Coronavirus cases continue to surge across U.S.

Coronavirus cases continue to surge across U.S.

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Health-care workers test patients at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in St. Petersburg, Florida. The U.S. reported more than 58,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

The latest:

  • U.S. reports more than 58,000 new COVID-19 cases, Trump pushes for schools to reopen.
  • Canada’s public health agency warns threat of COVID-19 resurgence in Canada ‘not just hypothetical.’
  • The resort island of Bali, Indonesia reopens after three-month virus lockdown.
  • Federal government delivers grim economic forecast to Canadians in its “fiscal snapshot.”
  • Tokyo confirms over 220 new cases, exceeds record daily increase from mid-April.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it was setting up an independent panel to review both its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

The announcement follows strong criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which accused the WHO of being “China-centric,” and U.S. formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the UN agency in a year’s time.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel and choose its members, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual meeting with representatives of WHO’s 194 member states, which was webcast.

“This is not a standard report that ticks a box and is then put on a shelf to gather dust. This is something we take seriously,” Tedros said, noting that the panel would provide an interim report to an annual meeting of health ministers being reconvened in November.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that the health body is setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments. (Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Clark, addressing the meeting, said that the assignment “could only be described as exceptionally challenging.”

Tedros noted that in May, WHO’s member states adopted unanimously a resolution put forward by the European Union calling for an evaluation of the global response to the pandemic.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 6:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 106,434 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 70,247 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,777.

WATCH | Bill Morneau on $343B deficit, post-pandemic recovery:

Finance Minister Bill Morneau talks to CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton about the $343-billion deficit largely created by emergency spending during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the government plans to recover. 3:53

The federal government delivered Wednesday a grim economic forecast to Canadians in its “fiscal snapshot.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent the deficit soaring to a historic $343.2 billion, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.

Nearly two million Canadian workers could remain unemployed this year.

Morneau said one of his priorities is to fix the social and economic gaps that left women, young people and racialized Canadians to suffer the biggest economic blows from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

According to John Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases was at 12.06 million as of 6:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Over 549,900 people have died, while 6.6 million have recovered. The U.S. and Brazil lead case numbers, with a combined total of more than 4.7 million.      

The United States confirmed more than 58,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day. 

The number of confirmed cases in the country has passed three million — meaning nearly one in every 100 people has been confirmed as infected — and the number of deaths is more than 132,000.

In addition to nearly 10,000 new cases in Florida, California and Texas each reported over 7,000 new cases. Tennessee, West Virginia and Utah all had record daily increases in new cases and infections are rising in 42 out of 50 states, according to a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.

While cases continue to climb across the U.S., President Donald Trump is pushing for states to reopen their schools. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Officials in New Jersey and New York, the hardest-hit states at the outset of the U.S. outbreak, are trying to preserve progress against the virus as it resurges in other parts of the country, especially the south and west.

More than 47,000 people have perished from COVID-19 in the two northeastern states, representing more than a third of the 132,000 U.S. deaths, according to John Hopkins.

Houston, the largest city in Texas and the U.S. oil industry’s hub, registered more than 1,000 new cases on Tuesday, a single-day record, Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted on Wednesday, calling the spread “severe and uncontrolled.”

While cases soar across the country, President Donald Trump remains determined to reopen America’s schools despite worries about the virus, and on Wednesday threatened to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall. He complained that his own public health officials’ safety guidelines are impractical and too expensive.

WATCH | Infection control specialist on the importance of wearing a mask to limit the spread of coronavirus: 

Dr. Susy Hota says there is ‘additional emerging evidence’ that wearing a mask may also help protect the user from being infected. 5:58 

Despite Trump’s pressure, New York City announced that most of its students would return to classrooms only two or three days a week and would learn online in between.

“Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

India reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections Thursday and its transmission rate is increasing for the first time since March.

The new cases bring the total in the world’s third worst-affected country to 767,296. India’s health ministry said the COVID-19 death toll had risen to 21,129.

Indian medical volunteers take temperatures as they conduct medical screening inside the Dharavi slums to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

Research by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai showed that India’s virus reproduction rate ticked up in the first week of July to 1.19 after steadily falling from peak transmission of 1.83 in March. The rate needs to be below one for new cases to start falling.

India’s infection numbers have skyrocketed since lockdown restrictions were eased. At the same time, testing has ramped up to more than 200,000 samples a day, compared to just a few hundred in March.

In Australia, which had initial success containing the outbreak, authorities on Thursday reported 179 new cases, most of them in the city of Melbourne, where authorities are battling a resurgence and have imposed a new six-week lockdown.

Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said six new cases were from a Melbourne high school that has become the state’s largest known cluster, with 113 people infected. More than 2,000 students and hundreds of staff are in quarantine.

Tokyo confirmed more than 220 new cases Thursday, exceeding its record daily increase from mid-April and prompting concerns of widening infections. Tokyo’s more than 7,000 cases are about one-third of the nation’s total.

Experts on Tokyo’s virus task force said the majority of recent cases were linked to nightclubs, but rising infections from households, workplaces and parties raised concerns the virus is spreading in the wider community.

Serbian police fired tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters in the capital as violence erupted for a second day during demonstrations against the president’s handling of the outbreak.

President Aleksandar Vucic backtracked on reinstating a lockdown in Belgrade this week, but demonstrations in front of parliament turned violent, with protesters firing flares and throwing stones while trying to storm the downtown parliament building.

Tokyo confirmed more than 220 new cases Thursday, exceeding its record daily increase from mid-April and prompting concerns of widening infections. (Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

A number of people were injured. Critics of the autocratic Vucic say his lifting of the previous lockdown measures contributed to the current surge in cases and was done for political reasons.

The resort island of Bali in Indonesia reopened Thursday after a three-month virus lockdown, allowing local people and stranded foreign tourists to resume public activities before foreign arrivals resume in September.

Beaches and streets on the island emptied in early April except for special patrols to ensure virus-containment protocols were observed. Authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and shut down shops, restaurants and many other places.

The move comes as infections continue to surge in Indonesia. The nation reported a record of nearly 2,000 new infections in its latest daily update.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is turning himself into a test case for hydroxychloroquine live before millions as he swallows pills on social media and encourages others to do the same.

President Jair Bolsonaro is taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven anti-malaria drug, to try to cure his coronavirus infection after he tested positive on Tuesday. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

Bolsonaro said this week that he tested positive for the virus but already felt better thanks to the unproven anti-malaria drug. Hours later he shared a video of himself gulping down what he said was his third dose.

He was again extolling the drug’s benefits on Facebook, and claimed that his political opponents were rooting against it.

A string of studies in the United Kingdom and United States, as well as by the World Health Organization, have found chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine ineffective against COVID-19 and sometimes deadly because of their adverse side effects on the heart. Several studies were cancelled early because of adverse effects.

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