By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 worldwide climbed to 40.6 million on Tuesday, amid continued rises in cases in Europe and the U.S., and a World Health Organization official urged governments to emulate actions taken in those regions that have succeeded in getting the deadly illness under control.
Dr. Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at the WHO, told reporters at a briefing that Asian countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Australia, have succeeded in containing the spread in different ways, but share a focus on case detection, case isolation and quarantining of contacts of patients who test positive, and by supporting people in quarantine through the process.
“If you think at any one time in the community transmission environment, between one in 400 and in 500 people may be carrying, may be actively positive for COVID. Imagine that one person as a case and they have 10 contacts. If I quarantine those contacts, it’s 11 people who are affected by the measures, as opposed to a lockdown which is 400 to 500 people affected.
“And the success the countries in Asia had was their ability to find those 11 people, find the cases and the contacts, and do enough to start breaking the chains of transmission — and continue to do that,” he said.
Ryan acknowledged that Asian countries have higher levels of trust in their governments and compliance with government measures, but they also have “serious follow-through.” They did not reduce testing centers, or reduce clinical capacity when their numbers started to come down, but instead increased their efforts.
“Too many countries have put an imaginary finishing line in place, and when they crossed it, they decelerated their efforts,” said Ryan.
The U.S. added 64,218 new cases on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker. In the last week, the U.S. has averaged 59,269 cases a day, which is up 34% from the average two weeks earlier.
Hospitals in some parts of the Midwest are filling. There are currently 37,744 Americans with COVID-19 in hospitals, according to the COVID Tracking Project, the highest number since late August. North Dakota and South Dakota now have the most per capita cases in the U.S. and lead 33 states that have rising cases that are remaining high.
North Dakota has counted 4,900 new infections in the last seven days, or 643 per 100,000 people. South Dakota has counted 4,911 cases in the last seven days, equal to 555 per 100,000 people.
In other news:
• The chief executive of Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -3.97% Stéphane Bancel said the federal government could authorize emergency use of the company’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine in December, if the company gets positive interim results in November from a large clinical trial, The Wall Street Journal reported. Bancel, speaking during The Wall Street Journal’s annual Tech Live conference Monday, said sufficient interim results from the study takes longer to get, government authorization of the vaccine may not occur until early next year. Cambridge, Mass.,-based Moderna has one of the leading Covid-19 vaccines in development, along with a vaccine co-developed by Pfizer Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +0.86% and BioNTech SE /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX -6.00% . Large U.S. trials for two other leading Covid-19 vaccines, from Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ -0.40% and AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.74% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +2.02% have been paused, while the companies investigate unexplained illnesses among study subjects. Bancel’s comments suggest Moderna’s timetable isn’t far off from Pfizer’s, which said last week it expects to seek U.S. authorization of emergency use of its vaccine by late November.
• Passengers flying from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and Italy will now be able to get rapid coronavirus tests before checking in, MarketWatch’s Lina Saigol reported. The test, which can be booked online from Tuesday, costs £80 ($104), and results will be available within 60 minutes. The aim of the test is to help people traveling to destinations where proof of a negative result is needed on arrival. Authorities in Hong Kong require passengers to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before they are allowed in, while those arriving in Italy from the U.K. need to either show that they have had a negative coronavirus test before departure or take a test on arrival at an airport.
Wuhan, Former Pandemic Center, Emerges as Tourist Hot Spot
Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, had the most tourists of any Chinese city during a public holiday in October. Wuhan is overcoming its pandemic past and benefiting from its hero-city status to become a top travel destination. Photo: Getty Images