World toll of coronavirus infections and deaths, as of August 8 at 1100 GMT. AFP Graphic

PARIS: Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

Nearly 722,000 deaths

The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed 721,902 lives since December when it first surfaced in China, according to a global tally compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT Saturday.

There have been nearly 19.5 million cases officially recorded in 196 countries and territories, with 11.5 million classed as recovered.

The United States is the country with the highest death toll at 161,358, followed by Brazil with 99,572 dead, Mexico 51,311, Britain 46,511 and India 42,518.

Latin America tops deaths

Latin America plus the Caribbean is now the region with the worst combined toll, counting 215,859 deaths compared to Europe’s 212,794.

Brazil second to the US, has just under 100,000 deaths caused by the virus.

India meanwhile has chalked up some two million cases, with Africa on one million.

Turkmenistan agrees to WHO sampling

Turkmenistan, which officially has no coronavirus cases, has agreed to let the World Health Organisation (WHO) carry out independent sampling of virus tests after it expressed “serious concern” over rising pneumonia cases there.

A WHO mission visited the secretive gas-rich Central Asian state last month and advised it to adopt measures including contact tracing “as if Covid-19 were already circulating”. 

Masks compulsory in Paris

Wearing a mask will be compulsory in parts of Paris and its wider region from Monday to combat a rise in coronavirus infections in and around the French capital, the police say.

The mask will be obligatory for all those aged 11 and over from 8am local time Monday “in certain very crowded zones”, the police said in a statement Saturday, without yet detailing which areas are affected.

Gaza children return to school

Hundreds of thousands of children return to school in Gaza after a five-month suspension aimed at reining in the spread of the novel coronavirus in the crowded Palestinian territory.

Ziyad Thabit, undersecretary of the education ministry in the Islamist Hamas-ruled enclave, says pupils will follow a remedial curriculum throughout August, with classes limited to four a day.

Germany expands virus risk list

Germany has added several areas of Bulgaria and Romania to a list of places considered a high risk for coronavirus infections, requiring compulsory tests for travellers returning from those places from Saturday.

In its latest travel warning update, the foreign ministry put Bulgaria’s Blagoevgrad, Dobritch and Black Sea tourist hotspot Varna on its list of places where infections were rising rapidly.

Seven places in Romania — Arges, Bihor, Buzau, Neamt, Ialomita, Mehedinti and Timis — were also added.

US job gains slow

The US economy created 1.8 million new jobs in July, down sharply from 4.8 million reported in June, showing a key element of any recovery slowing as the country sees rising coronavirus cases and deaths. – AFP