People walk along the beach in Miami Beach, Florida, US, on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Photo: Jayme Gershen/Bloomberg)

COVID-19 cases approach 10 million: Global virus update

People walk along the beach in Miami Beach, Florida, US, on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Photo: Jayme Gershen/Bloomberg)

Key Developments:

Iran Cases Increase

The number of COVID-19 cases in Iran surpassed 220,000 on Saturday with 2,456 new infections in the past 24 hours. Iran remains the Middle East’s worst-hit nation by the virus with at least 2,000 new cases every day over the past month. Fatalities reached 10,364 as 125 people died from the virus overnight, up from 109 the day before.

Virus Found in Spanish Wastewater in March 2019

A Spanish study found evidence of coronavirus in Barcelona wastewater 10 months before the Spanish government reported its first infection. The research, which hasn’t been scientifically reviewed by peers, is based on a finding from water collected March 12, 2019, and frozen for later testing. This indicates “that the infection was present in the population before the first imported case was reported,” according to the study, whose authors include Rosa Pinto, a microbiology professor at the University of Barcelona. Samples taken in the rest of 2019 resulted negative.

South African Restaurants Can Reopen Without Alcohol

Restaurants, fast-food outlets and coffee shops in South Africa can reopen after lockdown rules imposed in late March were eased, but won’t be allowed to serve alcohol or offer self-service buffets, according to new industry health protocols. The eateries will also have to ensure patrons wear face masks unless they are eating or drinking and are seated at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart, while tables and menus will be sanitized after each use.

South Africa has had 124,590 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, the most in Africa, and 2,340 people who contracted the disease have died, data from the Health Ministry shows.

UK Cases Traced to Pakistan

Half of Britain’s imported cases originated in Pakistan, the Telegraph reported. Since June 4, 30 cases have been identified in people who arrived from Pakistan, the paper said. More than 65,000 people arrived in the U.K. from the country on 190 flights since March 1, most with British passports.

Russian Cases Rise 1.1%

Russia reported 6,852 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a 1.1% increase to 627,646 total infections. Some 188 people with Covid-19 died, bringing the death toll from the outbreak in Russia to 8,969.

The numbers were broadly in line with Friday’s data, which marked the lowest number of new cases for Russia in nearly two months.

German Infection Rate Drops for Fifth Day

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell for a fifth straight day to a level last recorded three weeks ago, while the number of new cases remained below that at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor — or R value — dropped to 0.57 on Friday from 0.59 the previous day, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute. The estimate means that out of 100 people who get infected, a further 57 are likely to contract the virus. The government is trying to keep the value below 1.0.

There were 665 new cases in the 24 hours through Saturday morning, up from 500 the previous day and bringing the total to 194,036, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with almost 7,000 at the peak in late March. Fatalities increased by 25 to 8,965.

Tokyo Cases Jump to Seven-Week High, NHK Says

Coronavirus cases in Tokyo jumped on Saturday, with public broadcaster NHK reporting 57 new infections, the most since May 5.

If confirmed by authorities, that will mean daily increases in cases have exceeded 50 — a key threshold for Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike — in three of the past four days.

More than a month has passed since Japan ended its state of emergency and began relaxing restriction requests for businesses. Cases have climbed as workers returned to trains and offices. However, authorities have been relatively relaxed about the rise given the low number of hospitalizations, with many of the cases occurring in young people.

Second-Generation Vaccines Are Built for Impact

Speed isn’t the only thing that matters in the quest for a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

They may not cross the finish line first, but dozens of companies and universities still see an opening for inoculations that prevent more infections, provide lasting immunity, protect older and more vulnerable people, yield massive quantities or ship easily throughout the world. Those are benefits the front-runners may not be able to deliver.

Some of the world’s most prolific and experienced vaccine developers — Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Merck & Co. — are among at least 100 challengers trailing the leaders. While they haven’t begun testing their experimental shots in humans, the companies are emerging as formidable contenders in the race to halt the virus.

India Bets Oil Demand Will Recover Fast After Virus Lockdown Shock

India, the third-biggest oil consumer, expects fuel demand will recover more quickly than projections by the International Energy Agencyand OPEC.

“If you look at the trend of the past few weeks, I’m confident that by the end of second quarter, demand will be as usual,” India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at the BloombergNEF Summit, referring to the quarter ending September.

Twitter to Improve Labels for COVID-Related Tweets

Twitter is developing its automated capabilities to improve the labeling of coronavirus-related tweets, the company said in a tweet. The company will enhance the tagging process to be more precise and to show fewer labels on unrelated tweets, it said.

In the past few weeks, the company has been labeling some tweets linked to additional info about COVID-19. “Not all of those tweets had potentially misleading content associating COVID-19 and 5G,” Twitter says. “We apologize for any confusion and we’re working to improve our labeling process.”

Brazil Cases Jump 3.8%

Brazil reported 46,860 new cases, a 3.8% increase, for a total of 1.27 million, according to Health Ministry’s website. Fatalities rose by 990, to 55,961.