- Philippines overtakes neighbouring Indonesia as country with highest number coronavirus infections in the Far East.
- Mexico nears 50,000 confirmed deaths from coronavirus.
- Health Canada recalls more than 50 hand sanitizers.
- Blood donor study suggests 120,000 Quebecers have been infected with COVID-19.
- Germany sees highest number of new infections in a day for three months.
Thailand has delayed plans for a “travel bubble” agreement with select countries as new daily coronavirus cases rise in parts of Asia, putting pressure on its vital tourism industry and complicating efforts to revive its battered economy.
Thailand first proposed the idea in June to allow movement between select countries that have low infection numbers, without the need for travellers to undergo quarantine.
But that has been shelved, officials said, amid second and third waves in East Asian countries that previously had their outbreaks under control.
“We are delaying discussion of travel bubble arrangements for now given the outbreak situation in other countries,” Thailand’s coronavirus task force spokesperson, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, told Reuters.
Despite more than two months without confirmed local transmission and recording only 3,300 cases, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is facing its worst crisis in several decades.
Foreign arrivals plunged 66 per cent in the first six months of the year, to 6.69 million. The industry has warned that 1.6 trillion baht ($68 billion Cdn) of revenue could be wiped out this year.
By comparison, Thailand had a record 39.8 million tourists in all of 2019, spending 1.93 trillion baht ($82.3 billion).
“Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were among those considered [for a travel bubble] because those areas had a low number of cases, but now they were in double-digits so discussions were put on hold,” Taweesin said, referring to new daily infections.
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Reviving talks would depend on the situation in each country, which the task force was assessing daily, he said, noting that was a widely accepted industry view.
The island of Phuket has instead proposed receiving direct flights from those countries, with tourists and business executives doing two-week quarantines in their hotels before going out.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 5:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 118,187 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 102,788 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 9,001.
Health Canada is recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers that contain ingredients “not acceptable for use” that may pose health risks.
The agency says hand sanitizers with “unacceptable types” of ethanol or denaturants have not been approved for use in sanitizers in Canada, and their safety and efficacy have not been established.
Denaturants are ingredients added to ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption to avoid unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers particularly by children.
Health Canada said possible reactions to the ingredients include skin irritation, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches.
Health Canada has an evolving list on its website of 51 hand sanitizers that are currently being recalled and says Canadians should consult the list regularly. The organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional “if you have used these products and have health concerns.”
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases was more than 18.8 million as of 5:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. More than 707,905 people have died, while 11.3 million have recovered. The U.S. and Brazil lead case numbers, with a combined total of more than 7.6 million.
The Philippines on Thursday recorded another jump in coronavirus cases to overtake neighbouring Indonesia as the country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in East Asia.
A recent surge in cases of the virus in and around the capital Manila has pushed President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a two-week lockdown in and around the city, affecting around a quarter of the country’s 107 million people.
The Philippines recorded 3,561 new infections on Thursday, taking its total confirmed cases to 119,460. That is higher than Indonesia’s 118,753 confirmed cases. The death toll rose by 28 to 2,150, which is less than half of Indonesia’s 5,521 fatalities, but is expected to grow after the recent spike in cases.
A health official says Vietnam’s COVID-19 outbreak could peak in the coming 10 days as the country reported another death and scores of new infections.
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son, who is in hot spot Da Nang to oversee the fight against the virus, says new infections have been found every day and “therefore, we have to continue keeping [our] guard up.”
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Germany’s national disease control centre has registered the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a day for three months.
The Robert Koch Institute says 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday. It was the first time since May 7 that it has counted more than 1,000 cases in a day. It’s still far short of early April’s peak of more than 6,000.
While daily numbers are volatile, the figure fits into a pattern of new cases edging higher over recent weeks as authorities deal with a number of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.
India has recorded its biggest single day for fatalities with 904 in the past 24 hours as fresh coronavirus infections surged by another 56,282 cases to reach nearly two million.
The Health Ministry says the total fatalities reached 40,699. India has recorded 20,000 deaths in the past 30 days.
The ministry also said the recovery rate has improved to 67 per cent from 63 per cent over the last 14 days. Nearly 600,000 patients are still undergoing treatment.
The governor of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture has announced a regional “state of emergency” seeking to curb the coronavirus.
Gov. Hideaki Ohmura on Thursday asked businesses to close altogether or close early and urged people to stay home at night.
The governor says confirmed coronavirus cases have been rising in Aichi since mid-July at 100 or more a day. Before that, daily cases had been zero for extended periods.
Mexico is nearing 50,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
The federal Health Department reported 829 newly confirmed deaths Wednesday, giving the country a total of 49,698 such deaths. That is the third-highest number of pandemic deaths in the world. Officials said Mexico’s number of confirmed infections rose by 6,139 to 449,961.
Authorities acknowledge Mexico’s real number of deaths could be much higher, in part because it has done so little testing. Only about one million tests have been performed in the country of almost 130 million people since the pandemic began.