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US Covid deaths projected to double by February end – world news

Even if state-level governments in the US reimpose limited social distancing measures to halt the spread of Covid-19, the death toll could more than double by the end of February to 511,000, said projections released on Friday.

Mask wearing could reduce that grim tally by nearly 130,000, researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found. Even if mask compliance was only 85%, lives saved compared to that baseline would still top 95,000, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine. In mid-July, IHME modellers accurately predicted 224,000 deaths by November 1.

The EU’s disease control agency on Friday joined frantic health workers across Europe in sounding the alarm about the surge in coronavirus infections.

Several countries in Europe are reporting infection rates higher than during the first wave of the pandemic in March and April, with Spain saying it has more than three million cases. Governments across the continent are slapping urgent new restrictions, with France extending a curfew to cover 46 million people and Ireland locked down again.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said all EU countries except Cyprus, Estonia, Finland and Greece fell into a “serious concern” category, as did the UK.

In Britain, a government-led project said traces of the virus have been detected in sewage, providing an early warning for outbreaks in local areas or institutions across the UK.

Pope Francis has been warned of potential exposure to Covid-19 after a Vatican diplomat was infected, Australian media reported. Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana had a meeting with Francis at the Vatican on October 6, less than two weeks before he tested positive in Australia.

The World Health Organization is preparing guidelines on use of the drug remdesivir for Covid-19 and may release them in three to four weeks. The US has given approval for remdesivir to treat cases.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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