What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·3-min read
Small toy figures are placed on a chalkboard near "Social distancing - COVID-19" words printed on paper in this illustration

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

World's highest death toll

Latin America surpassed Europe on Tuesday to become the region with the highest novel coronavirus death toll, according to a Reuters tally. The region has now recorded more than 206,000 deaths, approximately 30% of the global total.

Brazil, the Latin American country most affected by the coronavirus, has recorded a total of 95,819 deaths as of Tuesday. Mexico, the second-most affected country in the region, has 48,869 deaths. Outbreaks have also accelerated in Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia.

The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 700,000, according to a Reuters tally. Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19 on average, according to calculations based on data from the past two weeks. That equates to 247 people an hour, or one person every 15 seconds.

Closing down Victoria

Australia's Victoria state reported a record rise in new coronavirus cases and deaths on Wednesday, as it prepared to close much of its economy to control a second wave of infection that threatens to spread across the country.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said further restrictions would include shutting most child-care centres and expanding a ban on elective surgery to the whole state to free up medical resources for coronavirus cases.

In Queensland state, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said travellers from New South Wales state and the capital, Canberra, would be barred from Saturday. The state is already closed to people from Victorian.

Too little remdesivir, and it's too expensive

A bipartisan group of more than 30 U.S. state attorneys general urged the government to allow other companies to make Gilead Sciences' COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, to increase its availability and lower the price of the antiviral drug. The medicine is one of only two that have demonstrated an ability to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials.

"Gilead should not profit from the pandemic and it should be pushed to do more to help more people," they said in a letter. The drugmaker is charging most U.S. patients $3,120 per course, or $520 per vial of remdesivir.

The U.S. government, which provided some financial backing for the drug's development, signed a deal with Gilead in June for more than 500,000 courses of the treatment, making up most of the company's output through to September. Still, the drug has been in scarce supply since the U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) in May, and hospital staffers and politicians have complained about difficulties in getting it.

Youths not invincible

Young people hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in new coronavirus cases across the world, with the proportion of those aged 15 to 24 who are infected rising three-fold from 4.5% to 15% in about five months, the World Health Organization said.

Apart from the United States, which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people.

"We've said this before and we'll say it again: young people are not invincible," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a recent news briefing in Geneva. "Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others."

(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel)