Hungary drafts ‘war plan’ as coronavirus cases surge : Live

Prime Minster Viktor Orban said aim of plan is to ‘defend Hungary’s functionality’ and not for everyone to stay home.

Budapest, Hungary
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Greece, France and Palestine have all reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases.
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged countries to find $15bn during the next three months to fund the ACT-Accelerator programme, a WHO-led global collaboration to hunt for a vaccine and treatments.
  • More than 27.9 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and more than 906,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some 18.8 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, September 11

22:55 GMT – Colombia nears 23,000 deaths linked to novel coronavirus

Colombia hit a sombre milestone today, as the country is reporting over 700,000 cases of the novel coronavirus – and nearly 23,000 deaths attributed to the virus.

The health ministry said it confirmed 702,088 cases since the pandemic began, and 22,518 deaths.

The country, which lifted an over five-month lockdown at the beginning of September, still has over 95,000 active cases of the virus. Health authorities say intensive care units in hospitals in Bogota, the capital, are running at about 62 percent capacity.

Colombia recently said it plans to enter into a looser quarantine phase and is considering allowing international flights to resume.

Six months into pandemic, weaknesses in governance exposed (3:40)

22:41 GMT – Brazil reports 874 new coronavirus deaths

Brazil’s health ministry is reporting 874 new deaths linked to the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours and 43,718 additional cases.

The country has now registered 130,396 deaths and over 4.2 million cases since the pandemic began.

Brazil is among the countries that have been hit hardest by the deadly virus.

20:30 GMT – Positive COVID-19 tests linked with restaurant dining

Among adults tested for the coronavirus at 11 US healthcare facilities in July, those who were infected were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant in the previous 14 days, a US study said.

Otherwise, activity levels were similar in people with or without COVID-19 in other respects such as shopping and social gatherings at home.

“Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” researchers said in the report in the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

20:00 GMT – Mexico nears 70,000 official COVID-19 deaths, but toll likely far higher

The confirmed coronavirus death toll in Mexico – a country among those most affected by the pandemic – is primed to hit 70,000 when official data is released on Friday.

Excess mortality data from mid-March through early August indicates that the total number of deaths beyond the official count is likely tens of thousands higher.

The spread of the virus has ravaged an already ailing economy, which is now seen contracting by up to 13 percent this year, the deepest recession since the 1930s-era Great Depression.

19:30 GMT – Greece hits 300 coronavirus deaths

Greece’s death toll from the novel coronavirus hit 300 on Friday, the state health agency said, as the total number of infections topped 12,700.

Over half of the country’s 12,734 infections since the pandemic began were recorded in August, mostly among Greeks.

The spike has been attributed to large gatherings in violation of social distancing rules.

18:55 GMT – Fauci disagrees with Trump on coronavirus, cites disturbing US statistics

Top government infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said he disagreed with President Donald Trump’s assessment the United States has “rounded the corner” on the coronavirus pandemic, saying the statistics are disturbing.

Fauci, the outspoken director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the US was starting the flu season with a high baseline of around 40,000 new cases a day and deaths are averaging around 1,000 daily.

Trump, who has admitted playing down the severity of the virus since it emerged early this presidential election year, said on Thursday he believed the US was “rounding the corner” on the crisis.

18:00 GMT – UAE daily coronavirus cases surge to near peak level

The United Arab Emirates health ministry has reported 931 new daily cases of the coronavirus following a recent surge in infections that are near the highest since the pandemic broke out.

Until last month, there had been a generally falling trend since the UAE’s new daily cases peaked at 994 in May, but numbers have surged from 164 cases on August 3.

The Gulf Arab state has recorded 77,842 infections and 398 deaths from COVID-19.

17:05 GMT – Norway plans for new virus wave as cases spike

Norwegian health authorities say the Scandinavian country must “plan for a new, national wave” of the coronavirus as Norway sees a spike in the number of cases.

“If it should come, it is more likely that it will happen in the autumn and winter when people gather to a greater extent indoors,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said in a report published Friday.

Norway has recorded 11,866 cases and 265 deaths.

16:30 GMT – Hungary drafts ‘war plan’ as cases surge in eastern Europe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the pandemic.

The plan’s aim was “not for everyone to stay at home and bring the country to a halt … but to defend Hungary’s functionality,” Orban said.

The prime minister said measures meant to protect the economy and spur growth would be introduced in the coming weeks. In the second quarter of the year, Hungary’s gross domestic product fell 13.6 percent, the worst drop in the region.

16:15 GMT – France seeing ‘clear worsening’ of COVID-19 outbreak

France is seeing an acceleration of the COVID-19 outbreak after a surge in infections but aims to avoid any new nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

There is a “clear worsening” in France of the spread of COVID-19 which has “not lowered in intensity” and “will still be with us for some months,” Castex said in a televised statement in Paris.

But he did not announce any major new restrictions, saying France’s aim is to “avoid a general lockdown” and succeed in living with the virus through social distancing, mask-wearing and ramped-up testing.

15:45 GMT – Armenia land borders to remain closed until January over virus

Armenia has announced its land borders would remain closed until January as the hard-hit Caucasus nation extended coronavirus restrictions.

Foreign nationals will not be able to cross Armenia’s land borders until January 11 and public gatherings of more than 60 people will also be banned into the new year.

The restrictions are being imposed to halt the “spread of the disease in Armenia” and protect public health, the government said.

15:15 GMT – Vatican-based Filipino cardinal tests positive for coronavirus

Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrate mass at a solidarity campaign against human rights abuses
Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrates mass at a solidarity campaign against human rights abuses, in Quezon City, Philippines [File: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has become the highest-ranking Vatican official known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Vatican said Tagle, 63, a Filipino who heads the Vatican’s missionary arm, had tested positive when he arrived in Manila on Thursday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Vatican health officials were checking people who had come into contact with Tagle in recent days. He did not say if this included the 83-year-old pope, who is believed to be tested regularly.

14:45 GMT – First European ‘travel bubble’ ends as coronavirus cases spike in Estonia

The first European pandemic “travel bubble”, created in May by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, was burst on Friday, as Latvia said it is mandating a 14-day quarantine on everyone arriving from Estonia.

Estonia has had 21 novel coronavirus infections per 100,000 population over the previous two weeks, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, passing the 16 threshold set by Latvia for mandatory quarantine.

14:20 GMT – Dutch register 1,270 new coronavirus cases as surge continues

Dutch health authorities have reported 1,270 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands, close to previous record highs set in early April.

Regional health authorities said on Wednesday the country’s testing capacity is stretched to its limits and the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in an update on Tuesday that cases had risen by 50 percent from the week before.

13:50 GMT – Brazilian state of Bahia plans to buy 50 million doses of Russia’s vaccine

The Brazilian state of Bahia has signed an agreement to conduct Phase III clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and plans to buy 50 million doses to market in Brazil, officials have said.

Russia will sell up to 50 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine to Bahia state, RDIF said in a statement.

Governor Rui Costa said an agreement was signed this week to undertake the trials and Bahia will receive an initial 500 doses as soon as Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approves the protocol for testing.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over from my colleague Umut Uras.

12:45 GMT – Thailand finds second virus infection after long absence

Thai health authorities confirmed another coronavirus infection had been detected in the country, in an Uzbek professional soccer player, eight days after the virus resurfaced following a more than three-month absence.

The man was positive after a mandatory pre-match test on Tuesday, despite having completed quarantine on August 27 after three prior negative tests, health officials told a news conference. The man, 29, arrived in Thailand on August 13.

Yong Poovorawan, a virology expert from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said the virus incubation period in the man would have been longer than 14 days and it was unlikely to have been domestically transmitted.

12:15 GMT – Switzerland reports 528 new coronavirus infections

Switzerland has reported 528 new cases of the coronavirus, the Federal Office of Public Health said, the highest daily rise in infections since early April.

The total number of confirmed cases has now reached 46,239, the office said, while the number of COVID-19 deaths has risen by three to 1,740.

Passengers wear protective masks aboard a train of Swiss railway operator SBB, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, at the Hauptbahnhof central station
Passengers wear protective masks on a train of Swiss operator SBB [File: Reuters]

11:40 GMT – One in 1,400 people in England have COVID-19, ONS estimates

The UK’s Office for National Statistics estimated that 39,700 people within England had COVID-19 during the Aug 30-Sept 5 week, equating to about one in 1,400 people.

The most recent modelled estimates suggest that the number of infections has increased in recent weeks. Estimates suggest that there were about 3,200 new cases per day in the community population of England during the week.

That is slightly higher than the current official levels of new cases being reported across the whole of the UK. The UK recorded 2,919 new daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 2,659 new cases on Wednesday.

11:00 GMT – Myanmar reports 115 new cases of coronavirus

Myanmar reported 115 new coronavirus cases, a day after imposing sweeping new lockdown measures in its battle on the second wave of infections.

The tally stands at 2,265 cases and 14 deaths after infections quadrupled over the last month, since the virus resurfaced in the western state of Rakhine, following weeks without a domestic case.

The health ministry announced 115 new cases in a Facebook post on Friday, following 142 reported on Thursday evening.

10:30 GMT – Finland to ease travel restrictions on Sweden

Finland will ease tight restrictions on entry as it tries to attract business travellers and tourists before winter, allowing arrivals from countries with higher rates of coronavirus infection including its neighbour Sweden.

Previously, Finland had barred arrivals from countries with more than 10 cases of coronavirus infection per 100,000 people, a threshold which excluded travellers from many European countries. The exclusion of Swedes was particularly disruptive, as the neighbours are close allies.

From September 19, the threshold for countries to gain unrestricted entry will rise to 25 cases per 100,000. Travellers from countries where the rate is higher will also be allowed in if they present a negative test result. They must then remain under self-quarantine, either for two weeks or until they produce a second negative test.

10:00 GMT – Malaysia reports 182 new virus cases

Malaysia reported 182 new coronavirus cases, the sharpest rise in more than three months with no new deaths, the health ministry said.

The new infections marked the biggest jump since June 4, when 277 cases and one death were reported.

Malaysia currently has 9,810 confirmed coronavirus infections, including 128 deaths.

Passengers wearing protective masks wait in line to board a bus at a bus station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur
Passengers wearing protective masks wait in line to board a bus at a bus station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

09:20 GMT – Austria expands face mask requirement as cases rise

Austria will tighten up on mask-wearing and social distancing at public events and in restaurants from Monday in response to the rise in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

Wearing of masks will be compulsory in shops, public transport and in schools outside classrooms from Monday, he said. Private events will be limited to 50 participants indoors and 100 outdoors, while professionally organised seated events could run to up to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.

The daily number of infections has been rising since late June and reached 644 on Thursday, the highest number since late March, when an initial spike in infections was fading under a national lockdown.

08:45 GMT – India reports global record daily jump of 96,551 cases

India reported another record daily jump of 96,551 coronavirus cases, which is also the highest global daily increase, taking its caseload to 4.5 million.

Deaths have remained relatively low, but are seeing an upward trend. As many as 1,209 people died from COVID-19, India’s health ministry said, taking total deaths to 76,271.

08:10 GMT – Russia reports 5,504 new cases, 102 deaths

Russia reported 5,504 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 1,051,874, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 102 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 18,365.

Russia's coronavirus cases rise to 687,862
Russia’s tally of coronavirus infections stands at 1,085,281, the world’s fourth-highest [File: Anadolu]

07:40 GMT – Hungary’s daily virus infections tally hits new record at 718

Hungary reported 718 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest daily tally to date, the government said.

The country has reported 10,909 coronavirus cases with 631 deaths so far.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said earlier in the day that Hungary would not impose blanket school closures, but would aim to protect the most vulnerable elderly as the goal was to keep the economy going.

07:10 GMT – Czech Republic reports 1,382 new cases, biggest daily rise

The Czech Republic reported 1,382 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day tally to date, extending a renewed spike in infections that has led authorities to impose tighter face-mask requirements.

The daily rise announced by the health ministry brought the total number of the central European country’s infections to 32,413.

The Czech government on Thursday ordered people to wear face masks inside buildings as the daily new case count topped 1,000 for the first time, but has so far opted to avoid bringing back other tough measures that would hurt businesses.

06:45 – Hungary will not impose blanket school closure to curb virus: PM

Hungary will not impose blanket school closures to curb the spread of the coronavirus but will aim to protect the most vulnerable elderly as the main goal is to keep the economy going, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on state radio.

Orban said that a mandatory wearing of masks on public transport must be enforced.

He also said the Visegrad states of the EU – Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland – will coordinate their measures to fight the second wave of the pandemic. Premiers of the four states will meet in Poland later in the day.

Victor Orban
Orban says that a mandatory wearing of masks on public transport will be enforced [File:Reuters]

05:45 GMT – Ukraine reports record daily high of 3,144 new cases

Ukraine registered a record 3,144 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the national security council said, up from a previous record of 2,836 registered on September 5.

The council said a total of 148,756 cases were registered in Ukraine as of September 11, with 3,076 deaths.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

05:06 GMT – India orders states to expand coronavirus testing

India’s health ministry has asked states to allow coronavirus testing on demand without a doctor’s prescription as the country logged another record jump in daily cases.

It also said some negative rapid antigen tests should be redone through the more reliable RT-PCR method, the gold standard of coronavirus tests that looks for the genetic code of the virus.

The retesting order applied to people who had negative results but had fever, coughing or breathlessness, or people who developed those COVID-19 symptoms within three days of their negative test results.

India has world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 cases (2:30)

04:31 GMT – Australia to host Rugby Championship in November-December

Australia will host the southern hemisphere’s four-nation Rugby Championship (TRC) from November 7 – December 12, the sport’s governing body SANZAAR said in a statement.

“Traditionally TRC is played as an international, cross-border series of home and away matches between Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but due to the pandemic this is obviously not possible this year,” SANZAAR Chief Executive Andy Marinos said.

“We have, therefore, worked very hard as a group to ensure TRC takes place this year, albeit in one country, and SANZAAR was meticulous in assessing the two options for hosting presented to it by New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia.”

INSIDE STORY | Is the coronavirus pandemic a chance to tackle climate change? (24:58)

03:58 GMT – China logs 15 new cases, all imported

Mainland China reported 15 new coronavirus cases at the end of Thursday, up from seven cases a day earlier.

The National Health Commission said in a statement all of the cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas, marking the 26th straight day of no local infections.

03:13 GMT – Kosovo battles outbreak of virus deniers

Kosovo’s government is letting in the media into previously sealed hospital wards to film the suffering of coronavirus patients after a new poll showed that a third of the population believe the pandemic is a pure hoax, the AFP news agency reported.

“Tell those outside who don’t believe what you saw here,” an exhausted elderly man, recovering at the infectious disease clinic after a two-week battle with the respiratory disease, told a local TV channel.

“Don’t joke with this. How can anyone believe a lie that the virus does not exist?” he implored.

Kosovo had its deadliest month yet in August with nearly 300 deaths – a toll higher than all the three prior months combined.

02:46 GMT – South Korea sees uptick in cases

South Korea posted 176 new coronavirus cases on Friday, a slight increase from the 156 and 155 cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Seoul is battling a fresh wave of infections that erupted at a church and drove the country’s daily tally to 441 in August.

The numbers have steadily dropped since the government imposed strict social distancing rules, but Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the consistent outbreaks are deepening concerns whether the government should extend or ease the curbs, including an unprecedented ban on nightly on-site dining in the greater Seoul area, due on Sunday.

“It would be right to lift the restrictions, considering the sacrifices the people are making, but we’re as much worried if any hasty easing would lead to a respread of the virus and cause even greater pain for the public,” Chung told a meeting.

Hyundai Heavy Industries employees wait in line to take tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a virus testing station in the southeastern port city of Ulsan on September 9, 2020 [Yonhap/ AFP]

02:13 GMT – Curfew to remain as Australia’s Victoria reports 43 new cases

Daniel Andrews, the premier of Australia’s Victoria, said a curfew imposed to contain the state’s coronavirus outbreak will remain in place as health officials reported 43 new cases and nine deaths in the last 24 hours.

“The curfew position at the moment will not be changing. Because it is working,” he told reporters, dismissing claims the lockdown violated human rights.

A flare-up in cases forced the Victoria government to put the state into a hard lockdown in early August. But it has helped to bring down the daily rise in infections to double digits in recent days after it touched highs of more than 700.

01:54 GMT – Myanmar suspends domestic flights

A domestic flight ban came into effect in Myanmar on Friday, with Myanmar National Airlines, Air KBZ, Air Thanlwin and other airlines announcing the suspension of their services, many for at least two weeks.

Some 21 Yangon townships were also under stay-at-home order after authorities recorded 120 new cases and two deaths on Thursday.

01:22 GMT – Dozens charged in US for stealing $70m in pandemic aid

Scammers have stolen $70m from a programme supporting US businesses hurt by the coronavirus downturn, leading to charges against 57 people including an NFL player, the Justice Department said.

Brian C Rabbitt, an acting assistant attorney general for the criminal division, told reporters the alleged fraudsters tried to get hold of more than $175m from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Of the $70m that was stolen, the government has recovered or frozen $30m.

“The amount of fraud that we’ve uncovered to date and that we’ve prosecuted to date is significant,” Rabbitt said. “Given what we’ve seen so far, we believe that there is an additional set of fraudulent activity out there that we intend to continue pursuing.”

00:53 GMT – Colombia to gradually reopen international flights

Maria Orozco, Colombia’s transport minister, said international flights to and out of the country will begin gradually, starting on September 21, following a six-month hiatus to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The health ministry is drawing up security protocols that include requiring travellers to take coronavirus tests and for their results to be negative, Orozco said.

The resumption of international flights will depend on destination countries, airport capacity and the interest of the airlines, she added.

00:29 GMT – Canada’s Quebec sets stricter mask rules

Quebec, Canada’s second-most-populous province, will fine anyone who does not wear a mask in an enclosed public space amid an uptick in new coronavirus cases.

“We cannot accept that a few irresponsible individuals are putting our entire society at risk. So, I think it’s time to crack down,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault told a news conference.

The new measures will come into effect on Saturday. The amounts are yet to be announced.

WHO COVID Debrief on mass gatherings (4:26)

00:11 GMT – Latin America passes 8 million cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections topped eight million in Latin America, the region with the most infections in the world, though there were indications the spread of the virus was slowing in some countries.

During the past week, the daily average of cases in the region fell to 67,173 through Wednesday from 80,512 in the previous seven days, according to a tally by the Reuters News Agency.

Brazil, suffering the worst outbreak in the region, stayed atop the Latin American tables for coronavirus cases and deaths, recording a total of 4.2 million infections and more than 128,000 deaths. Still, Brazilian officials noted a decrease in infections in recent days.

The average number of cases also fell slightly in Peru, Colombia and Mexico, the countries with the most infections after Brazil.

00:01 GMT – Brazil’s Bahia state to test Russia’s vaccine

The Brazilian state of Bahia signed an agreement to conduct phase-three clinical trials for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and plans to buy 50 million doses to market in Brazil, officials said.

Governor Rui Costa said a confidentiality agreement was signed on Tuesday to undertake the trials and Bahia will receive an initial 500 doses as soon as Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approves the protocol for testing.

If the trials that are expected to start in October are successful, Bahia will look to market the Russian vaccine in Brazil through its pharmaceutical research centre Bahiafarma, the state’s health secretary Fabio Vilas-Boas said in a statement.

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, September 10, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies