Turkey reports highest number of cases since mid-June, bans some celebrations.
- Hong Kong announces easing of some physical distancing measures.
- Canada 'lagging behind' on approving COVID-19 saliva tests, some warn as school year nears.
- Gaza in lockdown to try to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak.
- Usain Bolt has tested positive for coronavirus, Jamaica's health ministry confirms.
- Japan on track to host 2021 Olympics, according to Tokyo governor.
Two European patients are confirmed to have been reinfected with the coronavirus, raising concerns about people's immunity to the virus as the world struggles to tame the pandemic.
The cases, in Belgium and the Netherlands, follow a report this week by researchers in Hong Kong about a man there who had been reinfected four and a half months after being declared recovered — the first such reinfection to be documented.
That has fuelled fears about the effectiveness of potential vaccines against the virus, though experts say there would need to be many more cases of reinfection for these to be justified.
WATCH | Hong Kong reinfection case could have one silver lining, microbiologist says:
Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst said the Belgian case was a woman who had contracted COVID-19 for the first time in March and then again in June. Further cases of reinfection were likely to surface, he said.
"We don't know if there will be a large number. I think probably not, but we will have to see," he told Reuters, noting that COVID-19 has only been in humans for less than a year.
"Perhaps a vaccine will need to be repeated every year, or within two or three years. It seems clear though that we won't have something that works for, say, 10 years," he said.
Van Ranst, who sits on some Belgian COVID-19 committees, said in cases such as the Belgian woman's in which symptoms were relatively mild, the body may not have created enough antibodies to prevent a reinfection, although they might have helped limit the sickness.
The National Institute for Public Health in the Netherlands said it had also observed a Dutch case of reinfection. Virologist Marion Koopmans was quoted by Dutch broadcaster NOS as saying the patient in the Netherlands was an older person with a weakened immune system.
Koopmans said that cases where people have been sick with the virus for a long time, and then experience a flare-up, are better known.
But a true reinfection, as in the Dutch, Belgian and Hong Kong cases, requires genetic testing of the virus in both the first and second infection to see whether the two instances of the virus differ slightly.
Koopmans, an adviser to the Dutch government, said reinfections had been expected.
"That someone would pop up with a reinfection, it doesn't make me nervous," she said. "We have to see whether it happens often."
WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told a UN briefing in Geneva regarding the Hong Kong case that, while anecdotal reports of reinfections had surfaced now and then, it was important to have clear documentation of such cases.
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Some experts say it is likely that such cases are starting to emerge because of greater testing worldwide, rather than because the virus may be spreading differently.
Still, Dr. David Strain, a clinical senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and chair of the British Medical Association's medical academic staff committee, said the cases were worrying for several reasons.
"The first is that it suggests that previous infection is not protective," he said. "The second is that it raises the possibility that vaccinations may not provide the hope that we have been waiting for."
What's happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 1:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 125,810 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 111,862 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 9,121.
Researchers and public health officials in Canada have been calling for COVID-19 saliva tests in schools, saying that asking a school-aged child to spit in a cup could be a simpler approach to giving them an invasive, uncomfortable nasal swab test.
But despite international efforts to make this option a reality, there's still no word on when saliva-based testing for COVID-19 will be allowed in Canada.
"School is just around the corner, and I feel like we're lagging behind," said researcher Dr. Michael Glogauer, a professor in the faculty of dentistry at the University of Toronto, who has been focusing on saliva as a diagnostic tool for the last two decades.
WATCH | Saliva tests helpful but not game changer, expert says:
South of the border, five saliva-based tests have been approved so far by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But no such saliva-based tests have yet been authorized by Health Canada.
Dozens of research teams at the University of Toronto and across the country are exploring saliva-based testing, Glogauer said, and dealing with ongoing "back and forth" with government officials.
Glogauer's own team is focusing on one of the FDA-approved saliva-based lab tests already in use in the U.S. and is now applying for Health Canada approval.
"It's effective, it works, it can be used within the laboratory system. It's plug and play," he said. "It's just a matter of Health Canada approving these tests, and getting to work on it."
Ontario reported 105 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, a fourth straight day in the triple digits for the province, as Toronto's Sunnybrook hospital faced an outbreak of COVID-19.
The hospital said it has identified a total of four cases, after recently detecting a positive case in one of its units. When that was confirmed, the hospital said it rapidly tested all patients in the unit and identified the three other infections.
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Also on Monday, Toronto's top doctor said that in the last two weeks, the city has seen a noticeable increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in people under 40 years old.
That includes residents in both the 20-to-39 demographic, as well as those 19 years old and younger, said Dr. Eileen de Villa at a news conference.
De Villa said she understands "we are all feeling COVID fatigue" but that everyone needs to continue to heed the advice of Toronto Public Health.
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Here's what's happening around the world
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 23.7 million. More than 814,000 people have died, while 15.3 million have recovered.
Nursing homes in the United States will now be required to test staff for COVID-19 and offer testing to residents, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Tuesday.
The new rules also require nursing homes to share test results with the U.S. government and for hospitals to provide data on COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Reuters on Monday that the agency does not harbour "deep state" elements, rejecting criticism from President Donald Trump that staff there were trying to delay a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr. Stephen Hahn said he was completely confident that FDA workers were focused solely on the interests of the American people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Without evidence, Trump on Saturday accused some people working within the FDA of complicating efforts to test COVID-19 vaccines in order to delay results until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.
"I have not seen anything that I would consider to be 'deep state' at the FDA," Hahn told Reuters in an interview. Trump's use of the term deep state seems to refer to long-serving government employees he believes are determined to undermine his agenda.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday that troops would be made available to help regions to overcome a worrying resurgence of the coronavirus.
He also said regional administrations could make decisions themselves on how to handle the fight against the epidemic rather than have the central government take charge.
WATCH | Belgium grocery stores use UV zapper to disinfect carts:
The government would support requests by regional leaders to declare localized states of emergency, Sanchez said.
Spain's cumulative tally of coronavirus cases — already Western Europe's highest — hit 405,436 after a surge last week, which was the worst week for infections since the epidemic's peak in late March, Health Ministry figures show.
India reported on Tuesday the highest number of new coronavirus cases globally for the 18th straight day, remaining well ahead of the United States and Brazil, a Reuters tally based on official reporting showed.
It took India from the end of January, when the country's first case was reported, until July to reach around 1.6 million cases, a period when the government imposed a strict lockdown. However, infections have rocketed by another 1.5 million since the start of August.
The rate of new cases in India is increasing rapidly, climbing by 60,975 in the latest 24-hour period, according to the federal health ministry.
But deaths have remained comparatively low — at 58,390, or 1.84 per cent of total cases — lower than the global mortality percentage of 3.4 per cent.
The European Union's trade commissioner Phil Hogan said on Tuesday he adhered to all COVID-19 rules during a trip to Ireland in the past month, while acknowledging he should not have attended a golf dinner that has sparked outrage.
The event led an Irish minister to resign and several lawmakers to be disciplined. Hogan also drew criticism for twice visiting a county under lockdown.
"To the best of my knowledge and ability I believe that I complied with public health regulations in Ireland during my visit," Hogan said in a statement.
This is his third apology for attending the event, having just arrived from Belgium, which due to its relatively high rate of coronavirus infections is not on Ireland's travel "green" list, legally obligating him to self-isolate for 14 days.
Hogan said he did so until he received the negative COVID-19 test halfway through that period, and was under no subsequent legal requirement to self-isolate, citing an Irish government website on general testing and isolating requirements.
However, Ireland's health service executive said on Twitter that the 14-day rule applied in all circumstances, even with a negative test after arrival.
Turkey's case load jumped to its highest level since mid-June on Tuesday, recording 1,502 new cases. In response, the government banned some celebrations in 14 provinces.
The country's total now exceeds 261,000 people, with 6,163 deaths, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
Hong Kong announced it will ease some physical distancing measures later this week, allowing beauty salons and cinemas to reopen and relaxing an evening dine-in ban, as daily coronavirus infections in the city dwindled.
Restaurants now banned from providing dine-in services after 6 p.m. will be allowed to serve customers until 9 p.m. starting Friday. Businesses such as cinemas, beauty salons and some outdoor sports venues will be allowed to reopen, and residents will no longer be required to wear masks when exercising outdoors or while in country parks.
The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city had seen a surge in coronavirus infections in July, leading the government to implement its toughest social-distancing measures yet, which included limiting public gatherings to two people.
South Korea is closing schools and switching back to remote learning in the greater capital area as the country counted its 12th straight day of triple-digit daily increases in coronavirus cases.
Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said Tuesday that at least 193 students and teachers were found infected over the past two weeks in the Seoul metropolitan region, where a viral surge has threatened to erase the country's hard-won epidemiological gains.
South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 280 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the 12-day total to 3,175. The country's caseload is now at 17,945, including 310 deaths.
Yoo said most children at kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools will receive online classes at least until Sept. 11. High-school seniors will continue to go to school so their studies are not disrupted ahead of the crucial national college exams.
In Japan, officials say the 2021 Olympics are on track, due to progress in Tokyo.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday that the capital is showing improvements and that she is still intent on the city hosting the Olympics next year.
"I think the situation is much better than before," Koike said in an interview with Reuters. "We will do our best to prevent coronavirus infections here in Japan and also to welcome the athletes from all over the world."
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News