France registered 52,010 new cases of COVID-19 infection in a 24-hour span, a new daily record after a record 45,422 on Saturday, according to the Public Health Agency on Sunday.
France now has a cumulative number of 1,138,507 coronavirus cases since the start of the epidemic, after it became the second European country on Friday to register more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases, after Spain.
A further 116 patients died from the disease in France within one day, bringing the death toll to 34,761 since the start of the outbreak, official data showed.
In addition, 17 percent of those tested for the virus now have positive results in France, after reaching 16 percent on Saturday against 15.1 percent the day before, in comparison to just 4.5 percent in early September.
The grim second wave of the epidemic had forced the French government to impose tougher restrictive measures including curfews in a majority of regions across the country. More than two-thirds of the French population, or around 46 million people, are requested to stay home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for six weeks.
On Saturday, the National Assembly adopted at the first reading the extension of the state of health emergency until Feb. 16. The bill authorizes the executive to introduce restrictions to face a "period which will be long and difficult," warned Health Minister Olivier Veran.
The toll will "grow heavier in the coming days and weeks, whatever we do" due to the dynamics of the epidemic, Veran has warned on Saturday.
"If we fail to contain the pandemic, we will be facing a dire situation and we will have to envisage much tougher measures," said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday, when announcing the extension of curfews to more French regions.
As the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe -- including France, Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the U.S. -- are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.
Read Also: Global COVID-19 cases surge to 42.9 mn: JHU
China is once again mass testing an entire city for the coronavirus amid a regional outbreak in Xinjiang province, reports BBC.
Around 4.7m people in Kashgar are being tested, with 138 asymptomatic cases found so far.
China has been largely successful in bringing infection rates down, but there continue to be small outbreaks.
Xinjiang is home to China's mostly-Muslim Uighur minority which rights groups say is being persecuted by the government in Beijing.
Schools in Kashgar have been closed and residents are not allowed to leave the city unless they have a negative test report.
The first case in the Kashgar outbreak was an asymptomatic woman working in a garment factory in Shufu county, on the outskirts of the city.
The woman, who was revealed to be infected following what Chinese state media described as "routine testing", was the first local case detected in mainland China for 10 days.
Widespread testing, which began on Saturday, uncovered another 137 asymptomatic cases.
Asymptomatic cases are not counted in China's official tally of 85,810 confirmed infections. The country's death toll stands at 4,634.
More than 2.8m tests had been conducted in Kashgar by Sunday afternoon and the rest will be completed within two days, according to city officials.
Kashgar is in China's western Xinjiang province, home to ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.
The province has a network of detention camps which China says are needed to tackle extremism. However, rights groups see them as part of a campaign to suppress the culture, language and identity of the Muslim minority.
The US recently blocked some exports from Xinjiang over alleged human rights abuses and forced labour.
While normal life has resumed in much of China, there continue to be small outbreaks that authorities have chosen to tackle with immediate mass testing.
Earlier in October, the city of Qingdao tested its entire population of nine million people.
In May, China tested the 11m-strong population of Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus was first identified.
Read Also: Global COVID-19 cases surge to 42.9 mn: JHU
Fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region continued Sunday, but Armenia and Azerbaijan reiterated their commitment to a peaceful resolution of their decades-old conflict and agreed to a third attempt to establish a cease-fire after four weeks of hostilities.
The agreement on a truce set to begin at 8 a.m. (0400 GMT) Monday was announced in a joint statement by the governments of the United States, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Two previous Russia-brokered cease-fires, including one last weekend, frayed immediately after taking force, with both sides accusing each other of violations.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet Sunday night that the U.S. facilitated “an intensive negotiation” and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov “have committed to implement and abide by the ceasefire” that comes into force Monday.
Russia, the U.S. and France, co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate the conflict, also took part in the talks, Pompeo said.
In a separate statement, co-chairs of the group said they would meet with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Geneva on Thursday “to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation ... of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The latest fighting that began Sept. 27 has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, killing hundreds in the largest escalation of hostilities between the South Caucasus neighbors in more than a quarter-century.
The deadly clashes have continued despite numerous calls for the cessation of hostilities and the two attempts at establishing a cease-fire.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the cease-fire agreement and reiterated his appeal to Armenia and Azerbaijan to fully implement it without delay and “resume substantive negotiations without preconditions,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The U.N. chief urged the parties to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh to deliver aid and “to make concrete steps towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Dujarric said.
According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 974 of their troops and 37 civilians have been killed in the clashes so far. Azerbaijani authorities haven’t disclosed their military losses, but say the fighting has killed 65 civilians and wounded 300.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that according to Moscow’s information, the death toll from the fighting was nearing 5,000, significantly higher than what both sides report.
On Friday, Pompeo hosted the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks, but the fighting raged on unabated.
On Sunday morning, the Nagorno-Karabakh army said battles continued “on all directions of the frontline,” and the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry accused Armenian forces of targeting several Azerbaijani regions. Armenian military officials reported “intense fighting” in the conflict zone throughout the day and “heavy battles” Sunday evening.
The four weeks of fighting have prompted concerns of a wider conflict involving Turkey, which has thrown its weight behind Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia.
It also worried worried Iran, which has borders with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Iran has occasionally complained about stray mortar rounds and rockets that injured people and damaged buildings in rural areas near the borders.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it deployed units of its ground forces to the border near the area of the conflict, the country’s state radio reported. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, chief of the Guard’s ground forces, said that Iran would not accept any action that “violates” the security and peace of Iranian people in the region.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan maintained they were committed to a peaceful resolution and blamed each other for hindering peace.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to end the fighting. “A cease-fire cannot be without conditions. The truce is possible only after Armenian leadership announces withdrawing its troops from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories,” Aliyev said Sunday.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, in turn, accused Azerbaijan of taking a “non-constructive” stance in negotiations. “To solve this issue, we need mutual concessions. Every time Armenia expresses willingness to make any concessions ... Azerbaijan comes up with new demands, new conditions,” Pashinian said Sunday in an interview.
The announcement of the new cease-fire came several hours after those remarks.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, tweeted Sunday that the president asked him to meet at the White House with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers on Friday and that he spoke on the phone Saturday with Pashinian and Aliyev.
“Congratulations to all of them for agreeing to adhere to the cease-fire today,” O’Brien said, adding that Pompeo and his deputy Stephen Biegun played key roles. “Lives will be saved in both nations.”
Read Also: Armenia, Azerbaijan agree on ceasefire
The confirmed COVID-19 cases have surpassed 42.9 million globally as of Monday morning, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The confirmed deaths toll has been registered over 1.15million globally. Besides, global recoveries have been recorded over 28.8 million, according to the data.
Currently, eight countries have over one million cases, the JHU says.
On Saturday, Colombia became the latest country to surpass the one million mark of COVID-19 infections.
The other countries are- US, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Argentina and Spain.
The US has registered over 225,000 deaths and more than 8.6 million infections – both the highest in the world.
New US virus cases have surpassed 83,700 for the 2nd day in a row.
Data published by the JHU shows that 83,718 new cases in the US were reported Saturday, nearly matching the 83,757 infections reported Friday.
Before that, the most cases reported in the United States on a single day had been 77,362 on July 16, reports AP.
Meanwhile, India’s daily coronavirus cases have dropped to nearly 50,000, maintaining a downturn over the last few weeks, according to an AP report.
India’s Health Ministry says 50,129 new cases have taken the overall tally to nearly 7.9 million on Sunday. It also reported 578 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 118,534.
Besides, the third hard-hit country Brazil has recorded 5,380,635 cases and 156, 903 deaths.
Spain declares emergency
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday declared a second nationwide state of emergency amid a resurgence in coronavirus infections, says another AP report.
Sánchez said his government will impose a 15-day nationwide curfew. Regions across Spain, except in the Canary Islands, will be subject to a curfew at night from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Vaccine in US
American physician and immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci says a COVID-19 vaccine could be available in the United States before the end of the year if proved to be "safe and effective".
The US government scientist told that the limited first doses would go to people according to a set prioritisation – and that it would take "several months into 2021" before it was more widely available.
He added that the vaccine wouldn't replace the need for public health measures to be in place to help protect people from the virus for a considerable time, reports BBC.
Coronavirus in Bangladesh
Bangladesh on Sunday saw further spike in COVID-19 cases as health authorities detected 1,308 new patients across the country in 24 hours, taking the total to 398,815.
During the period, 23 more patients died from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 5,803.
Besides, the total recoveries from coronavirus have jumped up to 315,107 with recovery of 1,544 patients from the disease during the period.
The fatality rate in Bangladesh is 1.46 percent, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The daily infection rate on Sunday was recorded 11.78 percent upon testing 11,103 samples in 24 hours. 17.67 percent of the tested 22,57,589 samples so far have turned out to be COVID-19 positive.
Several Arab trade associations have announced the boycott of French products, protesting the recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam.
Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.
He also described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France, reports Qatar-based Al Jazeera.
His comments, in addition to his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.
Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #ExceptGodsMessenger trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
In Kuwait, the chairman and members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves.
The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step, saying: “Based on the position of French President Emmanuel Macron and his support for the offensive cartoons against our beloved prophet, we decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until further notice.”
In Qatar, the Wajbah Dairy company announced a boycott of French products and pledged to provide alternatives, according to their Twitter account.
Al Meera Consumer Goods Company, a Qatari joint stock company, announced on Twitter: “We have immediately withdrawn French products from our shelves until further notice.”
“We affirm that as a national company, we work according to a vision consistent with our true religion, our established customs and traditions, and in a way that serves our country and our faith and meets the aspirations of our customers.”
Qatar University also joined the campaign. Its administration has postponed a French Cultural Week event indefinitely, citing the “deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols”.
In a statement on Twitter, the university said any prejudice against Islamic belief, sanctities and symbols is “totally unacceptable, as these offences harm universal human values and the highest moral principles that contemporary societies highly regard”.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) described Macron’s statements as “irresponsible”, and said they are aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.
“At a time when efforts must be directed towards promoting culture, tolerance and dialogue between cultures and religions, such rejected statements and calls for publishing insulting images of the Prophet (Muhammad) – may blessings and peace be upon him – are published,” said the council’s secretary-general, Nayef al-Hajraf.
Al-Hajraf called on world leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders to reject hate speech and contempt of religions and their symbols, and to respect the feelings of Muslims, instead of falling captive to Islamophobia.
In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry warned against the support of abuses and discriminatory policies that link Islam to terrorism, saying it “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world”.
On Friday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.
The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.