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Mexico Replaces UK As Country With 3rd Highest COVID Deaths

A mobile phone store employee wearing a mask and face shield to curb the spread of the new coronavirus tends to a client at a shop in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Mexico's economic activity plummeted 18.9% in the…
A mobile phone store employee wearing a mask and face shield to curb the spread of the new coronavirus tends to a client at a shop in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, July 30, 2020. Mexico's economic activity plummeted 18.9% in the…

There are more than 17.6 million worldwide COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins statistics. The U.S. continues to lead in the number of infections with more than 4.5 million, followed by Brazil with 2.6 million cases, and India with almost 1.7 million.

Mexico has replaced Britain as the country with the third largest number of deaths from COVID-19. Johns Hopkins says Mexico now has reported 46,688 deaths.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of deaths from the virus with more than 153,000, followed by Brazil with more than 92,000.

Russia is gearing up to launch a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in September or October. News media reports quote sources as saying the vaccine was developed at a state research facility. Scientific data about the vaccine or test results have not been released.

In South Korea, the leader of a secretive religious sect linked to more than 5,200 of the country's more than 14,000 COVID cases has been arrested. Lee Man-hee has denied allegations that he hid members and underreported the sect's activities in an effort to avoided quarantines.

The coronavirus has burned through a summer sleep-away camp in the U.S. state of Georgia, perhaps providing a cautionary tale for school districts currently weighing the pros and con of reopening in the COVID era. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a study that the camp observed the suggestions the agency provided but did not require the children to wear masks. Only the staff members were required to wear masks. A teenage staffer fell ill shortly after the camp opened.

A COVID diagnosis was confirmed the next day and the camp began sending the children home that day. The CDC had tests results for only 344 of the 597 campers and 76% of them were positive. The infection rate could have been higher since the CDC did not have results for everyone.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told lawmakers Friday on Capitol Hill he is "cautiously optimistic" a coronavirus vaccine would be available in the coming months, as infectious continue to rise at an alarming rate in the U.S.

"We hope at the time we get into the late fall and early winter, we will have in fact a vaccine that we can say will be safe and effective," Fauci said before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. "One can never guarantee the safety and effectiveness unless you do the trial, but we are cautiously optimistic."

Fauci said a Phase 3 trial, the last phase of the vaccine approval process, recently got underway.

Fauci also cautioned against importing vaccines made in Russia or China due to concerns over safety.

At the hearing's open, panel chairman Democrat James Clyburn and the subcommittee's ranking Republican, Steve Scalise, clashed over whether the Trump administration has a national strategy to contain the coronavirus crisis.

"The administration's approach to deferring to states, sidelining experts and rushing to reopen has prolonged this virus and led to thousands of preventable deaths," Clyburn said. "In fact, the United States response stands out as among the worst of any country in the world."

Scalise dismissed Clyburn's assessment, arguing with a stack of documents in hand that the administration has, indeed, issued guidance to the country about how to contain the pandemic.

"These are just a few of the documents that your agencies have published to show states how to safely reopen, to show schools how to safely reopen, to show nursing homes how to care for their patients," Scalise said to Fauci and the other government experts at the hearing.

"If all governors would have followed those guidelines, thousands more seniors in nursing homes would be alive today, if just five governors would have followed your plan that was developed President Trump," Scalise added.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also testified Friday, saying it was in the "public health best interest" for K-12 schools to reopen.

He also discussed a decision by the Trump administration to direct all hospitals to send all coronavirus data to a database in Washington and thus passing the CDC. Redfield said he did not know of the decision until after it was made.

US Health Experts: COVID-19 Vaccine Could be Ready by 2021
US has topped 150,000 deaths from COVID-19

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday he was delaying plans to ease lockdown measures by at least two weeks after the country reported its highest number of new COVID cases since late June.

British Minister for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said a second wave of the virus is rolling across Europe and that Britain must defend against it.

British authorities added Luxembourg to the country's quarantine list, meaning travelers from there must isolate for 14 days after entering Britain. Spain, which had been dropped from the list, has been reinstated and other countries may be added.

Botswana's capital, Gaborone, reimposed a two-week lockdown on Thursday after a surge in new confirmed COVID-19 cases. The increase came as the WHO warned against easing coronavirus restrictions throughout Africa. The WHO says the number of infections on the continent has doubled in the past month.

"We are concerned that ... we will see an increase in cases as we have seen in [other] countries" where restrictions have been eased too soon," WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said.

She said more than 20 African countries have recorded more new cases than in the previous weeks, with South Africa accounting for the most but increases also reported in Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Moeti said Uganda, Seychelles and Mauritius are doing well in controlling the virus.