narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 976,000 people worldwide.Over 31.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 6.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 201,909 deaths.California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 796,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 742,000 cases and over 690,000 cases, respectively.Nearly 170 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least six of which are in crucial phase three trials.Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:Sep 24, 8:17 amSwiss authorities quarantine university’s undergraduate studentsSwiss authorities have ordered a quarantine for the entire undergraduate student population of a prestigious hospitality management school after “significant outbreaks” of COVID-19.Health officials in Switzerland’s Vaud canton, or region, announced Wednesday that all 2,500 undergraduate students at the “Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne” (EHL) must self-quarantine until at least Monday, whether they live on- or off-campus. Those who develop symptoms are advised to get tested for COVID-19, if necessary.“Significant outbreaks of infection have appeared in several levels of training, making it impossible to close more targeted than that of the 2,500 students concerned,” health officials said in a statement, adding that student parties are suspected to “be at the origin of these numerous outbreaks of infection.”Classes will continue online in the meantime.Health officials said the school’s administrators are taking “all the necessary measures” to ensure that learning isn’t disrupted and to reinforce health measures on campus.ABC News has reached out to the school for comment.Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health has reported at least 51,492 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 4,809 hospitalizations and 1,776 deaths.Sep 24, 6:43 amIsrael moves to tighten restrictions as cases climbIsrael’s government has decided to tighten coronavirus-related restrictions as cases continue to climb, despite a second nationwide lockdown.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted early Thursday to close all nonessential businesses, including open-air markets. The cabinet also agreed that prayers and political demonstrations should be limited to open spaces with a cap of 20 people and that participants should not be allowed to travel more than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from home to attend either.The new measures are set to go into effect Friday afternoon, as the Jewish state shuts down for the weekly Sabbath ahead of Yom Kippur on Sunday and Monday. The restrictions on demonstrations, however, are subject to approval by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.Israel has seen one of the world’s highest per capita rates of COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks. The country entered a second lockdown last Friday and it’s slated to last until mid-October.Sep 24, 5:57 am22 US states and territories in upward trajectory of new casesAn internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night shows that 22 U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, while 13 jurisdictions are at a plateau and 21 others are in a downward trend.The number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both increasing in week-over-week comparisons. There also continues to be a steady rise in the number of hospitals nationwide where more than 80% of beds in intensive care units are filled, according to the memo.In Alabama’s Limestone County, 90% of ICU beds across two hospitals were in use. The Alabama Hospital Association confirmed that a shortage of nurses is a statewide issue in both hospitals and universities due to a lack of faculty, facilities and funds, the memo said.Florida’s Leon County reported a 20% increase in COVID-19 cases among children since Aug. 10, around the start of the new school year, coinciding with a 20% increase in pediatric hospitalizations, according to the memo.Meanwhile, the number of new cases recorded in Kentucky have increased by 21% since Sept. 13. The state’s seven-day fatality rate has doubled since then, from 13.4 to 26.4 per 1 million population. The number of COVID-19 tests being conducted statewide declined by 45.2% during the week ending Sept. 17, compared with the previous week, according to the memo.Michigan’s seven-day case rate increased by 154.4% from Sept. 13 to Sept. 20. The state also reported a 38.1% week-to-week relative increase in COVID-19 testing on Sept. 17. Officials attribute the surge to schools and colleges, with 20-year-olds making up the largest portion of total cases, the memo said.Sep 24, 4:51 amUS records over 1,000 new deathsAn additional 1,098 coronavirus-related fatalities were recorded in the United States on Wednesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.Wednesday’s tally of COVID-19 deaths is lower than the country’s record set on April 17, when there were 2,666 new fatalities in a 24-hour reporting period.There were also 36,330 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed across the nation on Sunday, down from a peak of 77,255 new cases reported on July 16.A total of 6,934,205 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 201,909 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July. The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then.An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night shows that the number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both increasing in week-over-week comparisons.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
GROUP A Game PreviewCAMEROON vs CROATIABy Zoran MilosavljevicCameroon’s Indomitable Lions must improve on a toothless display in their opening match when they face Croatia in the hot and humid Amazon city of Manaus in Group A on Wednesday while having to cope with the loss of pack leader Samuel Eto’o.The four-time African Footballer of the Year has been ruled out of the clash due to a knee injury.Cameroon, who lost 1-0 against Mexico in their opener, are seeking their first World Cup win since 2002.Their next opponents Croatia, who have failed to reach the knockout stage since an impressive third-place finish in 1998, are also fighting for survival after losing their opener 3-1 against Brazil.Croatia have their own problems as inspirational playmaker Luka Modric faces a race against time to recover from a foot injury he sustained in that match.Coach Niko Kovac was confident he would have Modric available and welcomed the return of suspended striker Mario Madzukic, who will reclaim his spot from Nikica Jelavic to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.“Modric is getting better and I think he will be fit to play while having Mandzukic back is a real bonus because he is aggressive and able to pull the whole team forward,” Kovac told reporters in the team’s Praia do Forte base.“His approach can scare Cameroon and help Croatia.”LOWER EXPECTATIONSInitial outbursts over a contentious penalty to Brazil with the score 1-1 quickly gave way to pundits’ criticism of Kovac’s tactics as Croatia sat back after taking an early lead and the 42-year old coach promised a more adventurous strategy against the Cameroonians.“It was hard to come forward against Brazil but this game will be a different story because I expect us to have more possession and dominate,” he said.“Purposeful running will be the key because of the weather. As we saw in a high-tempo England v Italy game and one of superb quality, both sides wilted after 70 minutes in the unbearable heat.“It won’t be the end of the world if we don’t get past the group stage but I want to think positively and believe that we can make an impact.“We have to remember that we are a small nation that scraped through to the finals, but I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel.Cameroon’s German coach Volker Finke was tight-lipped about his team’s prospects of rekindling some of the past glory, by the looks of things a big ask from a modest outfit lacking the guile and creativity of the side that stormed into the last eight in 1990.Instead, he heaped praise on his rivals.“Croatia is a team that has good players. There are players who play at clubs in Spain, at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, in the Bundesliga … it is clear that this is a good team,” he said.“They are in the same situation as us, they lost their opener. If you have zero points after the first game, you do not talk too much, you just have to win at all costs.”