The coronavirus pandemic has now infected nearly 22 million people and has cut more than 774,000 lives short. Here are the updates for August 17:

A health worker checks the blood pressure of a Kayapo Indigenous man during a protest on highway BR-163 near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. August 17, 2020.
A health worker checks the blood pressure of a Kayapo Indigenous man during a protest on highway BR-163 near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. August 17, 2020. (Andre Penner / AP)

Monday, August 17, 2020

Brazil sees over 19,000 new cases in one day

Brazil has reported 19,373 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 684 deaths from the disease caused by the virus during the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Brazil has now registered 3,359,570 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 108,536, marking the world's worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.

US nursing home cases spike

Covid-19 cases in US nursing homes jumped nearly 80 percent earlier this summer, driven by a rampant spread across the South and much of the West, according to an industry report.

Long-term care facilities account for less than one percent of the US population, but more than 40 percent of Covid-19 deaths, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The study from the American Health Care Association – the industry's main trade association – found there were 9,715 coronavirus cases in nursing homes the week starting July 26, a 77 percent increase from a low point the week of June 21.

Turkey's cases rise to over 250,000

Turkey's total number of coronavirus cases rose to more than 250,000, with 1,233 new cases identified during the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed, as the death toll from the virus neared 6,000.

The data showed 22 people had died during the past 24 hours, bringing country's death toll to 5,996, while the total number of recoveries rose to 231,971.

"The majority of new patients can be easily treated. But the spread increases the number of seriously ill patients whose treatment is difficult," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

New York State to reopen gyms and museums

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo  said that the state's gyms could open as soon as Aug 24 at 33 percent capacity, as long as they enforce strict health measures, including mask-wearing, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He also announced that museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions will be allowed to reopen starting August 24.

Localities must inspect every gym before it opens or within two weeks of it opening, Cuomo said.

"Localities can also determine whether or not the gym has classes inside it," he said.

Meanwhile, New York City is set to reopen the Museum of Modern Art on August 27, following a five-month shutdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Entry will be free for the first month, MoMA said in a statement.

However, there will be mandatory face masks, timed ticketing with staggered entry and just 25 percent occupancy, he said.

Canadian Football League cancels season

The Canadian Football League has decided to scrap its 2020 season due to Covid-19, marking the first time the championship Grey Cup trophy will not be presented since 1919.

"Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future," commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.

The cancellation ends any chance that the nine-team gridiron league could stage an abbreviated season in a Canadian hub city.

The league had tried unsuccessfully to obtain federal government funding to salvage play by conducting a shortened season.

French Covid-19 hospitalisations edge higher

The French Health Ministry reported 493 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours on Monday, sharply down from a caseload of above 3,000 each on the two previous days.

However, the number of hospitalisations for the disease rose by 65 to 4,925, increasing for the third day running.

France's cumulative total of cases now stands at 219,029. 

French nursing home sees 9 deaths in 1 week 

Nine people with the virus died over the past week in a single nursing home in eastern France, and other French care homes are shutting their doors as the country battles a new rise in Covid-19 infections.

The Les Sablons home in the town of Pulnoy tested its 135 residents and staff after the first case was found on August 3, and 34 tested positive, the home’s director Daniel Cilla told regional media.

By Sunday, nine residents with the virus had died, he said.

While more than 10,000 people with the virus died in French nursing homes in the first wave of the pandemic, the Les Sablons home hadn't registered a single case until this month, according to the regional health agency.

The health agency issued an online appeal on Monday for reinforced medical staff for hospitals and nursing homes in the Grand-Est region, which was the first in France to be badly hit by the virus in March.

Indigenous protesters in Brazil demand Covid-19 protection 

Dozens of Indigenous people, many daubed in black paint representing their grief and fighting spirit, blocked a major highway in Brazil's Amazon to pressure the government for help in protecting them from Covid-19.

The Kayapo Mekragnotire people blame authorities for the deaths of four of their elders and infections of dozens more on their land in southern Para state, near the city of Novo Progresso. Leaders said people from outside their territory spread the new coronavirus among them because there were no restrictions on entry to their land.

They claimed to have few doctors, scarce personal protective equipment and no nearby intensive care unit beds for Covid-19 patients. 

“We need more personal hygiene supplies, more masks. If the government had done its job, we wouldn’t be here in the middle of the pandemic."

They said they will keep their logs and tires spread across the road until federal authorities come to negotiate.

South Africa opens as virus cases fall

South Africa, which imposed one of the world's strictest anti-coronavirus lockdowns five months ago, will significantly relax its restrictions on Tuesday, including allowing the sales of liquor and cigarettes, as it appears the country has weathered its first peak of Covid-19 cases.

With numbers of cases and hospitalisations declining, the country will further loosen its regulations to permit the opening of bars, restaurants, gyms, places of worship and entertainment, all with distancing restrictions. Schools will reopen gradually from August 24, starting with grades 12 and 7 and a phased opening of other grades.

South Africa's new confirmed cases have dropped from an average of 12,000 per day at the peak in July to less than 5,000 per day last week, said Ramaphosa. South Africa confirmed 3,692 new cases in the last 24 hours. South Africa's recovery rate is 80 percent, he said.

Novavax begins mid-stage study of vaccine in South Africa

US drug developer Novavax Inc has said that it started a mid-stage study of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

"Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of Covid-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy," Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn said.

The trial of Novavax's NVX-CoV2373, backed by a $15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was being conducted in two separate groups, one comprising 2,665 healthy volunteers and the other, 240 HIV-positive adults.

Novavax expects its vaccine, once approved, to be supplied to South Africa through a deal signed earlier this year with the Serum Institute of India to develop and commercialise NVX-CoV2373.

UK records 713 new daily cases

The United Kingdom recorded 713 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to official data. It is the first time it has dropped below 1,000 in six days.

Three more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus.

Lebanon hospitals reaching maximum capacity 

Lebanon's health minister has warned that hospitals are reaching maximum capacity to treat novel coronavirus patients after the deadly Beirut blast overwhelmed clinics and triggered a spike in Covid-19 cases.

"Public and private hospitals in the capital in particular have a very limited capacity, whether in terms of beds in intensive care units or respirators," the minister, Hamad Hassan, told a press conference.

"We are on the brink, we don't have the luxury to take our time," he warned, urging authorities to take the "hard decision" to impose a new two-week lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.

Lebanon reported a one-day record of 456 new infections on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 9,337, including 105 deaths since the start of the outbreak in February.

Ryanair cuts September, October flights 

Ryanair will cut its September and October timetable by "20 percent" on weaker-than-expected demand following renewed virus-linked travel restrictions in some European countries, the Irish airline.

"These capacity cuts and frequency reductions for the months of September and October are unavoidable given the recent weakness in forward bookings due to Covid-19 restrictions in a number of EU countries," the no-frills carrier said in a statement.

Ryanair said the cuts to flights "will be heavily focused on those countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, where rising recent Covid-19 case rates have led to increased travel restrictions."

France deploys riot police to enforce mask regulations

The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more and more towns and neighbourhoods are imposing mask rules starting on Monday to slow rising infections.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that 130 police officers are being sent to the Marseille region, which expanded its outdoor mask requirements to all farmers’ markets and more neighbourhoods on Friday.

France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks. Paris expanded its mask requirements on Saturday, and other towns around France started requiring masks outdoors on Monday.

Vietnam reports 14 more infections

Vietnam's health ministry reported 14 more virus infections, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 976, with 24 fatalities.

Nearly 500 cases are linked to the central city of Danang, where a new outbreak was detected late in July after more than three months without domestic transmission nationwide.

The ministry said 107,642 people were being quarantined, about a quarter in hospitals and centralised isolation centres and the rest at home.

Netherland's economy to shrink 5 percent 

A key Dutch government advisory panel forecasts that the national economy will shrink by 5 percent in 2020 before returning to 3 percent growth in 2021 – if the country manages to avoid a major new pandemic lockdown.

The Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis says that unemployment will rise toward 7 percent next year as the fallout from the pandemic continues to weigh on Dutch businesses.

The projections published will be used by the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte as it prepares its 2021 budget, which will be published on September 15.

Schools in Greece ready to reopen next month

Greece’s government spokesman says schools in the country are set to reopen on September 7.

Stelios Petsas said schools will face challenges making sure children adhere to measures such as maintaining social distance, frequently washing their hands and wearing masks where necessary.

Greek authorities have been alarmed by a significant increase in the number of daily virus cases detected, with the numbers steadily over 200 for the past five days. Total confirmed cases now top 7,000, with 228 deaths.

Russia reports nearly 5,000 virus cases

Russia reported 4,892 new cases of the virus, pushing its tally so far to 927,745, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 55 people had died across the country in the last 24 hours, increasing Russia's official virus death toll to 15,740. 

Philippines records 3,314 cases

The Philippines has recorded 3,314 virus cases and 18 additional deaths from the disease, the health ministry said.

The country has so far registered a total of 164,474 infections and the death toll from pandemic has risen to 2,681, according to ministry data.

Indonesia sees 1,821 cases

Indonesia reported 1,821 virus cases, bringing its infection total to 141,370, data from government's task force showed.

The Southeast Asian country also added 57 new deaths, taking its fatalities to 6,207, the highest pandemic death toll in Southeast Asia. 

Egypt's unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent in Q2

Egypt's unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared with 7.5 percent a year earlier, due to the pandemic, the statistics agency CAPMAS said.

The rate had stood at 7.7 percent in the January to March quarter.

Ireland has no plans now for more local lockdowns

Ireland's health minister said he has had no conversations with his public health team about implementing other local lockdowns and the government's intention remains to lift two-week restrictions in the counties of Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

The country's health officials will meet to decide if further measures are needed to slow a sharp increase in the spread of the virus that the government and officials have described as deeply concerning.

"Nothing like that has been proposed at the moment... The plan is for the restrictions for the three affected counties to be lifted midnight on Sunday. That's still the intention,"Stephen Donnelly told national broadcaster RTE.

Hong Kong records 44 virus cases

Hong Kong reported 44 virus cases as the government announced an extension to social distancing measures aimed at controlling further spreading of the virus, which has seen a resurgence in the Asian financial hub since early July.

While the number of daily cases have come down from triple digits in recent weeks, authorities have cautioned residents from becoming complacent, warning that the situation remained "severe".

Out of the 44 cases recorded, 31 of them were local transmissions.

Since late January, over 4500 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 69 of whom have died. Monday's figure was down from Sunday's 74 cases.

Covid-19 death toll in India tops 50,000

With a total of 50,921 deaths, India has the fourth-highest death toll in the world, behind US, Brazil and Mexico. 

It has now counted more than 2.6 million cases of infection with 57,982 new cases reported by the Health Ministry. 

August has seen a big spike in fatalities with more than a quarter of the country’s total deaths coming in the past 17 days.

Lebanon needs two-week lockdown after virus spike

Lebanon should be locked down for two weeks after a spike in pandemic infections, the caretaker government's health minister was quoted as saying.

"We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks," Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.

Lebanon registered a record 439 new virus cases in 24 hours on Sunday.

South Koreans urged to stay home as cases jump

South Korea counted its fourth straight day of triple-digit increases in virus cases as the government urged people to stay home and curb travel.

The government had drawn up a special holiday with hopes of spurring domestic consumption. 

But as infections in the capital region increase, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo urged people to stay home and for residents in Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi province to avoid visiting other parts of the country for two weeks.

The 197 new cases announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the nation's total to 15,515, including 305 deaths.

Japan's top automaker Toyota sees more cases among employees

Toyota Motor Corp. said 20 employees were confirmed with virus so far, seven of them this month. 

The first cases were reported in March. 

Spokesperson Kayo Doi said most have returned to work and none had been seriously ill. 

Toyota facilities are having office staff work from home, set up longer periods between shifts at plants and taken other social distancing measures. 

All plants are back up in Japan, although some production was temporarily halted. 

Japan's virus situation has been relatively moderate, but cases continue to rise. Japan said 1,017 new cases were confirmed Sunday, and 11 deaths.

The nation has had about 1,100 deaths from the pandemic.

Japan economy shrinks record 7.8 percent in April-June

Japan's economy shrank a record 7.8 percent in the April-June quarter, the worst contraction in the nation's modern history, data showed, as the virus deepens the country's economic woes.

The contraction from the previous quarter was slightly worse than expectations but is still significantly less severe than declines seen in many other industrial economies.

Still, it is the worst economic contraction for Japan since comparable data became available in 1980, eclipsing the brutal impact of the 2008 global financial crisis.

China reports 22 new cases

China has reported 22 new cases in the mainland for August 16, the health authority said.

There were no new deaths, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

China also reported 37 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 16 a day earlier.

As of August 16, mainland China had a total of 84,849 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said.

China's death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,634.

Australia reports 25 deaths

Australia has recorded its biggest one-day rise in Covid-19 deaths, though the state at the epicentre of the country's outbreak said the number of new infections held steady.

Victoria state said 25 people had died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, more than the previous worst daily toll of 21 reported nationally on Aug 12.

Authorities in the southeastern state said 282 new cases had been detected, about the same as the 279 cases reported on Sunday.

Those numbers are well below the peak of more than 700 daily cases in Victoria earlier this month and health officials are confident strict lockdown measures are working to contain the virus.

Australia has logged 23,500 cases and 421 deaths, far fewer than many other developed nations.

New Zealand delays election 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed New Zealand's elections by four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.

The election had been scheduled for September 19 but will now be held on October 17. Opposition parties had sought a delay after the virus outbreak prompted the government last week to put Auckland under a two-week lockdown and halted election campaigning.

Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission of the virus, and life had returned to normal for most people, with restaurants and schools open and sports fans back in stadiums.

Mexico cases rise to 522,162

Mexico's health ministry has reported 4,448 new confirmed cases and 214 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 522,162 cases and 56,757 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

Jordan to isolate city near Syria after spike

Jordan will seal off a city near the Syrian border following the largest daily rise in four months in virus infections, which officials say have come mainly from its northern neighbour.

The health ministry said half of the 39 cases recorded in the last 24 hours were from Ramtha city, near the Syrian border.

Officials say truck drivers and individuals entering the kingdom from the Jaber border crossing with Syria are spreading the virus.

Ramtha will be isolated as of Monday with the authorities re-imposing restrictions on movement in the first such reversal of a provincial area since the authorities eased a nationwide lockdown last June.

Jordan, with one of the lowest infection cases in the region, has reported 1,378 cases and 11 deaths from Covid-19.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies