WHO says worst of pandemic ‘yet to come’: Coronavirus latest

The WHO warns the pandemic ‘is not even close to being over’, as the number of deaths worldwide exceeds 500,000.

Health workers move a recovered novel coronavirus patient from the Versalles clinic to her home on June 24, 2020, in Cali, Colombia. Colombia extended its quarantine Tuesday until July 15, as its COVI
  • Global coronavirus cases now exceed 10 million and more than half a million people have died from the respiratory disease, COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States accounts for about a quarter of all deaths.

  • Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases have passed the 200,000 mark after 3,602 new infections were reported on Sunday.

  • The US health secretary Alex Azar has warned the “window is closing” for decisive action to curb the virus as cases there surge.

  • The Australian state of Victoria has found 75 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours – the highest daily count in two months. Its top health official says the number is “absolutely concerning”.

Source: Al Jazeera

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, June 29

21:45 GMT – More US states step back from reopening as COVID-19 cases surge

More US states and businesses rolled back plans to reopen their economies, citing surges in coronavirus cases and hospitalisations. The rises in confirmed cases and hospitalizations have been most pronounced in Sun Belt states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona that defied advice from health experts to wait longer before easing restrictions.

California authorities on Sunday ordered bars in Los Angeles and six other counties to close. Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all their bars on Friday. Beaches in Florida’s Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open on July 3-5, officials said on Sunday, a blow to residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day there on Saturday. Miami-Dade County had already announced beach closures for the holiday weekend.

20:41 GMT – UK city of Leicester to go into lockdown

People wearing protective masks walk past a sign, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Leicester, Britain, June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
People wearing protective masks walk past a sign, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Leicester, Britain [Carl Recine/Reuters]

A new lockdown will be enforced around the English city of Leicester as the number of infections is much higher than anywhere else in the country, health minister Matt Hancock told parliament.

“We do not take these decisions lightly, but with the interests of the people of Leicester in our hearts,” Hancock said, adding that schools and non-essential shops would have to close.

He said Leicester accounted for around 10 percent of all positive cases in the country over the past week, and that the seven-day infection rate there was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than the next highest city.

20:28 GMT – Recovery depends on containing virus: US Fed 

The recovery of US economy will depend on containing the coronavirus and on government efforts to provide support, said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

“The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus,” Powell said in testimony prepared for delivery at a House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

“A full recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.”

19:57 GMT – Brazil’s Sao Paulo expects approval to trial Chinese vaccine

Brazil’s Sao Paulo state expects this week to receive federal regulator approval to trial a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, said governor Joao Doria.

Speaking to reporters, Doria said that 9,000 volunteers have already been registered to test the vaccine, known as CoronaVac.

A health worker vaccinates a woman against the flu, as advised by health officials to facilitate diagnosis for coronavirus, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
A health worker vaccinates a woman against the flu, as advised by health officials to facilitate diagnosis for coronavirus, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil [File: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]

19:35 GMT – Bahrain to pay 50 percent of wages for private firms

Bahrain’s government said it would pay 50 percent of salaries for private company workers in sectors that were hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency BNA reported.

The new payments would start in July and continue for a three-month period, the government said, adding that it would extend its assistance to Bahraini citizens by also paying electricity and water bills.

Bahrain had said it was spending $570 million on paying salaries to all 100,000 of its citizens employed in the private sector from April to June to help soften the economic blow from the coronavirus outbreak.

18:47 GMT – Brazil still faces ‘big challenge’: WHO

A faithful prays next to blocked sits to keep social distance at Se Cathedral during a mass as the city eases restrictions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,
A faithful prays next to blocked seats to keep a physical distance at Se Cathedral during a mass as the city eases restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Sao Paulo, Brazil [Rahel Patrasso/Reuters]

Brazil still faces a “big challenge” in fighting the new coronavirus, said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies programme.

He urged federal and state authorities there to work together more closely.

“There is no question. Brazil is still facing a big challenge,” he said, describing the situation in the Americas generally as “difficult”.

With more than 1.3 million cases and 57,620 deaths, Brazil is the second-worst hit country in the world by the pandemic. 

18:30 GMT – Turkey to extend coronavirus wage supports by a month

Turkey will extend a wage support system for one month to continue to offset the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said cash aid to low-income families would also be extended for a month.

He said 18 billion lira ($2.6bn) had been disbursed so far under the two programmes.

FILE PHOTO: Merchants are seen at Grand Bazaar as it reopens after weeks of the close doors amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul, Turkey, June 1, 2020
Merchants are seen at the Grand Bazaar as it reopened after weeks of the close doors amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul, Turkey [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

18:06 GMT – WHO to send team to China to investigate origins of coronavirus

A team from the WHO will be sent to China next week to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, said the head of the global health body Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The announcement came following repeated attacks by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who claim the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in China despite never presenting evidence to support their argument.

China strongly denies the allegations.

17:45 GMT – NY Governor Cuomo calls for mandatory masks 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said President Donald Trump should issue an executive order mandating that people wear masks in public, and he should “lead by example” by wearing one himself.

“The other states are just starting to do it now, states that were recalcitrant, governors who said ‘we don’t need to do this, masks don’t work,” Cuomo said at a media briefing.

“Now they’re doing a 180 … let the president have the same sense and do that as an executive order.”

17:17 GMT – Thailand to lift ban on international flights

Thailand will allow international flights starting from July 1, its aviation regulator has said.

The announcement came on the same day Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration said p ubs, bars and karaoke venues will be able to reopen starting from Wednesday.

Such activities will be allowed until midnight as long as they follow safety guidelines such as ensuring a two-metre (6.6-foot) distance between tables.

17:05 GMT – Broadway theatres extend shutdown 

Spectators will have to wait four more months before attending Broadway theatre shows as the venues extended their coronavirus-related shutdown until January 3.

“Broadway performances in New York City will be suspended through the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19,” industry group the Broadway League said on Twitter.

The New York City theatres, which went dark in mid-March, had previously set a tentative reopening date of September 6, but social-distancing requirements for audiences, actors and production staff have made it impossible for plays and musicals to resume.

16:49 GMT – Top Republican pushes for face coverings

Top Republican in the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy has said every American has a responsibility to follow recommendations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pushing for face coverings.

“They should wear a mask,” McCarthy told CNBC after his home state of California began to roll back efforts to reopen the economy. “If you cannot social distance, you need to be wearing a mask and you need to be respectful to one another.”

US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, wears a mask as he leaves following a press conference about Republican efforts against House
US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, wears a mask as he leaves following a news conference [Saul Loeb/AFP]

Similar calls were made by other Republicans in the past days, including Senator Rick Scott of South Carolina who on Twitter encouraged everyone to “WEAR YOUR MASKS!”

16:32 GMT – Nigeria to allow travel between states in certain hours

Starting from July 1, Nigeria will allow travel between states outside curfew hours, according to an official from the presidential task force on the new coronavirus.

So far, interstate movement has been restricted to essential services for several weeks, while a national daily curfew has been in place from 10pm to 4am local time.

16:07 GMT – Canada must remain vigilant: PM Trudeau

As Canada’s economy gradually reopens, its citizens must remain cautious due to the increasing number of cases in neighbouring US and other countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

“What the situation we’re seeing in the United States and elsewhere highlights for us is that even as our economy is reopening, we need to make sure we are continuing to remain vigilant,” he said. 

Trudeau also told a daily briefing fewer people were being admitted to hospital in Canada and the overall death toll was increasing at a slower rate than before, although some hot spots remained.

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his face mask as he visits the Big Rig Brewery, which utilizes the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy given to businesses affected
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his face mask as he visits the Big Rig Brewery, which utilises the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy given to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic [Patrick Doyle/Reuters]

15:45 GMT – WHO: ‘This is not even close to being over’

The pandemic is not even close to being over, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has told a briefing.

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” Tedros said.

The global body was planning to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease.

15:30 GMT – Thousands of foreign workers stranded in Chile

In Chile, thousands of foreign fruit pickers are stranded because their savings have gone and borders remain closed.

Many are from Bolivia, which does not have full diplomatic ties because of a long-running territorial dispute with its neighbour.

14:56 GMT – ‘A recipe for disaster’: Anthony Fauci 

In an interview with CNN, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci admonished Americans failing to comply with security measures calling it a “recipe for disaster”. 

“There are crowds. They are not physical distancing, and they’re not wearing masks. That’s a recipe for disaster,” said Fauci. 

Now we’re seeing the consequences of community spread, which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location like a prison or nursing home or meatpacking place.”

The US reported more than 2.5 million cases and more than 125,000 related deaths, the highest toll in the world. 

14:23 GMT – Kazakhstan heads for second lockdown

Law enforcement officers wearing face masks are seen on duty at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Almaty on March 19, 2020, after authorities locked down the city to contain the spread
Law enforcement officers wearing face masks are seen on duty at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Almaty after authorities locked down the city to contain the spread of the coronavirus [File: Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP]

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has given his cabinet two days to prepare a package of coronavirus restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“In foreign observers’ opinion, the situation in Kazakhstan is critical, on the brink of spiralling out of control,” Tokayev said, rebuking senior officials for reopening the country in a disorganized way and allowing the novel virus to resurge.

Tokayev ordered officials to boost the number of available hospital beds by 50 percent within a month, deploy mobile laboratories to make tests more widely available and prepare for a long-term pandemic.

Since the country started lifting a nationwide lockdown in mid-May, the number of infections has skyrocketed to almost 38,000 from about 5,000.

14:05 GMT – Germany extends lockdown in one district 

Germany will extend by one week the restricting measures enforced around one of the two districts that were put under lockdown on June 23. 

Some 600,000 people were forced into quarantine after more than 1,500 workers at a meat processing plant in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) tested positive. 

Bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, sports halls, gyms and swimming pools will remain shut down in Guetersloh even though the outbreak was under control, said NRW’s premier Armin Laschet.

The lockdown in the neighbouring district of Warendorf will be lifted on Tuesday because the number of positive tests there was lower than in Guetersloh.

13:37 GMT – Gilead prices drug remdesivir at $2,340 per patient

Gilead Sciences Inc has priced its COVID-19 drug candidate remdesivir at $2,340 for a five-day treatment in the US and some other developed countries.

The price tag is below the $5,080 per course recommendation by US drug pricing research group, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), last week.

But it is more in line with a lower range suggested by ICER of around $2,520-2,800, if cheap steroid dexamethasone, which is not patent-protected, is cleared for use.

While remdesivir is at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus, dexamethasone has been hailed as a potential breakthrough treatment.

Read the full story here.


Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi in Doha, Qatar taking over the live blog from my colleague Hamza Mohamed.


12:55 GMT – 36 US states see rise in coronavirus cases


12:25 GMT – Mourning in the time of COVID-19

Adrian Brown has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong since it started. But the story really hit home when his father died in the United Kingdom and Adrian was faced with the question: What does it mean to grieve for someone during a pandemic? 

In the latest episode of Between Us , Adrian Brown shares his experience mourning his father’s loss from a distance – a reality that so many others have faced in the time of this pandemic.


12:15 GMT – Iran reports record coronavirus single-day death toll

Iran has reported 162 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day toll since the outbreak began in the country in February.

“This increase in numbers is in fact a reflection of our overall performance, both in terms of reopening and in compliance with health protocols,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said at a news conference.

Mourners wearing protective clothing, face masks and gloves, pray over the body of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, in the outskirts of the city of Babol, in north of I
Iran has reported 225,205 cases and 10,670 related deaths [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

11:40 GMT – Kenya loses $751m in tourism revenue due to coronavirus

Kenya has lost 80 billion shillings ($751.88m) so far in revenue from its tourism sector, about half of last year’s total, due to the coronavirus crisis, its tourism minister said on Monday. 

Tourism is Kenya’s second-largest foreign exchange earner after Diaspora remittances, grossing over 164 billion shillings (about $1.54bn) in 2019, drawing in 2.05 million visitors.

Kenya Refocuses On Tourism As Situation Calms
Tourists have kept away as Kenya shut its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic [Paula Bronstein/Getty]

11:15 GMT – Qatar reports 693 new cases, three deaths

Qatar has recorded 693 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said, taking the total number of infections to 95,106. More than 80,000 of the infected have recovered from the virus. 

At least three more people died from the virus, the ministry added, taking the death toll to 113.

Doha, Qatar, March 19, 2020 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Qatar has started to ease some of the restrictions as cases decline [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera] 

10:30 GMT – UAE government employees to return to workplaces on July 5

Employees of the United Arab Emirates federal government will return to their workplaces from July 5, while implementing social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the UAE official news agency WAM said on Monday.

Only employees suffering from chronic disease are exempted from the decision to return to on-site working, it added on Twitter, citing the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

The UAE Adjusts To Life Under The Coronavirus Pandemic
The United Arab Emirates, where daily infection rates recently dropped to between 300 and 400 from a peak of some 900 in late May, registered more than 600 cases on Friday and over 700 on Saturday, taking its toll to 50,857, with 321 deaths [File: Francois Nel/Getty]

09:25 GMT – Indonesia reports more than 1,082 cases, 51 deaths 

Indonesia reported 1,082 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the total number of infections to 55,092, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

The Southeast Asian nation also recorded another 51 deaths, taking the total number of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,805, the highest in East Asia outside China. 

08:55 GMT – In Pictures: Coronavirus cases hit a new high in India

India has reported a new daily record of nearly 20,000 new infections as several Indian states reimpose partial or full lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Health workers carry the body of a man who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for his cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Health workers carry the body of a man into a crematorium in New Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

India’s health ministry recorded 548,318 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, a jump of nearly 100,000 cases in a week in the world’s fourth worst-hit country after the United States, Brazil and Russia.

A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) walks in an alley of a slum area during a check-up camp for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India June 27, 2020. REUTERS/F
A healthcare worker walks in an alley of a slum during a check-up for the coronavirus disease in Mumbai [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

The South Asian country’s death toll has reached 16,475, while 321,723 patients have recovered from the disease.

More photos here

08:25 GMT – PM Johnson says coronavirus has been ‘a disaster’ for the UK 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus crisis had been a disaster for the United Kingdom but that it was not the right time for an inquiry into missteps.

“This has been a disaster,” Johnson told Times Radio. “Let’s not mince our words, I mean this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country has gone through a profound shock.”

He said, though, that this was not the right time for an inquiry in the handling of the crisis.

UK hospital - reuters
The UK has reported at least 312,000 coronavirus cases and 43,600 deaths [Phil Noble/Reuters]

07:55 GMT – Russia reports lowest coronavirus infections in two months

Russia on Monday reported 6,719 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the lowest one-day reported increase since April 29, pushing its nationwide tally to 641,156.

The national coronavirus taskforce said 93 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,166.

Only the US and Brazil have reported more cases than Russia.

Outside image - blog - Russia update
Russia has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe [Sergei Chirikov/EPA]

07:30 GMT – Spain: EU to prepare list of coronavirus-safe countries by Tuesday 

The European Union will have a list of coronavirus-safe countries for travel purposes ready by Tuesday at the latest, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said.

Officials are preparing a list of 15 countries that are safe for open borders based on epidemiological criteria, she told local radio Cadena SER, as the coronavirus pandemic wanes on most of the continent. 

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Valencia
The pandemic is waning across Europe with many countries easing restrictions [Nacho Doce/Reuters]

07:05 GMT – Labour leader: PM Johnson ‘asleep at the wheel’ 

British opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asleep at the wheel during the coronavirus crisis and had been far too slow to make major decisions. 

“I think the prime minister has been asleep at the wheel, he has been slow, the comms, the communications has been terrible,” Starmer told ITV. “It began to break down frankly when Dominic Cummings put forward a ridiculous defence of what he had done in the North East.”

“They haven’t done the groundwork on test, trace and isolate,” Starmer said. 

COvid app UK Reuters
In Europe, only Russia has reported more cases than the UK [Isla Binnie/Reuters]

06:45 GMT – EU’s recovery fund must include substantial grants: IMF

A substantial part of the European Union’s package of measures to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic must consist of grants rather than loans, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist told Der Spiegel.

“Otherwise it will not promote economic recovery,” Gita Gopinath was quoted as saying by the German magazine on Monday.

EU leaders agreed in April to build an emergency fund to help the 27-nation bloc rebound from the pandemic but the final details have yet to be agreed. 

06:30 GMT – Czech Republic records highest daily cases since April 3

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rose by 305, the highest since April 3, health ministry data showed on Monday.

That is the fourth straight daily rise and brings the total number of cases to 11,603. There have been 348 deaths in the country of 10.7 million.

Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Sunday that the bulk of the new cases have been in a mining region in the east of the country. 

Czech Republic quarantines entire country over COVID-19

06:00 GMT – Pakistan coronavirus cases pass the 206,000 mark

In Pakistan, coronavirus cases crossed 206,512 mark on Sunday with 3,602 new infections reported. 

At least 49 deaths were reported taking the overall toll to 4,245.

On Sunday, 23,009 tests were carried out, far below the WHO-recommended levels of 50,000 per day.

05:50 GMT –

Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha, Qatar taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:30 GMT – Qatar to further ease coronavirus curbs

Qatar is to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks.

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management says public and private gatherings involving a maximum of five people would be allowed, and offices would be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

The next phase of reopening – including flights from low-risk countries – is scheduled for August 1.

05:15 GMT – Thailand records 35th day without community transmission

Thailand has reported its 35th day without community transmission.

The Southeast Asian nation added seven new cases on Monday, all of them in Thais returning from overseas – on this occasion from India and the US.

02:45 GMT – School building boom for post-COVID UK

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to set out plans for a 10-year rebuilding programme for schools in England, a December election promise derailed by the coronavirus.

“As we bounce back from the pandemic, it’s important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson’s Conservatives were returned to power with a large majority in December, taking many seats that traditionally vote Labour, but its handling of the pandemic has eaten into its support. 

UK schools have suffered badly under the severe spending cuts introduced after the financial crisis in 2009. More on the spending plans here.

UK school
The UK government is trying to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 43,000 people in the country, with a promise to rebuild England’s schools [Eddie Keogh/Reuters]

02:30 GMT – ‘Absolutely concerning’: Spike in cases in Australia’s Victoria state

The state of Victoria in southern Australia has found 75 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, something its Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton has described as “absolutely concerning”.

The state has already embarked on a testing blitz, but Sutton says social distancing measures could also be reintroduced in the form of localised lockdowns.

“We have to do whatever is required to turn this around,” he told reporters. 

Monday’s daily cases are the highest in two months.

02:00 GMT – China adds 12 new cases, compared with 17 on Sunday

China has reported 12 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, including five imported cases.

The seven domestic infections were all in Beijing.

About a third of the city’s 20 million people have been tested for the virus since an outbreak tracked to the capital’s main wholesale food market on June 11. 

01:45 GMT – Korea reports 42 new cases, concern over clusters

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has just announced 42 new cases of coronavirus – 30 of them local.

That is lower than the numbers reported over the weekend, but Yonhap news agency says South Korean authorities are concerned about continued clusters of infection, particularly in churches.

On Sunday, South Korea announced a three-level social distancing programme. The country is currently at Level 1, the lowest level. It will increase to Level 2 if the number of cases exceeds 50 for 14 days.

00:30 GMT – US accounts for a quarter of deaths as global toll passes half a million

The most recent numbers from Johns Hopkins show the death toll now stands at 501,206 since the first cases emerged in China late last year.

The US accounts for about a quarter of all deaths. Below are the five countries that have recorded the worst death tolls:

  1. US – 125,768
  2. Brazil – 57,622
  3. UK – 43,634
  4. Italy – 34,738
  5. France – 29,781 

More than 10.1 million people have been diagnosed with the disease.

23:30 GMT (Sunday) – LA bars told to close again after cases surge

Bars in Los Angeles and six other counties in California – together home to about 13.5 million people – have been ordered to close again after a surge in coronavirus cases.

Bars reopened on June 19.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry reporting from Kuala Lumpur. 

Read the updates from yesterday (June 28) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies