BEIJING: A screen shows a coronavirus vaccine at a press conference during a media tour of a new factory built to produce a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Sinovac, one of 11 Chinese companies approved to carry out clinical trials of potential coronavirus vaccines, in Beijing yesterday.-AFP

LONDON: More than 31.88 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 975,065? have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. Meanwhile, seven European Union countries-Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Malta-are of “high concern” due to rising COVID-19 death rates, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warned yesterday.

The Stockholm-based EU agency’s latest assessment report said these countries had “an increased proportion of hospitalized and severe cases”, and “increasing or high death notification rates are already observed … or may be observed soon,” owing to a spread among older people. The European Commission urged EU members states yesterday to better explain and enforce social distancing and hygiene rules to halt a dangerous new wave of coronavirus infections.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “In some member states, the situation is now even worse than during the peak in March. This is a real cause for concern. “All member states need to roll out measures immediately and at the right time at the very first sign of potential new outbreaks.” Europe has now had more than five million coronavirus cases, and several countries have begun reimposing local lockdown rules to head off a return to uncontrolled spread.

The death rate has not returned to the levels seen earlier this year, but cases of new infections are soaring once again in many areas. But Kyriakides, whose office has sought to coordinate the response across the 27 member states, warned that some areas had clearly begun to lift restrictions too soon.

New coronavirus cases in Moscow yesterday reached the highest level since late June, raising fears of a new wave of cases in the world’s fourth most affected country. The caseload increase had remained relatively stable in the capital at around 700 per day for several months, but the numbers began to climb again from September 15. Yesterday, the capital recorded 1,050 new cases, the highest figure since June 23.

China’s Sinovac Biotech meanwhile hopes to supply its experimental coronavirus vaccine to more South American countries by outsourcing some manufacturing procedures to a partner in Brazil, its chief executive said yesterday. Global vaccine makers, such as Sinovac and AstraZeneca, have partnered with Brazil to conduct late-stage trials of their vaccine candidates in South America’s largest nation, battling with the third highest tally of infections worldwide. Sinovac plans to provide semi-finished products to its partner Instituto Butantan, which will perform filling and packaging and supply finished items to other South American countries, Chairman Yin Weidong told a news conference. – Agencies