WHO halts hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 trials: Live updates

WHO said it will stop use of hydroxychloroquine and a combination HIV drug after they failed to reduce mortality.

Visitors wearing protective face masks disinfect their hands as they enter to the Caminito del Rey (The King''s Little Pathway) as it reopens to the public under strict social distance measures after b
  • The WHO said that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality. 
  • Spain’s Catalonia region has placed restrictions on 200,000 people amid surge in new coronavirus cases.

  • People in Englad will be allowed to visit pubs, restaurants or get a haircut for the first time in more than three months as restrictions ease.

  • Brazil passes 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Here are the latest updates.

Saturday, July 4

23:15 GMT – Brazil registers 37,923 new cases of coronavirus, 1,091 deaths

Brazil has recorded 37,923 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,091 deaths, Reuters news agency reported quoting the country’s health ministry.

Brazil has registered more than 1.5 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 64,265, according to the ministry.

20:20 GMT – COVID-19 cases keep rising in Eurasia

In Azerbaijan, health officials reported that the total number of cases to date rose to 19,801 with 534 new additions in the past 24 hours. The tally of recoveries neared 11,300 and the death toll climbed to 241.

Health authorities in Belarus announced that they observed 273 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to over 63,000. While more than 50,000 people have recovered in the country, fatalities totaled 418.

As for Moldova, officials stated that official cases topped 17,650 with 227 new additions in the last 24 hours. The death toll stands at 580 in the country, where more than 2,500 health personnel have contracted the virus.

19:15 GMT – Coronavirus infections in occupied West Bank hit record level

Hebron closed to entry and exit due to COVID-19
Easing of restrictions led to a steady uptick in cases over the past month [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu] 

The number of new coronavirus infections in the occupied West Bank hit a fresh high on Saturday, with 501 cases registered. 

The focus of infections was in the area of Hebron, where more than 400 of the new infections were recorded, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

The novel coronavirus has so far been detected in 3,763 people in the occupied West Bank. Eleven people have died. 

18:50 GMT – eSwatini cabinet in isolation after minister contracts COVID-19

The 20-member cabinet in Africa’s last absolute kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has been ordered into isolation after one minister contracted coronavirus, the government said.

Public Works and Transport minister Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe was found to be infected after a routine test on Tuesday. 

“Following this development, all cabinet members will isolate with immediate effect and work from home,” government spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini said in a statement.

18:33 GMT – Celebrating Liberation Day, Rwanda vows to defeat COVID-19

Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrives for a commemoration ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide at the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi in Kigali, Rwanda April 7, 2019
Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a commemoration ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in Kigali [File: Baz Ratner/Reuters]

Rwanda’s president marked the country’s 26th Liberation Day with a pledge to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, urging citizens to stand together and protect each other. 

President Paul Kagame said the country was facing a difficult time but could overcome all odds by putting up a united front.

“The pandemic is a test for us. The way we address it shows our level of preparedness against anything that attempts to disrupt our lives and our progress,” he said.

18:00 GMT – WHO halts hydroxychloroquine, HIV drugs in COVID trials 

The WHO said that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a statement, referring to large multi-country trials that the agency is leading.

The UN agency said that the decision, taken on the recommendation of the trial’s international steering committee, does not affect other studies where the drugs are used for non-hospitalised patients or as a prophylaxis.

17:46 GMT – WHO reports record daily increase in global coronavirus cases

The World Health Organization has reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 212,326 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil and India. The previous WHO record for new cases was 189,077 on June 28. Deaths remained steady at about 5,000 a day.

17:30 GMT – Tiafoe tests positive for COVID-19, withdraws from Atlanta event

US tennis player Frances Tiafoe has tested positive for COVID-19 and been forced to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup exhibition tournament in Atlanta.

Tiafoe played in the first session on Friday and beat Sam Querrey in straight sets at the event in which the top eight American players are participating.

“Unfortunately, I tested positive late Friday for Covid-19 and have to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup special event in Atlanta this weekend,” Tiafoe said on Twitter.

17:00 GMT – Trump signs extension of COVID-relief fund for businesses

President Donald Trump has signed into law a temporary extension of a subsidy programme for small businesses battered by the coronavirus.

The legislation extends the June 30 deadline for applying for the programme to August 8, which was created in March and has since been modified twice.

About $130bn of $660bn approved for the programme remains eligible for businesses to seek direct federal subsidies for payroll and other costs such as rent, though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks.

16:45 GMT – Malawi’s election cheer dampened by coronavirus surge

Lazarus Chakwera - Malawi
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said 100,000 face masks would be distributed in the capital Lilongwe [File: Eldson Chagara/Reuters]

Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered his inauguration ceremony to be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win.

Chakwera was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term, hours after unseating Peter Mutharika in a re-run election, and this Monday the country is holding a formal celebration.

Chakwera said capacity at the national stadium would be halved to 20,000 and at least 100,000 face masks would be distributed in the capital Lilongwe.

“We’re in a worse situation today than we were three months ago. Coronavirus is spreading everywhere in Malawi and it’s spreading to kill,” he said in a televised address.

16:20 GMT – Jordan slaps wristbands on arrivals to monitor virus quarantine

Jordan has begun putting electronic bracelets on travellers who have recently arrived in the kingdom to ensure that they observe home-quarantine against the spread of coronavirus, an official said.

People arriving in Jordan must isolate for 14 days at hotels designated by the authorities on the shores of the Dead Sea, west of the capital Amman.

After that period, they must self-isolate for an additional 14 days at home, according to Nizar Obeidat, spokesman for Jordan’s virus task force.

16:05 GMT – Greece extends migrant camp lockdown despite criticism

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on Lesbos
A girl stands outside a tent at a temporary camp for newly arrived refugees and migrants, where coronavirus disease cases were detected, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, [File: Elias Marcou/Reuters]

Greece has announced a fifth extension of a coronavirus lockdown in its teeming migrant camps, despite allegations that it has used the pandemic to limit the movement of migrants.

The camp lockdown began on March 21 and is now extended until July 19, the migration ministry said.    

Migrants are allowed to leave the camps from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm only in groups of less than 10 and no more than 150 people per hour, it said.

15:55 GMT – Portugal denounces ‘absurd’ UK quarantine measures

Portugal has denounced as “absurd” the UK’s decision to exclude it from the list of countries to which Britons can travel without having to observe quarantine restrictions on their return.

The row comes as both countries record a coronavirus infections rate of 4,000 cases per million inhabitants, although Britain registers a significantly higher death rate.

“The question of quarantine is absurd,” said Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in an interview with state television station RTP.

15:25 GMT – Florida sees coronavirus cases spike to new daily record

Fourth Of July Weekend In Florida Sees Some Beaches Open, Some Closed, As Coronavirus Cases Spike
A hostess waits for patrons at the entrance to restaurant in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida [Cliff Hawkins/AFP]

Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said, the second time in three days that its caseload increased by more than 10,000.

Florida’s record rise in cases was more than any European country’s daily peak at the height of the outbreak there.

The new record came a day after seven other states also reported record rises in cases of COVID-19,which has killed nearly 130,000 Americans.

14:50 GMT – Bajaj Auto unions demand factory halt after 250 workers catch COVID-19

Workers at Bajaj Auto, India’s biggest exporter of motorbikes, have demanded the temporary closure of one of its plants after 250 employees there tested positive for coronavirus, its unions said.

The Bajaj Auto factory affected is located in western Maharashtra, the state with the highest number of cases of COVID-19. The company said in a letter to employees this week that those who do not show up for work will not be paid.

The company went on to say that 140 of the roughly 8,000 staff at the factory had caught the virus and two had died. It also said work there would not be stopped, however, as the company wanted to learn to “live with the virus”.

14:35 GMT – No positive cases from more than 4,000 Formula 1 coronavirus tests

F1 Grand Prix of Austria - Qualifying
Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria [Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]

Formula One has shared some welcome news ahead of the season restart in Austria, as it confirmed that there has been no positive cases from more than 4,000 coronavirus tests carried out on F1 personnel over the past seven days.

Everyone entering the track at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg had to have tested negative before travelling and everyone – from drivers to team members, track staff and media – must be tested every five days by private medical teams on site.

Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix comes four months after the opening race in Australia was cancelled and the season postponed.

14:20 GMT – 5 Iranian lawmakers contract COVID-19 as cases surge

At least five members of Iran’s newly elected parliament have contracted the new coronavirs disease.

MPs Mohammad Tala Mazloomi, Syed Mohammad Mohid, Hosseinali Haji Dalegani, Ali Asgar Zaheri, and Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi all tested positive for COVID-19, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran saw a significant drop in new virus infections in April, prompting the government to ease pandemic-related restrictions. The decision, however, boomeranged as a second wave of the disease engulfed different parts of the country a few weeks later.

14:00 GMT – South Africa reopens restaurants even as virus cases rise

A slot machine displays an amount ahead of the opening of the Sun International's Times Square Casino, in Pretoria
A slot machine displays an amount as South Africa eases some aspects of a stringent nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in its administrative capital Pretoria [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

South Africa has reopened its restaurants and casinos as part of a gradual loosening of lockdown, even as the number of coronavirus continues to rise.

Saturday marked the 100th day of lockdown for South Africa, which has imposed some of the strictest stay-at-home measures in the world since March 27 in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the number of infections is rising daily by the thousands and the country now has the highest number of cases on the continent — 177,124, including 2,952 deaths.

13:45 GMT – Mexico steps up border checks to keep COVID-19 at bay over July 4 holiday

Mexican officials will install health checkpoints at various entry points along its northern border this weekend, as both Mexican and US officials fear a surge of crossings for the July 4 holiday could spread the coronavirus.

Mexican consulates across the US issued warnings last week on social media of the ramped-up measures scheduled for July 2 through July 5, and urged people to refrain from crossing for recreation or tourism.

A ban on non-essential border travel has been in place since March in an attempt by both governments to limit coronavirus infections, yet cross-border traffic has been busy.

Hi, this is Linah Alsaafin in Doha, taking over from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.

12:40 GMT – Protest at slaughterhouse at centre of German virus cluster

Animal rights activists in Germany attempted to block access to a slaughterhouse at the center of a large coronavirus outbreak.

The slaughterhouse, owned by the Tonnies Group, has been linked to more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in the region, triggering a partial lockdown of two counties.

Police confirmed that about 20 people were protesting outside the entrance to the site.

Martin Landray: World needs a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19 | Talk to Al Jazeera

12:15 GMT – Barcelona basilica reopens for health workers

Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia basilica has reopened its doors for visits exclusively for health workers after nearly four months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The basilica invited a first group of health workers to visit the temple designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. More will be able to visit on Sunday and on July 11-12 during a reopening phase the church is calling an “homage” to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

11:50 GMT – Tunisia’s tourism earnings drop 47 percent amid virus spread

Tunisia’s revenues fromáthe vital tourism industry dropped by 47 percent in the first half of this year amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus, figures from the country’s central bank showed.

The North African country’s tourism sector has felt the brunt of lockdown measures imposed more than three months ago in Tunisia to contain the spread of the virus.

11:23 GMT – Iran imposes new curbs as coronavirus toll rises

Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus.

Iran has been battling the spread of the coronavirus, with the total number of cases hitting 237,878 on Saturday and a further 148 deaths bringing the country’s toll to 11,408, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

Nrses work in a COVID-19 ward of the Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital in Tehran, Iran. After months of fighting the coronavirus, Iran only just saw its highest single-day spike in reported cases after Eid a
 Wearing masks becomes mandatory from Sunday in covered public places, President Hassan Rouhani said on state television [Vahid Salemi/AP]

10:55 GMT – Ugandan dies after setting fire to himself over motorcycle impounded over COVID-19 violations

A Ugandan man has died after setting fire to himself in a police station when officers allegedly demanded a bribe to release his motorcycle, which he was using as a taxi and which had been impounded over violation of coronavirus restrictions.

The case has provoked anger among Ugandans who say it reflects widespread abuse by security personnel, including beatings, detentions and extortion that in the current climate are often disguised as enforcement of coronavirus regulations.

10:15 GMT – Catalonia places 200,000 people under lockdown

Spain’s north-east Catalonia region has placed restrictions on 200,000 people near the town of Lleida amid surge in new COVID-19 infections.

From 4 pm local time (6 pm GMT) onwards, no one will be able to enter or leave the region, Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reported from London, adding the move comes as a surprise.

The move comes as Spain’s hospitality sector was hoping to salvage what remains of the all-important summer season. Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

09:55 GMT – Tokyo seeks travel curbs as new infections top 100 for third day

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Saturday urged residents of the Japanese capital not to travel beyond its borders as new coronavirus infections topped 100 for a third day, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Tokyo confirmed 131 new cases of infections of the coronavirus, NHK said.

Cases in Tokyo have risen to a two-month high, driven by the spread of the virus in the capital’s nightspots. Of Saturday’s tally, 100 were in their 20s and 30s, Kyodo news agency said, citing Koike.

Japan Tokyo
 Cases in Tokyo have risen to a two-month high, driven by the spread of the virus in the capital’s nightspots [Charly Triballeau/AFP]

09:30 GMT – ‘Eat out to help out’, finance chief tells Britons

The British finance minister has urged people to “eat out to help out” the economy claw its way from a historic decline sparked by the coronavirus crisis.

The comments by Chancellor Rishi Sunak were published on the day England finally reopened its beloved pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector after more than three months of lockdown.

The United Kingdom’s shutdown has been one of Europe’s longest because of a high death toll of 44,131 – that only trails those of the United States and Brazil.

08:55 GMT – England’s pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen

People were finally allowed to drink in a pub, have a meal in a restaurant or get a haircut for the first time in more than three months as England took its biggest steps yet towards the resumption of normal life.

Pubs were permitted to start serving from 6am, sparking worries of over-indulgence on what the media dubbed a “Super Saturday” of coronavirus restrictions being eased. Some hairdressers were reported to have opened at the stroke of midnight.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Chester
A woman gets her hair coloured at Blow by Suave as it reopens following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Chester, UK [Molly Darlington/Reuters]

08:25 GMT – Louvre Museum to reopen on Monday after crippling losses

The Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited museum and home to the Mona Lisa, reopens on Monday but with coronavirus restrictions in place and parts of the complex closed to visitors.

The Louvre has been closed since March 13 and this has already led “to losses of over 40 million euros”, its director Jean-Luc Martinez said.

Among more than 10 million visitors in 2018, almost three quarters were tourists.

07:54 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases near 675,000, death toll passes 10,000

Russia reported 6,632 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the nationwide tally of infections to 674,515.

The authorities said that 168 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 10,027.

Grave diggers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) bury a person, who presumably died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the special purpose section of a
Gravediggers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) bury a person, who presumably died of the coronavirus disease, in the special purpose section of a graveyard on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, Russia [Anton Vaganov/Reuters]

07:28 GMT – Dominican Republic vote goes ahead despite virus threat

Voters in the Dominican Republic are set to defy rising coronavirus infections on Sunday to choose a new president in an election that could end 16 years of unbroken rule by the centre-left Dominican Liberation Party.

Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is favourite, having taken a commanding lead in opinion polls despite being forced to abandon his campaign after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Abinader, a 52-year-old businessman, had recovered sufficiently to close out his campaign at a rally on Wednesday.

07:02 GMT – New highest daily jump in India with 22,772 cases

India reported its biggest single-day spike of 22,772 coronavirus cases and 442 deaths, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

The coronavirus positive cases now stand at 648,315, while 18,655 people have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

06:40 GMT – Victoria reports 108 new cases, biggest jump in three months

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases since late March on Saturday, forcing it to expand stay-at-home orders to two more suburbs and sending nine public housing towers in a complete lockdown.

The southeastern state recorded 108 new cases, up from 66 on Friday and more than 70 new cases in each of the previous four days, forcing authorities to reimpose lockdowns in more than 30 suburbs earlier in the week.

06:16 GMT – South Africa reports record daily infections

South Africa has announced another record daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 9,064, as Africa’s most developed country shows signs of strain in coping with the pandemic.

Thirty percent of South Africa’s more than 177,000 cases are now in Gauteng province, which contains Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Langa township in Cape Town
More than 2,900 people in the country have died [File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

05:55 GMT – Bolsonaro waters down Brazilian mask-wearing law

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has watered down a law that would require widespread mask-wearing in the country to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the Diario Official government journal.

He approved the law on wearing protective masks in public, but weakened it by vetoing language that would have required Brazilians to cover their faces in places like schools, shops and churches.

05:30 GMT – Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend tests coronavirus positive

The girlfriend of President Donald Trump’s eldest son has tested positive for coronavirus, US media reported.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News television personality who is dating Donald Trump Jr, had travelled to South Dakota to see the US president’s Fourth of July speech and celebration fireworks at Mount Rushmore.

Guilfoyle, 51, was immediately isolated after discovering she had the virus in a routine test conducted on anyone expected to come in close contact with the president, the New York Times reported.

Kimberly Guilfoyle and Donald Trump Jr. speak at a press conference in Des Moines
Guilfoyle, left, is the third person close to the US president to return a positive COVID-19 test [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]


Hi, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:10 GMT – Sixty-three new cases in large cities in South Korea            

South Korea reported 63 new cases of the coronavirus, continuing a weeks-long resurgence as new clusters pop up in various parts of the country.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national totals to 13,030 infections, including 283 deaths.

Twenty-eight of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live. Infections were also reported in large cities such as Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju, where hundreds of schools have been shut and social restrictions elevated.

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seoul, South Korea
Infections were reported in large cities such as Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju, where hundreds of schools have been shut and social restrictions elevated [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

03:40 GMT – US marks another new daily record for infections

The United States reported 57,683 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed, making Friday the third consecutive day the country logged more than 50,000 new cases.  

The Baltimore-based university’s tracker showed the total number of cases since the pandemic reached the US at 2,793,022.    

The university also recorded a further 728 fatalities, bringing the total US death toll to 129,405.

02:48 GMT – Colombia judge bans special restrictions for the elderly

A Colombian judge has prohibited the government from subjecting those aged 70 or older to special restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The judge described as discriminatory the measures which prescribe quarantine for the elderly until the end of August while lifting movement restrictions on the rest of the population in mid-July.

01:17 GMT – Brazil surpasses 1.5 million coronavirus cases

Brazil reported 42,223 additional coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said, bringing the total tally to 1,539,081.

The number of coronavirus deaths rose by 1,290 to 63,174, according to the ministry.

A member of Brazilian Armed Forces medical team examines a man from the indigenous Yanomami ethnic group
A member of the Brazilian armed forces’ medical team examines a man from the Indigenous Yanomami ethnic group [Adriano Machado/ Reuters]

01:13 GMT – Air France, Hop! to shed 7,580 jobs

Air France management said it planned to eliminate 7,580 jobs at the airline and its regional unit Hop! by the end of 2022 because of the coronavirus crisis.

The planned job cuts amount to 16 percent of Air France’s staff and 40 percent of those at Hop!

“For three months, Air France’s activity and turnover have plummeted 95 percent, and at the height of the crisis, the company lost 15 million euros a day,” said the group, which anticipated a “very slow” recovery.

00:46 GMT – Global coronavirus cases rise to more than 11 million

Global coronavirus cases have exceeded 11 million, according to tallies by Reuters news agency and the Johns Hopkins University, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the WHO.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern into 2021.

00:13 GMT – Several US states hit highs in COVID-19 cases

Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alaska reported record increases in coronavirus cases on Friday as Florida’s most populous county imposed a curfew in advance of the Independence Day weekend.

The surge in cases, most pronounced in southern and western states, has alarmed public health officials, who urged caution before a July 4th holiday weekend that in normal times would feature big gatherings of families and friends.

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 3, here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies