(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
More than 60,500 new COVID-19 infections were reported across the United States on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, setting a one-day record as Americans were told to take new precautions and the pandemic becomes increasingly politicized.
The total represents a slight rise from Wednesday, when there were 60,000 new cases, and marks the largest one-day increase by any country since the pandemic emerged in China last year.
As infections rose in 41 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, Americans have become increasingly divided on issues such as the reopening of schools and businesses. Orders by governors and local leaders mandating face masks have become particularly divisive.
“It’s just disheartening because the selfishness of (not wearing a mask) versus the selflessness of my staff and the people in this hospital who are putting themselves at risk, and I got COVID from this,” said Dr. Andrew Pastewski, ICU medical director at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami.
Don’t come home
Australia will halve the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as authorities struggle to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s second most populous city.
The state of Victoria reported 288 new cases on Friday, a record daily increase for any part of the country and sparking fears of a wave of community transmission in a country where most cases have involved returned travellers.
“The news from Victoria remains very concerning,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Since March, Australia has allowed only citizens and permanent residents to enter the country with some 357,000 having returned to date.
Talk softly and follow the rules
Hosts and hostesses in Japanese nightclubs need to abide by rules and follow advice on how to interact with customers to stop the coronavirus spreading in nightlife districts, where infections have surged again, Japanese officials said on Friday.
Infections in the capital have been creeping up since the government lifted a state of emergency about a month ago, with the Kabukicho red-light district becoming a major source of cases.
“We need to take steps quickly,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who leads Japan’s pandemic response, told reporters. Nishimura said customers should be provided with enough space with good ventilation and avoid speaking loudly.
Clusters were found among Kabukicho’s many host clubs, where young men entertain women customers over drinks, and also at the female equivalent hostess or “cabaret” clubs.
Kazakhstan hits out at ‘fake news’
Kazakhstan dismissed as incorrect on Friday a warning by China’s embassy for its citizens to guard against an outbreak of pneumonia in the central Asian nation that it described as being more lethal than the coronavirus.
In a statement late on Thursday on its official WeChat account, the Chinese embassy flagged a “significant increase” in cases in the Kazakh cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.
On Friday, however, Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as “fake news”.
The ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections, which also included cases of unclear causes, were in line with World Health Organization guidelines.
China finds virus in shrimp shipment
China’s customs authority said on Friday it was suspending imports from three shrimp producers in Ecuador after detecting the presence of the coronavirus in recent shipments.
“After nucleic acid sequence analysis and expert judgement, the test results suggested that the container environment and the outer packaging of the goods of the three companies were at risk of contamination by the new coronavirus, and the companies’ food safety management system was not in order,” the General Administration of Customs said.
The findings are the first positive results announced by Beijing since it began testing imported frozen foods for presence of the virus.
The testing campaign came after the virus was found on a chopping board used to cut salmon at a large food market in Beijing during an outbreak of coronavirus among workers there.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)