The World Health Organization said Friday it didn't expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year and repeated the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety. Meanwhile, Thailand has tested about 200 people since tracing its first domestic coronavirus infection in more than three months, health officials said.
"We are not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year," WHO representative Margaret Harris told a news briefing in Geneva. "This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is," she said referring to all vaccine clinical trials.
In Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, has been diagnosed with the early stages of double pneumonia, the ANSA news agency reported Friday. Double, or bilateral, pneumonia affects both lungs and can make breathing difficult. It has been seen in many cases of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Berlusconi, 83, went to hospital in Milan "as a precaution" Thursday night, two days after testing positive for the coronavirus, but his condition isn't serious, his Forza Italia party said Friday.
Thailand is racing ahead with contact tracing after detecting its first domestic coronavirus infection in more than three months, health officials said Friday, with tests conducted on nearly 200 people with possible exposure to the new case.
Thailand reported its first nonimported case in more than 100 days Thursday, after a prisoner a day earlier had tested positive for the coronavirus during a mandatory test for new inmates.
"We traced his movement back two weeks before he had symptoms Aug. 29," Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Bureau of General Communicable Diseases, said.
The man, 37, had worked as a nightclub DJ at three different venues in the capital Bangkok during the past two weeks, officials said. He had been jailed for a drug offence.
So far, 194 people considered at risk, including family members, inmates and people at the court where he had appeared have tested negative, Sopon said, adding that authorities were using a government smartphone application to contact those who had checked-in at those venues.
All of the country's new cases in the last three months have been found in quarantine in individuals who were returning from overseas.
Iran's death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 118 to 22,044 health ministry spokeswoman told state TV Friday, with the total number of identified cases spiking to 382,772. Sima Sadat Lari said that 2,026 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours in Iran, one of the worst-hit countries in the Middle East.
While some parents worry about the risk of spreading COVID-19, Iranian authorities said schools would be open Saturday under strict health protocols allowing them to operate safely.
Japan's famous Toyosu fish market, the world's largest, is taking a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic as restaurants and wholesalers struggle to survive.
Businesses had hoped for more activity after Japan lifted its state of emergency in late May, but big events such as shareholder meetings and wedding banquets have remained on hold while many Japanese are still wary of going to restaurants.
Demand for fresh fish, especially the so-called "king of sushi" bluefin tuna, has slumped as the pandemic wiped out orders for events. Tuna prices dropped 8.4 percent in July from a year earlier, far steeper than the 1.5 percent annual fall in overall fresh fish prices, government data showed.
"Our sales are down by 60 percent compared to last August," said 47-year old Yasuyuki Shimahara, owner of an "izakaya" dining bar specializing in tuna dishes in Tokyo's Kanda business area.
COVID-19 has forced 12 schools in mainland France to close, but the rest of the almost 60,000 opened as planned at the start of the academic year, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Friday, as coronavirus cases across the country increase.
"It has been a rather good week even though there are always some glitches. Over 12 million pupils returned to school in spite of the difficulties and the worries," he told Europe 1 radio. He said a further 10 schools were closed for the same reason on La Reunion, an island off Madagascar administered by France.
The French school year began Tuesday, with some parents and teachers' unions voicing concerns that the virus could spread through classrooms.
The health ministry said Thursday it had registered more than 7,000 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours for the second time in two days, just shy of a 7,578 record set March 31. Hospitalisations for the virus also rose further.
Travelers to the UK faced what the transport minister said was confusion Friday as Wales and Scotland slapped a quarantine on arrivals from Portugal but England and Northern Ireland held back from restrictions.
Wales will quarantine travelers from Portugal, Gibraltar, French Polynesia and the Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesbos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete as of Friday.
Scotland will do the same for travelers from Portugal and French Polynesia from 0300 GMT Saturday. England and Northern Ireland will not.
"I do realize it creates confusion for people not to have a single rule (across the UK) but we do have this devolved approach throughout the United Kingdom and I can only be responsible for the English part of that," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.
"A day zero test as you come home is unlikely to find the vast majority of people who traveled with coronavirus," Shapps said, adding that the government's health experts thought such a test would pick up just 7 percent of people who were positive.
"So you probably have to have some kind of quarantine period, perhaps seven or eight days, maybe a test then - those are the things we are working through," Shapps said.