UN chief warns coronavirus could set world back for years: Live

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns coronavirus pandemic could set world’s economic progress back by ‘decades’.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Laudium suburb in Pretoria
  • United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said the world is experiencing the sharpest decline in per capita income since 1870 and that “between 70 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty”.

  • Africa’s coronavirus caseload has climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic on the 54-nation continent continues to gain speed.

  • Hong Kong is set to impose its toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus, after authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.

  • The World Health Organization has warned the pandemic could get far worse if countries around the globe do not follow basic healthcare precautions. “The virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
  • More than 13 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 7.3 million have recovered, and more than 573,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy have recorded the most deaths.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 14

23:10 GMT – Initial testing of first COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results

The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the United States revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported on Tuesday – as the shots are poised to begin key final testing.

“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press news agency.

The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health in partnership with Moderna Inc, will start its most important step around July 27: a 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

21:55 GMT – CDC Director: face masks could bring COVID pandemic under control in US in a matter of weeks

The head of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, said on Tuesday that if all Americans wore a mask, the rising cases of COVID-19 could be under control within four to eight weeks.

Speaking in an online interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, Redfield said, “I think if we can get everyone to wear masks right now, we can bring this under control within four, six, eight weeks.”

The CDC director also said wearing a mask was a public health issue and that he was “sad” to see it become so politicised.

20:40 GMT – Guterres: COVID-19 could set us back years, even decades

Secretary General of UN Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting about the situation in Syria at UN Headquarters in New York City
Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the coronavirus pandemic might set the world back “years and even decades” in terms of economic progress.

“We are experiencing the sharpest decline in per capita income since 1870,” he said, adding that “between 70 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty”.

He also warned that “some 265 million people could face acute food insecurity” by the end of the year.

Guterres called for an “inclusive, networked and effective multilateralism” to deal with the crisis.

20:20 GMT – US rescinds order denying visas for foreign students    

The United States has rescinded its controversial decision to revoke visas for foreign students whose courses move online due to coronavirus, a federal judge said.    

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the support of a number of other institutions, had taken legal action against the move that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 6.

“The government has agreed to rescind” the decision as well as any implementation of the directive, Judge Allison Burroughs said in a brief hearing.

Read more here.

20:00 GMT – Pandemic slows down in Chile, where ‘improvement continues’

Coronavirus infections are no longer increasing as rapidly in Chile, which has reported 1,836 new cases – the lowest figure in 63 days.     

“The improvement continues,” Radio Cooperativa quoted Health Minister Enrique Paris as saying.     

One of the Latin American countries with the most COVID-19 cases, Chile has confirmed a total of 319,493 infections and 7,069 deaths.            

Paris gave credit for the general improvement to his predecessor Jaime Manalich, who “prepared the country very well, above all in testing, treatment in intensive care units, the purchase of ventilators”.

19:45 GMT – South African teachers call for school closures

Teachers practice social distancing before being screened after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Cape Town
Teachers practice social distancing before being screened as schools begin to reopen after the coronavirus disease lockdown in Langa township in Cape Town, South Africa [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

South Africa’s largest teachers union has called on authorities to close schools until the number of COVID-19 cases drop in the country, which has the most infections on the continent.

“The community infections have been rising since the reopening of schools and [it is] inevitably affecting the schools,” Mugwena Maluleke, the general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, said in a virtual media briefing.

“In the country, the virus is reaching its peak and at the same time, we are in winter season known as the influenza season,” he said, adding that if schools remain open, learners, teachers, and academic staff would be at high risk of contracting the virus as South Africa approaches its peak of infections.

19:19 GMT – Record virus death toll in Florida

The US state of Florida – one of the current epicentres in the nation’s coronavirus crisis – on Tuesday posted a record number of deaths for a 24-hour period at 132.

The state department of health reported more than 9,000 new cases in the same 24-hour span.

Overall, Florida has recorded more than 290,000 cases and more than 4,400 deaths.

Read more here.

18:50 GMT – Italy health minister says country will continue some virus measures

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rome
Visitors enter Rome’s ancient Colosseum as it reopens with social distancing and hygiene measures in place, after months of closure due to the spread of the coronavirus disease in Rome, Italy [File: Yara Nardi/Reuters]

Italy’s Minister of Health Roberto Speranza said the country will continue enforcing some restrictive measures at least until the end of this month.

“We must not retreat one inch on prevention,” Speranza said.

The minister also said that authorities are keeping a watchful eye on all arrivals from abroad, including migrants landing on Italy’s shores.

The country will maintain a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days for everybody arriving from outside the European Union, Speranza said.

18:30 GMT – Algeria reports 527 new coronavirus cases, highest daily record

Algeria has recorded 527 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, health authorities said, the highest single-day increase in the North African country.

In recent weeks, the number of infections in Algeria has been on an upward trend. 

Tuesday’s update brings the total number to 20,216 cases, including 1,028 deaths, according to Djamel Fourar, the spokesman for the committee monitoring the pandemic.

On Friday, the government put 29 provinces out of the country’s 48 under lockdown for one week. A nighttime curfew is in place in these provinces, including the capital Algiers.

18:00 GMT – No vaccine, no carnival, Rio’s samba schools warn

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Members of samba schools parade during the 2020 Carnival at the Sambadrome Marques de Sapucai in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [File: Anadolu Agency]

Some of Rio’s biggest samba schools say they will not participate in next year’s Carnival unless a coronavirus vaccine is widely available, Brazilian media reported Tuesday.

Five of the 12 top samba schools, including Mangueira and Beija-Flor, told Brazil’s O Globo newspaper they would vote to postpone the parades at a meeting set for Tuesday.

“It’s simple. If there’s no vaccine, there will be no samba,” said the head of the Sao Clemente school, Renatinho Gomes.

“How can you gather crowds without collective immunity?”

17:35 GMT – Sweden defends no mask policy

People have a drink after work while keeping a social distance due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Stockholm
People have a drink after work while keeping a social distance due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Stockholm, Sweden [File: Stina Stjernkvist/TT News Agency/via Reuters]

Sweden’s health agency said that it would not urge people to wear face masks and that social distancing and proper hand hygiene should be enough to curb the coronavirus.

Sweden, which is an outlier in the way it is handling the outbreak of the virus, has one of the world’s highest death rates per capita.

Sweden has defended its approach by saying the measures in place can be maintained for months, unlike full lockdown measures in other countries that led to a backlash in many places.

17:05 GMT – COVID-19 spread increases in Spain with 666 new cases

As Spanish health authorities have been battling around 120 COVID-19 outbreaks, the health ministry registered 666 more cases.

It is the second-highest daily jump since late May and has brought the total number of infections to 256,619.

The number of infections over the last week – nearly 4,300 – has doubled from a week ago and reached the highest number since the ministry changed its reporting methods in late May.

Infections have been steadily increasing since the country entered into the new normal on June 21, opening borders, free internal movement and restarting the vast majority of economic activities.

16:45 GMT – Hungary lawmakers hand PM Orban EU virus deal veto

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban votes the law granting the government special powers to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis at the Hungarian parliament in Budapest
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban discusses the law granting the government special powers to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis at the Hungarian parliament in Budapest [File: Zoltan Mathe/Reuters]

The Hungarian parliament has mandated Prime Minister Viktor Orban to veto a huge European Union pandemic recovery fund deal if it is deemed unfair by Budapest or sets rule-of-law conditions.

EU leaders meet later this week to agree on an $850bn coronavirus aid package aimed at helping countries hit hardest by the virus.

The parliament resolution said the money must also be used only to restart economic growth, protect and create jobs.

But Orban has said he will veto a deal if poorer EU members like Hungary receive less funding than richer ones, or if conditions like rule-of-law or migration policy conformity are imposed.

16:00 GMT – Canada, US poised to extend border restrictions to August 21

The US and Canada are poised to extend their agreement to keep their shared border closed to non-essential travel until August 21, but a final confirmation has not been given, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

The agreement would likely extend the closure by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April, May and June.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that a decision on the border would be announced “in the coming days”.

“We’re going to continue to work hard to keep Canadians safe and to keep our economies flowing and we will have more to say later this week,” Trudeau said.

15:45 GMT – Indonesian journalists urge safety first during coronavirus

The Alliance of Independent Journalists of Indonesia asked media companies to raise awareness about the safety and health of journalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 50 staff members at the Radio of the Republic of Indonesia in Surabaya have tested positive for the disease, while two employees of Television of the Republic of Indonesia died due to the infection.

Abdul Manan, the chairman of the alliance, said media companies should provide adequate protective equipment for their employees.

“The media should allow their staff, especially journalists, to work from home,” he said in a press release.

15:20 GMT – Swiss Indoors tennis tournament cancelled

The Swiss Indoors tennis tournament has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers say it would be “irresponsible and logistically difficult to go ahead” amid uncertainty about public health and the economy.

Tournament head Roger Brennwald says “social distancing or matches played behind closed doors were out of the question for us from the start”.

15:00 GMT – Germany eyes local travel bans to prevent second virus wave

Germany to launch coronavirus smartphone contact tracing app
The German Chancellery’s Chief of Staff Helge Braun said his country is considering banning local travel to stem a second wave of the new coronavirus [File: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

Helge Braun, who is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff and tasked with coordinating the government’s pandemic response, said Germany is considering local travel bans for areas that see a sudden, unexplained surge in virus cases.

“Our measures are appropriate to preventing a second big wave,” Braun told The Associated Press in an interview at the Chancellery in Berlin. “But this requires us to stay the course, not get careless in our measures and maintain our respect for the virus.”

Germany has managed to flatten the curve of infections to three per 100,000 inhabitants a week – a very low rate by international comparison. The country of 83 million has reported just over 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,077 deaths since the start of its outbreak.

14:15 GMT – Which activities are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19?

INTERACTIVE: Coronavirus - Risks of activities

14:00 GMT – Global vaccine plan may allow rich countries to buy more

Politicians and public health leaders have publicly committed to equitably sharing any coronavirus vaccine that works, but the top global initiative to make that happen may allow rich countries to reinforce their own stockpiles while making fewer doses available for poor ones. 

While no country can afford to buy doses of every potential vaccine candidate, many poor ones can’t afford to place such speculative bets at all.

Activists warn that without stronger attempts to hold political, pharmaceutical and health leaders accountable, vaccines will be hoarded by rich countries in an unseemly race to inoculate their populations first.

After the recent uproar over the United States purchasing a large amount of a new COVID-19 drug, some predict an even more disturbing scenario if a successful vaccine is developed.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over from Ramy Allahoum in Doha.

12:45 GMT – Philippines to use police in house-to-house searches for COVID-19 cases

Philippine authorities and police will carry out house-to-house searches for COVID-19 patients to prevent wider transmission, a minister has said, amid soaring death and infection numbers and some areas returning to a stricter lockdown.

Interior Minister Eduardo Ano urged the public to report cases in their neighbourhoods, warning that anyone infected who refused to cooperate faced imprisonment.

Many stranded in Philippines capital after losing jobs amid pandemic

12:30 GMT – Oman to start allowing citizens to travel abroad: state TV

Oman will start allowing its citizens to fly outside the country, but they must apply with authorities to do so and quarantine upon their return, state television has reported.

Oman TV also said on its Twitter account that the Gulf Arab state had decided to maintain a lockdown on two regions, Dhofar and Masirah, without specifying for how long.

The sultanate has been gradually easing coronavirus restrictions that were imposed in March. Oman TV did not specify when Omani citizens would be able to travel abroad.

12:15 GMT – Catalan authorities order home confinement in Lleida 

Spain’s Catalonia has approved a resolution to place the residents of the city of Lleida and seven nearby towns under home confinement to stem a surge in coronavirus infections, after a judge earlier ruled that such a measure was unlawful.

The confinement will come into force on Wednesday and last for 15 days, Catalan regional government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo told reporters.

12:00 GMT – France to require masks at indoor public spaces 

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he favours making face masks mandatory in public indoor spaces to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, possibly starting on August 1.

“I would like to make masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces,” he said in a televised interview, adding: “We have indications that (the outbreak) is accelerating a bit.”

In an interview with French television networks marking Bastille Day, President Macron said “the best prevention” for the virus are masks, social distancing and hand washing” [File: Reuters]

11:45 GMT – Iran reports 179 new virus deaths

Iran has reported 179 new deaths from the novel coronavirus as authorities announced a decision to once more shutter some businesses in the capital to contain the virus’ resurgence.

The reimposition of restrictive measures comes after the government had progressively lifted them from April to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.

The one-week measure in Tehran includes the closure of gyms, pools, zoos and cafes, ISNA news agency quoted deputy Tehran governor Hamidreza Goudarzi as saying.

Coronavirus: Lockdown Iran | People and Power

11:30 GMT – Africa’s virus caseload climbs past 600,000

Africa’s coronavirus caseload has climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic on the 54-nation continent continues to pick up speed.

Africa surpassed the half-million case mark less than a week ago. The continent now has more than 610,000 confirmed cases. South Africa has the most cases on the continent, with more than 287,000.

11:15 GMT – Israel confirms record 1,681 new cases

Israel’s Health Ministry said the country confirmed 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a record high.

Israel was widely praised for taking swift action early in the pandemic by closing its borders and imposing other restrictions to contain the virus’s spread. But since reopening the economy and schools in May following a more than month-long lockdown, the number of new cases has steadily increased.

11:05 GMT – Thai authorities seek to fix errors that allowed infected foreigners in

Authorities in Thailand have urged almost 1,900 people to quarantine themselves and get tested for the virus after a breakdown in screening allowed two foreigners with the disease to pose a risk to public health.

The agency coordinating Thailand’s coronavirus response also announced it is rolling back regulations for admitting foreign visitors in order to tighten up procedures.

10:50 GMT – Singapore enters recession with 41 percent contraction

Singapore’s economy slipped into recession in the second quarter, contracting by a record 41.2 percent from the previous three months, and is facing its biggest slump ever this year as measures to contain the coronavirus hammered the trade-reliant country.

Economists polled by the Reuters news agency had expected a 37.4-percent slump, but the pandemic took a heavy toll on the construction sector, which plunged 95.6 percent.

Read more here.

Singapore mall economy
The lockdown hit Singapore’s retail industry badly but analysts say consumer spending should recover as the government now has more experience in fighting the virus [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]

10:35 GMT – Virgin Atlantic to clinch $1.5bn rescue deal

British airline Virgin Atlantic is close to securing a 1.2 billion pound ($1.5 billion) rescue deal, Sky News reported, removing the medium-term chance of administration as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The deal, which will involve backing from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and hedge fund Davidson Kempner, could be confirmed later on Tuesday, Sky News said. A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic declined to comment on the report.

10:15 GMT – UK demands the public wear face coverings in shops

Britain’s government will demand people wear face coverings in shops as it seeks to clarify its message after weeks of prevarication amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to tell the House of Commons on Tuesday that anyone failing to comply with the order could face a fine of up to 100 pounds ($125). The order comes into effect on July 24, giving shops and the police time to prepare.

Many European nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already require masks to be worn in enclosed spaces. Britain, which has reported one of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, had taken a more relaxed attitude, recommending masks but not requiring them – at least until now.

10:00 GMT – Transparency concerns raised over India COVID-19 fund 

Bejon Misra responded quickly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal in March for donations to a new fund to strengthen the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

The next day, the 69-year-old retired management professor made a donation. “It was a generous contribution because Modi is the face of it,” Misra said.

Such trust in Modi is common in India, the prime minister enjoying a very high approval rating, despite coronavirus infections spiking in recent weeks.

Read more here

WHO on coronavirus: ‘There are no shortcuts out of this pandemic’ (1:40)

09:15 GMT – Philippines confirms six new coronavirus deaths, 634 cases 

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported six new coronavirus deaths and 634 additional infections, the lowest daily increase in cases in nearly two weeks.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had increased to 1,603, while confirmed cases had reached 57,545.

Philippines Eases Lockdown As Coronavirus Cases Continue To Rise
More than 1,600 people have died from the virus in the Philippines [File: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images]

09:05 GMT – Hong Kong reports 48 new coronavirus cases 

Hong Kong has reported 48 new coronavirus cases, including 40 that officials said were transmitted locally, ahead of new social distancing measures due to come into force at midnight.

Tuesday’s toll was slightly lower that Monday’s 52 new cases but remained broadly in line with a recent sharp increase in the city.

Since late January, the global financial hub has reported more than 1,500 cases and eight deaths

08:55 GMT – Indian IT hub Bangalore locks down again 

India’s IT hub Bangalore will go back into lockdown on Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases in the country surged towards a million with about 500 people dying daily.     

After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in late March, India has been steadily easing rules to lessen the huge economic impact.

But infections have continued to soar, passing 900,000 on Monday with almost 24,000 deaths, according to health ministry figures that many experts say underplay the severity of the situation.

Argentina artists struggle during COVID-19 crisis (2:39)

08:40 GMT – Turkmenistan halts passengers trains amid virus reports 

Turkmenistan has ordered passenger trains halted from July 16 amid reports of coronavirus in the isolated Central Asian country that has yet to declare any cases.  

A statement on the state-run railway’s website this week said that local passenger train travel would be suspended for a week from July 16 to July 23, but gave no reason for the stoppage.

Turkmenistan – a tightly-controlled, oil-rich ex-Soviet state – is one of a few countries in the world yet to declare any coronavirus cases.

07:45 GMT – Russia coronavirus deaths reach 11,614, total cases 739,947

Russia has reported 6,248 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its confirmed national tally to 739,947, the fourth largest in the world.

Officials said 175 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 11,614.

Members of an electoral commission visit a regional hospital during a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms in Tver
Health authorities have registered 175 new deaths over the past 24 hours [File: Tatyana Makeyeva [Reuters]

07:30 GMT – India reports more than 28,000 new coronavirus infections 

India has reported 28,498 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total number of infections to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.

The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.

India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, but the spread of the virus has prompted several big cities to reimpose partial lockdowns.

07:25 GMT – Yemen’s Houthis announce easing of coronavirus lockdown 

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are easing a variety of coronavirus restrictions amid a news blackout on the virus’s toll in their territory.

The Houthi Cabinet announced late on Monday it was allowing restaurants, wedding halls, public baths, parks and playgrounds to reopen. The statement encouraged people to sanitise regularly and practise social distancing.

Over the past months, the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and much of the war-torn country’s north, have suppressed all information about the virus. They’ve severely punished doctors and journalists who speak out, imposed only loose restrictions and promoted conspiracy theories.

Kashmiris struggling to survive as India restores lockdown (3:00)

06:55 GMT – Study predicts surge in HIV, TB and malaria deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic

Deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria could surge in poor and middle-income countries as already weak health systems grapple with severe disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a predictive study published on Monday.

Over the next five years, deaths from the three diseases could rise by as much as 10, 20 and 36 percent respectively – putting the mortality impact on a scale similar to the direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic itself, the modelling study found.

“In countries with a high malaria burden and large HIV and TB epidemics, even short-term disruptions could have devastating consequences for the millions of people who depend on programmes to control and treat these diseases,” said Timothy Hallett, a professor at Imperial College London who co-led the work.

He said the knock-on impact of COVID-19 could undo some of the significant progress against these diseases made over the past two decades, “compounding the burden caused by the pandemic directly”. 

South Africa reimposes lockdown amid soaring COVID-19 cases (2:41)

06:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 412 to 199,375

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 412 to 199,375, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by four to 9,068, the tally showed. 

Coronavirus testing site in Berlin
More than 190,000 people in Germany have tested positive for the coronavirus [File: Anadolu]

06:30 GMT – Mexico reports 485 new coronavirus deaths, 4,685 infections

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 4,685 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 485 additional fatalities, bringing the country’s totals to 304,435 cases and 35,491 deaths.

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

05:15 GMT – Debt-relief measures failing to help Cambodian poor

Human Rights Watch says debt relief measures by micro-loan providers in Cambodia are failing to help families struggling with the impact of the pandemic, who may be forced to sell land and homes to survive.

The rights group says the National Bank of Cambodia and the government should suspend debt collection and interest accruals for borrowers who can no longer meet their payments because of the pandemic. 

“Many Cambodians fear losing their lands more than catching the coronavirus … and the government has done little to help them,” HRW’s Asia Director Phil Robertson said in a statement. HRW says Cambodians have the world’s highest average amount of micro-loans at $3,804 per capita. 

05:00 GMT – Worse than dismal: Singapore Q2 GDP plunges 41.2 percent

Singapore’s economy suffered a coronavirus-induced record contraction in the second quarter, putting it on course for its worst-ever slump this year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) plunged by a record 41.2 percent in the three months ended June, on a quarter-on-quarter annualised basis, preliminary data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry showed on Tuesday. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 37.4-percent decline.

“We were expecting these numbers to look quite dismal, although this is worse than what we had expected,” Steve Cochrane, economist at Moody’s Analytics, told the news agency.

04:45 GMT – Tokyo theatregoers asked to come forward for testing

Some 800 Tokyo theatregoers are being asked to come forward for testing after at least 20 coronavirus cases were traced back to a production involving a Japanese boy band.

Health officials are focusing on the Theatre Moliere, a 190-seat theatre in the Shinjuku area of the capital, which put on the show Werewolf for six days earlier this month.

The first case was reported on July 6 and involved a cast member.

04:30 GMT – DRC facing new Ebola outbreak as tries to control COVID, measles

Ebola is spreading in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo, with nearly 50 known cases across a region bordering the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, says the outbreak, first detected on June 1, remains “very active” and of great concern.

The DRC is also dealing with a measles epidemic that has killed more than 6,000 people and COVID-19, which has infected more than 3,000 and killed 188.

You can read more on that story here.

FILE PHOTO: Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo
FILE PHOTO: Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, DRC, 2019 [Baz Ratner/Reuters]

03:45 GMT – Malaysia and Singapore ease some border restrictions

Border restrictions between Malaysia and Singapore will be eased to support essential business and official traffic, as well as the movement of residents who have long-term work permits for either country.

This will include a Reciprocal Green Lane for essential business and official purposes where all travellers have to undergo a PCR swab test before travel and submit a detailed itinerary for the duration of the visit. 

The new measures are expected to come into force on August 10, the two countries’ governments said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The details of the arrangements – including health protocols and the application process – will be announced 10 days before that.

03:30 GMT – Hong Kong prepares for toughest-ever coronavirus curbs

People in Hong Kong are preparing for the toughest curbs yet to control the coronavirus as authorities warn that the risk of a large-scale outbreak in the territory is “extremely high”.

The new measures come into force at midnight (16:00 GMT). They include mandatory face masks on public transport and a limit on the size of gatherings to just four people.

You can read more on that story here.

Hong Kong
Masks will be mandatory on all public transport in Hong Kong under measures that come into force at midnight [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

02:30 GMT – Mystery of Argentine sailors who caught virus while at sea

Argentina is trying to solve the mystery of how 57 sailors managed to come down with COVID-19 while they were at sea even though all had tested negative and spent 14 days in quarantine in a hotel before the voyage began.

The health ministry for the southern province of Tierra del Fuego says the fishing trawler is now back in port after 35 days at sea, with 57 of the 61 crew diagnosed with the virus after a new test. Two are now in hospital.

A team is trying to establish the “chronology of contagion” among the crew. “An incubation period this long has not been described anywhere,” said Leandro Ballatore, head of the infectious diseases department at Ushuaia Regional Hospital.   

01:25 GMT – No new cases confirmed in Beijing for eighth day

The wave of coronavirus cases connected with Beijing’s wholesale market that began in June appears to have been brought under control with no new cases of the disease reported in the Chinese capital for eight successive days.

China’s National Health Commission reported five new cases on the mainland on Tuesday, all among people returning from overseas.

01:00 GMT – Nearly 1,000 staff at US immigration detention centres have COVID-19

More than 930 people working for four private companies that run detention centres for US immigration services have tested positive for coronavirus, according to executives speaking at a congressional hearing.

The four firms are CoreCivic (554 cases), the GEO Group (167 cases), Management & Training Corp (73 cases) and LaSalle Corrections (144 cases). The US immigration department has reported 45 cases among its own staff.

Lawmakers are concerned about the spread of the virus across the US’s nearly 70 detention centres. More than 3,000 detainees have tested positive for the disease, and two have died. There are currently about 22,580 people in immigration custody.

00:00 GMT – UK to make masks mandatory in shops

The British government will announce on Tuesday that people will have to wear masks when they go into a shop from July 24. 

“There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Masks have been required on public transport since June 15.

23:45 GMT (Monday) – Worldwide cases surpass 13 million

More than 13 million people around the world have now been confirmed to have had the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Below are the five most-affected countries.

  • United States – 3,361,042
  • Brazil – 1,884,967
  • India – 878,254
  • Russia – 732,547
  • Peru – 330,123


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

Read all the updates from yesterday (July 13) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies