Global coronavirus death toll hits 800,000: Live news

India, Iraq and Russia battle new surge in COVID-19 infections as global cases surpass 23 million.

Coronavirus Victims Burials in Flores Cemetery
  • India confirms 69,878 new infections – the fourth straight day above 60,000.

  • Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said he would shut down the United States to contain its coronavirus outbreak if experts recommended such a measure. 

  • Brazil’s COVID-19 outbreak is stabilising and any reversal of the virus’s rampant spread in the vast country would be “a success for the world”, the World Health Organization said.
  • More than 23 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world, and more than 14.7 million have recovered. At least 800,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, August 22

23:20 GMT – Mexico nears 60,000 death toll even as signs of hope emerge

Standing in a graveyard on the outskirts of Mexico City decked out in a cowboy hat to cover his rugged features from the sun, guitar player Eberardo Vargas this week had fewer funerals to play at than he has for most of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even as Mexico approaches a grim new milestone in its battle with the pandemic – 60,000 fatalities – signs of relief are beginning to emerge in the country that has registered more dead than any other bar the United States and Brazil, according to Reuters news agency.

Vargas, 49, said May, June and July were the busiest months he could recall as a musician as mourners in the municipality of Ecatepec northeast of Mexico City paid him and his band to hear favorite songs of lost loved-ones during their last goodbyes.

But that demand has eased lately as public life gradually returns to normal in the sprawling Mexican capital, prompting the government to declare this week that the coronavirus scourge is in “sustained decline” in Mexico.

19:31 GMT – France reports 3,602 new infections

The French health ministry reported 3,602 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, a smaller rise than on Friday and after the increase in cases reached a post-lockdown high earlier in the week.

The ministry said the total number of coronavirus deaths in the country had risen by nine in the past 24 hours to 30,512.

The total number of confirmed infections in France now stands at 238,002, while the number of people in intensive care units was up by one, to 380. 

18:04 GMT – WHO says children aged 12 and over should wear masks like adults

The World Health Organization (WHO) said children aged 12 and over should wear masks to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under the same conditions as adults, while children between six and 11 should wear them on a risk-based approach.

Children aged 12 and over should particularly wear a mask when a one-metre distance from others cannot be guaranteed and there is widespread transmission in the area, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a document on the WHO website dated August 21.

Whether children between six and 11 should wear masks depends on several factors, including the intensity of transmission in the area, the child’s ability to use the mask, access to masks and adequate adult supervision, the two organisations said.

Children aged five years and under should not be required to wear masks based on the safety and overall interest of the child, the WHO and UNICEF said.

Volunteer hairdressers in Jarabulus cheer the Orphan girls
A girl is given a mask at a refugee camp located in Syria’s Jarablus [File: Anadolu]

16:57 GMT – Spike in Irish cases continues with 156 new infections

Ireland reported more than 100 daily COVID-19 cases for the fourth time in eight days after the health service was notified of 156 new infections and two additional deaths.

Ireland significantly tightened its nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday to try to rein in the new spike, which began in late July after cases had fallen to a daily average of around 20 for much of the previous two months.

The government lifted separate stricter measures in two counties on Friday but extended them for two more weeks in Kildare, where there were 36 cases. Dublin accounted for 55 cases with the rest spread across the country, similar to previous days.

15:29 GMT – UK records 1,288 new cases – government data

The United Kingdom recorded 1,288 new cases of COVID-19, up from 1,033 a day earlier, government figures showed.

Eighteen people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within 28 days, up from two a day earlier.

The new cases were recorded as the government ramps up testing so it can suppress the spread of the virus and ease restrictions that have crippled the economy.

15:02 GMT – Tunisia reimposes curfew in virus hotspot

Tunisian authorities reinstated a curfew in El Hamma after a spike in coronavirus cases there, the mayor said, as rail links servicing the town were suspended.

El Hamma, home to some 100,000 people, has recorded 441 cases of infection and five deaths from the COVID-19 illness, mayor Nacef Ennajeh told the AFP news agency.

He said a curfew had been imposed from 5pm to 5am for one week in the town, located some 325 kilometres (200 miles) south of the capital Tunis.

The North African country has registered a total of 2,607 cases and 64 fatalities since the start of the outbreak.

14:52 GMT – Rome region faces record rise in daily virus infections     

The Rome region recorded 215 new cases in 24 hours mainly because of people returning from holiday, the largest such rise since the Italian capital was in lockdown in March, health officials said.

The figure is a record number and is more than the 208 people infected in a one-day period on March 28, when Rome had come to a virtual standstill to stop the coronavirus from spreading, the capital’s health official Alessio D’Amato said.     

“Sixty-one percent [of the cases] are linked to people returning from vacation,” D’Amato said, almost half the cases were returning from Sardinia.     

Most of those infected are young people who are not showing symptoms and it is urgent to “block the chain of transmission as fast as possible by finding the asymptomatic and averting the spread of the virus among families,” he said.     

“Be very careful especially with your relatives and the people dearest to you,” he said in an appeal to the young.   

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rome
Police officers wearing yellow vests advise people on the street to wear masks following a government decree that states face coverings must be worn between 6pm and 6am near bars and pubs and in areas where gatherings are more likely [Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

14:05 GMT – Iraqi coronavirus cases top 200,000: health ministry

Iraq registered nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases recorded by the country to more than 200,000.

According to the Iraqi health ministry, 201,050 Iraqis have contracted the virus, including 6,353 who have died, while 143,393 are declared to have recovered since the pandemic began.

The daily increases have hovered around 4,000 for more than a week, but authorities have declined to reimpose a strict lockdown that was lifted earlier this summer.     

An overnight curfew remains in place, most restaurants are closed for dine-in customers and land crossings are officially shut.

But airports, supermarkets and take-out cafes are open, with varying degrees of social distancing or mask wearing.

13:54 GMT – China approves human testing for vaccine grown in insect cells

China has approved human testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine cultivated within insect cells, local government in the southwestern city of Chengdu said.

Using insect cells to grow proteins for the coronavirus vaccine – a first in China – could speed up large-scale production, the city government of Chengdu said in a notice on social media WeChat.

The vaccine, developed by West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, has received approval from the National Medical Products Administration to enter a clinical trial, the notice said.

When tested on monkeys, the vaccine was shown to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections with no obvious side-effects, the notice added.

13:48 GMT – Saudi public sector employees to return to on-site work on August 30 

Saudi public sector employees will return to on-site work on August 30, state TV reported, quoting the human resources ministry, further relaxing restrictions on movement taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The authorities will also allow camel racing to resume, state television added, citing a decision by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia has reported a total number of 306,370 infections so far, including 3,619 deaths. 

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Hamza Mohamed.

12:45 GMT – Israel’s coronavirus chief urges Ukraine to ban Jewish pilgrimage

The head of Israel’s coronavirus task force has asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ban an annual pilgrimage in which Hasidic Jews visit the central Ukrainian town of Uman, over concerns the site may become a virus hotspot.

Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews descend on Uman every Jewish New Year to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who revived the Hasidic movement and died in 1810.

“A gathering of this sort, at such troubled times, is expected to generate mass events of infection of tourists and local Ukrainian residents, turning into a heavy burden on local medical systems, while thousands more are expected to come back to Israel and further spread the virus,” Ronni Gamzu said.

This year, Jewish New Year celebrations run from September 18-20.

12:05 GMT – More than half of Spanish companies reopen after closing at height of pandemic

More than half the companies in Spain which closed at the height of the coronavirus pandemic have reopened, according to government data released on Saturday, suggesting the economy is recovering slowly.

The number of companies registered to pay social security by the end of July was 1,282,346, according to figures from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, or 91,240 fewer firms than in February before the government imposed a strict lockdown to try to contain COVID-19.

However, the statistics showed that since the easing of lockdown started in May, 49,159 companies have registered with the government. This is just over half the number which closed when the pandemic was at its height in March and April.

Elder people wearing face masks sit on a bench in a square in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he will ask Spain's Parliament for a final two-week ext
 The number of cases of COVID-19 has been rising steadily since the end of lockdown in June [Emilio Morenatti/AP]

11:20 GMT – France delays launch of COVID-19 economic reboot plan to September

The French government said on Saturday it would unveil details of its 100 billion euro ($118 billion) plan to reinvigorate the economy in the first week of September, instead of next Tuesday, as it focuses on preparing the new school term.

“The recovery plan is ready, the timetable for its implementation still stands,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said in a statement.

Schools are set to reopen on September 1, after most were closed during a two-month lockdown earlier this year to fight the coronavirus, and the government is working to ensure protective measures will be adequate, Attal said.

10:45 GMT – Argentina joins Chinese coronavirus vaccine trial, maker says

Argentina joined Peru, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in approving phase 3 clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company said late on Friday.

As China forges ahead in the global race to develop a vaccine to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and as cases within China dwindle, CNBG needs research participants from other countries for testing.

Scientists develop a vaccine against the coronavirus disease in Saint Petersburg
The Oxford vaccine showed early promise in the first human trial when it produced an immune response [Reuters

10:10 GMT – Qatar reports 284 infections

Qatar confirmed 284 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the country’s total to 116,765.

The country’s public health ministry said 315 people recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours. At least 113,531 people have recovered from coronavirus in the Middle Eastern country.

A field hospital set up by Qatari authorities to treat people infected with the coronavirus Covid-19 is pictured of May 11, 2020 in Doha. Qatar has established a series of field hospitals to treat pat
 As of Saturday, 193 people have died from the virus in Qatar [Karim Jaafar/AFP]

09:40 GMT – Philippines reports 4,933 infections, 26 deaths

The Philippines reported 4,933 infections of the new coronavirus on Saturday, the fifth straight day above 4,000, and 26 COVID-19 deaths.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 187,249 while confirmed deaths have reached 2,966.

The Philippines has the most infections in Southeast Asia, and second-highest number of deaths, behind Indonesia [Aaron Favila]

09:15 GMT – Coronavirus cases in India approach three million

India reported a record daily jump of coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total near 3 million and piling pressure on authorities to curb huge gatherings as a major religious festival began.

The 69,878 new infections – the fourth straight day above 60,000 – take India’s total number of cases to 2.98 million, behind only the United States and Brazil.

COVID-19 deaths increased by 945 to 55,794, data from the federal health ministry showed.

Residence of Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan after he and son actor Abhishek Bachchan tests positive for coronavirus disease (CIVID-19) in Mumbai
Almost 70,000 new cases reported in India where more than 55,000 people have died of the coronavirus [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

08:15 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus infection tally passes 950,000

Russia reported 4,921 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, pushing its confirmed national tally up to 951,897.

Authorities said 121 people had died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 16,310.

outside image - Russia vaccine
Only US and Brazil have confirmed more infections than Russia [EPA]

07:45 GMT – Czech authorities report 506 new cases in record daily increase

The Czech authorities recorded 506 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of new infections in one day since the outbreak began there.

Czech has so far reported 21,551 confirmed cases of the virus, with 411 deaths, including 19 over the past week.

The Czech government was among the first in Europe to introduce curbs on movement and business as the outbreak took hold. It began to lift restrictions since May but has reintroduced some measures as cases rose in recent weeks.

07:05 GMT – Germany reports more than 2,000 cases

The number of coronavirus infections in Germany surpassed 2,000 in the previous 24 hours, a high not seen since the end of April, authorities said on Saturday.

The RKI health institute said it registered 2,034 new cases and seven more deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 9,267 and cases to 232,082.

06:40 GMT – Ukraine reports daily record 2,328 infections

Ukraine registered a record 2,328 cases of the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, officials said on Saturday.

The data given by the national council of security and defence surpassed the previous single-day record of 2,134 reported on Thursday.

Total cases are at 102,971, with 2,244 COVID-19 deaths.

outside image - germany
A traveller returning from Ukraine receives a voluntary coronavirus test by a German Red Cross medical staff in Berlin, Germany [File: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

06:25 GMT – Travellers from France to UK must self-certify no coronavirus symptoms

Travellers from France to the United Kingdom will be required to self-certify that they are not suffering coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case within 14 days preceding travel, the British government said.

The United Kingdom has said travellers returning from France on or after August 15 should self-isolate upon their return, due to high COVID-19 infection rates in France.

The imposition of quarantine conditions have hit Britons’ favourite holiday destinations in the middle of summer and as the travel industry fights for survival.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London
Other countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia and Austria are already on the UK’s quarantine list [Peter Nicholls [Reuters]

06:10 GMT – 

Hello, I’m Hamza Mohamed in Doha, Qatar taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

04:24 GMT – Moderna says more than 40 percent of participants enrolled for vaccine trial

Drug developer Moderna Inc says it has so far enrolled 13,194 participants in the continuing late-stage 30,000-volunteer US trial testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

In a tweet, the company also said 18 percent of the participants currently enrolled are Black, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, groups among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Moderna began the study of its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, in July and expects to complete enrolment in September.

03:46 GMT – S Korea orders nationwide restrictions

South Korea has banned large gatherings, shut down nightspots and churches and removed fans from professional sports nationwide in an attempt to slow a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced the new measures after officials reported 332 newly confirmed cases, marking the ninth straight day of triple-digit increases.

Most of the new cases were in the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of the viral surge of recent weeks. But infections were also reported in practically every major city and in towns across the country.

The government had already imposed the tighter restrictions in the capital region earlier this week, a move they resisted for months out of economic concerns.

02:43 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports 13 deaths, 182 cases

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, has reported 13 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, authorities said, while new infections in the hotspot state remain below 200 for the second consecutive day.

“It’s great to see two days in a row under 200, certainly we are trending down,” said Brett Sutton, the state’s chief health officer. “The best way to safeguard against a third wave is to bring that number down to the lowest feasible, possible level.”

The state reported 182 new cases on Saturday, up from the 179 new cases and nine deaths a day earlier, but down from more than 700 a day two weeks ago.

01:53 GMT – Boeing testing hand-held UV wand to sanitise cockpits, cabins

Boeing Co said it is developing a hand-held wand that emits ultraviolet light to neutralise bacteria and viruses, part of a suite of methods to disinfect flight deck surfaces and controls, as well as surfaces throughout the cabin.

The wand would eliminate the need for using alcohol or other disinfectants that could damage sensitive electronic equipment, Rae Lutters, chief engineer for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme, told a media briefing.

01:18 GMT – Biden says he will shut down US if experts said to

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, says he would do whatever was needed to keep the US safe amid the coronavirus pandemic even if that meant shutting down the country.

“I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden said in an interview with ABC.

“In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus.” And if scientists recommended shutting down the country, “I would shut it down,” Biden added.

The interview airs on Sunday night, but clips were provided on Friday.

00:58 GMT – US closes lanes, adds checks at Mexico border

The US has closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border with Mexico and will conduct more secondary checks to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, according to a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.

Non-essential travel has been restricted at the border since March, but the curbs have mostly been applied to Mexican citizens. The new measures appeared to be aimed at US citizens and legal residents living in Mexico.

“We need people to think twice about non-essential travel and to ask themselves if the travel is worth risking their lives and the lives of others,” El Paso CBP spokesman Roger Maier said in a written statement.

00:36 GMT – Nigeria to bar entry for citizens of countries that block Nigerians

Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s aviation minister, told airline and travel industry representatives the Nigerian government will bar entry to nationals of countries that impose travel bans on Nigerians during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If they ban both the passengers and the carriers together, then that’s what’s going to happen,” Sirika said on a Zoom call.

“Our numbers are not equal to the numbers we’ve seen in Europe,” Sirika said, adding that with travel bans, “we feel that it is discriminating against our people”.

Nigeria has 50,951 confirmed coronavirus cases and 992 deaths.

00:20 GMT – South Africa’s cases breach 600,000 mark

South Africa has reported 3,398 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 603,338 infections.

The new figures mark a sharp decline in cases, compared with a peak of more than 13,000 infections a day seen in July. South Africa now accounts for more than half of Africa’s cases and its death toll – 12,483 – makes up about 47 percent of the continent’s deaths.

“We believe that South Africa is in a way moving past the point of the peak of the pandemic; we believe we have gone beyond the inflexion point,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.

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, August 21, go here

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies