South Africa coronavirus deaths cross 10,000: Live updates

Paris mandates masks in some areas; Ireland reports highest number of cases since May; Gaza children return to school.

South Africa - coronavirus
  • Authorities in the French capital will impose the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors in busy areas from Monday amid a rise in coronavirus cases. 

  • The total number of United States coronavirus deaths surged past 160,000 with more than 4.9 million confirmed infections across the country.

  • More than two million people have now been confirmed infected in India, which is the third-worst hit country by COVID-19. 
  • At least 19.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while the global death toll crossed 719,000. Nearly 11.7 million have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, August 8

23:02 GMT – Trump signs coronavirus relief orders after talks with Congress fail

US President Donald Trump has signed executive orders partly restoring enhanced unemployment payments to the tens of millions of Americans who lost jobs in the coronavirus pandemic, as the United States hit almost five million COVID-19 cases, according Reuters news agency.

Negotiations broke down this week between the White House and top Democrats in Congress over how best to help Americans cope with the heavy human and economic toll of the crisis, which has killed more than 160,000 people across the country.

Trump said the orders would provide an extra $400 per week in unemployment payments, less than the $600 per week passed earlier in the crisis. Some of the measures were likely to face legal challenges, as the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over federal spending.

“This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them an incentive to go back to work,” the Republican president said of the lower payments. He said 25 percent of it would be paid by states, whose budgets have been hard hit by the crisis.

20:40 GMT – South Africa coronavirus deaths top 10,000

More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in South Africa since the pandemic arrived in the country in March, the health ministry said.  

The continent’s most industrialised economy has registered 553,188 infections, more than half of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest number of COVID-19 cases  in the world.    

Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update statement that 301 new virus-related deaths had been recorded.

“This means we have breached the 10,000 mark, with 10,210 cumulative deaths now recorded,” he said.

20:10 GMT – Thousands protest against Netanyahu over COVID-19 response, corruption allegations 

Thousands of Israelis rallied outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem as anger mounted over corruption allegations and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“Your time is up”, read the giant letters projected on to a building at the protest site, as demonstrators waved Israeli flags and called on Netanyahu to resign over what they say is his failure to protect jobs and businesses affected by the pandemic.

The protest movement has intensified in recent weeks, with critics accusing Netanyahu of being distracted by a corruption case against him. He denies wrongdoing.

Netanyahu, who was sworn in for a fifth term in May after a closely fought election, has accused the protesters of trampling democracy and the Israeli media of encouraging dissent.

Papua New Guinea sounds alarm with WHO as coronavirus cases surge (2:13)

18:35 GMT – Paris prefecture says face mask order to be in place for 1 month 

Face masks must be worn outdoors in Paris along the banks of the River Seine and along the Canal St Martin as well as in open-air markets and other places where social distancing is difficult, the Paris prefecture.

Masks will be mandatory from 0600 GMT on Monday and the order will remain in place for one month, the prefecture said.

17:05 GMT – Ireland reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases since early May  

Ireland has reported 174 new cases of COVID-19, by far the highest number of infections since May and up from 98 on Friday and an average of 58 cases per day for the past week.

Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said 118 of the new cases were linked to the three counties – Kildare, Laois and Offaly – where some restrictions on movement were reintroduced on Friday following a surge in cases there.

“While today’s numbers of confirmed cases are high, they are not unexpected,” Glynn said. “Our priority now … is to avoid these cases and clusters leading to widespread community transmission of the disease.”

Ireland coronavirus
Authorities in Ireland have recorded more than 26,000 infections since the pandemic’s outbreak in March [File: Paul Faith/AFP]

16:35 GMT – Pakistan announces resumption of international travel 

Pakistan has announced that it will allow the full resumption of all types of international flights to and from the country’s airports from Sunday amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections.

The announcement comes weeks after Pakistan partially reopened its airports for domestic and international commercial flights.

A complete ban on domestic and international commercial flights was imposed in March when Pakistan enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Later, the restrictions were gradually eased and Pakistan witnessed a peak in virus deaths and infections in June.

Pakistan on Saturday reported only 14 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,068.

16:20 GMT – Italy reports 347 new coronavirus cases 

Italy has reported 347 new coronavirus infections, a day after it surpassed the 500-case barrier for the first time since late May.

Italy had 552 confirmed cases on Friday. With Saturday’s update from the health ministry, Italy’s daily caseload returns to the 200-300 range of new infections it has maintained for several weeks. 

Government officials have urged Italians to keep their guard up, given Spain, France and Germany have seen daily infections top the 1,000-mark recently after the easing of virus lockdown measures.

Italian officials have blamed the new clusters largely on newly arrived migrants and Italians returning home from vacation outside their home regions. Another 13 people died in the last day, making Italy’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll 35,203 – the sixth highest in the world.

16:00 GMT – Masks compulsory in parts of Paris from Monday 

Wearing a mask will be compulsory in parts of Paris and its wider region from Monday to combat a rise in coronavirus infections in and around the French capital, police have said.    

The mask will be obligatory for all those aged 11 and over from 8am (06:00 GMT) on Monday “in certain very crowded zones”, the police said in a statement on Saturday, without yet detailing which areas were affected.

“All the indicators show that since mid-July the virus is again circulating more actively in the region,” the police said, adding that some 400 people were testing positive for COVID-19 in the region every day, with the 20-30 age group particularly affected.

15:20 GMT – Gaza children return to school despite virus fears    

Hundreds of thousands of children have returned to school in Gaza after a five-month suspension aimed at reining in the spread of the novel coronavirus in the crowded Palestinian territory.    

Ziyad Thabit, undersecretary of the education ministry in the Hamas-ruled enclave, said pupils would follow a remedial curriculum throughout August and classes would be limited to four a day.     

The United Nations agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, which provides education to hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza, said more than 285,000 pupils had returned to its 277 schools.

In a statement, it said it has “put in place preventative measures such as providing all the necessary materials to sanitise schools” and training staff on how to use sanitation materials effectively.

It said it would cancel morning assemblies and keep children in classrooms during breaks to avoid too many pupils gathering in one place at a time.

Gazan students back to school after COVID 19 break
UNRWA said over 285,000 pupils returned to classes across the 277 schools it runs [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu]

15:15 GMT – President Kenyatta says Kenya ready to welcome tourists again 

President Uhuru Kenyatta encouraged tourists to return to Kenya, saying the country was safe and open for business even with coronavirus cases having tripled in the past month.

Kenyatta said the country was ready to receive domestic and foreign visitors, and that he was satisfied with measures taken by the tourism sector to protect travellers from COVID-19.

“I want to take this opportunity to encourage every single Kenyan to take advantage and to travel … You can travel, you can move,” Kenyatta said in a statement issued by his office.

“And now as you know, we have also opened up our skies and flights are coming. We welcome all those who choose to come.”

Kenya recorded 699 new infections on Saturday, taking the country’s overall tally to 25,837 – roughly three times the number of a month ago. It has recorded 418 deaths from the disease, government figures show.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nairobi
Kenya recorded 699 new infections on Saturday, taking the country’s overall tally to 25,837 – roughly three times the number of a month ago [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

14:45 GMT – Algeria eases coronavirus restrictions, including travel curbs and curfew 

Algeria has announced it will further ease its coronavirus lockdown, including shortening an overnight curfew, lifting some travel curbs and allowing large mosques to reopen.

The North African country has recorded 34,155 coronavirus infections with 1,282 deaths. In June, it resumed some economic activity, mainly in the construction and public works sectors, and allowed the reopening of some businesses.

The new measures include lifting a travel ban on 29 provinces from August 9 until the end of the month. During that period, a curfew will be shortened and will run from 11pm to 6am from the current 8pm to 5am, the government said.

Mosques with a capacity of more than 1,000 worshippers can reopen from August 15, though weekly prayers on Fridays, which are usually attended by larger numbers of people, will remain banned throughout the country.

Algeria coronavirus
Algeria has so far recorded more than 34,000 coronavirus cases including 1,282 deaths [Ryad Kramdi/AFP]

14:30 GMT – UK medics protest, demand pay raise after pandemic struggle 

Hundreds of healthcare workers have rallied in cities across Britain, demanding the government acknowledge their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic with a hefty pay increase.

In London, demonstrators – most wearing masks and observing social distancing – marched to the gates of Downing Street, home to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chanting, “Boris Johnson, hear us shout. Pay us properly or get out.”

Medics have been hailed as heroes during the pandemic by the government and public. But some say a decade of public spending cuts by Johnson and previous Conservative prime ministers left the state-funded National Health Service struggling to cope.

Nurses and other frontline NHS workers stage a protest in London
Demonstrators hold placards that read ‘Fight for NHS, pay rise now’ [Kate Green/Anadolu]

14:10 GMT – Britain makes wearing of face masks mandatory 

People in Britain must wear masks in most indoor settings starting from Saturday as the country tries to squash a rise in coronavirus infections that has followed the easing of lockdown measures.

England and Scotland now require face-coverings in most indoor spaces, including places of worship, museums, cinemas, banks and libraries. They were already mandatory in shops and on public transport.

A swath of northern England has been put under tougher restrictions that bar households from mixing, after a surge in infections that authorities blame partly on people meeting up in homes and pubs. Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,500, the highest in Europe.

Venezuela: Breaking lockdown rules punished (2:47)

13:35 GMT – Germany adds parts of Bulgaria, Romania to virus-risk list    

Germany has added parts several areas of Bulgaria and Romania to a list of places considered high risk for coronavirus infections, requiring compulsory tests for travellers returning from those places from Saturday. 

In its latest travel warning update, the foreign ministry put Bulgaria’s Blagoevgrad, Dobrich and Black Sea tourist hotspot Varna on its list of places where infections were rising rapidly. 

Seven places in Romania – Arges, Bihor, Buzau, Neamt, Ialomita, Mehedinti and Timis – were also added.

This means that travellers entering Germany after visiting these sites must take a coronavirus test on arrival unless they can produce a test taken in the previous 48 hours.

Germany uses the yardstick of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents in the past seven days to determine if a country or region should go on its high-risk list. It recently added three regions in Spain to the list in a blow to the fellow EU member state. 

Virus damage to UK economy: Bank warns of decline in 100 years (2:32)

11:48 GMT – Ukraine closes checkpoints at Crimean border to control coronavirus

Ukraine’s government said it has temporarily closed its border with Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

All three crossing points between the mainland and Crimea, which is defined by Ukraine as an occupied territory, will be closed from August 9 to August 30, a government statement said.

Only Crimean residents with Ukrainian citizenship will be allowed to enter Ukraine.

Ukrainians who permanently live on the mainland will be able to return home during the three-week closure.

Ukraine has registered a steady daily increase in new coronavirus infections since the end of July. The number of confirmed cases rose by 1,489 in the last 24 hours.

The total number of cases is at 79,750, including 1,879 deaths.

11:19 GMT – At least 17 participants of Afghan grand assembly positive for coronavirus

At least 17 participants of a major Afghan grand assembly have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said, a day after the high-profile gathering began in Kabul to deliberate over the fate of Taliban prisoners and the beginning of the peace process in the war-torn country.

After being called by the Afghan government, the gathering, known as the loya jirga, began on Friday with more than 3,600 participants amid tight security and the COVID-19 pandemic to debate whether Taliban prisoners should be freed, removing a major obstacle in the peace talks.


It was not immediately clear if the testing was done before or after the assembly began, but there is a fear the infection could have spread given the size of the gathering, which took place under a tent.

Afghanistan has officially recorded 37,015 cases of the virus and 1,307 COVID-19 deaths, but officials said this week at least 10 million people may have been infected.

09:57 GMT – Children walk back to school in Gaza after five-month shutdown

Hundreds of thousands of children walked through the streets of the Gaza Strip to return to classes after five months of shutdown – though authorities said they were ready to close schools again if coronavirus cases spike.

Gaza, mostly cut off from the world by an Israeli-led blockade, has not recorded any COVID-19 cases in the towns and refugee camps where about two million Palestinians live.

Health workers will sanitise Gaza’s 751 schools twice a day, officials said. Children do not have to wear masks but must bring their own lunch and outdoor breaks are banned.

About 40km (25 miles) away in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has reported a spike in COVID-19 cases, high school classes began this week but elementary schools remain closed.

West Bank health officials have reported 94 deaths and 13,600 cases, most of them in the last two months.

08:43 GMT – Poland reports 843 new coronavirus cases

Poland has reported 843 new coronavirus cases, according to the health ministry’s Twitter account, the seventh daily record in two weeks.

Poland reported 51,167 cases of the new coronavirus in all, and 1,800 deaths.

07:14 GMT – Australia’s Victoria state reports 450 new coronavirus cases

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria on Friday reported 11 coronavirus-related deaths and 450 new infections in the last 24 hours, compared with eight fatalities and 471 cases a day earlier.

The state began a six-week total lockdown on Thursday, closing down shops and businesses to contain a second wave of infections requiring its five million residents to stay home.

Victoria reported its deadliest day of the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday with 15 deaths and a record daily rise of 725 cases.

06:29 GMT – Four US deaths tied to methanol-based hand sanitisers

Alcohol-based hand-sanitisers can help stop the coronavirus from spreading, but drinking the products turned out to be deadly for four people in two states.

Health officials reported this week that 15 adults were poisoned in Arizona and New Mexico in May and June after drinking hand-sanitiser.

Besides the four who died, three had continuing vision problems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

All had consumed sanitisers containing methanol, or wood alcohol. The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitisers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, which is used in antifreeze.

05:25 GMT – New Zealand’s Ardern launches ‘COVID election’ campaign

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kicked off her re-election campaign, pledging a 311 million New Zealand-dollar ($205m) rescue package for businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown. 

She told her supporters in Auckland that the measure was aimed at securing the jobs of 40,000 people employed by companies that had suffered serious financial losses as a result of the pandemic.

“When people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is,” Ardern said. 

Read more here.

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern attends the launch of the Labour Party’s election campaign in Auckland on August 8, 2020 [Michael Bradley/ AFP]

04:55 GMT – India reports 933 deaths

India has recorded 933 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours as fresh infections surged by another 61,537 cases to reach nearly 2.1 million.

The Health Ministry said the number of total deaths stood at 42,518, including more than 20,000 in the past 30 days. An average of about 50,000 new cases has been reported each day since mid-June.

The ministry asked state authorities to test grocery shop workers and street vendors, saying that if undetected they could potentially spread infection to a large number of people.

India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the US and Brazil.

03:32 GMT – Australia’s Victoria records 466 cases, 12 deaths

The Australian state of Victoria has reported 466 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths, including another man in his 30s. 

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said six of the deaths were connected to outbreaks at aged care facilities. The figures were released as the city of Melbourne remained in lockdown and under an overnight curfew.

On Friday, Victoria reported 450 new cases and 11 deaths. That was down from a record 725 infections reported a week earlier.

Protective services officers speak to a woman at the Southern Cross Station in Melbourne on August 7, 2020, as the city goes into a strict new lockdown [William West/AFP]

03:20 GMT – New Zealand accepts ICC decision to postpone Cricket World Cup

New Zealand says it could have probably hosted the women’s Cricket World Cup next year but supports the decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to postpone the event for a year.

The ICC announced its decision on Friday to shift the 50-over tournament until February 2022 because of the uncertainty around COVID-19. One of the concerns was the fact that no teams had played since March and time was running out to hold a qualifying tournament to find the final three sides.

“This is obviously a disappointing decision for cricket players and fans around the world,” New Zealand Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.

“The organising committee in New Zealand has been working with the government to ensure a safe and enjoyable tournament could be played. We could have done it in 2021, but now we will look to 2022. As a government we have reiterated our commitment to supporting the tournament.”

02:19 GMT – El Salvador court rebukes president’s decree to reopen economy

The constitutional chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Court of Justice has declared that an executive decree to establish protocols for the gradual reopening of the economy was unconstitutional.

The court said President Nayib Bukele’s decree outlining a stage-by-stage reopening “contradict[s] constitutional parameters established” earlier to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

“In every country in the world, governments are ordering reopening, gradually, to control the pandemic,” Bukele said on Twitter. “In El Salvador, today that is also unconstitutional.”

02:00 GMT – Mexico’s president defends virus record

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the president of Mexico, has defended his government’s record fighting the coronavirus and ruled out a change in strategy after the official death toll surged past 50,000.

The Latin American nation of 128 million recently overtook the United Kingdom to become the third hardest-hit country in terms of total virus deaths, after Brazil and the United States.

But Lopez Obrador said in terms of deaths relative to population size, “we have not been so hard hit”, and on that basis, Mexico ranks fifth in the Americas, behind the US, Brazil, Chile and Peru.

“And if we compare ourselves with Europe, there are more deaths in Spain, France and England than in Mexico,” he said.

01:41 GMT – Rare syndrome linked to COVID-19 found in nearly 600 US children

Nearly 600 children have been admitted to US hospitals with a rare inflammatory syndrome associated with the novel coronavirus over four months during the peak of the pandemic, the CDC said in a report.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but severe condition that shares symptoms with toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.

It has been reported in children and adolescent patients about two to four weeks after the onset of COVID-19. The CDC report said state health departments across the country reported a total of 570 MIS-C patients diagnosed with the illness from March 2 to July 18.

Among the MIS-C cases, all patients tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 died, the CDC said in the report.

00:45 GMT – Mexico warns of ‘prolonged pandemic’ as cases rise

Mexico has posted 6,717 newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, increasing the country’s accumulated total to 469,407.

Officials also said the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths rose by 794 to a total of 51,311.

Hopes for a significant decline in cases have been frustrated by continued high infection rates, with Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell warning that “this is going to be a prolonged pandemic”.

Mexico’s Oaxaca state bans sale of junk food to children (2:15)

00:13 GMT – Italian cabinet approves $29bn stimulus package

Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte’s cabinet has approved a stimulus package totalling 25 billion euros ($29bn) to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus crisis.

The plan, which has to be approved by parliament, allows for greater tax benefits for Italy’s southern regions – and calls for cruise liners to resume sailing from August 15 and for trade fairs to take place from September.

It also extends emergency monthly payments to vulnerable families ranging from 400 to 800 euros ($472 to $943) as well as a sum of 500 million euros ($589m) allotted for overtime payments to stretched health workers.

“We are protecting jobs, we are supporting workers, we are reducing the tax burden, we are helping the regions,” Conte told reporters.

He also said social distancing and face masks would be mandatory until September 7, adding: “These are the minimum rules.”

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 7, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies