Global virus death toll passes 450,000
The number of people killed by coronavirus worldwide passed 450,000 on June 18, after the toll doubled in just a month and a half, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources at 1615 GMT.
At least 450,386 people have died from the disease out of 8,395,929 cases reported across the world since COVID-19 emerged in China late last year.
Europe has been the hardest-hit continent, with 190,120 deaths from 2,469,242 infections, but the pandemic is now spreading most rapidly in Latin America, which has recorded 86,706 deaths from 1,840,488 cases.
The United States has the most deaths with 118,057 deaths followed by Brazil with 46,510, Britain with 42,288, Italy with 34,514 and France with 29,603 fatalities.
Layoffs caused by the pandemic in the United States have passed 45.7 million, after another 1.5 million US workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department says.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that a few hundred million COVID-19 vaccine doses could be produced by the end of the year.
As pharmaceutical firms rush to find a vaccine, the U.N. health agency says it hopes two billion doses will be available by the end of 2021.
It says researchers are working on more than 200 vaccine candidates around the world, including 10 that are already at the human testing stage.
Travel restrictions are placed on nearly half a million people near Beijing as authorities rush to contain a new outbreak. Another 21 cases of the virus have been reported in the past 24 hours in the Chinese capital, according to the National Health Commission, taking the total cases of the cluster to 158.
Speaking to reporters, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says the outbreak peaked around June 13, and has now been "brought under control".
The United Nations says it is resuming resettlement travel for refugees, which was suspended in March due to the coronavirus crisis, delaying departures for some 10,000 refugees.
The U.N. agencies for refugees and for migration jointly announced "the resumption of resettlement departures" by people already living as refugees who have been approved to move to third countries.
Pope Francis has no plans for trips abroad this year, the Vatican says, with the coronavirus pandemic presenting too high a risk for the elderly pontiff to travel.
The 83-year old had been formally invited to visit Iraq, Cyprus, Indonesia and Montenegro. He had also expressed an interest in visiting South Sudan.