US coronavirus death toll exceeds 170,000: Live updates

Nigeria to reopen airports for international flights; NZ postpones elections; Czech gov’t to impose compulsory masks.

  • Nigeria’s aviation minister said airports in the country will reopen for international flights on August 29, after more than five months of closure to all but essential travel.

  • Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, Hamad Hassan, has called for a two-week lockdown following a surge of coronavirus cases since the Beirut port blast on August 4.

  • India reported a daily jump of 57,981 infections, taking its total to nearly 2.65 million, third only behind the US and Brazil, while the death toll jumped by 941, to 50,921.

  • Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 21.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, while more than 13.6 million people have recovered. Almost 774,300 people have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, August 17

20:10 GMT – Indigenous tribe blocks key Brazil grains export route

Kayapo indigenous people block one of Brazil’s national highway, as they protest against the government measures in the indigenous lands to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease, in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil [Lucas Landau/Reuters]

Members of the Kayapo indigenous tribe blocked a key grains transport route in centre-west Brazil, protesting against a lack of government protection from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed several of their elders.

Kayapo wearing warrior body paint and headdresses used tires and wood to block trucks carrying corn on the BR-163 highway, a Reuters witness said.

They were protesting against the so-called Ferrograo railway, set to cross part of the Amazon to connect grain-producing Mato Grosso state to river ports for soy and corn.

19:05 GMT – Oman to lift some restrictions

Oman will allow the reopening of tourist and international restaurants starting from Tuesday, as well as gyms and swimming pools located in hotels, under certain regulations and requirements.

The supreme committee had also announced the ending of the ban on night movement as of Saturday.

18:16 GMT – Turkey’s latest figures 

A shopkeeper wearing a protective mask organizes his stall at Grand Bazaar, amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey [Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Turkey’s total number of cases rose to more than 250,000, with 1,233 new cases identified in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

The data showed 22 people had died in the past 24 hours in Turkey, bringing the death toll to 5,996, while the total number of recoveries is up to 231,971.

“The majority of new patients can be easily treated. But the spread increases the number of seriously ill patients whose treatment is difficult,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter.

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17:41 GMT – US virus death toll exceeds 170,000

The total number of coronavirus deaths in the United States stands at 170,136, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Meanwhile, the total number of positive cases in the country has exceeded 5.4 million.

17:34 GMT – Nigeria to reopen airports for international flights

Nigeria will reopen its airports for international flights beginning on August 29, its aviation minister said.

16:55 GMT – Philippines promises ‘refreshed’ approach 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte eased the strict coronavirus lockdown in and around the capital Manila as his government promised a “refreshed” approach to fighting COVID-19 that includes intensified testing.

Duterte, in a televised address, said there was a need to reopen the economy with small and medium enterprises “barely surviving”, while at the same time calling on the public to “follow the safeguards”.

A boy wears a face shield while watching an online learning class from a smartphone in Manila, Philippines [File: Reuters] 

The Philippines, which before the pandemic was one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, fell into recession for the first time in 29 years with a record slump in the second quarter, due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.

The quarantine measures were reimposed in the capital and nearby provinces from August 4-18 after a group of doctors and nurses warned that the healthcare system could collapse.

16:35 GMT – Mexican president to present plan to reactivate economy

The Mexican government will present a plan to reactivate the economy in two weeks to help bring the country back from a sharp recession caused by the pandemic, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

“In 15 days, a plan for the reactivation of the economy will be presented,” Lopez Obrador said during a regular conference, noting that the government is in talks with the powerful business lobby CCE.

Lopez Obrador has said in recent days that the pandemic is losing force in Mexico, but its death toll stands as the world’s third-highest after the United States and Brazil.

15:56 GMT – Gyms in NY set to reopen at reduced capacity: Cuomo 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that gyms can open as soon as August 24 at 33 percent capacity under strict health measures, including wearing mandatory face masks.

15:45 GMT – Spain’s latest figures

Spain reported 1,833 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry – below Friday’s post-lockdown record of 2,987 but more than three times the average seen in July.

Cumulative cases, which include results from antibody tests on patients who may have already recovered, rose to 359,082, with 32,389 detected in the past seven days, the ministry said.

15:11 GMT – England’s exams regulator reverses course

A level students hold placards as they protest opposite Downing Street, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

Following increasing criticism, England’s school examinations regulator admitted it had made a mistake with the way it awarded grades to school students after their exams were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Roger Taylor, chair of the Ofqual exam board regulator, said the body had taken “the wrong road” and had to change course as he offered an apology to students and to schools.

Outrage among students grew after Ofqual used an algorithm to assess grade predictions made by teachers, and lowered those grades for almost 40 percent of students taking their main school-leaving exams. According to a new methodology, grades will now be based on teachers’ assessments instead.

14:23 GMT – Italy halts nightclubs’ and ballrooms’ activities

No more clubbing in Italy, Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced in his latest effort to curb the spread of the novel virus.

Activities taking place in nightclubs and dance halls across the whole country are now halted until September 7.

“Doing so we send a signal to the country that we need to keep the attention high,” Speranza said as the number of infections is increasing.

14:03 GMT – UK encourages at-risk groups to sign up for vaccine trials

The UK government is calling on elderly people and volunteers from Black and Asian minority groups to sign up to a vaccine trial registry to boost efforts to find a working vaccine against COVID-19 that offers protection for higher risk groups.

“Protecting those at risk is the only way we will end this pandemic,” said Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccines Taskforce.

Over 100,000 people have volunteered to take part in vaccine trials, the UK’s business ministry said, but more volunteers are needed to make sure candidate shots work for everyone.

13:46 GMT – Czech gov’t to reimpose compulsory face coverings

As the number of cases keeps increasing in the Czech Republic, starting from September 1 face masks will become compulsory on public transport and various indoor public venues.

“We consider this to be a preventative measure given that we are probably facing a complicated autumn, especially after September 1 when there will be high social interaction,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech said announcing the decision.

Schools are due to reopen on September 1 after the summer vacation.

13:30 GMT – UK latest figures

The United Kingdom recorded 713 new daily confirmed cases, it is the first time it has dropped below 1,000 in six days. Three more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus.

 

Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi taking over the coronavirus liveblog from my colleague Linah Alsaafin. 


12:05 GMT – France deploys riot police in Marseille to enforce masks

The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more and more towns and neighbourhoods are imposing mask rules starting Monday to slow rising infections.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said 130 police officers are being sent to the Marseille region, which expanded its outdoor mask requirements to all farmers’ markets and more neighbourhoods on Friday.

France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks. Paris expanded its mask requirements on Saturday, and other towns around France started requiring masks outdoors on Monday.

11:00 GMT – Ghana leader says airports may reopen next month

President Nana Akufo-Addo has indicated that Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport may reopen next month after measures are set in place to test arriving passengers for coronavirus.

“Under my instructions, the ministry of aviation, the Ghana civil aviation authority and the Ghana Airports Co Ltd, have been working with the ministry of health and its agencies to ascertain our readiness to reopen our airport,” Akufo-Addo said.

“I want to ensure that we are in a position to test every single passenger that arrives in the country to avoid the spread of the virus,” he said, adding the airport might be reopened on September 1.

10:40 GMT – Thai economy worst hit in 20 years

A woman wearing a protective face mask sits in a mobile shop at a shopping mall in Bangkok [File: Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Thailand’s economy is expected to see its biggest slump in more 20 years due to the pandemic.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink between 7.3 and 7.8 percent this year, said Tossaporn Sirisamphan, secretary-general of the governmental National Economic and Social Development Board.

An earlier forecast put the decrease at between 5 and 6 percent. It would be the biggest annual contraction since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

10:00 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,821 new cases, 57 deaths

Indonesia reported 1,821 new cases, bringing its total cases to 141,370, the government’s COVID-19 task force said.

It also recorded 57 more deaths, taking its fatalities to 6,207, the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia.

09:40 GMT – Hong Kong records 44 cases, physical distancing restrictions extended

Coronavirus restrictions in Hong Kong include a ban on restaurant dining from 6pm and obligatory masks in all outdoor areas [Billy HC Kwok/Getty Images]

Hong Kong has reported 44 new coronavirus cases as the government announced an extension to physical distancing measures aimed at controlling further spread of the virus, which has resurged in the city since early July.

While the number of daily cases has come down from triple digits in recent weeks, authorities have cautioned residents from becoming complacent, warning that the situation remained “severe”.

Restrictions, including a ban on dining in restaurants from 6pm and the mandating of masks in all outdoor public areas, are set to remain in force until August 25, the government said in a statement on Monday.

09:20 GMT – Ireland has no plans for more local lockdowns

Ireland’s health minister said he has had no conversations with his public health team about implementing other local lockdowns and the government’s intention remains to lift two-week restrictions in the counties of Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

Health officials will meet on Monday to decide if further measures are needed to slow a sharp increase in the spread of the coronavirus that the government and officials find deeply concerning.

09:00 GMT – Malaysia and Singapore reopen border to business travel

The land crossing between Malaysia and Singapore has reopened as the neighbours further relaxed curbs first imposed in March.

Business travel of up to 14 days is allowed, while some Malaysians who are employed in Singapore can cross the border to go to work.

An estimated 300,000 commuters crossed the frontier each day before a lockdown was imposed in Malaysia on March 18. Singapore initiated its lockdown on April 7. Both have since eased restrictions, but borders remain closed to tourists.

08:40 GMT – Philippine minister tests positive for virus for second time

Philippine Interior Minister Eduardo Ano has tested positive for the coronavirus five months after his initial illness [King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo Division via AFP]

A Philippine government minister has tested positive for coronavirus five months after an initial diagnosis, authorities said, as experts investigate whether he had been reinfected.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, who is helping to spearhead the country’s virus response, returned a positive test on Saturday after experiencing flu-like symptoms last week.

He was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, but did not show any signs of the disease at the time.

08:20 GMT – Novavax begins mid-stage study of COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa

US drug developer Novavax Inc said it is starting a mid-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, which is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Phase 2b trial study of NVX-CoV2373 will be conducted on about 2,665 healthy adults and will evaluate safety and immunogenicity in about 240 medically stable, HIV-positive adults, the company said.

“Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of COVID-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy, along with additional safety and immunogenicity data for NVX-CoV2373,” said Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn.

07:35 GMT – Russia reports nearly 5,000 new cases

Russia says 110 people died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 16,914 [File: Anadolu]

Russia reported 4,892 new coronavirus cases on Monday, pushing its tally to 927,745, the fourth-largest in the world.

Authorities said 55 people had died across the country in the last 24 hours, increasing Russia’s official coronavirus death toll to 15,740.

06:40 GMT – Lebanon needs two-week lockdown after COVID-19 spike: Minister

Lebanon should be locked down for two weeks after a spike in COVID-19 infections, the caretaker government’s health minister said.

“We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks,” Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.

Lebanon registered a record 439 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Sunday.

06:10 GMT – South Korea battles worst outbreak in months

South Korea has warned of tighter coronavirus restrictions as new outbreaks appear, including one linked to a church where more than 300 members have been confirmed infected but hundreds more are reluctant to get tested.

The outbreak linked to the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul is the country’s biggest in nearly six months and led to a tightening of distancing rules on Sunday.

The Sarang Jeil outbreak revived fears of February when authorities struggled with an outbreak that emerged in a secretive Christian sect in the city of Daegu and became the country’s deadliest cluster.

05:50 GMT – Malaysia’s Penang halts medical tourists

Malaysia’s northern state of Penang has barred entry by overseas visitors seeking medical treatment until it finalises new health and safety procedures in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Authorities toughened curbs on movement in some parts of the island over the weekend, as new infections emerged after more than three months with no cases.


Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague Ted Regencia.


05:10 GMT – Germany’s Bavaria unable to trace dozens who tested positive for COVID-19

Bavarian authorities say they have not been able to contact 46 of more than 900 people who tested positive for coronavirus upon entering Germany, but did not receive the results, AP news agency reported.

Last week, Bavaria admitted that thousands of returning travellers had to wait for weeks to receive their test results – including the more than 900 who tested positive but were not aware.

The bureaucratic breakdown led to an uproar in Germany over concerns that those who unknowingly tested positive could spread the virus. Germany has reported a total of 224,014 cases and more than 9,200 deaths.

04:41 GMT – India’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 50,000

India reported a daily jump of 57,981 infections, taking the total to nearly 2.65 million, third only behind the US and Brazil.

The death toll jumped by 941, taking the total to 50,921.

Read more here.

04:30 GMT – China grants country’s first COVID-19 vaccine patent

Chinese authorities granted the first patent to the pharmaceutical firm CanSino Biologics Inc to develop a new coronavirus vaccine, according to state-owned Global Times.

The vaccine, named Ad5-nCoV, is co-developed by CanSino Biologics Inc and a team of Chinese military infectious disease experts.

Earlier it was reported that Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with China to begin clinical trials of the vaccine.

04:14 GMT – Malaysia reports mutation of coronavirus

Malaysia’s Institute of Medical Research (IMR) has detected a mutation of the coronavirus in the country, according to the country’s top health official.

Health Director General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on social media that the mutation would likely make existing vaccines ineffective against the disease, which was “found to be 10 times likely to infect other individuals and easier to spread by super spreader individuals”.

Among those detected to have the mutated coronavirus was an individual from the Philippines.

03:53 GMT – Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe in hospital for checkup: Report

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went into hospital for a medical checkup on Monday, a government source said, after a top official voiced concern the premier was suffering from fatigue because of his workload during the pandemic.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, plans to return home later on Monday after being examined at Tokyo’s Keio University Hospital, the source familiar with the situation told Reuters news agency.

The reason for the checkup was not immediately clear.

More details here.

03:40 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 561 to 224,014 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 561 to 224,014, Reuters news agency reported on Monday citing data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The reported death toll rose by one to 9,232, the tally showed.

02:50 GMT – Bolivia surpasses 100,000 cases, authorities predict September peak

Bolivia has surpassed 100,000 coronavirus cases, the country’s Ministry of Health reported, predicting that the virus would reach its peak in September, according to Reuters.

Bolivia’s confirmed coronavirus infections reached 100,344, the ministry said, and there have been 4,058 deaths since the virus first emerged in the country in early March.

Rene Sahonero, the ministry’s director general of hospitals, told state television cases had accelerated among Bolivia’s population of 11.6 million after recent protests linked to the postponement of general elections due to the coronavirus.

02:04 GMT – Brazil’s first lady tests negative for COVID-19

On Wednesday, Michelle Bolsonaro’s grandmother died of COVID-19 [Eraldo Peres/AP]

Michelle Bolsonaro, the first lady of Brazil, says her latest COVID-19 test result is negative, more than two weeks after she announced that she tested positive. On Wednesday, her grandmother died of COVID-19.

Bolsonaro’s youngest son, 22-year-old Jair Renan, also tested positive and he released a video on Saturday in which he appears to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug with no proven efficacy against the coronavirus but widely publicised by the president as a treatment.

Bolsonaro had said he tested positive on July 7, suffered mild symptoms and was free of the virus in late July. He has downplayed the impact of COVID-19, appearing in public without a mask and meeting supporters despite distancing recommendations. Brazil has recorded more than 3.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 107,000 deaths, second only to the United States.

01:34 GMT – South Korea reports 197 new COVID-19 cases

South Korea reported 197 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday as it battles sporadic outbreaks in densely populated Seoul and its neighbouring area, according to Yonhap news agency.

The additional cases raised the country’s total to 15,515, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the new cases, 188 were local transmissions. 

The country reported no additional fatalities, keeping the death toll at 305. Seven more people have been released after recovering from the disease, bringing the total to 13,917.

01:15 GMT – Mexico’s coronavirus cases rise to 522,162, deaths to 56,757

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 4,448 new coronavirus cases and 214 fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 522,162 cases and 56,757 deaths as of Sunday, according to Reuters.

The government said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Members of the Star Wars fan club deliver food to relatives of patients hospitalised in Merida, state of Yucatan, amid the coronavirus pandemic [Hugo Borges/AFP]

01:00 GMT – China reports 22 new coronavirus cases in mainland

China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for August 16, compared with 19 cases a day earlier, and 37 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 16 a day earlier, Reuters reported, quoting the National Health Commission.

All the new infections were imported cases, the agency said in a statement. There were no new deaths.

As of August 16, mainland China had a total of 84,849 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said. China’s death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,634.

00:50 GMT – Evo Morales’s sister dies in Bolivia of COVID-19

Esther Morales, the 70-year-old sister of former Bolivian President Evo Morales, has died of COVID-19, AP news agency reported, quoting a statement from the exiled leader.

Morales, who was forced to resign last year after an election marred by irregularities, is in Argentina. He faces sedition and other charges if he returns to Bolivia.

He blamed “racism and political persecution” for preventing him from visiting his sister in a hospital in Oruro, southeast of La Paz.

00:08 GMT – Australia reports deadliest day of pandemic

Australia has reported the deadliest day of the pandemic with 25 fatalities from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 282 new cases in the state of Victoria, according to the government.

The previous record for Australia was 21 deaths in a day.

00:05 GMT – Mexico president says vaccine expected to be ready early next year

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available throughout Latin America by the first quarter of 2021. 

In a video posted on social media on Sunday, Lopez Obrador said Mexico has reached a deal with Argentina’s AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to produce a vaccine for distribution in Latin America.

Mexico has recorded more than 517,000 coronavirus cases and more than 56,500 deaths – the third-highest in the world, next to the US and Brazil.

00:01 GMT – Lebanon registers new daily record of coronavirus infections

Lebanon has registered a record daily number of coronavirus infections, 439, and six fatalities. The new infections bring the total tally to 8,881 in the country of about five million. Some 103 people have died.

The country continues to grapple with the aftermath of an explosion in the capital that killed more than 200 people and injured about 6,000 others.

Lebanon’s health sector has been challenged by the pandemic that hit amid a deepening economic crisis. The explosion in Beirut knocked out at least three hospitals in the capital and greatly increased pressure on those still operating.

__________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, August 16, go here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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