Coronavirus pandemic likely to be ‘lengthy’, WHO warns: Live

Florida death toll passes 7,000; Russia aims mass vaccination campaign in October; Kuwait bans flights from 31 nations.

Cemetery workers wearing protective suits carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim in the special purpose for coronavirus victims section of a cemetery in Kolpino, outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday,
  • The World Health Organization warned the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be “lengthy”, as it met to evaluate the situation, six months after sounding the international alarm. 

  • Russia is preparing to start a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in October.

  • Coronavirus deaths in Florida surged past 7,000 as the countrywide total is now more than 153,000.

  • More than 17.6 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Almost 10.3 million patients have recovered and at least 680,900 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, August 1

23:04 GMT – Two thirds of UK firms “fully operational” after COVID, survey says

Two thirds of British businesses say they are now “fully operational” after the coronavirus lockdown, up from half in June, according to a survey seen by Reuters.

A further 21 percent of the firms, polled in the first half of July by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said they were partly operational with some premises still closed.

“With businesses gradually reopening, this month’s data seems to indicate a turning point for the economy,” said Alpesh Paleja, an economist for CBI, one of Britain’s main business lobby groups.

But many firms, especially those in consumer-facing sectors, remained in “acute financial distress”, he added.

Britain’s lockdown has been slowly lifting since May, with the last major change on July 4 when hotels, pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen.

20:50 GMT – Greece registers over 100 new infections

Greek authorities say there were 110 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the fourth-highest daily figure and highest since April.

Authorities say 23 of the cases concerned employees at a meat processing factory in the northern city of Kavala.

Tests on all 140 employees are still ongoing. 

Greece COVID-19 fight prompts Athens to free public space of cars

20:40 GMT – Russia officially resumes international flights

Russia resumed international air travel, more than four months after restrictions were imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport was the first in the country to restart international services.

Long lines of passengers were seen waiting to check-in as the flights resumed at Russia’s busiest airport.

20:20 GMT – South Africa coronavirus cases top 500,000: health ministry

South Africa has now registered more than 500,000 cases of coronavirus, the health ministry announced.

“Today South Africa has exceeded the half-a-million mark with a cumulative total of 503,290 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded,” Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

20:59 GMT – Thousands of Israelis rally against Netanyahu

Thousands protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu across Israel on night, demanding he resign over alleged corruption and a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Protests took place at scores of intersections and bridges, where people held banners accusing Netanyahu of “failure” and calling for his resignation, as well as outside his private residence in the northern town Caesarea.

The main event took place outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, where organisers said thousands demanded Netanyahu step down.

Anti-Netanyahu Protests Continue, Fueled By Coronavirus, Corruption And Sundry Other Causes
Thousands of Israelis protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel. The protests have become a recurring feature amid discontent over the the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Netanyahu’s looming corruption trial [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

19:15 GMT – COVID-19 kills 64 more people in Iraq

The Iraqi Health Ministry has reported 64 more people died due to the virus over the past 24 hours, pushing the nationwide death toll to 4,805.

The virus also infected 2,094 more people, bringing the total number of cases to 126,704, including 89,275 recoveries.

Iraq’s historic marshes: Outbreak threatens community of herders

18:15 GMT – Arizona congressman tests positive for virus; second this week

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said on Saturday he tested positive for the coronavirus days after he sat close to another member of the panel, Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, who also tested positive.

Democrat Representative Raul Grijalva said in a statement that he has the virus but, like Gohmert, has no symptoms. He is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

17:40 GMT – Ireland’s chief doctor says rise in COVID-19 infections concerning

Ireland’s chief medical officer on Saturday described a recent spike in COVID-19 infections as “concerning”, as the average number of cases per day doubled from about 20 in recent weeks to more than 40 over the past five days.

Ireland, which still has lower infection rates than much of Europe, reported 45 new cases of COVID-19, down from a two-month high of 85 cases on Thursday.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dublin
Ireland has reported over 26,000 infections and 1,763 deaths [File: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

17:12 GMT – WHO expects ‘lengthy’ coronavirus pandemic

The World Health Organization warned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” as it met to evaluate the situation, six months after sounding the international alarm.

The WHO emergency committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic” when it met on Friday, the WHO said in a statement, warning of “the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.

16:40 GMT – Florida reaches 7,000 deaths from coronavirus

Florida health officials have reported 179 more deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to more than 7,000.

The latest numbers came as Hurricane Isaias threatened Florida’s eastern coast, but no evacuations were immediately announced. The National Hurricane Center’s latest prediction had the storm scraping past Florida but not making landfall.

16:15 GMT – Maduro goes ahead with election plans amid fears of virus

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and his allies are going forward with their plans to hold legislative elections in December in the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic and marked by the distrust of government opponents in the electoral authority.

This authority was selected without the support of the legislature – consisting of an opposition majority – and made up of directors seen as allies of the government.

Ahead of the vote scheduled for December 6, residents started registering to vote or update their personal details.

15:50 GMT – Record spikes in Asia as WHO issues grim warning

Asian countries reported record rises of new coronavirus cases as the WHO warned the effects of the pandemic would be felt for decades and the scramble for a vaccine heated up.

India and the Philippines reported more than 57,000 new daily cases and 5,000 cases, respectively, despite tightened restrictions.   

The WHO has said the pandemic was a “once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come”.

Outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad
India has the third-highest cases in the world, and the most in Asia, with more than 1.5 million people infected [File: Amit Dave/Reuters]

15:25 GMT – Russian movie theatres reopen after virus shutdown

Movie theatres reopened in Moscow after more than four months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Film enthusiasts rushed to the first screening at midnight at Moscow’s iconic Soviet-era Oktyabrsky cinema.

Strict social distancing measures were in place as cinemagoers watched their film – with patrons having their temperatures taken and were required to wear masks before entering the movie theatre.

15:00 GMT – Police move to break up Berlin rally against virus restrictions

Police officers in Berlin plan to break up a large demonstration against restrictions imposed to contain the novel coronavirus, held despite Germany’s rising infection numbers.

The organisers of the rally are not able to ensure health and safety regulations are being followed, a police spokesman told DPA news agency.

Officers are now preparing to disperse the rally, attended by some 15,000 people, according to police estimates.

Protest against Covid-19 restrictions in Germany
People stage a protest, which was organised by ‘Querdenken 711’, against coronavirus restrictions in Berlin, Germany [Anadolu]

14:35 GMT – 62 confirmed cases at Danish slaughterhouse

The coronavirus has been detected in 62 employees at a slaughterhouse belonging to the Danish meat processor Danish Crown.

On Saturday, there were 18 more positive cases among the employees of the company in Ringsted, Denmark, a company spokesman confirmed to dpa.

So far, almost 600 of the 900 employees have been tested. The remaining 300 should be tested on Monday if they are not on vacation.

14:10 GMT – Vietnam’s Danang to test entire population

Vietnam’s coastal city of Danang plans to test its entire population of 1.1 million people for coronavirus infection, the governing authorities said, as 40 new cases linked to the tourist hotspot were reported across the country, taking total infections to 586, with three deaths.

Most of the new cases are linked to hospitals in Danang city, where the first locally transmitted infection in more than three months was detected last week.

13:45 GMT – Kenya Airways resumes international flights

Kenya Airways resumed international flights on Saturday, heading to about 30 destinations for the first time since the routes were suspended in March due to the coronavirus.

The carrier, in which Air France KLM holds a small stake, resumed domestic flights in mid-July after the government cleared local air travel.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nairobi
Passengers queue at the check-in counter as the Jomo Kenyatta international airport reopens after flights were suspended following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nairobi, Kenya [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

13:22 GMT – More than 30 crew test positive for COVID-19 on Norwegian cruise ship

At least 33 crew members confined on a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the company, Hurtigruten, said.

Arriving at the northern Norwegian port of Tromso from the archipelago of Svalbard, the crew of the MS Roald Amundsen was quarantined on board the ship on Friday after four staff members tested positive for the virus and were hospitalised.

Of the 158 crew members on board, “33 tested positive for COVID-19, while 120 tested negative”, Hurtigruten said in a statement. Five people will be retested.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Hamza Mohamed.


12:50 GMT – Qatar reports more than 200 new cases

Qatar confirmed 216 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total in the Middle Eastern country to 110,911.

The Ministry of Public Health said 201 people have recovered from the virus, taking the total to 107,578.

outside image - qatar and bahrain
 Qatar has reported a total of 174 coronavirus deaths [Noushad Thekkayil/EPA]

12:25 GMT – Thousands protest in Berlin against coronavirus restrictions

Thousands of protesters against German coronavirus restrictions have converged in Berlin for a demonstration proclaiming “the end of the pandemic” has arrived just as authorities voice increasing concerns about an upturn in new infections.

A crowd of people whistling and cheering, with few masks in sight, marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate ahead of a rally on a wide boulevard that runs through the city’s Tiergarten park.

Protesters held up home-made placards featuring slogans that included: “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defence instead of vaccination” and “End the corona panic – bring fundamental rights back.”

Germany’s management of the pandemic has been viewed as relatively successful. The country’s death toll – just over 9,150 out of more than 210,670 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday – is lower than in comparable nations. 

11:35 GMT – Kuwait bans flights to ‘high-risk’ nations

Kuwait has banned commercial flights to several countries it said it regards as high risk due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Saturday.

The countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon and Sri Lanka – all countries with large populations in Kuwait. The list also includes China, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Iraq.

11:15 GMT – Vietnam says up to 800,000 have left virus epicentre Danang

Vietnam’s health ministry says up to 800,000 visitors to Danang city, the nation’s coronavirus epicentre, have left for other parts of the country since July 1.

Vietnam last week detected its first locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in more than three months in Danang, a tourism hot spot.

Vietnam Imposes Restrictions As Coronavirus Cases Rise
The Southeast Asian country reported its first two COVID-19 deaths on Friday, and the toll rose to three on Saturday [Linh Pham/Getty]

The total number of infections in the country has since risen to 558 from 413, with most of the new cases linked to three hospitals in Danang.

More than 41,000 people have visited the three hospitals since July 1, the ministry said in a statement.

10:45 GMT – Philippines confirms nearly 5,000 cases, largest single-day increase

The Philippines has reported 4,963 additional coronavirus infections, the largest single-day jump on record.

In a bulletin on Saturday, the health ministry said total infections have reached 98,232, while deaths increased by 17 to 2,039.

Coronavirus - Manila
Since a lockdown was eased in June, Manila has experienced a sharp rise in infections and deaths [Aaron Favila/AP]

09:50 GMT – Poland reports record rise in virus cases for third day

Poland has reported its highest number of new daily coronavirus cases since the global pandemic started for the third day in a row on Saturday, with 658 new infections, the health ministry said.

More than 200 cases were reported in the Silesia mining region in southern Poland, which has been grappling with an outbreak amongst miners.

The ministry also reported five new deaths.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ruda Slaska
Poland has now reported a total of 46,346 coronavirus cases and 1,721 deaths [Reuters]

09:15 GMT – Indonesia confirms more than1,550 new infections

Indonesia has reported 1,560 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total in the Southeast Asian country to 109,936, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.

It also reported 62 COVID-19 related deaths on Saturday, taking the death toll to 5,193.

08:50 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 397 coronavirus cases, three deaths 

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, has reported 397 cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours and three related deaths, compared with 627 cases and eight deaths a day earlier.

The deaths take the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 116 and Australia’s to 201.

08:10 GMT – Russia plans mass vaccinations against coronavirus from October

Russia is preparing to start a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in October, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Saturday, RIA news agency reported.

The minister, who did not give details about the vaccine to be used, said doctors and teachers would be the first to be vaccinated.

A source told the Reuters news agency this week that Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine, developed by a state research facility, would secure local regulatory approval in August and be administered to health workers soon after that.

A medical worker wearing protective equipment takes a swab from a woman at a medical facility in Moscow on July 16, 2020, on the first day the Russian capital started providing free testing for the co
Russia has reported more than 838,400 cases and at least 14,000 deaths [AFP]

07:45 GMT – US records biggest single-day deaths since May

US deaths from the novel coronavirus rose by at least 1,453 on Friday, the biggest one-day increase since May 27, to reach a total of 153,882, according to a Reuters tally.

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) wheeling a patient to Hialeah Hospital where coronavirus disease patients are treated, in Hialeah, Florida, US [Marco Bello/Reuters] 

The rise in deaths was the biggest one-day increase since the number of deaths rose by 1,484 on May 27.

US cases rose by at least 66,986 to a total of 4.58 million with some local governments yet to report.

06:50 GMT – India records highest daily jump in coronavirus cases

India has recorded the biggest jump of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The health ministry on Saturday also reported 764 additional deaths for a total of 36,511.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New Delhi
Only the US and Brazil have reported more cases than India [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday that India achieved more than one million recoveries with active cases only one-third of the total. India is now conducting more than 640,000 tests in 24 hours, taking cumulative tests across the country to nearly 1.9 million, he said.

06:15 GMT – 

Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:58 GMT – Japan’s Okinawa declares state of emergency

Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks amid an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases.

Governor Denny Tamaki said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the surge and told residents to avoid non-essential outings through the emergency, which is set to end on August 15.

Okinawa reported 71 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing its total to 395. US forces based on the island account for 248 of those cases.

04:21 GMT – S Korea arrests Christian leader over church cluster

Authorities in South Korea have arrested the founder of a secretive Christian sect at the centre of the country’s largest outbreak on charges of obstructing the government anti-virus efforts.

Lee Man-hee is the powerful head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus which is linked to more than 5,200 coronavirus infections, or 36 percent of South Korea’s total cases.

Prosecutors allege the 89-year-old conspired with other sect leaders to withhold information from authorities, including meeting places and the number of participants at the sect’s gatherings as authorities tried to trace infection routes in February.

Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they’re cooperating with health authorities. Its spokesperson, Kim Young-eun, said the church will do its best so that “the truth is clearly proved in court”.

FILE PHOTO: People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on a news conference held by Lee Man-hee, founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Seoul
People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on a news conference held by Lee Man-hee, founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Seoul, South Korea, March 2, 2020 [File: Heo Ran/Reuters]

03:47 GMT – Google says 20 US states, territories ‘exploring’ contact tracing apps

Alphabet Inc’s Google says 20 US states and territories, representing about 45 percent of the country’s population, are “exploring” contact tracing apps using a tool it developed with Apple Inc.

In addition, the company said public health authorities in 16 countries and regions outside the US had launched apps using the Apple-Google tool, up from 12 previously. They include Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Gibraltar, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Northern Ireland, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Uruguay.

The technology enables app users to track encounters with other people through Bluetooth signals and anonymously notify contacts if they later become infected with the virus.

Google said the first of the US apps would be released in the “coming weeks”, but declined to name the states. It added that its system with Apple now enables apps launched by different countries to talk to each other, allowing contact-logging to continue even when users cross borders.

03:26 GMT – Sharp drop in new cases in China

China has reported a sharp drop in newly confirmed infections in the mainland, logging 45 additional cases in a possible sign that its latest outbreak in Xinjiang may have run its course.

Thirty-one of the cases were in far western Xinjiang, eight were in northeastern Liaoning and the remaining six were imported cases. The figures are down from 127 cases reported nationally on Friday.

03:15 GMT – Vietnam logs 12 new cases, ramps up testing

Vietnam’s health ministry has reported 12 new local coronavirus cases linked to the recent outbreak in the tourist hotspot of Danang, taking total infections to 116 since the virus resurfaced last week.

The new patients, with ages ranging from two to 78, are linked to Danang hospital, the ministry said in a statement. 

Vietnam has registered a total of 558 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. After months of successful curbs, it reported its first two deaths on Friday. 

In Hanoi, where two people have tested positive after returning from Danang, more than 100 clinics have been set up with test kits to detect the virus. Hanoi has tested a third of the 54,000 people returning from Danang.

Residents wait to be tested at a makeshift rapid testing centre as Vietnam records a rise in cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Hanoi on July 31, 2020 [Manan Vatsyayana/ AFP]

“I want to be tested so I can stop worrying if I have the virus or not. It is for me and for the community,” said Pham Thuy Hoa, a banking official who recently went to Danang for a family vacation.

“Since coming back, my family and I have quarantined ourselves at home. I did not go to work or see others. We must be responsible for the entire community.”

In Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern hub, five people who returned from Danang have tested positive for the virus. The city is testing some 20,000 other returnees.

As the number of cases continues to increase, Danang has tightened security and set up more checkpoints to prevent people from leaving or entering the city, which has been in lockdown since Tuesday.

02:48 GMT – California, Florida report record rise in deaths

California and Florida, two of the most populous US states, have reported record increases in COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Florida reported 257 deaths and California, 208 on Friday.

For Florida, this is the fourth day in a row with a record rise in deaths and for California the second this week. Mississippi, Montana and Nevada also had a one-day record increase in deaths on Friday.

Overall in the US, deaths have increased by more than 25,000 in July to 153,000 total lives lost since the pandemic started.

01:41 GMT – Puerto Rico extends restrictions

Wanda Vazquez, the governor of Puerto Rico, has extended measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus for two more weeks.

That means bars, gyms, marinas and movie theatres across the US territory will stay shuttered until at least August 15. Beaches remain closed on Sundays, and are open the rest of the week only to people doing exercise, including surfers, swimmers and runners.

Face masks continue to be mandatory, and those who refuse to wear one will be arrested, Vazquez said.

A curfew from 10pm to 5am will remain in place, and no parties or gatherings will be allowed in short-term rental facilities.

01:22 GMT – Fitch revises US outlook to negative

Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook on the US’s AAA rating to negative from stable, citing eroding credit strength, including a growing deficit to fiscal stimulus to combat the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The credit rating agency also said the future direction of US fiscal policy depends in part on the November election for president and the resulting makeup of Congress, cautioning there is a risk policy gridlock could continue.

00:56 GMT – Mexico overtakes UK to post third-highest death toll

The number of coronavirus deaths in Mexico rose to 46,688 on Friday, with the Latin American country overtaking the United Kingdom for the world’s third-highest COVID-19 death toll.

The health ministry registered 8,458 new cases, a record for a single day, as well as 688 additional deaths, bringing the total to 424,637 cases and 46,688 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

00:36 GMT – Free tests for migrants stuck at Costa Rica-Nicaragua border

Costa Rican doctors have started giving free coronavirus tests to about 200 Nicaraguan migrants who have been stranded at the two countries’ border for more than a week because the Nicaraguan government has demanded negative test results.

Clinica Biblica Hospital in the capital of San Jose sent a mobile lab to the Penas Blancas border crossing.

“I thank God that finally we are going to be able to return to our country,” said one migrant, who declined to give their name.

Nicaragua has prevented the entry of hundreds of its citizens from Costa Rica citing COVID-19 concerns [File: Wendy Quintero/ AFP]

00:18 GMT – Argentina halts plans to ease lockdown

Argentina President Alberto Fernandez has announced a halt on the easing of lockdown measures due to an increase in new cases and fears the health system could become overwhelmed.

“We will keep things as they are until August 16,” said Fernandez.

“In the last few days the virus has been spreading more, and we’ve seen a larger increase in infections. All this generates hospital admissions and unfortunately, deaths.”

In Argentina, more than 185,000 infections and nearly 3,500 deaths have been registered so far, figures well below those of other countries in the region.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

For all the key developments from yesterday, July 31, go here

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies