Belgium tops 100,000 cases; world nears 1m COVID-19 deaths: Live

Belgium logs sharp rise in cases; Australia sees lowest infections in three months; global death toll exceeds 957,000.

Cemetery workers bury 65-year-old Maria Joana Nascimento, whose family members, behind, suspect died of COVID-19, at Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Brazil is neari
Cemetery workers bury 65-year-old Maria Joana Nascimento, whose family members, in the background, suspect she died of COVID-19, on August 6 at Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is nearing three million cases of COVID-19 and 100,000 deaths (AP Photo/Andre Penner) [The Associated Press]
  • Australia reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – the lowest daily increase in new cases in three months as strict lockdown in Melbourne reduces infections sharply.
  • Brazil and Argentina have announced that they are joining a global alliance seeking to pool the purchase and distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Despite threats of heavy fines up to almost $1,300, more than a thousand people gathered in central London to protest, defying lockdown measures aimed at slowing the resurgence of COVID-19.

More than 30.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and almost 957,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 21 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, September 20

23:10 GMT – France reports 10,569 new coronavirus cases

France’s health ministry has reported 10,569 new coronavirus cases, as the country faces a resurgence, bringing the total number of infections to 453,763.

The number of new cases is slightly lower than the previous day’s record of 13,498.

At least 311 new deaths were also reported, bringing the death toll to 31,585, the ministry added.

20:15 GMT – London Mayor Khan urges swift action to halt COVID-19 spread

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants fast action to halt the worsening spread of COVID-19 in London, a spokeswoman for Khan said, adding that it was better to move too early than too late.

“The situation is clearly worsening,” the spokeswoman said, adding that Khan would meet council leaders on Monday and any London-specific lockdown measures would be recommended to ministers following that.

19:44 GMT – US CDC reports 198,754 deaths from coronavirus

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 6,748,935 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 42,561 cases from its previous count, and said the number of US deaths had risen by 655 to 198,754.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

19:15 GMT – Lebanon reports record 1,006 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours

Lebanon said it confirmed 1,006 new novel coronavirus cases and 11 deaths from related COVID-19 disease in 24 hours, in a new record for the crisis-hit country.

The figures from the health ministry brought Lebanon’s total tally since February to 29,303 COVID-19 cases, including 297 deaths.

One man’s journey to heal the scars of Beirut’s blast

Outgoing health minister Hamad Hassan told television channel Al Jadeed that he had called for authorities to impose a new two-week lockdown to combat the virus’s spread.

Cases have spiked in the aftermath of a massive explosion at the Beirut port on August 4 that killed more than 190 people and overwhelmed the capital’s health services with thousands of wounded.

18:55 GMT – Brazil: Cemetery monument commemorates COVID-19 victims

A three-tonne monument was dedicated at a cemetery where many of Rio de Janeiro’s COVID-19 victims have been buried.

The Infinity Memorial, a 39-metre (128-foot) long ribbon of undulating steel, was erected to pay tribute to those who died from coronavirus and to provide families with a symbol of their loss in one of the worst-affected cities in Brazil.

Brazil Cemetery monument
A memorial for COVID-19 victims called the Infinity Memorial stands at the Penitencia cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Silvia Izquierdo/AP]

Rio de Janeiro state reached more than 17,600 deaths and more than 250,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, second only to Sao Paulo state in Brazil.

The names of 4,000 of those who died will be inscribed on the structure.

17:15 GMT – France reports 10,569 new daily COVID-19 cases

French health authorities reported 10,569 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, down from the previous day’s record increase of 13,498.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections has risen to 31,585 from the 31,274 published on Saturday, the health ministry said.

The cumulative number of cases now stands at 453,763

15:40 GMT – Madrid braces for partial lockdown as virus surges

Nearly a million Madrid residents were bracing for a partial lockdown with several hundred marching in protest as Spanish authorities seek to put a brake on a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

The restrictions, which take effect Monday for two weeks, affect 850,000 people living mainly in densely-populated, low-income neighbourhoods in the south – or 13 percent of the 6.6 million people living in and around Spain’s capital.

Madrid braces for partial lockdown

Like many countries in Europe, Spain is battling a coronavirus surge and, once again, Madrid is the worst-hit region.

Several districts of southern Madrid have counted more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – around five times the national average, which in itself is the highest in the European Union.

15:10 GMT – US sets record with over one million coronavirus tests in a day

The United States set a one-day record with over one million coronavirus diagnostic tests being performed, but the country needs 6 million to 10 million a day to bring outbreaks under control, according to various experts.

The country performed 1,061,411 tests on Sunday, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The record comes after testing has fallen for several weeks.

The US tested on average 650,000 people a day in the week ended September 13, down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day.

14:14 GMT – Coronavirus found on imported squid packaging in China

Authorities in China’s northeastern Jilin Province have found the novel coronavirus on the packaging of imported squid, health authorities in the city of Fuyu said, urging anyone who may have bought it to get themselves tested.

One of the packages had arrived in the city via the provincial capital Changchun, Fuyu city’s health office said on its official WeChat account.

Chronicles of a Pandemic | People and Power

It asked people who had bought and eaten imported squid at the local Sanjia Deda frozen seafood wholesale shop between August 24 and August 31 to report to neighbourhood authorities and seek a COVID-19 test.

The Changchun COVID-19 prevention office said the squid had been imported from Russia by a company in Hunchun city and brought to the provincial capital.

Chinese customs said on Friday that they would suspend imports from companies for a week if frozen food products tested positive for coronavirus and for a month if a supplier’s products tested positive for a third time or more.

12:07 GMT – Czech government could declare state of emergency, says minister

The Czech government could declare a state of emergency if a recent spike in coronavirus cases continues in the coming days, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said.

“Should we need to have some deeper measures [against the epidemic], then the emergency state will be necessary,” Vojtech said in a televised debate.

Czech blog entry
The Czech Republic has been facing the second wave of infections of COVID-19 [Petr David Josek/AP]

The government should debate this step on Monday, Vojtech said, added that he would not yet propose the declaration of a state of emergency.

“We have not seen an escalation. The ‘R’ [reproduction] number is around 1.6. We will have to assess it based on weekdays when more tests are done,” he said.

The ‘R’ number measures how many people are likely to get infected by one person who carries the virus.

11:48 GMT – UK imposes up to $13,000 fine for breaking COVID-19 rules

People in the United Kingdom who refuse to self-isolate to stop the spread of the coronavirus could face fines of up to 10,000 British pounds ($13,000) under tough new regulations to tackle a surge in cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that from September 28, people in the UK will be legally obliged to self-isolate if they test positive or are told to by the National Health Service tracing programme. 

11:45 GMT – Belgium cases surpass 100,000 following sharp increase

Belgium passed the 100,000 milestone of infections following a sharp increase in cases in recent weeks, according to figures from the research institute Sciensano.

Belgium blog entry
Medical workers, wearing protective gear, wait for passengers to take nose swab samples to be tested for COVID-19 in a test centre at Zaventem international airport in Brussels [Francisco Seco/AP]

The trend accelerated markedly in the first half of September, reaching an average of 1,000 new daily infections during the week of September 9 to 15, according to the data.     

09:59 GMT – Tunisia, Bahrain, report new cases and deaths

Health authorities in Tunisia and Bahrain reported additional coronavirus fatalities.

The Tunisian Health Ministry said 17 people had died from COVID-19, taking the country’s death toll to 155.

Tunisia blog entry

The virus infected 625 people over the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 9,736, while recoveries rose to 2,386, the ministry statement said in a statement.

In Bahrain, the health ministry said the nationwide death toll rose to 221 after five people died from the virus, while 2,856 new infections were registered, taking the total count to 64,499. The country reported 57,299 recoveries.

08:40 GMT – UK health minister: Second national lockdown possible

United Kingdom Health Minister Matt Hancock said a second national lockdown was one possible step to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but it was not what he wanted to happen.

“If everybody follows the rules then we can avoid further national lockdowns, but we, of course, have to be prepared to take action if that’s what’s necessary,” Hancock told the BBC.

“I don’t rule it out, [but] I don’t want to see it,” he said.

08:30 GMT – Indonesia reports 3,989 new infections, 105 deaths 

Indonesia reported 3,989 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 244,676, data from the country’s health ministry showed.

The data added 105 new deaths, taking the total to 9,553, the biggest death toll in Southeast Asia. 

Jakarta To Reimpose Restrictions As Coronavirus Cases Rise
Indonesian medical workers help at a drive-through COVID-19 testing operation in front of a hospital in Jakarta [Ed Wray/Getty Images]

08:25 GMT – South Korea keeps social-distancing curbs ahead of major national holiday

South Korea extended level-two social distancing for a week until September 27, which limits indoor gatherings to below 50 people and outdoor ones to less than 100, and may tighten limits for the Chuseok holiday, when people traditionally reunite with families.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the level-two restrictions need to be kept ahead of Chuseok as “cases with untraceable origins are steadily increasing and fewer tests being carried out on weekends means we should be on high alert”.

Social-distancing policies for the September 30-October 2 holiday will be announced in the coming days.

South Korea reported 82 new cases as of midnight Saturday, the lowest daily infections since mid-August, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

07:22 GMT – Czech republic’s daily count of new cases drops to 2,046

The Czech Republic’s daily count of new coronavirus cases dropped to 2,046 on Saturday – still a record number for a weekend day when fewer tests are done, data from the Health Ministry showed.

The overall count of confirmed cases rose to 48,306 in the country of 10.7 million people.

The Czechs have been reporting new cases of the infection at one of Europe’s fastest paces in recent weeks and the authorities have returned to some of the measures used in spring when the pandemic first reached the country. 

07:19 GMT – Indonesia halts exports from seafood producer after virus tests

Indonesia has suspended exports from Indonesian seafood company PT Putri Indah into China after its frozen fish products tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s fisheries ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that an investigation was under way and that the suspension would only apply to PT Putri Indah “whereas the others can still do export activities as usual”.

The virus was detected on the outermost side of the package, not on the fish, the ministry said.

The seven-day suspension began on Friday, it said.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.

05:45 GMT – WHO endorses protocol for virus herbal medicine trials

The World Health Organization has endorsed a protocol for testing African herbal medicines as potential treatments for the coronavirus and other epidemics.

WHO experts and colleagues from two other organisations “endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for Covid-19 as well as a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials,” a statement said, according to an AFP new agency report.

“Phase III clinical trials are pivotal in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product,” it noted.

05:14 GMT – India’s coronavirus infections surge to 5.4 million

Coronavirus - India
India reported at least 1,113 new deaths on Sunday, taking the country’s death toll to 86,752 [Harish Tyagi/EPA]

India’s federal health ministry reported 92,605 new infections in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of cases to 5.4 million – second only to the United States.

India also reported 1,113 new deaths, taking the death toll to 86,752 – or about 1.6 percent of all cases.

04:34 GMT – Italy reports 1,638 COVID-19 cases

The Italian health ministry reported another 1,638 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of cases to more 297,000.

The government also added 24 deaths with the total toll rising to 35,692 – the second highest in Europe next to the United Kingdom.

04:10 GMT – Greece reports 240 coronavirus cases, four deaths

Greek authorities have announced 240 coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases to 14,978. 

Greece also reported four deaths, raising the death toll to 331.

03:38 GMT – Australia reports lowest COVID-19 cases in three months

Australia looked set to record its lowest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in three months on Sunday as a hard lockdown in the city of Melbourne brought cases in the country’s virus epicentre down sharply.

Victoria – the second-most-populous state, of which Melbourne is the capital – reported 14 new infections in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, down from 21 new cases the day prior and its lowest since June 19, according to Reuters news agency.

That put Victoria, which has spent months under lockdown to slow a second wave of infections, on track to meet a target of keeping average daily increases below 50 by September 28, when the authorities have said they may lift restrictions.

03:20 GMT – Germany’s reports 1,345 new coronavirus cases

Germany’s agency for infectious diseases has reported at least 1,345 new coronavirus cases, raising the country’s total to 271,415.

The Robert Koch Institute also reported two new deaths, with a total death toll of 9,386.

02:29 GMT – Brazil reports 33,057 new COVID-19 cases, 739 deaths

Brazil’s health ministry has recorded 33,057 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to more than 4.5 million. 

Brazil also reported 739 additional deaths for a total death toll of more than 136,000 – the second-highest in the world next only to the United States.

02:18 GMT – China reports 10 new COVID-19 cases

China’s National Health Commission has reported 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases to almost 85,300.

All new cases were imported. At least 21 cases were also reported as “asymptomatic”.

No new deaths were reported, keeping the death toll at 4,634.

Coronavirus cases - China
All new cases reported in China on Sunday were imported, although the origin of the other 21 asymptomatic cases was unclear [Alex Plavevski/EPA]

01:40 GMT – Mexico reports 5,167 new coronavirus cases, 455 new deaths

Mexico’s health ministry has reported at least 5,167 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 694,121 cases.

At least 455 new deaths were also reported pushing the death toll to 73,258. Earlier, the government has reported an estimated 120,000 “excess deaths”.

01:10 GMT – South Korea reports lowest daily infections in almost 40 days

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 82 new coronavirus cases – the lowest daily infections since mid-August.

Of the new cases reported, at least 72 were local transmission. The country has a total of 22,975 infections with 383 deaths.

00:35 GMT – Brazil, Argentina join COVID-19 vaccine alliance

Brazil and Argentina have announced that they are joining a global alliance seeking to pool COVID-19 vaccines, after missing an earlier deadline.

Peru said it signed a deal giving the country access to 12 million doses of coronavirus vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), a scheme for pooled purchase and distribution of future vaccines.

Argentina asked for more time to prepare the required paperwork, but it expects on Wednesday to sign its commitment to the vaccine mechanism led by the World Health Organization (WHO), a health ministry official told Reuters news agency.

The Brazilian government said in a statement late on Friday that it will sign up for COVAX after negotiations with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is the COVAX secretariat.

00:05 GMT – Italy to allow fans at football games from Sunday

Beginning on Sunday, Italian football arenas will open their doors to a limited number of spectators, as the country managed to avoid a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora announced that up to a thousand supporters will be able to attend Serie A soccer matches nationwide, after the regional governments, the sports departments and football clubs reached an agreement.

00:01 GMT – France’s economy minister tests positive of COVID-19

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has announced that he has contracted the coronavirus – this as the country’s number of infections is surging anew with nearly 13,500 new infections in 24 hours.

Le Maire said that he has so far not shown any symptoms but is under quarantine due to the disease. He is the fourth French minister to test positive of COVID-19.

France has over 467,000 cases and more than 31,200 deaths.


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 yesterday, September 19, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies