Gaza lockdown after 1st coronavirus community transmission: Live

Bali bans tourists for 2020; Syria talks paused as delegates test positive; first vaccine human trial in Italy.

Members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas spray disinfectants during a simulation exercise for preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City July 18, 2020. Pict
Members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas spray disinfectants during a simulation exercise for preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
  • Gaza declared a full lockdown for 48 hours as it reported its first cases in the general population.

  • The governor of Bali said tourists will not be able to visit the Indonesian island for the rest of 2020 as the number of coronavirus cases in the country keeps mounting.
  • Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria has reported the lowest daily rise in new infections in seven weeks. 
  • Plasma treatment has been given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration in the US, the country worst-affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • More than 23.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and more than 15 million have recovered. At least 806,500 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, August 24

20:35 GMT – Gaza declares a lockdown following first community transmission

Gaza reported its first cases in the general population as authorities confirmed four infections at a refugee camp and security forces declared a full lockdown for 48 hours.

The four cases were from a single family, according to a government statement.

The closure would affect the entire Gaza Strip, according to an official from Hamas, the group that governs the territory.

20:01 GMT – Are EU countries using COVID-19 to clamp down on refugees?

19:33 GMT – Peru’s pandemic tensions burst with nightclub tragedy

Peru, battling one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks and a five-month lockdown, was reeling after the deaths of 13 people, most of them young women, in a stampede at an illegal nightclub triggered by a police raid.

The tragedy at the club, which authorities called “a breeding ground” for COVID-19, has exposed tensions in the Andean nation of 33 million people that has one of the world’s worst per capita fatality rates with almost 28,000 deaths.

Infections are rising again in a dangerous second wave and total almost 600,000, the sixth-highest in the world.

SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB A woman sits next to the bodies of people who died after police raided a nightclub for hosting a party in violation of the coronavirus
A woman sits next to the bodies of people who died after police raided a nightclub for hosting a party in violation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in Lima, Peru [Angel Taipe/Reuters]

19:10 GMT – HK researchers report ‘first documented re-infection’

Researchers in Hong Kong say they have documented the first instance of a man who was reinfected after first contracting the novel coronavirus more than four months ago.

The researchers at the University of Hong Kong said their findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, may continue to spread globally despite populations developing herd immunity.

Read the full story here

18:20 GMT – France’s cases and casualties rise

Visitors wearing protective facemasks queue as they wait for the partial reopening of Eiffel Tower on June 25, 2020, in Paris, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread
‘The circulation of the virus is progressing markedly, and is at its most intense among young adults,’ France’s health ministry said in a statement [Thomas Samson/AFP]

The number of new cases in France has risen by 1,955 to 244,854 in the past 24 hours, while overall deaths increased by 15 to 30,528.

The country has the seventh-highest death toll in the world, and the government is monitoring the figures closely to see if any new restrictions or lockdowns are needed to curb the spread of the virus.

“The circulation of the virus is progressing markedly, and is at its most intense among young adults,” the health ministry said in a statement.

17:32 GMT – Irish health chiefs monitoring situation as cases increase

Irish health chiefs have seen a particular increase in cases in Dublin in recent days and are closely monitoring the trend in the most populous part of the country, said Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a man painting a mural, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dublin, Ireland, August 20, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past a man painting a mural, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dublin, Ireland [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

Ireland reported more than 100 COVID-19 cases for the fifth time in 10 days, with almost half of the 147 new infections in the capital.

Glynn said there was no suggestion currently that further measures would be needed in Dublin and hoped nationwide restrictions announced last week would bring cases down.

16:57 GMT – Countries’ latest figures 

Turkey: 259,692 cases (+ 1,443), 6,139 deaths (+18)

Spain: 405,436 cases (+2,060), 28,872 deaths (+3)

France: 244,854 cases (+ 1,955), 30,528 deaths (+15)

16:21 GMT – Bali keeps out foreign visitors 

Bali’s governor says foreign tourists will not be able to visit the Indonesian island for the rest of 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, scrapping a plan to open up from next month.

The opening plan has been cancelled over concerns about Indonesia’s mounting virus cases and with many foreign nationals subject to travel bans in their home countries.

15:50 GMT – UK’s latest figures

The United Kingdom recorded 853 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest daily statistics published, down from 1,041 on Sunday, government figures showed.

Four people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within the previous 28 days, compared with six deaths announced on Sunday. 

People wearing protective face masks are seen outside the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, central England on August 22, 2020, as Britain's second-city, home to more than one million people,
People wearing protective face masks are seen outside the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, central England, as the UK’s second city, was made an ‘area of enhanced support’, because of concern about a spike in cases [Justin Tallis/AFP]

15:30 GMT – Czech gov’t extends jobs support for virus-hit companies

The Czech government has extended its job support programme for coronavirus-hit companies until the end of October, said the country’s Labour Minister Jana Malacova.

The job furloughing scheme, together with direct compensation payments to the self-employed, represent the two biggest chunks of the government’s effort to help the economy hit by the global pandemic.

14:55 GMT – Syria talks ‘on hold’ as three delegates tested positive

Syrian constitutional talks at the United Nations were put on hold just hours after they began on Monday after three delegates tested positive for COVID-19, the UN said.

The office of UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said it received confirmation that “three members of the Syrian Constitutional Committee Small Body tested positive for COVID-19” and the session in Geneva “is currently on hold”.

14:21 GMT – First volunteer receives Italian anti-virus vaccine

An Italian hospital has injected a first volunteer with an anti-COVID-19 vaccine as part of human trials expected to last six months.

The woman, in her 50s, received the first dose developed by Rome-based biotech company ReiThera at the capital’s Spallanzani Institute for infectious diseases.

The trials, developed between ReiThera and Spallanzani researchers, will be carried out on 90 volunteers divided into groups by age to test the efficacy of different dosages of the vaccine, developed since March.

14:03 GMT – Students in Greece to wear masks when schools reopen


Greek teachers and students will be required to wear masks in class and indoor spaces when schools reopen in September due to a surge in infections, the country’s education minister said.

The rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has forced Greek authorities to gradually reimpose restrictions to curb the spread of the novel virus.

13:35 GMT – French ‘libertine’ nudist resort sees spike in cases

A naturist resort on France’s Mediterranean coast has seen a sharp spike in infections and nudists have been ordered to at least wear masks and practice social distancing, according to health authorities.

Tests had shown a 30 percent infection rate in people who had visited Village Cap d’Agde – which advertises itself as a village for naturists and libertines – said the Occitanie region health authority.

That was more than four times higher than the 7 percent rate recorded in other people in the area who had not visited the centre, the authority added.


Hi, this is Virginia Pietromarchi, taking over the coronavirus live-blog from my colleague Shereena Qazi in Doha, Qatar. 


12:20 GMT – Bollywood’s Bachchan back at work as India relaxes on-set rules

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan is back at work filming India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire following a bout of COVID-19.

A blanket ban on studio activity in March dealt a huge blow to India’s cinema and TV industries, hitting not just Bollywood – the world’s most prolific film factory – but also regional movie-making hubs and productions for television and streaming platforms.

In June, shooting was allowed again but with strict rules, including a ban on actors and crew aged above 65 – including Bachchan, 77 – until a court overturned that earlier this month.

The veteran actor, his actor son Abhishek, actress daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, and granddaughter Aaradhya were all admitted to hospital last month. All four have since been released.

12:08 GMT – Virus-hit Indian resort turns pool into fish farm

A luxury resort in southern India has turned its swimming pool into a fish farm to stop the business sinking.

Normally the 150-metre (500 feet) pool at the Aveda Resort in Kerala state is packed with European tourists. Now thousands of pearl spot fish are causing the splash.

The complex was forced to shut in March when a nationwide coronavirus lockdown was ordered. Few hotels have been allowed to reopen since.

Of those which are still shuttered, not many boast a pool with 7.5 million litres of water, which can be put to an alternative use.

11:33 GMT – WHO says 172 countries engaging with global COVID-19 vaccine plan

Some 172 countries are engaging with the WHO-led COVAX plan designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said, but more funding is urgently needed and countries should now make binding commitments.

“Initially, when there will be limited supply [of COVID-19 vaccines], it’s important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

11:00 GMT – Indonesia secures up to 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Indonesia has secured a supply of up to 60 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from China and the United Arab Emirates, officials said.

The supply is part of the 290 million vaccines that would be made available for Indonesia throughout 2021, President Joko Widodo said during a cabinet meeting.

During a Chinese state visit last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir secured the supply of 50 million doses of a vaccine candidate by China’s Sinovac, to be delivered between November and March next year.

The first 20 million doses are expected to be delivered by the end of this year.

10:40 GMT – Finland to tighten restrictions on public gatherings

Finland will tighten restrictions on public gatherings from September, limiting them to 50 people unless further measures are in place, due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, authorities said.

Having allowed up to 500 people to gather during August, the new limits will apply to both indoor and outdoor public meetings, the state administrative agency said.

Finland’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 5.2 on Friday, among the lowest rates in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

But the number of cases has been rising in recent weeks, with health authorities counting a total of 7,871 cases and 334 deaths by Friday.

09:50 GMT – Japan marks one year to go until postponed Paralympics

Japan marked one year to go until the opening ceremony of the coronavirus delayed Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The Olympic host city has been struggling with a resurgence of the coronavirus since early July.

The International Olympic Committee and local organisers decided in late March to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics to summer 2021 because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

09:00 GMT – France to reciprocate UK’s quarantine rule in coming days

French authorities will in coming days reciprocate the United Kingdom’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France, the junior minister for European affairs said.

The UK said on Friday British travellers to France are required to self-certify that they are not suffering from coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case within 14 days preceding travel.

France coronavirus
People stroll down Bordeaux’s main shopping street Sainte-Catherine, where wearing a mask is compulsory as of August 15, 2020, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 [Mehdi Fedouach/AFP]

Since August 15, British authorities have also required travellers returning from France to self-isolate upon their return due to high COVID-19 infection rates in France.

08:10 GMT – Xinjiang residents protest online against virus lockdown

Residents in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have complained on social media about the harsh coronavirus lockdown measures in the sensitive region after a local outbreak.

China – where the disease first emerged – had largely brought domestic transmission under control through lockdowns, travel restrictions and testing, but sporadic regional outbreaks have emerged.

A new cluster in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in mid-July prompted fresh restrictions.

A total of 902 cases have been officially reported in the outbreak.

Officials said earlier this month that they had “effectively contained” the spread of the Urumqi cluster, and there have been no new cases reported in the last eight days.

08:00 GMT – Tokyo’s new cases hit one-and-a-half-month low

Tokyo reported 95 new coronavirus cases, marking the lowest single-day tally since July 8, data from the metropolitan government showed.

The cases were confirmed from about 2,900 tests, with those under 40-year-old accounting for 60 percent of new cases.

Total serious cases in the Japanese capital declined by one from the previous day, to 38.

07:47 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus tally passes 960,000

Russia reported 4,744 new coronavirus cases, pushing its confirmed infection tally to 961,493, the fourth-largest in the world.

Authorities said 65 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 16,448.

06:45 GMT – More medical checks for Japan PM as health speculation grows

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had undergone more medical tests but declined to provide details.

Abe cut short his first term in office in part because of crippling health problems linked to ulcerative colitis, an ailment he said he had overcome when he returned to power in 2012.

Shinzo Abe
Abe says Japan will allow foreigners with residence status to enter the country from the start of next month [EPA] 

But in recent weeks, reports have suggested that the 65-year-old prime minister is ill again, with tabloids claiming he has been vomiting blood and even confidants publicly saying he needed rest.

Read more here

06:35 GMT – Russia may resume flights to seven more countries this week 

Russian authorities may this week announce the resumption of international flights to France, Hungary, Malta, Cyprus, Jordan, Egypt and China’s Shanghai, the Izvestia newspaper cited unnamed airport and airline sources as saying.

Russia grounded international commercial flights during the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year and has so far only resumed flights to London, Turkey, Tanzania and Switzerland.

Russia has confirmed the world’s fourth-largest tally of coronavirus cases. It has recorded close to 5,000 new cases of the virus on a daily basis for the last several weeks.

03:54 GMT – Nearly 1 in 5 refugees in Cox’s Bazar have lung disease: Report

Rohingya refugee camp
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar live in refugee camps in and around Cox’s Bazar [File: Damir Sagolj/Reuters]

In Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, nearly one in five people being treated for medical conditions have a form of lung disease, according to a new report, making them vulnerable to coronavirus as it spreads in the camp where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar live. 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said many of the refugees face other chronic health conditions, including malnutrition and diarrhoea, in one of the world’s most overcrowded camps.

Officially, there have only been 82 COVID-19 cases and six related deaths, but IFRC said concerns remain high that the figures may not tell the whole story.

03:20 GMT – Hundreds of Filipino teachers, students infected with COVID-19

The Philippine education department reported that at least 311 teachers and 268 students have been infected with the coronavirus.

In an announcement on social media, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua said that of the total cases, 318 remain active while 22 have died. It was unclear how many of the deaths were teaching staff or students.

The department has postponed the resumption of classes amid fears of the spread of COVID-19, which has infected almost 190,000 and close to 3,000 deaths.

02:48 GMT – Mexico posts lowest weekly coronavirus death toll in two months

Mexico has reported 226 more deaths from the coronavirus, finishing the week with 3,723 fatalities, the lowest total in over two months, according to government figures.

Earlier the government declared the novel coronavirus was in “sustained decline” in Mexico, although testing rates in the country remain low.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico’s coronavirus death toll stands at 60,480 – the third-highest in the world. There are more than 560,000 cases, more than 458,000 of whom are considered recovered.

02:13 GMT – US state of Iowa reports first child death from COVID-19

The US state of Iowa has confirmed the June death of a young child under the age of 15 due to complications from coronavirus, the first such confirmed death of a minor in the state.

The confirmation comes one day before dozens of school districts in the state prepared to begin the school year, leaving many educators and parents on edge.

The pandemic has already killed 1,036 people in Iowa. Nationwide, close to 177,000 have died in the US, with an estimated 5.7 million infections as of early Monday.

01:47 GMT – South Korea cases down, but nationwide pandemic alert still up

New coronavirus cases in South Korea slowed down slightly to 266 new cases, but the country remains on high alert nationwide.

Yonhap news agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying that 258 of the new cases were local transmission.

The country now has a total of 17,665 cases, with no new deaths, keeping the toll at 309.

01:20 GMT – China reports 16 imported coronavirus cases

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported on Monday 16 imported coronavirus cases in the mainland as of the end of Sunday, slightly up from 12 imported cases the previous day.

NHC also said that for the eighth consecutive day, there were no new local infections detected in the country, although 27 new people were said to be asymptomatic.

China has a total of 84,967, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

00:40 GMT – Seoul to make masks mandatory

South Korea
According to reports, there have been more than 2,600 cases in the past 10 days in South Korea, prompting the government to warn of a resurgence of COVID-19 [Ahn Young-joon/AP]

The use of masks while outdoors is now mandatory in Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

Seo Jeong-hyup, acting mayor of Seoul, issued the order hours after the country reported 397 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – the highest since early March.

According to reports, there have been more than 2,600 cases in the past 10 days. The country has reported almost 17,400 cases and 309 deaths.

00:05 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports lowest daily rise in infections in seven weeks

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria has reported 116 new cases of coronavirus, the lowest daily rise in seven weeks. 

State capital Melbourne has been under a strict lockdown and curfew since a new wave of the outbreak emerged a few weeks ago. Officials say 15 people died from the disease over the past 24 hours.

Australia now has more than 24,800 cases and 500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Melbourne, Australia
Australia now has more than 24,800 cases and 500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University [File: James Ross/EPA]

00:01 GMT – Pakistan’s Peshawar shuts hotels after employees test positive

Pakistani authorities have closed about two dozen hotels in a scenic tourist area in the country’s northwest after dozens of hotel employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

As many as 47 hotel employees who tested positive were quarantined at the hotels where they worked.

Pakistan has confirmed more than 275,000 infections and nearly 6,300 deaths since reporting its first case in February.

21:30 GMT (Sunday) – US FDA authorises plasma treatment for COVID-19

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat those battling the disease.

The FDA said early evidence suggests plasma can decrease mortality and improve patients’ health when given in the first three days of hospitalisation. 

You can read more on that story here.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For all the key developments from Sunday, August 23, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies