Mexico now has the third most Covid-19 deaths in the world, behind Brazil and the United States, where a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast is threatening to complicate efforts to contain the virus.

Hurricane Isaias’ imminent arrival forced the closure of some outdoor testing sites even as Florida reached a new daily high in deaths, and other states in the path of the storm prepared emergency shelters that comply with social-distancing measures.

“We had to put safety first,” Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Mexican health officials on Friday reported 688 new deaths, pushing the country’s confirmed total to over 46,600. That put Mexico just ahead of the UK, which has more than 46,100, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Some countries are seeing hopeful signs: China reported a more than 50% drop in newly confirmed cases in a possible indication that its latest major outbreak in the north-western region of Xinjiang may have run its course.

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(PA Graphics)
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(PA Graphics)

However, in Hong Kong and elsewhere, infections continue to surge.

Hong Kong reported more than 100 new cases as of Saturday among the population of 7.5 million. Officials have reimposed dining restrictions and mask requirements.

Tokyo on Saturday saw its third day straight of record case numbers, the metropolitan government said.

Nationwide, Japan’s daily count of cases totalled a record 1,579 people on Friday, the health ministry said. The growing numbers have alarmed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as other regional leaders.

And Vietnam, a former success story, is struggling to control an outbreak spreading in its most famous beach resort.

A third person died there of coronavirus complications, officials said on Saturday, a day after it recorded its first-ever death as it wrestles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days with no local cases.

All three died in a hospital in Da Nang, a hot spot with more than 100 cases in the past week.

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People wait in line for a Covid-19 test in Hanoi, Vietnam (Hau Dinh/AP)
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People wait in line for a Covid-19 test in Hanoi, Vietnam (Hau Dinh/AP)

Thousands of visitors had been in the city for summer holidays and are now being tested in Hanoi and elsewhere.

Twelve additional cases were confirmed on Saturday, all linked to Da Nang Hospital.

Officials tightened security and set up more checkpoints to prevent people from leaving or entering the city, which has been in lockdown since Tuesday.

A makeshift hospital was set up, and doctors have been mobilised from other cities to help.

“I want to be tested, so I can stop worrying if I have the virus or not,” said Pham Thuy Hoa, a banking official who returned to the capital from Da Nang.

In South Korea, prosecutors arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect linked to more than 5,200 of the country’s approximately 14,300 confirmed cases.

He has denied charges of hiding members and under-reporting gatherings to avoid broader quarantines.

The global pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of this year’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with as few as 1,000 pilgrims already residing in Saudi Arabia taking part, down from 2.5 million last year.

The Saudi Health Ministry said there have been no cases of Covid-19 among this year’s pilgrims. All were tested, their movements monitored with electronic wristbands and required to be quarantined before and after.

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Health workers wait to test passengers at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, outside Paris (Thibault Camus/AP)
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Health workers wait to test passengers at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, outside Paris (Thibault Camus/AP)

Meanwhile, India recorded its steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The country’s Civil Aviation Ministry delayed resumption of international flights by another month until August 31. But it will continue to allow several international carriers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to operate special flights to evacuate stranded nationals.

In France, travellers entering from 16 countries where the virus is circulating widely now must undergo virus tests upon arrival at airports and ports.

The country is not permitting general travel to and from the countries, which include the United States and Brazil.

The testing requirement therefore only applies to people entering under limited circumstances, including French citizens who live in these countries. Those who test positive as of Saturday must quarantine for 14 days.

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