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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

17 Sep 2020 / 19:10 H.

    Sept 17 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

    Global cases to reach grim milestone

    Global coronavirus cases are expected to pass 30 million on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing.

    India was firmly in focus as the latest epicentre, although North and South America combined accounted for almost half of the global cases.

    Global new daily case numbers reached record levels in recent days and deaths neared 1 million as the international race to develop and market a vaccine heated up.

    The official number of global coronavirus cases is now more than five times the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to World Health Organization data.

    Trump contradicts CDC director

    President Donald Trump took exception on Wednesday to comments from the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be broadly rolled out in mid-2021 and that masks might be even more effective.

    Robert Redfield, in testimony to a congressional committee, said that general availability of a vaccine could come by "late second quarter, third quarter 2021."

    Trump, at a news conference, said he believed a vaccine will be rolled out much sooner. He said he called Redfield after his testimony to question him about it, and that Redfield appeared to have been confused by the question.

    "I think he made a mistake when he said that," Trump said of Redfield's testimony. "I don't think he means that. When he said it, I believe he was confused."

    'Fantastic outcome' in Australia's virus epicentre

    Australia on Thursday reported its lowest one-day rise in new COVID-19 cases in nearly three months, as states said restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus will be further relaxed.

    Australia said 35 cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day rise since June 24.

    Victoria state - Australia's COVID-19 epicentre - accounted for the bulk of the new cases, with 28 people diagnosed with the virus in the past 24 hours.

    "It is a fantastic outcome and a tribute to the hard work, sacrifice and contribution every single Victorian is making and I want to say thank you," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

    Philippines considers relaxing travel ban for nurses

    The Philippines is considering allowing more nurses and other medical professionals to leave for jobs abroad after banning them from travel so they can fight coronavirus at home, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Thursday.

    Thousands of the nurses, who call themselves "priso-nurses" have appealed to the government to be allowed to travel, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The nurses say they feel underpaid, underappreciated and unprotected at home.

    Health care workers from the Philippines are on the front lines of the pandemic at hospitals in the United States, Europe and the Middle East as well as back home.

    Tracking device for UAE visitors

    International passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi airport will now have to wear a tracking device while they complete a mandatory 14-day home quarantine due to COVID-19, according to state-owned Etihad Airways.

    Daily infections in the United Arab Emirates rose this month to their highest since the outbreak started, which officials have largely blamed on people not practicing social distancing.

    Those arriving at Abu Dhabi airport will be fitted with a medically approved wristband, which is removed after the 14-days of home quarantine. Those arriving from countries deemed to be a high risk may have to quarantine in a government facility. (Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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