India cases near 1m after new daily record: Coronavirus latest

Expert Fauci predicts US to meet vaccine target; China economy bounces back; South Africa’s cases cross 300,000.

  • India’s coronavirus cases have surged another 32,695, taking the nation closer to one million and forcing a new lockdown in the popular western beach state of Goa two weeks after it was reopened to tourists.

  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is again touting the supposed benefits of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, as he tests positive for the virus again.

  • More than 13.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than 7.5 million have recovered and more than 582,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Here are the latest updates.

Thursday, July 16

10:15 GMT: Spain’s football fans unlikely to return in September 

Spain’s health minister has expressed doubt about the prospect of spectators returning to football matches in September due to the threat of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

The government’s department for sport and organising body La Liga had hoped to let fans back into stadiums at a reduced capacity when the new season starts in September, increasing to 50 percent in November before full capacity returned in January.

Yet a spike in infections since Spain lifted a national state of emergency in June has led some regions to impose localised lockdowns and limit activities, threatening the return to normality.

10:00 GMT: Russia to mass-produce experimental COVID-19 vaccine

Russia plans to produce 30 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine domestically this year, with the potential to manufacture a further 170 million abroad, the head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund told Reuters.

The first human trial of the vaccine, a month-long test on 38 people, ended this week. Researchers concluded that it is safe for use and induces an immune response, though the strength of that response is as yet unclear.

A larger Phase III trial involving several thousand people is expected to begin in August, said Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) head Kirill Dmitriev.

09:45 GMT: Hungary cancels national holiday celebrations due to pandemic

Hungary has cancelled celebrations and fireworks scheduled for the August 20 national holiday due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said. 

Hungary lifted most of the restrictions it introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus in May. Concerts and festivals with crowds of more than 500 people will not be allowed until August 15.

The celebrations on August 20 normally attract tens of thousands of people in Budapest.

09:30 GMT: India to allow Hindu pilgrims to Kashmir despite coronavirus risk

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have decided to allow Hindu pilgrims to visit the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath – a decision Kashmiri analysts say contradicts the government’s coronavirus lockdown policy.

The annual Amarnath Yatra (journey), which receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across India, will likely begin on July 21, but this year it has been shortened to two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

09:15 GMT: Indonesia reports 1,574 new coronavirus infections, 76 new death

Indonesia has reported 1,574 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 81,668 its health ministry said.

Indonesia also reported 76 new coronavirus deaths, taking the overall death toll to 3,873, ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing.

09:00 GMT: Pakistan reports lowest number of daily deaths

Pakistan has reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 deaths in about a month.

It recorded 40 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday, compared to the highest single-day toll of 153 on June 19.

Pakistan has recorded 257,914 confirmed cases, including 2,145 in the past 24 hours, and 5,426 fatalities.

08:45 GMT: Social distancing and lockdowns linked to reduction in COVID-19 cases: study

Earlier implementation of lockdown has been associated with a larger reduction in the incidence of COVID-19, a new study by the BMJ found [PDF].

“Data from 149 countries showed that the incidence of COVID-19 cases decreased by an average of 13 percent in association with physical distancing interventions,” the study read.   

According to the research no evidence was found of additional benefits from the closure of public transport when four other physical distancing measures – school closures, workplace closure, restrictions on mass gatherings and lockdown – were in place. 


08:00 GMT: Trump administration distances itself from latest attack on Fauci

The White House has distanced itself from a scathing attack made on the country’s top infectious diseases expert by a senior adviser.

It follows an oped in the US media criticising Dr Anthony Fauci. President Donald Trump said he has a good relationship with Fauci and the article was “unacceptable”.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Washington, DC: 

07:45 GMT: Russia’s coronavirus case tally passes 750,000

Russia’s official coronavirus case tally has reached 752,797 on Thursday, the fourth largest in the world, after authorities reported 6,428 new cases in the last 24 hours.

In their daily readout, officials said 167 people had died overnight, pushing the official death toll to 11,937.

07:30 GMT: Dakar Youth Olympics postponed by four years to 2026

The 2022 Dakar Youth Olympics have been postponed by four years, in further fallout from delaying the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the decision was discussed two days ago in a telephone conversation with Senegal President Macky Sall. It means Africa will have to wait until 2026 for the continent’s first Olympic hosting duty.

“This was really too heavy workload for everybody,” Bach said during an online news conference, citing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now opening one year later.

07:15 GMT: Spain pays tribute to virus victims

Spain is paying homage to the nation’s victims of the new coronavirus and workers who put their lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic, with a solemn ceremony in Madrid.

Relatives of around 100 people who died during the pandemic, representatives of medical personnel, police and other essential workers are joining King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, government authorities and officials from the European Union and the World Health Organization at an esplanade in Madrid’s Royal Palace.

07:00 GMT: China to reopen cinemas next week as virus cases fall

Most Chinese cinemas will be allowed to reopen next week with social distancing rules following months of coronavirus closures, authorities have said, as domestic infections remained at zero for 10 straight days.

Movie theatres in “low-risk” areas of the country can resume operations on July 20, but must screen patrons for fevers and enforce mask-wearing, the China Film Administration said.

Cinemas are also required to sell tickets for no more than 30 percent of the available seats at each screening, and must keep groups of moviegoers at least one metre (about three feet) apart, the administration said.

06:45 GMT: Venezuela tightens anti-virus measures in capital

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a tightening of coronavirus containment measures in the capital Caracas and neighbouring Miranda state.

In spite of being one of the least affected in Latin America in the early stages of the pandemic, Venezuela has seen an alarming rise in cases and deaths recently. 

This week Venezuela surpassed 10,000 confirmed infections, although the opposition and organizations such as Human Rights Watch believe the true numbers are much greater.

Hi, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha taking over the live updates from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

04:45 GMT – Novartis to provide ‘no profit’ COVID-19 drugs to developing countries

Swiss drugmaker Novartis will provide 15 generic drugs for treating the symptoms of coronavirus to developing countries on a not-for-profit basis.

The drugs range from antibiotics to steroids and pills for diarrhoea, and will be provided to 79 low- and lower-middle-income countries.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the stress that COVID puts particularly on fragile health systems,” Chief Operating Officer Lutz Hegermann told Reuters news agency in an interview.

04:30 GMT – World’s biggest medical glovemaker faces US trade sanctions over forced labour allegations

US Customs and Border Protection said two of Malaysian medical glovemaker Top Glove’s units will be subject to Detention Orders, meaning all their exports to the US must stop, and products already en route will be seized and destroyed.

Top Glove has been under fire over its treatment of migrant workers amid allegations that the recruitment  fees the workers have to pay leave them in debt bondage. 

Top Glove did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The two subsidiaries together employ about 6,525 non-Malaysian workers, according to labour rights activist Andy Hall.

03:30 GMT – China economy bounces back after virus plunge

China’s GDP rose by 3.2 percent in the three months ending in June compared with the same period a year ago, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The economy slumped 6.8 percent in the previous quarter – the first such contraction since 1992.

“It’s very much a story of government stimulus-led recovery,” Rodrigo Catril, a foreign exchange strategist at NAB in Sydney told Reuters. “The consumer remains very cautious.”

03:05 GMT – Bangladesh arrests hospital owner over fake tests

Bangladesh has arrested 42-year-old Mohammad Shahed, a hospital owner accused of faking thousands of coronavirus test results, after nine days on the run, AFP news agency says.

“He was arrested from the bank of a border river as he was trying to flee to India,” AFP quoted Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Colonel Ashique Billah as saying. “He was wearing a burqa.”

Shahed’s hospitals claimed to have conducted 10,500 tests, but only 4,200 were genuine, the spokesman said, while the rest were issued negative certificates without running the test. More than a dozen people have been arrested over the alleged scam.

Read more here.

02:50 GMT – Tokyo facing record daily high in cases

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says daily cases in the capital are likely to top 280 on Thursday. That would be the highest since the start of the outbreak.

“It’s still incomplete, but I’m hearing the number will be above 280,” she told reporters. More than 4,000 tests are being conducted, she added.

02:35 GMT – China gives approval for early-stage human trials of vaccine

China has given the green light to phase-one clinical trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine using BioNtech’s technology.

Fosun Pharma says it plans to start the trial of BNT162b1 “as soon as possible once it is ready”.

This is the ninth potential vaccine to move into various stages of human testing in China.

02:15 GMT – Japan’s domestic tourism campaign under fire

Officials in Japan are questioning the government’s plans to boost domestic tourism amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the capital.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike questioned the wisdom of the plan on Wednesday and rural officials also weighed in. On Thursday, a panel of experts is due to discuss the multibillion-dollar “Go To” promotion, which would offer subsidised travel to people visiting areas outside Tokyo and is due to start on July 22.

The governor has just announced the latest number of new cases in the capital.

BREAKING: Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike reports at least 280 new cases of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/lYvgMjLCS0

01:15 GMT – Australian state of Victoria reports record daily cases

The Australian state of Victoria has just given its daily update on coronavirus, reporting 317 new cases – a record for Australia. Two men in their 80s were also confirmed to have died from the disease.

#BREAKING: VIC has recorded 317 new cases of COVID-19 – the biggest daily increase in any jurisdiction since the pandemic began. 28 linked to known outbreaks, 289 under investigation. Two men in their 80s have also died, taking the national toll to 113. @abcnews @COVID_Australia

00:30 GMT – Bolsonaro touts unproven drug, tests positive for coronavirus again

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro continues to tout hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus even though there is little evidence that it works.

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time on Wednesday, shared a video on social media extolling the benefits of the controversial malaria drug.

Scientists are not so convinced about the benefits. Doctors warn of serious side effects, and a study in May found a higher risk of death in COVID patients.

23:00 GMT – Spain cracks down on partying tourists

Authorities on the Spanish island of Majorca have ordered bars on popular party streets in Magaluf and Palma to close, for fear that congregating tourists will trigger a surge in coronavirus cases. 

The island is popular with German and British holidaymakers, and the regional government had already introduced heavy fines for anyone organising illegal parties or flouting rules on physical distancing and face masks.

It ordered the closures after video emerged of mainly German tourists carousing around bars and terraces as if “no one had ever heard of the corona pandemic”, according to the German-language publication Mallorca Zeitung.

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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 here.

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