World

Countries successful in coronavirus fight seeing resurgent cases: WHO

After success in suppressing spread they relaxed curbs, and case numbers rise

GENEVA: Many countries that have been successful in tackling the coronavirus are seeing a rise in cases from religious or leisure gatherings or in closed quarters like nightclubs and dormitories since relaxing curbs, World Health Organisation (WHO) officials said.

South Korea said for the first time on Monday it was in the midst of a "second wave" of infections around Seoul.

"There are many countries right now that have had success in suppressing transmission and bringing human-to-human transmission to a low level that are starting to see increasing cases," WHO epidemiologist and technical lead on the pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove said, naming South Korea as one of them.

She stopped short of describing it as a "second wave".

"Any opportunity that the virus has to take hold, it will," Dr Van Kerkhove said, urging countries to "put everything they can" into isolating such cases to prevent renewed community transmission.

Countries such as the US are seeing cases skyrocketing in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida and Missouri.

In Florida, which reopened bars and restaurants earlier this month, emergency physician Rajiv Bahl said cases were rising across age groups.

"Personally, I am seeing more patients who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s with upper respiratory symptoms than I did before," he told AFP.

"While it is not exactly known why this is the case, it may be because of the opening of bars and restaurants," he added.

BENCHMARK

The US on Monday passed the grim benchmark of 120,000 deaths from the outbreak when it added another 425 fatalities in 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tally showed.

It is the hardest-hit country by the pandemic, with more than 2.31 million official cases.

In a separate development, French drugmaker Sanofi said yesterday it expects to get approval for a potential Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) by the first half of next year, which is faster than previously anticipated.

Sanofi, which is hosting a virtual research and development event, and GSK had said in April that the vaccine, if successful, would be available in the second half of 2021.

"We are being guided by our dialogue with regulatory authorities," Sanofi research chief John Reed told reporters, when asked about the accelerated time frame.

There are currently no vaccines to prevent the virus that has infected more than nine million people and killed more than 469,000 globally.

Many drugmakers are racing to come up with a safe and effective vaccine that can be produced at large scale.

Said Sanofi chief executive Paul Hudson: "There are companies moving faster, but let us be brutally clear, speed has three downsides.

"They are using existing work, in many cases done for Sars; it is likely not to be as efficacious; and there is no guarantee on supply in large volumes." - REUTERS, AFP

WORLD