LONDON — The British government on Wednesday changed the way it compiles coronavirus deaths, a move that reduced the country’s official death toll by more than 5,000.
The Department of Health said the new total is 41,329, down from 46,706. That is still Europe’s highest death toll.
The government announced last month that it was reviewing the way death statistics were compiled, after academics pointed out that in England the tally included anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and later died, with no cut-off point between positive test and death. That means some people recorded as coronavirus deaths may have died of other causes — and the proportion would increase over time.
That could explain why England has been showing far higher daily death tolls than Scotland, which only counts deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive test.
Public Health England said Wednesday that it will also adopt a 28-day cut-off date, bringing it into line with the rest of the UK. People who die more than 28 days after testing positive, but fewer than 60 days, will be added to the total only if COVID-19 appears on their death certificate.
Colombia arrests US men accused of selling fake cure
BOGOTA — Colombian officials say they have arrested two Florida men wanted in the United States on charges they illegally sold a bleachlike chemical as a miracle cure for the coronavirus and other diseases.
The Colombian prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that Mark and Joseph Grennon were arrested in the town of Santa Marta, and were shipping their ‘‘Miracle Mineral Solution’’ — chlorine dioxide — from there to clients in the United States, Colombia, and Africa.
It said seven Americans had died from using the substance.
Mark Grennon is the archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, based in Bradenton, Fla., which is centered on use of the toxic chemical as a supposed sacrament it claims can cure a variety of illnesses from cancer to autism to malaria and now COVID-19..
A Miami federal judge in April ordered the self-styled church to stop selling the substance, but it was ignored.
The organization also has operated in Mexico, Australia, and other countries.
China blasts US for Taiwan visit as virus spreads at home
BEIJING — A Chinese official lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday for visiting Taiwan amid an ongoing pandemic back home, accusing him of putting politics ahead of the lives of the Americans.
The comments came a day after Azar accused China of failing to warn the rest of the world about the coronavirus.
“He abandoned the millions of people who are struggling with illness and visited Taiwan instead to stage a political show,” Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing.
The Trump administration has repeatedly accused China of withholding information from the World Health Organization and the international community as the virus began to take hold. China denies the charge, saying it communicated information as soon as it had it.
On Wednesday, Azar visited a face mask factory and paid respect to the recently deceased former Taiwanese president, Lee Teng-hui, before leaving Taiwan.
Concerns grow over rising infections in Germany
BERLIN — Germany’s government urged citizens Wednesday to keep their guard up and stick to public health guidelines, as new infections hit a three-month high and schools reopened in the country’s most populous state.
Germany’s response so far has widely been seen as successful in slowing the spread of the pandemic efficiently and quickly, but the country’s disease control authority on Wednesday reported 1,226 new infections. That was the highest number since early May, although the figure has topped 1,000 on several days recently.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said smaller and mid-sized outbreaks have occurred in almost all regions, largely driven by travelers returning from abroad and people partying or having family gatherings.
Most of Singapore foreign labor cleared of COVID-19
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s government says most foreign workers can now resume work as their dormitories have been cleared of COVID-19 after months of lockdown and virus testing.
People living in the crowded dormitories were the bulk of Singapore’s 55,353 cases. Only 27 deaths have been recorded in the city-state.
The Ministry of Manpower said in a statement late Tuesday that all the dormitories have been cleared, except for 17 standalone blocks, which serve as quarantine facilities.
It said all foreign workers living in the dormitories have either recovered or tested as virus-free, except for 22,500 workers in isolation.