US coronavirus deaths top 150,000: Live updates

US among highest in per-capita deaths globally as Florida reports record increase in COVID-19 deaths for second day.

Fernando Olvera, 26, a medical school student, helps Efrain Guevara, 63, who has been hospitalised with COVID-19, get up from his hospital bed, at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), during the cor
Fernando Olvera, 26, a medical school student, helps Efrain Guevara, 63, who has been hospitalised with COVID-19, get up from his hospital bed, at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Houston, Texas, U.S., July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O''Hare TPX [Reuters]
  • United States deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 150,000, a number higher than in any other country and nearly a quarter of the world’s total.

  • Mainland China has reported 101 new cases of the novel coronavirus – the highest in more than three and a half months. Of the new cases, 89 are in the far western region of Xinjiang.
  • Nearly 16.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Some 9.7 million patients have recovered, and more than 659,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, July 29

23:00 GMT – Masks to be required in the US House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, on Wednesday announced that members and staff will be required to wear masks in the House during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members will be allowed to remove their masks to speak in the House when addressing the chamber, Pelosi said on the House floor.

“The chair expects all members and staff to adhere to this requirement as a sign of respect for the health, safety, and wellbeing of others present in the chamber and surrounding areas,” Pelosi said.

The move came after Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, who steadfastly refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, said on Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, leading at least three of his colleagues to say they would self-quarantine.

22:40 GMT – UK to extend required isolation period for persons with COVID-19 symptoms

The isolation period for anyone with symptoms of possible COVID-19 in the United Kingdom will be increased to 10 days from the current seven, according to media reports late on Wednesday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce on Thursday the increase in the isolation period, the reports said.

Hancock also will say on Thursday that ministers are now exploring ways to reduce the 14-day quarantine period for those entering the UK, which could mean that quarantine and self-isolation periods are standardised at 10 days.

22:00 GMT – US drug regulator may authorise emergency use of blood plasma to treat COVID-19 patients

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could authorise emergency use of antibody-rich blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat people infected with the coronavirus as early as next week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

An FDA emergency-use authorisation could allow faster access to a therapy for the disease. People who survive an infectious disease like COVID-19 are left with blood plasma containing antibodies, or proteins the body’s immune system made to fight off a virus.

This can be transfused into newly infected patients to try to aid recovery, and since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors have been transfusing convalescent plasma into critically ill COVID-19 patients.

21:15 GMT – Brazil sets daily record for both cases and deaths

Brazil set a daily record on Wednesday for both confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and related deaths, with 69,074 new cases and 1,595 fatalities, data from the Ministry of Health showed.

Brazil has now registered more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of the virus and 90,134 deaths since the pandemic began, according to ministry data.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brasilia
Brazil”s President Jair Bolsonaro holds a box of chloroquine outside of the Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil, July 23, 2020.REUTERS/Adriano Machado TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

20:26 GMT – Key jobless benefit at risk as US Congress coronavirus talks stalled

US congressional Republicans and Democrats, struggling to reach a deal for new economic aid to those hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, were sliding towards letting a $600-per-week unemployment benefit lapse, at least temporarily, when it expires.

High-ranking Trump administration officials were meeting privately with Democrats on Wednesday to see whether they can bridge vast differences over the enhanced jobless benefit that began in late March. Many other issues remained, including what to do about a moratorium on housing evictions that expired last Friday.

Senator John Thune, the No 2 Senate Republican, said lawmakers might have a better idea by the end of this week on whether there is even a chance for a deal so “that we could actually get to a package by the end of next week”.

19:40 GMT – US CDC reports 4,339,997 coronavirus cases

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 4,339,997 cases of the novel coronavirus, an increase of 59,862 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,194 to 148,866.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, as of 4pm ET on July 28 versus its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

18:34 GMT – France reports almost 1,400 new COVID-19 cases in one-month high

French health authorities reported another 1,392 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, representing the highest daily increase in more than a month and taking the total to more than 221,000.

There were also 15 new deaths linked to the disease, taking the total of deaths to 30,238, a figure higher than a daily average of nine deaths seen over the last week.

In a statement, authorities said the number of people in hospital for COVID-19 went down again, pursuing a two-month downward trend.

18:05 GMT – Dutch government will not advise public to wear masks

The Dutch government said it will not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, asserting that scientific evidence of their effectiveness is mixed.

The decision was announced by Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark after a review by the country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM).

The government will instead seek more adherence to social distancing rules after a surge in coronavirus cases in the country this week, Van Ark said at a press conference in The Hague.

17:27 GMT – World Bank’s IFC to launch $4 bln medical supply financing platform

The World Bank Group’s private-sector arm said it is launching a $4bn financing platform aimed at boosting the production and supply of critical healthcare products in developing countries to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Finance Corporation’s initiative is largely aimed at private-sector projects to manufacture products such as personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical equipment, coronavirus test kits, therapeutic drugs and vaccines.

The IFC is contributing $2bn in internal resources with plans for another $2bn to come from private-sector partners.

17:05 GMT – Confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the US hit 150,000, highest toll in the world

United States deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 150,000, a number higher than in any other country and nearly a quarter of the world’s total.

Of the 20 countries with the biggest outbreaks, the US ranks sixth in deaths per capita, at 4.5 fatalities per 10,000 people.

Only the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Peru and Chile have a higher per capita rate, the tally shows, with US deaths making up nearly 23 percent of the global total of 660,997.

The increase of 10,000 deaths in 11 days is the fastest in the United States since early June.

Public Viewing Held For Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Outside Capitol Building
 The United States ranks sixth in deaths per capita worldwide, at 4.5 fatalities per 10,000 people [File: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

16:35 GMT – US Attorney General to be tested for COVID-19 after being in contact with Congressman Gohmert

US Attorney General William Barr will be tested for COVID-19 after coming in close contact with Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert on Tuesday when Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee, a Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed.

Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec added that Barr already faces routine testing for COVID-19 at the White House.

16:01 GMT – Mask-shunning Republican lawmaker Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19 

Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman who steadfastly refused to wear a mask as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, tested positive for COVID-19, Politico reported.

The US representative from Texas, where coronavirus cases have surged since the state reopened, tested positive in a prescreening at the White House, the news outlet said, citing multiple sources. Gohmert was supposed to fly to his home state with fellow Republican President Donald Trump, it said.

15:14 GMT – Hanoi to shut bars and ban big gatherings after COVID-19 outbreak in Danang

Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, has ordered bars and pubs to shut and banned large gatherings from midnight because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Danang, the head of the city’s administration said.

Hanoi on Wednesday registered its first case of COVID-19 linked to the Danang outbreak.

“We have to act now and act fast. All large gatherings will be banned until further notice,” Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi’s chairman, said in a statement on the city’s website.

“Over 21,000 people returned to Hanoi from Danang will be closely monitored and will undergo rapid testing,” he said.

A man and his children, all wearing protective masks, ride a bicycle on a street in Hanoi

14:53 GMT – Florida reports record increase in COVID-19 deaths for second day in a row

Florida reported a record increase in new COVID-19 deaths for a second day in a row, with 217 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

Florida also reported 9,446 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 451,000, the second highest in the country behind California. Florida’s total death toll rose to 6,457, the eighth highest in the nation, according to a Reuters tally.

14:30 GMT – Gambia VP tests positive for coronavirus, president self-isolating

Gambia’s Vice President Isatou Touray has tested positive for COVID-19, leading President Adama Barrow to enter self-isolation for the next two weeks, the presidency said.

The presidency’s statement did not provide any further details about Touray’s condition. Touray, who is 65, was named vice president last year.

Gambia, mainland Africa’s smallest country, has recorded 326 cases of COVID-19, including nine deaths, the lowest number in West Africa.

Gambia's Vice President Touray addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.
Isatou Touray was named Gambia’s vice president last year [File: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

14:10 GMT – Trump says administration, Democrats far apart on coronavirus relief bill 

US President Donald Trump said his administration and Democrats in Congress were far apart in their efforts to come together on a coronavirus relief bill, and he suggested he was not in a hurry to strike a deal.

Trump, speaking to reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to Texas, accused Democrats of not taking care of Americans with their proposals, and said when Democratic leaders come together to do that, relief efforts could move forward.

13:30 GMT – Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine pricing to ensure broad access 

Moderna Inc plans to price its experimental coronavirus vaccine in a way that ensures broad access, it said, adding that it did not intend to conduct late-stage trials of the shot outside the United States.

Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel declined to comment on the specific price of the vaccine during a conference call with analysts.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that the company was planning to price the vaccine at $50 to $60 per course, at least $11 more than another vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech.

Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha taking over from my colleague Umut Uras.

12:40 GMT – Spanish airports see traffic falling after UK quarantine scares off tourists

Spanish airport operator AENA has noticed a decline in traffic since British authorities announced a quarantine on travellers from Spain last weekend.

The effect of the quarantine, which is scaring off some tourists, is hard to predict, as it could be lifted within a few weeks, AENA’s Chief Executive Maurici Lucena told investors during a conference call held on Wednesday.

Lucena added the company will meet its traffic target for the year despite the effect of the quarantine.

12:15 GMT – Russian COVID-19 vaccine ‘approval imminent’

Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to front-line health workers soon afterwards, a development source close to the matter told the Reuters news agency.

A state research facility in Moscow – the Gamaleya Institute – completed early human trials of the adenovirus-based vaccine this month and expects to begin large-scale trials in August.

The vaccine will win regulatory approval from authorities in Russia while that large-scale trial continues, the source said, highlighting Moscow’s determination to be the first country in the world to approve a vaccine.

Russia's coronavirus cases exceed 806,000

11:40 GMT – EU buys limited supply of COVID drug remdesivir

The European Union’s executive said it has agreed to buy a limited supply of the COVID-19 drug remdesivir from United States-based drugmaker Gilead to address the short-term needs of European patients, and hoped to be able to order more later.

Remdesivir is the only drug so far authorised in the EU for use against COVID-19, but nearly all available supplies have already been bought by the United States.

The EU Commission has agreed to pay 63 million euros ($74m) to buy enough doses to treat about 30,000 patients, it said in a statement.

The US signed a deal with Gilead in June for more than 500,000 courses of treatment, which accounts for most of the production through September.

11:15 GMT – Portugal: Some EU states breaking pact to reinstate free movement

Portugal’s foreign ministry said some member states in the European Union have broken a pact to reinstate freedom of movement inside the bloc after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted.

“We understand we were all required to reinstate freedom of movement within the EU from July 1 the latest,” the ministry said in a statement sent to the Reuters news agency.

“We believe restrictions and decisions taken by member states related to other member states manifestly disregard this bond.” 

10:45 GMT – India coronavirus cases hit 1.5 million, new study questions data

Coronavirus infections in India have passed 1.5 million and deaths neared 35,000, but test results in the city of Mumbai have cast further doubt on official data in the world’s second-most populous nation.

Even as the number of cases soar and more areas impose lockdowns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week India was in a “better position that other countries” and winning international praise.

Read more here

Mumbai slum
epa08545475 An Indian health worker wearing smart helmet conducts thermal screening of residents of a slum in Mumbai, India, 14 July 2020. Countries around the world are still taking measures to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease and have intensified their research for treatment. EPA-EFE/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

10:00 GMT – UK cancels holidays to Balearics and Canary Islands until August 4

Travel company TUI UK said it had cancelled holidays to the Balearics and Canary Islands until August 4 after Britain advised against all non-essential travel to the islands due to its assessment of COVID-19 risks in Spain.

The UK guidance was issued on Monday. On Saturday, Britain had said all travellers from Spain would be subject to a 14-day quarantine due to a spike in new coronavirus cases there.

TUI UK has cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain until August 10, but criticised the blanket British policy for the whole of Spain when the outbreaks have been focused regionally.

outside image - spain corona
Passengers wearing face masks arrive at Son Sant Joan airport on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain [Joan Mateu/ AP]

09:40 GMT – Takeda-led plasma treatment unlikely to meet July goal of trial start

A group led by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co have completed testing of a blood plasma treatment for COVID-19, but pending regulator approval will likely prevent clinical trials from meeting a July start date.

The CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance is ready to start shipping vials to study sites once the trial is approved by regulators in the US, said Julie Kim, president of the plasma-derived therapies unit of Takeda.

The group originally aimed to begin clinical trials in July. The National Institutes of Health in the US is the trial sponsor, and is looking at study sites around the world, according to Kim, who also serves as co-leader of the alliance.

09:15 GMT – Indonesia reports 2,381 new coronavirus infections

Indonesia reported 2,381 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking its total to 104,432, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.

The Southeast Asian nation also reported 74 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking total fatalities to 4,975.

An employee wearing a protective mask and face shield walks inside a Railink train following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta
Indonesia reported 74 new COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday [Reuters] 

08:50 GMT – Hong Kong reports 118 new coronavirus cases 

Hong Kong reported 118 new coronavirus cases, including 113 that were locally transmitted, as strict new measures including a restriction of gatherings to two people and a ban on restaurant dining, took effect.

The measures, the toughest introduced since the outbreak, are to last for at least one week as leader Carrie Lam warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak.

The global financial hub reported 106 new cases on Tuesday. Since late January, about 3,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 24 of whom have died.

08:20 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases near 830,000

Russia reported 5,475 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its national tally to 828,990, the fourth-largest in the world.

Officials said 169 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 13,673.

Russia's coronavirus cases exceed 806,000
The official death toll has risen to 14,606 across the country in the last 24 hours [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

07:50 GMT – Britain has no alternative to quarantine yet: minister

Britain does not yet have a viable alternative to imposing a 14-day quarantine on travellers returning from countries deemed to have a high risk of coronavirus, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday.

Britain issued a quarantine order for travellers from Spain at the weekend, sparking chaos for airlines and travel companies at the height of the summer holiday season.

07:20 GMT – Half of Mumbai’s slum residents have had coronavirus: study

Over half the people living in the slums of Mumbai have had the coronavirus, according to a city-commissioned study that raises fresh doubts about India’s official case numbers.

Blood tests on 6,936 randomly selected people found that 57 percent of slum-dwellers and 16 percent of non-slum residents had virus antibodies.

Mumbai, a city of 20 million where about 40 percent of the population lives in slums, has reported just over 110,000 infections and more than 6,000 deaths so far.

outside image - india lockdown
In Mumbai, it is estimated that 40 percent of the population lives in slums [AP]

07:00 GMT – India’s Hetero wins approval to launch COVID-19 drug favipiravir

India’s Hetero Labs Ltd said it received local regulatory approval to launch its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir for the treatment of COVID-19.

The drug, priced at 59 rupees (79 US cents) per tablet, will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, privately held Hetero said.

06:15 GMT – European border closures must be avoided if possible: French minister

The closure of borders between European countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic must be avoided as much as possible, French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told France Inter radio.

Beaune said that while political responses to the crisis were prone to change, responses such as European border closures “were to be avoided”.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

05:15 GMT – Sanofi, GSK reach deal to supply UK with COVID-19 vaccine

Sanofi and GSK have reached an agreement with the UK government to supply as many as 60 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

No vaccine has yet been found, although many are in development.

The two drug companies expect to start clinical trials of their vaccine in September. It will be developed by combining Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology.

05:10 GMT – Vietnam national TV says cases confirmed in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnamese government-owned television is reporting that coronavirus cases have been found not only in Hanoi but also in Ho Chi Minh City.

The country had been free of the virus for months until an outbreak was detected in the central city of Danang at the weekend.

Eight cases were reported there this morning.

04:15 GMT – Hanoi warned on risk of coronavirus outbreak

The Vietnamese government is warning authorities in Hanoi to prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The warning follows local media reports that a person working at a pizza restaurant in the capital had tested positive for the virus.

Hanoi has a population of about eight million and had not reported a case of coronavirus for months. 

03:10 GMT – Virus behind pandemic has been in bats ‘for decades’

Another interesting study on the evolution of the coronavirus … this time published in Nature.

A group of scientists from around the world who have been tracing the virus’s origins say their findings indicate that “the lineage giving rise to the SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating unnoticed in bats for decades”.

Writing on Twitter, award-winning science author Laurie Garrett says the study has a number of significant implications.

Horseshoe bat
Scientists say the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating in bats for decades [File: Menahem Kahana/AFP]

02:40 GMT – Moderna vaccine worked well in monkeys: Study

Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine worked in monkeys and prevented the virus from replicating in their noses and lungs, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists said monkeys who received even a low-dosage vaccine produced more antibodies than people who had recovered from the virus, and it appeared to stimulate an immune response from so-called T-cells.

The study also found that two days after the vaccinated monkeys were exposed to the coronavirus through the nose and directly to the lungs, no replicating virus was found in the lungs of seven of the eight animals.

02:10 GMT – Hong Kong warns on brink of large outbreak

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is warning that the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak.

Strict new measures to curb the spread of the virus came into force on Wednesday with a ban on gatherings of more than two people, the closure of restaurants for all but takeaway and mandatory mask-wearing.

Quarantine measures for ship and airline crews have also been tightened.

Hong Kong
The Star Ferry arrives in Kowloon from Hong Kong Island. Masks are now mandatory in the territory [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

01:55 GMT – Queensland closing border to people from Sydney area

Annastacia Palaszczuk, premier of the northern Australian state of Queensland, says the state will be closed to people from the Sydney area from the early hours of Saturday.

Queensland residents returning home will also be required to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense.

01:15 GMT – China reports highest number of new cases since mid-April

China’s National Health Commission has just announced the latest coronavirus data for the country.

It has reported 101 new cases – up from 68 previously – the highest since mid-April.

Of the new cases, 89 were found in the far western region of Xinjiang where mass testing is under way.

00:30 GMT – Australia deploys emergency response team to nursing homes

The Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) has been deployed to nursing homes in Melbourne, where more than 679 active cases have been found, making them the centre of the current coronavirus outbreak in the state of Victoria.

AUSMAT teams, which include doctors, nurses, paramedics, radiographers and pharmacists, are usually sent to disaster zones.

Local media says Victoria is likely to announce about 295 cases on Wednesday.

00:00 GMT – Stark divisions in Congress over relief plan

Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress are divided over a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package that Republicans announced on Monday.

Under the plan, unemployment benefits would be cut to $200 a week, compared with $600 under earlier relief measures due to end Friday, and would give many Americans direct payments of $1,200 each, provide billions in loans to small businesses and help schools reopen.

Democrats say the package is too limited, and too late. Some Republicans say it is too expensive.

You can read more here.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wears a face mask while walking to the House Chamber before a vote on an additional economic stimulus package, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US [Tom Brenner/Reuters] 

23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – MSF tells Cepheid to drop price of coronavirus test

Aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF) is urging US diagnostics firm Cepheid to “refrain from profiteering off of the pandemic” and cut the price of its COVID-19 tests (Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2) to $5, from the nearly $20 it charges in the world’s poorest countries.

MSF said its research shows the tests could be sold at a profit for $5 each.

Cepheid developed the Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 cartridge with $3.7m in public funding from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The test delivers results in less than an hour.


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 July 28 (yesterday) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies