- Americans debated mask mandates and the reopening of schools during the coronavirus pandemic on Friday as state and local officials imposed conflicting orders and cases rose by more than 70,000 across the United States for the second day in a row.
- Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and that another 35 million are at risk of acquiring it.
- More than 14 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than 7.8 million have recovered and more than 600,000 have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
- The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 237,743 in 24 hours.
- India’s coronavirus caseload topped one million, with the US and Brazil the only other nations with more infections.
Here are the latest updates.
Saturday, July 18
23:15 GMT – Dozens of US inmates in Arizona monitored for COVID-19 symptoms
Dozens of Hawaii inmates housed at a private prison in southern Arizona are being monitored for symptoms of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the Hawaii Department of Public Safety says 45 Hawaii inmates in the same unit at the Saguaro Correctional Center are in quarantine and being monitored for symptoms. Another 28 Hawaii inmates who had contact with Nevada inmates will be quarantined for 14 days.
CoreCivic, which runs the correctional centre, did not immediately respond to calls by the Associated Press on Saturday. Corrections Corporation of America contracts with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to house adult male inmates from Hawaii to ease prison overcrowding on the islands.
20:31 GMT – WHO reports record daily increase in global coronavirus cases for second day in a row
The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, with the total rising by 259,848 in 24 hours.
The biggest increases reported were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report.
The previous WHO record for new cases was 237,743, the number reached on Friday. Deaths rose by 7,360, the biggest one-day increase since May 10.
Deaths have been averaging 4,800 a day in July, up slightly from an average of 4,600 a day in June.
19:15 GMT – Saudi hosts G20 talks on debt crisis, virus recovery
Group of 20 (G20) nations will consider extending debt relief for coronavirus-hit poor countries in the second half of 2020, the group’s finance ministers and central bankers said after talks aimed at spurring global economic recovery.
The 20 most industrialised nations announced a one-year debt standstill for the world’s poorest nations in April, but campaigners have criticised the measure as grossly inadequate to stave off the knock-on effects of the pandemic.
World Bank president David Malpass called for the debt suspension initiative to be extended through the end of 2021, while multiple charities including Oxfam said it needs to be stretched through 2022 to avert a “catastrophe for hundreds of millions of people”.
In their final statement after the virtual talks hosted by Riyadh, G20 ministers and bankers said they would “consider a possible extension of the [debt suspension initiative] in the second half of 2020”.
So far, 42 countries have applied for the initiative, asking for a cumulative $5.3bn in debt to be deferred, the statement said.
18:50 GMT – Florida adds 10,000 new virus cases, 90 deaths
Florida reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 90 additional deaths.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced 30,000 vials of remdesivir were being shipped to the state after hospitals complained of shortages.
He says he worked with Vice President Mike Pence last week to expedite the shipments.
DeSantis says the vials will be shipped directly to hospitals in the next 48 to 72 hours and should treat about 5,000 patients.
He made the announcement at a hospital in St Augustine during a discussion with doctors.
The state reports Florida hospitals are treating more than 9,000 patients for coronavirus. Overall, there have been nearly 338,000 confirmed cases and 5,002 deaths.
17:25 GMT – Afghanistan virus cases hit low as testing declines
Afghanistan reported 60 more coronavirus cases, its lowest daily count over the past three months.
However, the figure came on a day when, according to the Health Ministry, just 194 tests were conducted across the country.
The percentage of positive cases detected over the past 24 hours indicates the COVID-19 pandemic is still a grave threat in Afghanistan, where total cases are now up to 35,289, including 1,164 deaths.
Recoveries in the country have increased to 23,280, leaving the number of active cases at 10,845, according to the ministry’s data.
The capital Kabul remains the hardest-hit area, accounting for 55 of the new infections and 17 fatalities.
16:50 GMT – IMF exploring additional tools to provide aid to pandemic-hit countries
The International Monetary Fund is exploring additional tools to provide financing to the world’s poorest countries and others hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.
Georgieva told finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 major economies that they should consider extending a freeze in official bilateral debt service payments offered to the poorest countries beyond the end of the year, and work to promote greater private-sector participation.
Beyond that, she said there is a need to think about “more comprehensive debt relief for many countries”, given the severity of the crisis and the high debt levels already in place before the current crisis.
14:50 GMT – Coronavirus reveals ‘fragility of our world’: UN chief
Coronavirus has revealed the “fragile skeleton” of societies and could push 100 million people into extreme poverty, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Speaking on the 102nd birthday anniversary of the late Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first Black president – Guterres said coronavirus was “shining a spotlight” on global injustice.
“We have been brought to our knees – by a microscopic virus. The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world.”
“Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months,” he warned at a virtual memorial lecture organised by the Johannesburg-based Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Coronavirus is an “x-ray” that has revealed “fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built”, he added, citing unequal healthcare provision, unpaid care work, income disparity and climate change as some of the concerns.
He said the world’s 26 richest people hold as much wealth as half the global population.
14:10 GMT – COVID-19 antibody test passes first major trials in UK with 98.63 percent accuracy
British ministers are making plans to distribute millions of free coronavirus antibody tests after a version backed by the United Kingdom’s government passed its first major trials, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported late on Friday.
The fingerprick tests, which can tell within 20 minutes if a person has ever been exposed to the coronavirus, were found to be 98.6 percent accurate in secret human trials held in June, the newspaper reported.
It added the test was developed by Oxford University in partnership with leading UK diagnostics firms.
14:05 GMT – US coronavirus cases rise by over 70,000 for second day in a row
For a second day in a row, United States coronavirus cases rose by over 70,000 as Americans clashed over wearing masks and whether to reopen schools in a few weeks.
Cases on Friday rose by at least 70,674 after climbing by a record 77,499 on Thursday, the largest increase posted by any country since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.
US deaths rose by at least 912 on Friday, the fourth day in a row that fatalities have risen by over 900 a day.
12:05 GMT – Greece extends migrant camps virus lockdown
Greece has announced another extension of a coronavirus lockdown on its packed migrant camps as infections in the country increase and protective measures for the general public return.
The lockdown on camps began on March 21 and is now extended till August 2 “for the prevention of the dispersion of the coronavirus cases”, the migration ministry said.
Greece, with 194 coronavirus deaths and more than 3,900 confirmed cases, has so far not been as badly hit as many other European countries – and there have been no deaths in the migrant camps.
But the presence of more than 32,000 asylum seekers on the five Aegean Islands – in camps with a capacity of 5,400 – has caused major friction with local communities.
The touristic reopening of the country and the relaxation of some anti-virus measures have also sparked a increase in cases.
11:35 GMT – China rolls out mass testing in Xinjiang after new virus cases
China has launched mass health screenings in Xinjiang after a spike in coronavirus cases raised fears of a fresh outbreak in the far western province.
The new cases illustrate the continuing difficulty China faces in stamping out the contagion, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading around the world.
The new testing regime comes a day after authorities curtailed most flights into regional capital Urumqi and shut down local subway and public transport services. The city had recorded 17 new coronavirus infections as of Saturday, authorities said in a briefing.
Mass screening for the virus will begin in buildings that had reported new cases and will eventually cover all of Urumqi, said local health commission chief Zhang Wei.
“The whole city has entered a ‘wartime state’, and will suspend all kinds of group activities,” an official said at the briefing, according to state media reports.
11:15 GMT – UK pauses daily coronavirus deaths update over potentially faulty data
Britain has said that it was pausing its daily update of the death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concern numbers might have been exaggerated.
Academics have said the way that Public Health England (PHE), the government agency responsible for managing infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the figures means they might look worse there than in other countries of the United Kingdom.
10:30 GMT – Former Algerian minister detained on corruption charges dies of COVID-19
Ex-telecom minister Moussa Benhamadi, once close to former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, died from the coronavirus, said his brother Hocine Benhamadi. He was 67.
“He contracted the virus on July 4 and was only transferred to hospital in Algiers on July 13,” the brother told the website of French-language daily Liberte.
Moussa Benhamadi had been held in pre-trial detention at El Harrach prison since September 2019 as part of an investigation into corruption involving the Algerian high-tech firm Condor Electronics.
10:00 GMT – Divided EU holds second day of talks over coronavirus rescue plan
European Union (EU) leaders are meeting for further talks over a $858bn stimulus plan to breathe life into economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic after a meeting ran late into the previous evening but ended without a deal.
With the 27 countries at odds on a host of issues including the overall size of the recovery fund, the criteria used to distribute the money and how to supervise expenditure, reaching an agreement at the summit is far from guaranteed.
The leaders had spent Friday discussing a proposal put forward by European Council President Charles Michel that outlines a 750 billion-euro ($858bn) recovery fund and a 1 trillion-euro ($1.14 trillion) long-term budget for 2021-2027.
Read more here.
09:55 GMT – Indonesia’s coronavirus caseload exceeds China’s
The number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia has surpassed that of China, after the Southeast Asian country reported 1,752 new infections.
Indonesia’s total number of confirmed cases stood at 84,882, the health ministry said, surpassing China’s official tally of 83,644.
The virus-related death toll rose to 4,016 after 59 fatalities were reported overnight, said Health Ministry Spokesman Achmad Yurianto.
Indonesia has consistently recorded more than 1,200 cases daily since the start of July. The world’s fourth most populous country began the gradual reopening of its economy in June.
Authorities in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, have scrapped plans to reopen cinemas this month after a spike in daily cases. Some social and travel restrictions in the city of 10 million people will remain in place for the next two weeks.
09:15 GMT – Philippines confirms 113 new coronavirus deaths, 2,357 cases
The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 113 more new coronavirus deaths and 2,357 additional infections.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,773 while confirmed cases have reached 65,304, with the capital and Cebu City in the central Philippines accounting for the bulk of the infections as the virus spreads.
08:35 GMT – Rouhani says 25 million Iranians infected with COVID-19
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and that another 35 million are at risk of acquiring it.
The figures, which Rouhani said were based on a new health ministry report, are far higher than Iran’s official toll of 269,440 infected. Rouhani in a televised speech did not address the discrepancy.
Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the epidemic.
“Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said in the speech. “There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk,” he said.
“In total, more than 200,000 people have been hospitalised,” he said.
The health ministry on Friday said 13,791 people had died from COVID-19.
Read more here.
08:20 GMT – Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai, daughter, hospitalised for COVID-19
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter were hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment, the Times of India reported on Saturday, days after her husband and father-in-law were admitted.
Rai’s father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and son Abhishek Bachchan, also major Bollywood celebrities, were admitted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital early this week, becoming the highest-profile patients the pandemic sweeping India.
At the same time, Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World who regularly appears on “most beautiful” lists, and her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan, tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but they have since been in home quarantine.
“After Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter Aaradhya have been shifted to Nanavati hospital,” the newspaper said, adding that they were admitted to the top Mumbai private hospital on Friday.
Read more here.
07:15 GMT – India coronavirus cases rise by 34,884 to 1,038,716
A surge of 34,884 new coronavirus cases took India’s tally to 1,038,716, as local governments continue to reimpose focused lockdowns in several parts of the country.
The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 671 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 26,273. The ministry said the recovery rate had slightly come down to 62.9 percent.
About a dozen states – including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam – have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, only allowing essential food supplies and health services.
Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to take concrete steps to contain the pandemic. He warned that the number of infections will double to two million by August 10 at the current pace.
Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the infection spread in rural areas.
07:05 GMT – South Korea says most new cases from abroad
Authorities in South Korea say most of the country’s new coronavirus cases are coming from abroad.
The officials have expressed optimism that the recent resurgence of infections is being brought under control. They say imported cases are less threatening than local transmissions because South Korea is mandating testing and enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from other nations.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that at least 28 of 39 newly confirmed cases were tied to people arriving from abroad. It says 18 others involved local transmission in the densely populated Seoul area, which was at the centre of the virus resurgence that began in late May as people increased economic and social activities.
In all, South Korea has reported 13,711 confirmed cases during the pandemic, including 294 deaths.
06:55 GMT – Confirmed virus cases top 14 million globally
Confirmed coronavirus cases around the world have topped 14 million and deaths have surpassed 600,000, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The World Health Organization reported a single-day record of new infections: over 237,000. Experts believe that the true numbers are even higher.
The United States, Brazil and India top the list with the highest number of cases. India on Friday exceeded one million confirmed infections, and Brazil’s cases passed two million, including 76,000 deaths, on Thursday.
06:40 GMT – Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 529 to 201,372
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 529 to 201,372, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.
The country’s reported death toll rose by one to 9,083, the tally showed.
06:35 GMT – Mexico reports 736 new coronavirus deaths, 7,257 cases
Mexico’s health ministry reported 7,257 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 736 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 331,298 cases and 38,310 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
05:44 GMT – Hong Kong sets new rules for incoming travellers
Hong Kong set new conditions for incoming travellers from countries deemed at high risk for COVID-19, meaning arrivals need an official certificate to prove they have tested negative for the coronavirus before they can enter the semiautonomous city.
The new measures, effective from midnight (16:00 GMT) next Saturday, will affect travellers who have visited Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa in the 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong.
The policy comes as Hong Kong grapples with a new wave of infections and authorities announced an all-time single-day high of 67 cases on Thursday.
04:49 GMT – New cases drop by half in Australia’s Victoria
Australia’s Victoria state saw a marked drop in new COVID-19 infections – from Friday’s record high of 428 to 217 – a total that Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says was “a relief after yesterday’s numbers”.
The health department said on Saturday that two more people, a man and a woman in their 80s, had died, taking the state’s death toll to 34 and Australia’s national total to 118.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the latest numbers were encouraging but warned it was just one day.
03:52 GMT – China battles new outbreak in Xinjiang
China’s National Health Commission reported 11 new cases in the far western region of Xinjiang, taking the total number of cases in the capital, Urumqi, to 17.
Authorities in Urumqi have reduced subways, buses and taxis and closed off some residential communities, according to Chinese media reports. They also placed restrictions on people leaving the city, including a suspension of subway service to the airport.
As of Friday, mainland China had 83,644 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.
On Fri, #Xinjiang reported 11 new confirmed #COVID19 cases in Urumqi, and all are under medical observation. As of Fri, 17 confirmed cases and 11 asymptomatic patients have been confirmed in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and 269 are under medical observation. pic.twitter.com/QFyB1PmVsz
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 18, 2020
03:27 GMT – Morrison cancels Australia’s parliament sittings
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison cancelled the next two-week sitting of the country’s parliament, citing “significant risks” of COVID-19 spread as cases rise in the states of Victoria and New South Wales.
Parliament was due to sit from August 4 to 13 and would not meet again until the next planned two-week sitting starting on August 24.
Morrison said he had written to the parliamentary speaker to ask for a cancellation. The request is considered a formality.
Australian Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly confirmed the session would be delayed and said there was a “risk” associated with a meeting of Parliament due to increased community transmission of COVID-19 in the state of Victoria and the “emerging situation” in New South Wales, which has also seen a rise in cases.
02:02 GMT – US economy ‘will drop 6.6 percent in 2020’
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the US economy would shrink 6.6 percent this year, pounded by the coronavirus and the lockdowns meant to contain it.
The forecast is actually an upgrade from one the IMF made last month when it foresaw the American economy contracting 8 percent in 2020. But the lending organisation warned that the US economy faces downside risks from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
01:44 GMT – Azerbaijan extends restrictions until August 31
Azerbaijan has extended coronavirus lockdown restrictions, including the closure of its borders, until August 31 after a further rise in the number of infections.
The government said people in big cities, including the capital Baku, would be allowed to leave their homes only with special permission from July 20 until August 5.
Shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and museums in those cities remained closed, while beauty salons will be reopened.
01:04 GMT – Trump will not consider a national mask mandate
US President Donald Trump ruled out a national mandate requiring people to wear face masks despite record rises in new coronavirus infections across the United States.
In an interview with Fox News that will air on Sunday, Trump said: “No, I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that. No, and I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask, everything; suddenly, it all disappears.”
He added: “Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask and all of a sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask and, as you know, masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks, I think masks are good.”
00:33 GMT – EU leaders deadlocked over COVID-19 recovery plan
EU leaders failed to make headway in negotiations over a massive stimulus plan to breathe life into economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, returning to their hotels in Brussels shortly before midnight to rest and try again in the morning.
Many of the 27 heads declared on arrival for their first face-to-face summit for five months that a deal was crucial to rescue economies in free fall and shore up faith in the EU.
But officials said a thrifty camp of wealthy northern states led by the Netherlands stood its ground on access to the recovery fund in the face of opposition from Germany, France, southern nations Italy and Spain, and Eastern European states.
The proposed sums under discussion include the EU’s 2021-27 budget of more than 1 trillion euros ($1.14 trillion) and the recovery fund worth 750 billion euros ($85.7bn) that will be funnelled mostly to Mediterranean coast countries worst affected by the pandemic.
Diplomats said the 27 remained at odds over the overall size of the package, the split between grants and repayable loans in the recovery fund and rule-of-law strings attached to it.
As the leaders broke up for the day, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted that they were divided by a bundle of issues and said it was “highly probable” that they would fail to reach a deal on Saturday or even on Sunday if the summit drags past its scheduled two days.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also cautious on chances for an agreement, envisaging “very, very difficult negotiations”.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 17, here.