Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 21 September

A man gets his photograph taken in front of Taj Mahal after authorities reopened the monument to visitors, amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Agra, India, September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Alasdair Pal

The Taj Mahal has reopened to visitors in Agra, India. Image: REUTERS/Alasdair Pal

Sean Fleming
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  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: COVID-19 found on food packaging; schools reopen in South Korea; New Zealand relaxes restrictions; global GDP gets ready to rebound.
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1. How COVID-19 continues to affect the globe

There are now more than 31 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine. The number of confirmed deaths has passed 960,000.

Some schools are reopening in South Korea for the first time in weeks, as the confirmed case count falls to the lowest levels since the middle of August. Students will receive a blend of online and in-person teaching.

In France, health authorities recorded 10,569 new confirmed cases – down on the previous day’s figure of 13,498. There were 12 new deaths, bringing the total of COVID-19 fatalities there to 31,585.

New Zealand is easing some restrictions as it tackles a second wave of infections. “Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The city of Auckland still has restrictions in place.

The coronavirus has been detected on food packaging, according to health officials from Fuyu city in China’s Jilin province. Squid, imported from Russia, is said to be the source of the latest concern – authorities have urged anyone who may have eaten it to get tested.

With just 16 new cases confirmed, Australia has recorded its lowest daily COVID-19 rise since mid-June. However, authorities there say it is still too soon to relax restrictions in the state of Victoria, which has been the centre of the country’s latest wave of infections.

Global GDP will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021, according to Deutsche Bank. This assessment comes as the bank’s global head of economic research, Peter Hooper, said the economic recovery has “proceeded significantly faster than we envisioned”.


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2. Taj Mahal reopens

Built between 1631 and 1648 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic buildings in the world.

Despite the reopening, COVID-19 infections are still on the rise in India, with some predictions indicating it could surpass the US as the worst-affected country.

There have been more than 5.4 million confirmed cases in India, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine and the number of fatalities in India stands at more than 87,000.

3. Crunch time for the UK

A series of localized lockdowns and restrictions are currently in place across parts of the UK, which - at more than 41,000 - has the highest official death toll from COVID-19 in Europe.

But, with at least 6,000 new cases per day being recorded, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be preparing more stringent controls to be rolled out across the UK later this week.

Widespread growth across construction, manufacturing and services during July 2020 drove the continued recovery of monthly GDP
Monthly GDP and components index, seasonally adjusted, UK, January 2019 to July 2020. Image: UK Office for National Statistics

Figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics indicate that "monthly GDP in July 2020 was 11.7% below the level of February 2020," with recent economic recovery being spurred on by the construction, manufacturing and services sectors.

Currently, the UK has a range of different anti-coronavirus measures in place. This includes a ban on groups of more than six people socialising in public. This so-called rule of six does not apply in either workplaces or schools, which remain open.

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