Coronavirus cases in the US exceed 3.5 million: Live updates

Florida reported the largest one-day rise in deaths since the pandemic began and its second-largest increase in cases.

  • The US has passed 3.5 million total infections on Thursday morning and recorded more than 137,000 reported deaths.
  • India’s coronavirus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the nation closer to one million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa two weeks after it was reopened to tourists.
  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is again touting the supposed benefits of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, as he tests positive for the virus again.
  • More than 13.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than 7.5 million have recovered and more than 582,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Here are the latest updates.

Thursday, July 16

23:39 GMT – Most Americans think it is unsafe to reopen schools: Poll

Only one in four Americans think it is safe for public schools to reopen as US coronavirus cases climb, and four in 10 parents say they would likely keep their children home if classes resume, a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows.

The response was split along party lines: half of Republicans said they thought schools were safe, compared with only one in 10 Democrats.

More on this story here.

22:24 GMT – Doctors in Colombia warn that health system is ‘close to collapse’

Doctors in Bogota, Colombia are calling for a return to a strict city-wide quarantine to slow coronavirus infections in the nation’s capital, warning that medical services are close to collapsing, a leading medic said on Thursday.

The Andean country has reported over 165,000 cases of the coronavirus and around 6,000 deaths. Bogota accounts for more than a third of the country’s total cases and over 20 percent of its deaths.

“We’re in a critical situation,” the president of the Bogota College of Medicine, Herman Bayona, told the Reuters News Agency. “We are close to collapse.”

Colombian President Ivan Duque declared an ongoing quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus in late March.

20:35 GMT – More US states mandate masks to staunch coronavirus pandemic

More US state governors required residents to wear face-coverings in public, siding with the view that mask mandates are necessary to fight a worsening coronavirus pandemic rather than simply a matter of personal choice.

Shoppers wearing face masks are pictured in the parking area of a Walmart Superstore [Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

The Democratic governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, announced he was requiring most people to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces, such as stores and businesses.

The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, issued a similar statewide mandate, while Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, also a Republican, widened his earlier directive to include more people.

About half of the 50 US states have now put face-covering mandates in place.

20:20 GMT – Defiance grows as Georgia governor blocks local mask rules

Mayors in Atlanta and other Georgia cities deepened their defiance of Governor Brian Kemp, saying they want their requirements for people to wear masks in public to remain in place, even after the Republican governor explicitly forbade cities and counties from mandating face coverings.

Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, had ordered masks during the coronavirus pandemic, and many are venting outrage at Kemp swatting down their efforts.

Kemp does not disagree, saying he strongly supports mask-wearing to combat the spread of COVID-19 infections. He travelled the state earlier this month to encourage face coverings.

But he has maintained for weeks that cities and counties do not have the authority to require masks in public places, saying no local order can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.

Georgia, overall, had nearly 128,000 confirmed infections and nearly 3,100 deaths overall as of Wednesday, although experts say many more people contract the illness but are never tested.

18:45 GMT – US announces borders with Mexico, Canada to stay shut to August 20

US Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced that borders with Mexico and Canada would remain shut to most travel to stem to spread of the coronavirus for another month to August 20.

Confirming reports days earlier from Canada that Washington had renewed the four-month-old shutdown, Wolf said the decision represented the success of collaboration on the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it also comes as new US confirmed infections hit a record 67,632 on Wednesday and deaths surpassed 137,000, underscoring the failure of the US government to get the disease under control.

In Canada, the leaders of several provinces had spoken out against reopening the border with the US due to its surge in cases.

Canada has recorded more than 8,800 deaths and more than 108,000 cases, while Mexican cases have topped 317,000 and the number of deaths is nearing 37,000.

18:30 GMT – Brazil nears 2 million coronavirus cases, with 75,000 dead

The country hit at least 75,000 confirmed deaths on Wednesday and is expected to report two million confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Thursday evening.

Even as cases wane somewhat in the biggest and hardest-hit Brazilian cities, the virus is peaking in new locations across the largest country in Latin America.

Experts blame denial of the virus’ deadly potential by President Jair Bolsonaro and lack of national coordination combined with scattershot responses by city and state governments, with some reopening earlier than health experts recommended.

Brazil’s roughly 7,000 COVID-19 deaths in each of the last seven weeks are equal to several aeroplanes packed with Brazilians crashing every day, former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told AP.

With nearly two million cases, Brazil is second only to the US and experts believe the number to be an undercount due to widespread lack of testing.

18:03 GMT – UK begins easing lockdown in COVID-19 hotspot Leicester

The British government eased lockdown restrictions imposed upon the COVID-19 hotspot of Leicester, but said the English city was still suffering above-average infection rates and some restrictions must remain.

“We’re now in a position to relax some, but not all of the restrictions that were in place,” Hancock said. The situation would be reviewed again in two weeks, he added.

17:40 GMT – Virus was direct cause of death for 89 percent of Italian COVID-19 victims

The new coronavirus has directly caused the death of nine out of 10 of Italian COVID-19 victims, a study released said.

Since discovering its first infections in February, Italy has reported some 35,000 COVID-19 fatalities.

The study published by the Superior Health Institute and National Statistics Institute ISTAT showed the coronavirus was the direct cause of death for 89 percent of the 4,942 victims in the sample.

A patient is carried on a stretcher from a nursing home to a hospital [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

The remaining 11 percent had coronavirus but died as a direct result of other medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer and dementia.

However, the virus might have aggravated their condition and accelerated their death.

The study was based on deaths reported at the end of May, when Italy had already loosened its rigid lockdown rules.

17:35 GMT – Filipino Nurses: New York’s Frontliners

An estimated 150,000 Filipino nurses work in the US, earning up to 30 times more than they could back home.

But at what cost?

Many nurses work long hours, some juggling multiple jobs to support their families. Others are exploited, intimidated and forced into indentured labour.

Now Filipino nurses are on the front lines of New York’s COVID-19 crisis, some losing their lives as they battle to keep Americans alive. Meanwhile, the Philippines is facing a dire shortage of medical workers at this critical time.

Al Jazeera’s 101 East investigates the price of chasing the American Dream.

15:50 GMT – Florida reports biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths

Florida reported the largest one-day increase in deaths from the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began and its second-largest increase in cases ever.

Florida announced 13,965 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state and the centre of the latest outbreak to over 315,775, according to the state health department.

Florida’s COVID deaths rose by 156 to a total of 4,782, surpassing its previous one-day record of 133 new deaths on July 12.

Hospitalisations of patients with COVID-19 was the highest ever reported at 8,626 currently hospitalised, up 321 in the past 24 hours, according to a state agency.

15:15 GMT – EU puts Serbia and Montenegro on virus warning list

European Union members removed Montenegro and Serbia from a list of countries deemed to have the coronavirus outbreak under relative control, effectively reintroducing a travel ban.

Governments have restricted inbound travel from outside the EU in order to slow the spread of the epidemic, but on July 1 began reopening their borders to travellers from certain areas.

The list of countries that meet the criteria – where the 14-day number of new cases is stable or falling and lower than the EU average – includes Canada, South Korea and Japan.

But it does not include the US, which has the world’s biggest outbreak, and China will only be confirmed on condition that it reciprocally opens up to EU-based travellers.

15:10 GMT – Zimbabwe doctors to join nurses on strike as virus cases rise

Senior doctors in Zimbabwe’s public health service have threatened to walk out over low pay and lack of coronavirus protective gear, in the latest dispute to plague the country’s battered health system.

Some 15,000 nurses have been on strike for two weeks over wages that have been hit by galloping inflation.

Coronavirus infections are rising rapidly, reaching 1,089 cases including 20 fatalities, according to official figures.

“We are finding it difficult to continue offering services in our work stations because of a number of challenges … for which no solution has been proffered,” the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors’ Association said.

Its notice to strike, seen by AFP on Thursday, takes effect in two weeks.

14:37 GMT – Portuguese officers raid clinics claiming ‘ozone therapy’ cures COVID-19

Portuguese police detained five people after raiding health clinics allegedly exploiting the coronavirus pandemic by claiming “ozone therapy” prevents or cures the disease.

In a statement, Portugal’s criminal investigation police agency, the PJ, said the suspects allegedly took advantage of the “fragility and vulnerability of people afraid of the virus or even infected”.

The clinics – not named by the PJ – may have contributed to the spread of the disease, the police said, adding they also conducted various tests, namely to detect the coronavirus, without holding a licence or meeting the required standards.

14:05 GMT – Republicans to limit national convention attendance in Florida

Republicans will significantly limit the number of attendees at the party’s national convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in August, as coronavirus cases continue to spike sharply across the state.

Only the approximately 2,500 regular delegates will be permitted to attend the first three nights of the four-night event, according to a Republican source with knowledge of the plans.

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On the final evening, when President Donald Trump is scheduled to formally accept the Republican presidential nomination and address the convention, delegates will be allowed to bring one guest, and alternate delegates will also be invited, bringing the crowd to around 6,000 to 7,000 people.

The bulk of the convention had already been moved from Charlotte, North Carolina last month after the state’s governor refused to permit a full-capacity crowd.

Since then, however, Florida has seen an explosion of coronavirus cases. The state has limited indoor gatherings to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity.

13:53 GMT – UK, US, Canada accuse Russia of hacking virus vaccine trials

The United Kingdom, the United States and Canada have accused Russia of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.

The three nations alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in coronavirus vaccine development.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.”

TASS cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying Russia had nothing to do with any alleged hacker attacks on pharmaceutical companies and research institutes in the UK.

RIA cited Peskov as saying the Kremlin rejected London’s allegations, which he said were not backed by proper evidence.

Read more here

12:35 GMT – France imposes indoor public mask-wearing

France will make the wearing of face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces from next week, the government has said, as officials noted signs of an uptick in the coronavirus outbreak.

Already obligatory gear on collective transport, masks will also become mandatory in shops and other indoor places frequented by the public, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in the Senate.

“The wearing of a mask, along with barrier measures (such as social distancing and regular hand-washing) is an effective method of prevention and protection,” he said.

12:20 GMT – Netanyahu faces pushback on money-for-all coronavirus plan

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a lukewarm reception from his main coalition partner and the head of the central bank to a plan to grant money to all Israelis to revive the economy during the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu announced the six billion shekel ($1.75bn) package amid public anger and protests over his handling of the pandemic

Under the plan, which requires cabinet approval, individuals and households without children will receive one-time payments of just 750 shekels ($218), while families will receive roughly $600 to $900, depending on the number of children they have.

But the Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, of the centrist Blue and White party that has partnered with Netanyahu’s Likud in the government, said the money should instead be targeted at the poorest citizens.

Read more here

12:05 GMT – Peru president reshuffles cabinet as COVID-19 takes its toll

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has reshuffled his cabinet as the country desperately tries to get on top of its worsening coronavirus crisis.

The number of deaths is rapidly rising, and it is hitting disadvantaged Peruvians the hardest.

Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez reports from Lima, Peru:

 

11:45 GMT – Africa CDC wants local vaccine manufacturing

As the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic crashes across Africa, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the intellectual property from any effective vaccine should be made available for local manufacturing and swifter distribution.

John Nkengasong also told reporters that Africa’s 1.3 billion people have “all kinds of differences in genetic makeup, so we want to be sure that we are participating fully” in vaccine trials.

Africa has had more than 644,000 confirmed virus cases, nearly half in South Africa alone.

11:15 GMT – Ukrainians ‘tired’ of lockdown, says president

Ukrainians are fed up with the coronavirus lockdown and the government should be cautious about extending it beyond August, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday.

“Everyone is tired of this quarantine,” the presidential press service quoted him as telling government officials.

Ukraine imposed strict restrictions in March but partially eased them in May to allow economic recovery.

 Ukraine imposed strict restrictions in March [File: Reuters]

11:00 GMT – Jordan says to reopen airport for commercial flights next month

Jordan has said it will partially resume commercial flights from August to a limited number of European and Asian countries on an internationally approved safe list.

Government spokesman Amjad Adailah told state-owned Al Mamlaka TV that regular commercial flights from Alia international airport, suspended since March, could begin in the first or second week of August.

Passengers from the safe country list that includes Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong and Thailand would be allowed into Jordan and the list could extend depending on the state of the pandemic, he added.

10:45 GMT – China’s Sinopharm begins late-stage trial of COVID-19 vaccine in UAE

Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm has begun Phase III clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in Abu Dhabi using up to 15,000 volunteers, the government in the capital of the United Arab Emirates said on Thursday.

The human trial is a partnership between Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 (G42) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

10:30 GMT – Malta marks a week without new coronavirus cases

Malta has marked a week without new coronavirus cases, the first since the virus was detected there for the first time on March 7.

Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed in a tweet that no new cases had been detected for a week. The last was a single case on July 9.

“We must continue to be prudent to maintain our success,” he said.

Malta saw 674 cases and nine deaths in almost four months but now only has four active cases of the virus, the rest having recovered. The Mediterranean island has benefitted from its small size by employing a high rate of testing – with some 20 percent of the population tested – and contact tracing.

The Mediterranean island has benefitted from its small size by employing a high rate of testing [File: Reuters]

10:15 GMT – Spain’s football fans unlikely to return in September 

Spain’s health minister has expressed doubt about the prospect of spectators returning to football matches in September due to the threat of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

The government’s department for sport and organising body La Liga had hoped to let fans back into stadiums at a reduced capacity when the new season starts in September, increasing to 50 percent in November before full capacity returned in January.

Yet a spike in infections since Spain lifted a national state of emergency in June has led some regions to impose localised lockdowns and limit activities, threatening the return to normality.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reacts, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease [File: Albert Gea/Reuters]

10:00 GMT – Russia to mass-produce experimental COVID-19 vaccine

Russia plans to produce 30 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine domestically this year, with the potential to manufacture a further 170 million abroad, the head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund told Reuters.

The first human trial of the vaccine, a monthlong test on 38 people, ended this week. Researchers concluded that it is safe for use and induces an immune response, though the strength of that response is as yet unclear.

A larger Phase III trial involving several thousand people is expected to begin in August, said Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) head Kirill Dmitriev.

09:45 GMT – Hungary cancels national holiday celebrations due to pandemic

Hungary has cancelled celebrations and fireworks scheduled for the August 20 national holiday due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said. 

Hungary lifted most of the restrictions it introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus in May. Concerts and festivals with crowds of more than 500 people will not be allowed until August 15.

The celebrations on August 20 normally attract tens of thousands of people in Budapest.

09:30 GMT – India to allow Hindu pilgrims to Kashmir despite coronavirus risk

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have decided to allow Hindu pilgrims to visit the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath, a decision Kashmiri analysts say contradicts the government’s coronavirus lockdown policy.

The annual Amarnath Yatra (journey), which receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across India, will likely begin on July 21, but this year it has been shortened to two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

Hindu pilgrims undertake their journey towards the sacred Amarnath Caves [File: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

09:15 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,574 new coronavirus infections, 76 new death

Indonesia has reported 1,574 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 81,668 its health ministry said.

Indonesia also reported 76 new coronavirus deaths, taking the overall death toll to 3,873, ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing.

09:00 GMT – Pakistan reports lowest number of daily deaths

Pakistan has reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 deaths in about a month.

It recorded 40 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday, compared to the highest single-day toll of 153 on June 19.

Pakistan has recorded 257,914 confirmed cases, including 2,145 in the past 24 hours, and 5,426 fatalities.

Until weeks ago, Pakistan had witnessed a 20 percent infection rate as a result of daily testing [File: The Associated Press]

08:45 GMT – Social distancing, lockdowns linked to reduction in COVID-19 cases: Study

Earlier implementation of lockdown has been associated with a larger reduction in the incidence of COVID-19, a new study by the BMJ found (PDF).

“Data from 149 countries showed that the incidence of COVID-19 cases decreased by an average of 13 percent in association with physical distancing interventions,” the study read.   

According to the research no evidence was found of additional benefits from the closure of public transport when four other physical distancing measures – school closures, workplace closure, restrictions on mass gatherings and lockdown – were in place. 

08:30 GMT – Uzbek leader chides officials over “deplorable” COVID-19 situation

Uzbekistan’s president has criticised his health minister and the mayor of Tashkent over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that the situation in the capital was “deplorable” and causing popular discontent.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s comments were the first official acknowledgement that Central Asia’s most populous nation is having problems coping with the new coronavirus.

The former Soviet republic of 34 million imposed a second nationwide lockdown this month and has confirmed 14,581 COVID-19 cases, with 71 deaths.

FILE PHOTO: Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a news conference with his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov/File Photo

08:15 GMT – China becomes first economy to grow since virus pandemic

China has become the first major economy to grow since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, recording an unexpectedly strong 3.2 percent expansion in the latest quarter after antivirus lockdowns were lifted and factories and stores reopened.

Growth reported Thursday for the three months ending in June was a dramatic improvement over the previous quarter’s 6.8 percent contraction – China’s worst performance since at least the mid:1960s. But it still was the weakest positive figure since China started reporting quarterly growth in the early 1990s.


08:00 GMT – Trump administration distances itself from latest attack on Fauci

The White House has distanced itself from a scathing attack made on the country’s top infectious diseases expert by a senior adviser.

It follows an oped in the US media criticising Dr Anthony Fauci. President Donald Trump said he has a good relationship with Fauci and the article was “unacceptable”.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Washington, DC : 

 

07:45 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 750,000

Russia’s official coronavirus case tally has reached 752,797 on Thursday, the fourth largest in the world, after authorities reported 6,428 new cases in the last 24 hours.

In their daily readout, officials said 167 people had died overnight, pushing the official death toll to 11,937.

07:30 GMT – Dakar Youth Olympics postponed by four years to 2026

The 2022 Dakar Youth Olympics have been postponed by four years, in further fallout from delaying the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the decision was discussed two days ago in a telephone conversation with Senegal President Macky Sall. It means Africa will have to wait until 2026 for the continent’s first Olympic hosting duty.

“This was really too heavy workload for everybody,” Bach said during an online news conference, citing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now opening one year later.

07:15 GMT – Spain pays tribute to virus victims

Spain is paying homage to the nation’s victims of the new coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic, with a solemn ceremony in Madrid.

Relatives of around 100 people who died during the pandemic, representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers are joining King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government authorities and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.

 

06:45 GMT – Venezuela tightens antivirus measures in capital

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a tightening of coronavirus containment measures in the capital Caracas and neighbouring Miranda state.

In spite of being one of the least affected in Latin America in the early stages of the pandemic, Venezuela has seen an alarming rise in cases and deaths recently. 

This week Venezuela surpassed 10,000 confirmed infections, although the opposition and organizations such as Human Rights Watch believe the true numbers are much greater.

Maduro announced he would authorise the transformation of the Poliedro de Caracas – the country’s largest entertainment centre – into a COVID-19 field hospital [File: AFP]

Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.


04:45 GMT – Novartis to provide ‘no profit’ COVID-19 drugs to developing countries

Swiss drugmaker Novartis will provide 15 generic drugs for treating the symptoms of coronavirus to developing countries on a not-for-profit basis.

The drugs range from antibiotics to steroids and pills for diarrhoea, and will be provided to 79 low and lower-middle-income countries.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the stress that COVID puts particularly on fragile health systems,” Chief Operating Officer Lutz Hegermann told Reuters news agency in an interview.

04:30 GMT – World’s biggest medical glove maker faces US trade sanctions over forced labour allegations

US Customs and Border Protection said two of Malaysian medical glove maker Top Glove’s units will be subject to Detention Orders, meaning all their exports to the US must stop, and products already en route will be seized and destroyed.

Top Glove has been under fire over its treatment of migrant workers amid allegations that the recruitment  fees the workers have to pay leave them in debt bondage. 

Top Glove did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The two subsidiaries together employ about 6,525 non-Malaysian workers, according to labour rights activist Andy Hall.

Malaysia: Concerns over labour abuse to meet rubber gloves demand

3:30 GMT – China economy bounces back after virus plunge

China’s GDP rose by 3.2 percent in the three months ending in June compared with the same period a year ago, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The economy slumped 6.8 percent in the previous quarter – the first such contraction since 1992.

“It’s very much a story of government stimulus-led recovery,” Rodrigo Catril, a foreign exchange strategist at NAB in Sydney told Reuters. “The consumer remains very cautious.”

03:05 GMT – Bangladesh arrests hospital owner over fake tests

Bangladesh has arrested 42-year-old Mohammad Shahed, a hospital owner accused of faking thousands of coronavirus test results, after nine days on the run, AFP news agency says.

“He was arrested from the bank of a border river as he was trying to flee to India,” AFP quoted Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Colonel Ashique Billah as saying. “He was wearing a burqa.”

Shahed’s hospitals claimed to have conducted 10,500 tests, but only 4,200 were genuine, the spokesman said, while the rest were issued negative certificates without running the test. More than a dozen people have been arrested over the alleged scam.

Read more here.

Hospital owner Mohammad Shahed accompanied by RAB officers after his arrest [AFP]

02:50 GMT – Tokyo facing record daily high in cases

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says daily cases in the capital are likely to top 280 on Thursday. That would be the highest since the start of the outbreak.

“It’s still incomplete, but I’m hearing the number will be above 280,” she told reporters. More than 4,000 tests are being conducted, she added.

02:35 GMT – China gives approval for early-stage human trials of vaccine

China has given the green light to phase-one clinical trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine using BioNtech’s technology.

Fosun Pharma says it plans to start the trial of BNT162b1 “as soon as possible once it is ready”.

This is the ninth potential vaccine to move into various stages of human testing in China.

02:15 GMT – Japan’s domestic tourism campaign under fire

Officials in Japan are questioning the government’s plans to boost domestic tourism amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the capital.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike questioned the wisdom of the plan on Wednesday and rural officials also weighed in. On Thursday, a panel of experts is due to discuss the multibillion-dollar “Go To” promotion, which would offer subsidised travel to people visiting areas outside Tokyo and is due to start on July 22.

The governor has just announced the latest number of new cases in the capital.

01:15 GMT – Australian state of Victoria reports record daily cases

The Australian state of Victoria has just given its daily update on coronavirus, reporting 317 new cases – a record for Australia. Two men in their 80s were also confirmed to have died from the disease.

00:30 GMT – Bolsonaro touts unproven drug, tests positive for coronavirus again

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro continues to tout hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus even though there is little evidence that it works.

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time on Wednesday, shared a video on social media extolling the benefits of the controversial malaria drug.

Scientists are not so convinced about the benefits. Doctors warn of serious side effects, and a study in May found a higher risk of death in COVID patients.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro observes a ceremony to lower the Brazilian flag for the night at the Alvorada Palace as he continues to battle the coronavirus [Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]

23:00 GMT – Spain cracks down on partying tourists

Authorities on the Spanish island of Majorca have ordered bars on popular party streets in Magaluf and Palma to close, for fear that congregating tourists will trigger a surge in coronavirus cases. 

The island is popular with German and British holidaymakers, and the regional government had already introduced heavy fines for anyone organising illegal parties or flouting rules on physical distancing and face masks.

It ordered the closures after video emerged of mainly German tourists carousing around bars and terraces as if “no one had ever heard of the corona pandemic”, according to the German-language publication Mallorca Zeitung.

::::

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 here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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