Global coronavirus infections exceed 15 million: Live updates

US remains worst-hit country with more than 3.91 million infections, while death toll in the country stands at 142,350.

Health workers take rest at the Tej Bahadur Sapru Hospital in Prayagraj, India, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. With a surge in coronavirus cases in the past few weeks, state governments in India have been
  • Death toll from the virus is nearing 618,000, with recoveries topping 8.5 million according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

  • Worrying trends of coronavirus infection are emerging in southern Europe and in the Balkan region, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, has said. “We’re not out of the woods just yet in the European environment. It requires sustained vigilance,” he added.

  • Almost a quarter of people in New Delhi have had the coronavirus, according to a study that cast serious doubt on the official numbers both in the megacity and across India.

  • More than 14.9 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, nearly 8.5 million have recovered, and nearly 616,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the updates:

Wednesday, July 22

21:30 GMT – American football fans attending games will be required to wear face masks

Any fans attending games during the upcoming National Football League season in the United States will be required to wear face masks, the league confirmed on Wednesday.

Teams and local governments in NFL markets across the country have moved to limit the number of fans inside stadiums during the upcoming season, which kicks off September 10, in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens previously said they would significantly reduce the number of attendees on game days, while the New York Jets and New York Giants said this week that no fans will attend any upcoming games at MetLife Stadium, citing an executive order from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

20:30 GMT – Bolivia’s September vote in doubt as virus death toll rises

Bolivia’s plan to hold elections in September, seen as a key to stabilising its democracy after a year of political tumult, is increasingly in doubt amid rising coronavirus deaths, including grim reports about police in two cities finding the bodies of suspected victims of COVID-19.

Police said they have recovered 420 bodies from streets, vehicles and homes in the capital of La Paz, and in Bolivia’s biggest city, Santa Cruz, in the span of five days. Between 80-90 percent of them are believed to have had the virus.

20:00 GMT – France: new confirmed coronavirus cases up 998

France has recorded 998 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest health ministry data.

The number of confirmed cases now stands at 178,336, the ministry said. The number of people in hospitals with the virus was down to 6,366 from 6,482 a day earlier, and the number in intensive care was down to 445 from 455 a day earlier, the figures showed.

The number of deaths in France from the new coronavirus stood at 30,172 against 30,165 a day earlier.

19:30 GMT – Egypt extends operating hours of cafes, restaurants until midnight from July 26

A waiter serves customers in a cafe after months of lockdown, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo
A waiter serves customers in a cafe after months of lockdown, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo [File: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Egypt has extended the operating hours of cafes and restaurants from 10:00 PM to midnight while allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity starting July 26, the cabinet said in a statement.

The operating hours of stores, including malls, were also extended until 10:00 PM, the statement said.

Egypt had reduced operating hours in its initial reopening phase to limit public gatherings and curb the spread of the coronavirus.

19:00 GMT – DC mayor to order mandatory masks as infections rise again

National Gallery of Art West Building reopens in Washington
Mariana Martinez imitates a statue while making a birthday visit to the West Building of the National Gallery of Art,  in Washington,D.C. [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

With coronavirus cases rising, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that she will issue an executive order making face masks mandatory outside the home – an unprecedented step in the nation’s capital.

Bowser said the order would include “enforcement language” detailing possible fines for violations.

After saying they had successfully blunted the infection curve earlier this summer, health officials say the infection numbers have slowly crept upward, reaching triple digits on Wednesday for the first time in weeks.

18:30 GMT – Global coronavirus infections exceed 15 million mark

The number of novel coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 15 million, according to a running tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The death toll from the virus is nearing to 618,000, with recoveries topping 8.5 million, the data showed.

The US remains the worst-hit country with more than 3.91 million infections, while the death toll in the country stands at 142,350. The country registered more than 1.18 million recoveries to date.

18:00 GMT – WHO: Don’t expect first COVID-19 vaccinations until early 2021

WHO is working to ensure fair vaccine distribution, but in the meantime it is key to suppress the virus’s spread, said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.

“We’re making good progress,” Ryan said, noting that several vaccines were now in phase three trials and none had failed, so far, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response.

“Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” he told a public event on social media.

17:45 GMT – US Republicans and Democrats differ on new coronavirus aid bill

Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress aim to pass a fifth coronavirus aid package before the end of the month, but to do so, they will have to overcome significant differences.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a $3.4 trillion virus relief bill in May. Republicans who control the Senate are expected to unveil a package later this week that will cost closer to one trillion dollars, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.

Read more here.

17:06 GMT – Female leaders doing ‘better job’ in virus crisis, says Lagarde

Christine Lagarde
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde looks on during a debate on the 2018 annual report of the ECB, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France [File: Vincent Kessler/Reuters]

Female leaders are doing a better job handling the coronavirus crisis, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said in an online interview with The Washington Post, praising them for their honest communication and for showing they cared.

The differences in policies and communication were “quite stunning” in countries led by women, she said.

The female leaders of Germany Taiwan, Belgium and New Zealand had also “carried the water of bad news as well as the water of clear explanation and strong recommendations”, she added.

16:05 GMT – Two rugby players positive in latest premiership COVID-19 tests

Exeter Chiefs Training Session
James Kenny of Exeter Chiefs breaks with the ball during an Exeter Chiefs Training Session at Sandy Park in Exeter, England [Harry Trump/Getty Images]

England’s Premiership Rugby said two players returned a positive result in its latest round of COVID-19 tests conducted on 896 players and club staff this week.

“The players who have tested positive and their close contacts will now isolate and be assessed in line with the PHE (Public Health England) agreed guidelines,” the premiership said in a statement.

“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided.”

15:45 GMT – Spain hopes to keep French border open as regions tighten health measures

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.

With the pandemic wreaking havoc on Spain’s tourism industry, which accounts for about 12 percent of economic output, Madrid has voiced concern after French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Sunday did not rule out closing the border.

But Maroto told an event organised by Europa Press news agency she was optimistic after data showed infections in Catalonia had fallen over the past three days.

“Let’s hope that with this better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.”

15:05 GMT – South African restaurants plead for end to ‘job-killing’ restrictions

Thousands of South African restaurant and bar owners placed tables and chairs on the streets outside their premises in a nationwide protest against lockdown restrictions that prevent them from selling alcohol or trading after 9pm.

The nation’s hospitality sector is one of the hardest-hit by government restrictions imposed at the end of March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

At the end of June, restaurants were allowed to offer sit-down services again, but at limited capacity and without serving alcohol.

14:30 GMT – Virus claims more lives in Saudi Arabia, Qatar

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said 44 people died and 2,313 others contracted the disease over the past 24 hours.

Wednesday’s tally pushed the total cases to 258,156, including 2,601 fatalities, and 210,298 recoveries.

In Qatar, the health ministry said the virus claimed three more lives and infected 441 people, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 107,871, including 163 fatalities, and 104,641 recoveries.

14:00 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro tests positive for the novel coronavirus again

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on March 20, 2020. - Brazil's government
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference on COVID-19 at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia [File: Sergio Lima/AFP]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has had another positive result for the novel coronavirus in the third test he has taken since falling ill on July 7, a secretariat of the communications ministry said.

“The test carried out on the president yesterday, on the 21st, showed a positive result,” a statement said.

“President Bolsonaro is still in good condition, accompanied by the presidency’s medical team,” it added.

13:30 GMT – DR Congo ends virus health emergency, borders to reopen

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools and borders.

He said that from Wednesday all shops, banks, restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen, public transport could resume and large gatherings would be permitted.

Schools and universities can reopen on August 3, and airports, ports, borders and places of worship on August 15.  

The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over the blog from my colleague Elizabeth Melimopoulos.


12:30 GMT – US to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95bn for millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses

Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will get $1.95bn from the US government to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the companies have said.

The agreement allows the United States government to acquire an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense said.

The Trump administration has agreed to spend billions of dollars on the development and procurement of a potential vaccine. 

11:45 GMT – Switzerland expands COVID-19 quarantine watchlist

Switzerland has expanded to 42 the number of territories on its watchlist of coronavirus hot spots, new arrivals from which must enter a 10-day quarantine, health authorities said.

New entries as of Thursday include Bosnia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, the Palestinian territories, Suriname and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

11:30 GMT – Romania exceeds 1,000 new coronavirus cases in record daily high

The number of coronavirus infections in Romania rose by a record 1,030 new cases in a day, the government has said, as the World Health Organization said spikes in southern Europe and the Balkans were worrying.

Romania has confirmed 40,163 cases since the pandemic reached it in late February and 2,101 people have died. The government has extended a state of alert, in place since May 15, by another 30 days until the middle of August.

Coronavirus - Romania
Romania has confirmed 40,163 cases since the pandemic reached it in late February [File: Reuters]

11:15 GMT – Hong Kong sets new virus record

Hong Kong has reported 113 new coronavirus infections, a new daily record as a sudden surge in cases shows no signs of slowing despite ramped up social distancing rules.

The finance hub was one of the first places to be struck by the virus when it emerged from central China.

But the city had impressive success in tackling the disease, all but ending local transmissions by late June.

However, infections have spiked again this month and doctors say a new outbreak is spreading out of control in the densely packed territory of 7.5 million people.

11:00 GMT – Global COVID-19 cases could be 12 times higher than reported

The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow around the world. More than 14 million people have now been infected globally.

But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the true death toll could be 12 times higher.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from New York, US:


10:45 GMT – New COVID-19 vaccine trials under way in Brazil

Nearly two dozen potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus are under various stages of human testing worldwide, and at least two are being conducted in Brazil – the country with the world’s second-worst outbreak.

One is a Chinese-made drug that is being tested on 9,000 volunteers, the other was developed by Oxford University. Testing is now under way and is expected to last for about three months.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo reports:


10:30 GMT – Belgian official urges action to prevent virus ‘avalanche’

Belgium is experiencing a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases after relaxing many of its lockdown measures, health officials have said, warning of a possible second wave of infections.

The Belgian national security council will meet on Thursday and could decide to postpone the next phase of the country’s staggered return to normal economic and social life.

10:15 GMT – Iran says 138 medical professionals among dead

Iran says 138 healthcare professionals have died so far while battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Hossein Kermanpour, spokesman for the regulatory body for Iranian healthcare professionals, as saying the death toll includes 90 doctors and 28 nurses.

Iran announced earlier this week that 12,000 healthcare workers have been infected across the country. 

10:00 GMT – China accuses US of ‘slander’ over coronavirus research hacking claims

Beijing has accused the US of “slander” after two Chinese nationals were indicted for seeking to steal coronavirus vaccine research and hacking hundreds of companies.

“The Chinese government is a staunch defender of cybersecurity, and has always opposed and cracked down on cyber attacks and cybercrime in all forms,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

09:45 GMT – India cancels historic Hindu pilgrimage as coronavirus cases mount

India has cancelled an historic Hindu pilgrimage to a holy cave high in the snow-capped mountains of the contested Kashmir region for the first time, as cases of the novel coronavirus continued to rise.

There were 37,724 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, according to federal health data released on Wednesday. India has reported almost 1.2 million cases overall, behind only the United States and Brazil.

Organisers of the Amarnath Yatra, where saffron-clad Hindu ascetics walk 46km (28 miles) to the cave across glaciers and waterlogged trails, said a “very sharp” spike in coronavirus cases had forced the cancellation.

India cornavirus
India has reported almost 1.2 million cases overall, behind only the United States and Brazil [File: Getty Images]

09:20 GMT – Ukraine cancels visa requirement for Australia, New Zealand and some Arab states

Tourists from Australia, New Zealand and several Arab states will no longer need a visa to visit Ukraine from August 1, according to a decree signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and published on his website.

In June, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was considering cancelling its visa requirement for tourists from several countries, including China, in order to attract more visitors once lockdowns imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic are eased.

The new visa-free regime will apply if the tourist’s stay in Ukraine does not exceed 90 days.

People wearing protective face masks walk out of a metro station in Kyiv
The total number of cases are 75,490, including 1,788 deaths and 41,527 recovered as of August 5 [Reuters] 

09:05 GMT – Tests, home quarantine as Qatar reopens borders on August 1

Qatar will begin reopening its borders to foreign travellers and allow citizens and permanent residents to travel in and out of the country from August 1, according to a government statement, as the Gulf state moves to gradually lift restrictions imposed to control its coronavirus outbreak.

The Government Communications Office (GCO) said on Wednesday that arrivals to Qatar from “low-risk countries” will be required to take a coronavirus test at the airport and sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week.

Read more here

People in Qatar cautiously returned to beaches as the Gulf nation, which has one of the world’s highest total per capita coronavirus infection rates, continued to reopen society [Karim Jaafar/ AFP]

08:50 GMT – December Nobel Prize banquet in Sweden cancelled

The Nobel Foundation, which manages the prestigious Nobel Prizes, says it has cancelled the traditional December banquet at the Stockholm City Hall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lars Heikensten, CEO of the Nobel Foundation, said it is not possible to gather up to 1,300 banquet guests and let them sit next to each other amid the current COVID-19 restrictions. He said the pandemic also makes it uncertain whether prize winners can travel to Sweden.

08:35 GMT – Ireland may tighten travel restrictions for COVID-19 hot spots

Ireland may introduce further travel restrictions for countries with a very high instance of COVID-19, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said after the government lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement for 15 European countries.

Ireland, which has one of the lower rates of infection in the European Union with around five cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, decided late on Tuesday to drop the restriction for people coming from countries with a similar or lower rate.

08:20 GMT – South Africa counts for over half of continent cases

South Africa has well over half of the confirmed coronavirus cases on the African continent as the country is now a global hot spot.

New health ministry data shows 381,798 cases including 5,368 reported deaths.

The country’s current epicentre is Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg and one-quarter of the population. It has more than one-third of South Africa’s confirmed cases.

08:05 GMT – Thailand to extend emergency decree until end of August

Thailand will extend a state of emergency until the end of August, a senior official has said, maintaining the security measure put in place to contain its coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement comes after nearly two months without local transmission and with many people in Thailand questioning the need for an emergency decree.

The decree, first introduced in late March, will be subject to cabinet approval next week.

Thailand coronavirus
Thailand will extend a state of emergency until the end of August [File: Reuters]

07:50 GMT – Masks mandatory as cases rise in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has made it mandatory to wear masks on public transport, in indoor areas and passenger terminals.

The measures will last until August 5 as the city tries to break the transmission of local infections.

Hong Kong has recorded 2,019 infections with 14 deaths. On Tuesday, it reported 58 cases, 25 of them from an unknown source.

The city’s Health Minister Sophia Chan is appealing to people to stay at home as much as possible, saying Hong Kong is at a high risk of a community outbreak.

07:35 GMT – DR Congo ends virus health emergency, borders to reopen

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools and borders.

The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.

Tshisekedi said the figures place the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the ninth worst-hit country in Africa in terms of the number of cases and 12th in terms of deaths, “putting paid to all catastrophic forecasts for our country at the start of the epidemic”.

07:20 GMT – Pakistanis risk unproven plasma treatment in virus fight

Pakistanis with COVID-19 are risking their lives and navigating a shady black market to get blood plasma transfusions, despite scant medical proof about the remedy’s effectiveness.

Convalescent plasma treatment, where the antibody-rich part of the blood from a recovered patient is transfused to a coronavirus sufferer, is growing in popularity across Pakistan amid widely circulating claims of success on social media.

Like some other nations, Pakistan is conducting medical trials on the treatment, which has shown promising signs but is far from proven.

07:05 GMT – Czech coronavirus cases top 5,000 

The number of active coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic has topped 5,000 for the first time after labs reported the highest daily rise in nearly a month, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

Authorities had reported 212 new cases by Tuesday night, bringing the total number of active cases to 5,046. Total cases including those who have recovered or died reached 14,324.

The central European country of 10.7 million has reported 360 deaths from the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, far fewer than many western European nations.

06:50 GMT – Almost a quarter of Delhi has had coronavirus: Study

More than one in five people in Delhi have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a study, indicating that most cases in the Indian capital region have gone undetected.

The National Center for Disease Control tested 21,387 people selected randomly across Delhi, the state that includes New Delhi, and found that 23.48 percent had antibodies to the virus.

Adjusting for false positives and negatives, it estimated that 22.86 percent of the population had been infected by the virus, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said in a news conference.

Read more here.

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

05:20 GMT – Some sense trouble as Japan launches domestic tourism campaign

Japan is preparing to launch a controversial domestic tourism campaign that some have dubbed “Go To Trouble”.

The “Go To Travel” initiative is supposed to boost the tourism industry with travel subsidies of up to 50 percent.

But as coronavirus cases surge, travel to and from Tokyo has been removed, and politicians want the campaign suspended for fear it will spread the virus. A poll showed that 69 percent of the public want it cancelled.

03:15 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports another daily record of cases

The Australian state of Victoria has reported a record 484 new cases of coronavirus and two more deaths from the disease – both men in their 90s.

Masks have been made mandatory in the state; everyone who goes outside must wear one.

People in Melbourne are currently only able to leave their homes for food and essential supplies, medical reasons, exercise and work or education (if it cannot be done from home).


Australia Melbourne
State Premier Daniel Andrews announces Victoria’s highest number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic [James Ross/EPA] 

03:00 GMT – Japan approves dexamethasone as treatment

Japan’s health ministry has approved the use of dexamethasone as a treatment for COVID-19.

Dexamethasone is a cheap and widely-used steroid.

Studies have shown it has benefits for people with moderate or advanced cases of the disease.

Is plasma therapy effective against coronavirus?

02:00 GMT – Study suggests coronavirus can spread through speaking

A new study by the University of Nebraska suggests that COVID-19 can spread through normal speaking and breathing, and travel further than two metres, according to a report by AFP. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed.

The scientists collected air samples from the rooms of five COVID-19 patients from about 30cm (about one foot) above the foot of their beds. The patients were talking – producing microdroplets that can remain in the air for a number of hours – and some were coughing.

Three of the 18 samples were able to replicate in the lab. Joshua Santarpia, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the findings supported the idea that people can get COVID-19 through microdroplets.

01:15 GMT – China reports nine new cases in Xinjiang

China has reported 14 new cases of coronavirus, five of them imported and the rest in the far western region of Xinjiang.

There have been no new cases of community transmission in Beijing for 16 days, according to state media.

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Qatar to relax travel restrictions from August 1

From August 1, Qatari citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to travel overseas and return, while residents will be allowed to return.

Travellers from low-risk countries will have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and another after a seven-day home quarantine period, the Government Communications Office said in a statement.

A list of the countries designated low-risk will be published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health and updated every two weeks.

23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – Trump comes out in favour of masks

After months of downplaying their importance, US President Donald Trump has come out unequivocally in favour of wearing masks.

Speaking at the first White House press briefing in weeks, without any medical experts present, Trump urged Americans to get a mask and wear it.

Trump was talking in his first White House briefing in weeks and showed off his mask as he spoke. You can read more about what happened here.

US Trump
US President Donald Trump holds up his face mask at the White House press briefing on July 21 [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via AFP]


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 21) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies