Africa now has more than 751,000 cases, 15,721 deaths and 407,461 recoveries.
Worrying trends of coronavirus infection are emerging in southern Europe and in the Balkan region, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, has said. “We’re not out of the woods just yet in the European environment. It requires sustained vigilance,” he added.
Almost a quarter of people in New Delhi have had the coronavirus, according to a study that cast serious doubt on the official numbers both in the megacity and across India.
- More than 14.9 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, nearly 8.5 million have recovered, and nearly 616,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the updates:
Wednesday, July 22
16:05 GMT – Two Rugby players positive in latest Premiership COVID-19 tests
The English Premiership said two players returned a positive result in its latest round of COVID-19 tests conducted on 896 players and club staff this week.
“The players who have tested positive and their close contacts will now isolate and be assessed in line with the PHE (Public Health England)-agreed guidelines,” the Premiership said in a statement.
“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided.”
15:45 GMT – Spain hopes to keep French border open as regions tighten health measures
Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.
With the pandemic wreaking havoc on Spain’s tourism industry, which accounts for about 12 percent of economic output, Madrid has voiced concern after French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Sunday did not rule out closing the border.
But Maroto told an event organised by Europa Press news agency she was optimstic after data showed infections in Catalonia had fallen over the past three days.
“Let’s hope that with this better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.”
15:05 GMT – South African restaurants plead for end to ‘job-killing’ restrictions
Thousands of South African restaurant and bar owners placed tables and chairs on the streets outside their premises in a nationwide protest against lockdown restrictions that prevent them from selling alcohol or trading after 9pm.
The nation’s hospitality sector is one of the hardest-hit by government restrictions imposed at the end of March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
At the end of June, restaurants were allowed to offer sit-down services again, but at limited capacity and without serving alcohol.
14:30 GMT – Virus claims more lives in Saudi Arabia, Qatar
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said 44 people died and 2,313 others contracted the disease over the past 24 hours.
Wednesday’s tally pushed the total cases to 258,156, including 2,601 fatalities, and 210,298 recoveries.
In Qatar, the health ministry said the virus claimed three more lives and infected 441 people, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 107,871, including 163 fatalities, and 104,641 recoveries.
14:00 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro tests positive for the novel coronavirus again
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has had another positive result for the novel coronavirus in the third test he has taken since falling ill on July 7, a secretariat of the communications ministry said.
“The test carried out on the president yesterday, on the 21st, showed a positive result,” a statement said.
“President Bolsonaro is still in good condition, accompanied by the presidency’s medical team,” it added.
13:30 GMT – DR Congo ends virus health emergency, borders to reopen
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools and borders.
He said that from Wednesday all shops, banks, restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen, public transport could resume and large gatherings would be permitted.
Schools and universities can reopen on August 3, and airports, ports, borders and places of worship on August 15.
The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.
12:30 GMT – US to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95bn for millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses
Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will get $1.95bn from the US government to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the companies have said.
The agreement allows the United States government to acquire an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense said.
The Trump administration has agreed to spend billions of dollars on the development and procurement of a potential vaccine.
11:45 GMT – Switzerland expands COVID-19 quarantine watchlist
Switzerland has expanded to 42 the number of territories on its watchlist of coronavirus hot spots, new arrivals from which must enter a 10-day quarantine, health authorities said.
New entries as of Thursday include Bosnia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, the Palestinian territories, Suriname and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
11:30 GMT – Romania exceeds 1,000 new coronavirus cases in record daily high
The number of coronavirus infections in Romania rose by a record 1,030 new cases in a day, the government has said, as the World Health Organization said spikes in southern Europe and the Balkans were worrying.
Romania has confirmed 40,163 cases since the pandemic reached it in late February and 2,101 people have died. The government has extended a state of alert, in place since May 15, by another 30 days until the middle of August.
11:15 GMT – Hong Kong sets new virus record
Hong Kong has reported 113 new coronavirus infections, a new daily record as a sudden surge in cases shows no signs of slowing despite ramped up social distancing rules.
The finance hub was one of the first places to be struck by the virus when it emerged from central China.
But the city had impressive success in tackling the disease, all but ending local transmissions by late June.
However, infections have spiked again this month and doctors say a new outbreak is spreading out of control in the densely packed territory of 7.5 million people.
11:00 GMT – Global COVID-19 cases could be 12 times higher than reported
The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow around the world. More than 14 million people have now been infected globally.
But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the true death toll could be 12 times higher.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from New York, US:
10:45 GMT – New COVID-19 vaccine trials under way in Brazil
Nearly two dozen potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus are under various stages of human testing worldwide, and at least two are being conducted in Brazil – the country with the world’s second-worst outbreak.
One is a Chinese-made drug that is being tested on 9,000 volunteers, the other was developed by Oxford University. Testing is now under way and is expected to last for about three months.
Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo reports:
10:30 GMT – Belgian official urges action to prevent virus ‘avalanche’
Belgium is experiencing a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases after relaxing many of its lockdown measures, health officials have said, warning of a possible second wave of infections.
The Belgian national security council will meet on Thursday and could decide to postpone the next phase of the country’s staggered return to normal economic and social life.
10:15 GMT – Iran says 138 medical professionals among dead
Iran says 138 healthcare professionals have died so far while battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Hossein Kermanpour, spokesman for the regulatory body for Iranian healthcare professionals, as saying the death toll includes 90 doctors and 28 nurses.
Iran announced earlier this week that 12,000 healthcare workers have been infected across the country.
10:00 GMT – China accuses US of ‘slander’ over coronavirus research hacking claims
Beijing has accused the US of “slander” after two Chinese nationals were indicted for seeking to steal coronavirus vaccine research and hacking hundreds of companies.
“The Chinese government is a staunch defender of cybersecurity, and has always opposed and cracked down on cyber attacks and cybercrime in all forms,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
09:45 GMT – India cancels historic Hindu pilgrimage as coronavirus cases mount
India has cancelled an historic Hindu pilgrimage to a holy cave high in the snow-capped mountains of the contested Kashmir region for the first time, as cases of the novel coronavirus continued to rise.
There were 37,724 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, according to federal health data released on Wednesday. India has reported almost 1.2 million cases overall, behind only the United States and Brazil.
Organisers of the Amarnath Yatra, where saffron-clad Hindu ascetics walk 46km (28 miles) to the cave across glaciers and waterlogged trails, said a “very sharp” spike in coronavirus cases had forced the cancellation.
09:20 GMT – Ukraine cancels visa requirement for Australia, New Zealand and some Arab states
Tourists from Australia, New Zealand and several Arab states will no longer need a visa to visit Ukraine from August 1, according to a decree signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and published on his website.
In June, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was considering cancelling its visa requirement for tourists from several countries, including China, in order to attract more visitors once lockdowns imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic are eased.
The new visa-free regime will apply if the tourist’s stay in Ukraine does not exceed 90 days.
09:05 GMT – Tests, home quarantine as Qatar reopens borders on August 1
Qatar will begin reopening its borders to foreign travellers and allow citizens and permanent residents to travel in and out of the country from August 1, according to a government statement, as the Gulf state moves to gradually lift restrictions imposed to control its coronavirus outbreak.
The Government Communications Office (GCO) said on Wednesday that arrivals to Qatar from “low-risk countries” will be required to take a coronavirus test at the airport and sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week.
Read more here.
08:50 GMT – December Nobel Prize banquet in Sweden cancelled
The Nobel Foundation, which manages the prestigious Nobel Prizes, says it has cancelled the traditional December banquet at the Stockholm City Hall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lars Heikensten, CEO of the Nobel Foundation, said it is not possible to gather up to 1,300 banquet guests and let them sit next to each other amid the current COVID-19 restrictions. He said the pandemic also makes it uncertain whether prize winners can travel to Sweden.
08:35 GMT – Ireland may tighten travel restrictions for COVID-19 hot spots
Ireland may introduce further travel restrictions for countries with a very high instance of COVID-19, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said after the government lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement for 15 European countries.
Ireland, which has one of the lower rates of infection in the European Union with around five cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, decided late on Tuesday to drop the restriction for people coming from countries with a similar or lower rate.
08:20 GMT – South Africa counts for over half of continent cases
South Africa has well over half of the confirmed coronavirus cases on the African continent as the country is now a global hot spot.
New health ministry data shows 381,798 cases including 5,368 reported deaths.
The country’s current epicentre is Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg and one-quarter of the population. It has more than one-third of South Africa’s confirmed cases.
08:05 GMT – Thailand to extend emergency decree until end of August
Thailand will extend a state of emergency until the end of August, a senior official has said, maintaining the security measure put in place to contain its coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement comes after nearly two months without local transmission and with many people in Thailand questioning the need for an emergency decree.
The decree, first introduced in late March, will be subject to cabinet approval next week.
07:50 GMT – Masks mandatory as cases rise in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has made it mandatory to wear masks on public transport, in indoor areas and passenger terminals.
The measures will last until August 5 as the city tries to break the transmission of local infections.
Hong Kong has recorded 2,019 infections with 14 deaths. On Tuesday, it reported 58 cases, 25 of them from an unknown source.
The city’s Health Minister Sophia Chan is appealing to people to stay at home as much as possible, saying Hong Kong is at a high risk of a community outbreak.
07:35 GMT – DR Congo ends virus health emergency, borders to reopen
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has lifted a health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and ordered a reopening in three stages of business activities, schools and borders.
The vast country of more than 80 million people has recorded 8,534 infections including 196 deaths since March 10.
Tshisekedi said the figures place the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the ninth worst-hit country in Africa in terms of the number of cases and 12th in terms of deaths, “putting paid to all catastrophic forecasts for our country at the start of the epidemic”.
07:20 GMT – Pakistanis risk unproven plasma treatment in virus fight
Pakistanis with COVID-19 are risking their lives and navigating a shady black market to get blood plasma transfusions, despite scant medical proof about the remedy’s effectiveness.
Convalescent plasma treatment, where the antibody-rich part of the blood from a recovered patient is transfused to a coronavirus sufferer, is growing in popularity across Pakistan amid widely circulating claims of success on social media.
Like some other nations, Pakistan is conducting medical trials on the treatment, which has shown promising signs but is far from proven.
07:05 GMT – Czech coronavirus cases top 5,000
The number of active coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic has topped 5,000 for the first time after labs reported the highest daily rise in nearly a month, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
Authorities had reported 212 new cases by Tuesday night, bringing the total number of active cases to 5,046. Total cases including those who have recovered or died reached 14,324.
The central European country of 10.7 million has reported 360 deaths from the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, far fewer than many western European nations.
06:50 GMT – Almost a quarter of Delhi has had coronavirus: Study
More than one in five people in Delhi have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a study, indicating that most cases in the Indian capital region have gone undetected.
The National Center for Disease Control tested 21,387 people selected randomly across Delhi, the state that includes New Delhi, and found that 23.48 percent had antibodies to the virus.
Adjusting for false positives and negatives, it estimated that 22.86 percent of the population had been infected by the virus, Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said in a news conference.
Read more here.
05:20 GMT – Some sense trouble as Japan launches domestic tourism campaign
Japan is preparing to launch a controversial domestic tourism campaign that some have dubbed “Go To Trouble”.
The “Go To Travel” initiative is supposed to boost the tourism industry with travel subsidies of up to 50 percent.
But as coronavirus cases surge, travel to and from Tokyo has been removed, and politicians want the campaign suspended for fear it will spread the virus. A poll showed that 69 percent of the public want it cancelled.
69% say Japan’s Go To travel subsidy campaign should be canceled: Mainichi poll – The Mainichi https://t.co/x2wOPIRXaF
— 小林幸子(｡◕ ∀ ◕｡)凡夫(๑╹ڡ╹๑)ノ (@sateco) July 22, 2020
03:15 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports another daily record of cases
The Australian state of Victoria has reported a record 484 new cases of coronavirus and two more deaths from the disease – both men in their 90s.
Masks have been made mandatory in the state; everyone who goes outside must wear one.
People in Melbourne are currently only able to leave their homes for food and essential supplies, medical reasons, exercise and work or education (if it cannot be done from home).
Nurses and doctors wear masks when they’re treating you.
So I don’t think it’s too much to wear one when you’re at the supermarket or on the street.
If it helps to prevent you from ending up in hospital, or stops someone else from getting sick – that’s worth it. pic.twitter.com/Tm1hmJ0Nvg
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) July 20, 2020
03:00 GMT – Japan approves dexamethasone as treatment
Japan’s health ministry has approved the use of dexamethasone as a treatment for COVID-19.
Dexamethasone is a cheap and widely-used steroid.
Studies have shown it has benefits for people with moderate or advanced cases of the disease.
Is plasma therapy effective against coronavirus?
02:00 GMT – Study suggests coronavirus can spread through speaking
A new study by the University of Nebraska suggests that COVID-19 can spread through normal speaking and breathing, and travel further than two metres, according to a report by AFP. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed.
The scientists collected air samples from the rooms of five COVID-19 patients from about 30cm (about one foot) above the foot of their beds. The patients were talking – producing microdroplets that can remain in the air for a number of hours – and some were coughing.
Three of the 18 samples were able to replicate in the lab. Joshua Santarpia, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the findings supported the idea that people can get COVID-19 through microdroplets.
01:15 GMT – China reports nine new cases in Xinjiang
China has reported 14 new cases of coronavirus, five of them imported and the rest in the far western region of Xinjiang.
There have been no new cases of community transmission in Beijing for 16 days, according to state media.
On Tuesday, the Chinese mainland reported:
– No new #COVID19 deaths
– 14 new cases: 5 imported cases and 9 domestically transmitted cases in Xinjiang
– 22 new asymptomatic cases
– 233 active cases in total, including six in critical condition pic.twitter.com/2VctIqdgzs
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) July 22, 2020
23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Qatar to relax travel restrictions from August 1
From August 1, Qatari citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to travel overseas and return, while residents will be allowed to return.
Travellers from low-risk countries will have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and another after a seven-day home quarantine period, the Government Communications Office said in a statement.
A list of the countries designated low-risk will be published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health and updated every two weeks.
23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – Trump comes out in favour of masks
After months of downplaying their importance, US President Donald Trump has come out unequivocally in favour of wearing masks.
Speaking at the first White House press briefing in weeks, without any medical experts present, Trump urged Americans to get a mask and wear it.
Trump was talking in his first White House briefing in weeks and showed off his mask as he spoke. You can read more about what happened here.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from yesterday (July 21) here.