The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 24.7 million people with over 838,000 deaths from the disease. Here are the updates for August 28:

People wearing protective masks stand at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower as France reinforces mask-wearing as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of Covid-19 across the country, in Paris, France, August 28, 2020.
People wearing protective masks stand at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower as France reinforces mask-wearing as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of Covid-19 across the country, in Paris, France, August 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Friday, August 28, 2020

France reports 7,379 new cases

France has reported 7,379 new confirmed coronavirus cases, a new post-lockdown record following the 6,111 record reported on Thursday and just shy of the 7,578 high set on March 31 during the lockdown period.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 267,077, while the cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 rose by 20 to 30,596, the Health Ministry reported.

Turkey confirms 1,517 more cases

Turkey has confirmed 1,517 new cases of the virus, bringing the nationwide tally to 265,515.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter that the total number of recoveries reached 241,809.

Citing Health Ministry data, Koca said the death toll in the country rose to 6,245 as 36 more people lost their lives to the virus.

Meanwhile, 1,017 patients recovered from Covid-19 over the past day. 

Healthcare professionals conducted 107,814 more tests to diagnose the disease over the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to 6.83 million.

Spain reports 3,829 new infections

Spain has diagnosed 3,829 new cases in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed, down from a revised count of more than 6,000 the previous day.

A cumulative total of 439,286 infections have been detected since the onset of the pandemic. In the past seven days, 129 people have died from the virus, bringing the total toll to 29,011, the data showed.

The latest statistics could be modified in the future as Spain retroactively adjusts its official data.

UK records 1,276 new daily cases

The United Kingdom has recorded 1,276 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19, down from the 1,522 recorded on Thursday.

A further nine people have died after they tested positive for the disease within 28 days.

Britain has been increasing the number of tests it is conducting, particularly in areas with local outbreaks.

Four at Republican convention in North Carolina test positive

Four people at the Republican National Convention in North Carolina this week have tested positive for the virus, officials said, even as Republicans played down the US health crisis in renominating President Donald Trump.

The party's convention, which began with one day of events in Charlotte, North Carolina, despite the pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, ended on Thursday after four days of speeches lauding Trump.

Throughout, Republicans largely abandoned talk of the crisis as if it had abated instead, reminding voters of the robust economy that existed beforehand.

The official Twitter feed of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where Charlotte is located, said two convention attendees and two event support staff had tested positive and all were "immediately isolated."

Greece bans flights from Barcelona, extends travel restrictions

Greece will ban flights to and from Barcelona from Monday, health authorities said, as they extended most of the travel restrictions for foreign visitors by three weeks due to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Greece also requires visitors from a list of countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta, Sweden, Spain, Albania, North Macedonia and the United Arab Emirates to show a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country.

The restrictions will be extended until September 19, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters, adding that the Netherlands would be dropped from the list. Flights to and from Barcelona and Spain's Catalonia region will be banned, he said.

UK moves to fast-track vaccine if safety tests passed

Britain's medical regulator will be able to grant temporary authorisation for any coronavirus vaccine that meets safety and quality standards but before it has received a full licence, under new plans.

The government said that under its proposals the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency would be able to grant this status to a vaccine while it underwent the full licensing process, with reinforced conditions to ensure safety.

The move, described as a last resort in the case of a strong public health justification, means the national regulator will be able to act this year if a vaccine arrives, before Britain has fully left the European Union on Dec 31.

Merkel points to autumn challenge

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that coping with the virus will become more challenging in the coming autumn and winter months, in her annual summer press conference.

Germany has fared relatively well in its battle to contain the virus so far but like many other European countries has seen a new surge in cases in recent weeks.

Paris wakes up to masks

Outdoor mask-wearing has become compulsory in Paris and nearby suburbs at 8 am (0700 GMT)  as the government moves to stay a trend of mounting coronavirus infections. Non-compliance is punishable with a fine of 135 euros ($160).

However, authorities made a last-minute about-turn, exempting cyclists and joggers from the otherwise blanket outdoors obligation.

Top South African golf event cancelled due to virus

The 2020 Nedbank Golf Challenge scheduled for December 3-6 in South Africa has been cancelled due to the pandemic, the organisers announced.

Known as the "African major," the event attracts a top-class European Tour field to the Sun City resort, and Tommy Fleetwood from England triumphed last year after a play-off.

Although South Africa has seen a drop in confirmed Covid-19 cases and fatalities recently, it has the fifth most infections in the world with 618,286 as of Thursday.

Spain arrests virus denier for inciting violence

Spanish police have arrested a man who believes the pandemic is a hoax for using social media to incite violence against politicians, including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The 38-year-old claimed healthcare workers and the media were behind what he called "the Covid farce" and urged his followers to attack officials and institutions, police said in a statement.

His arrest comes as Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, grapples with a new surge in Covid-19 infections. 

Hungary to shut its borders again over virus fears

Hungary will close its borders again next month because of new coronavirus fears, becoming the first EU country to re-tighten restrictions so severely.

The Central European country of almost 10 million people has been spared the brunt of the Covid-19 health crisis so far, having recorded some 5,500 cases including 614 fatalities.

"From September 1, foreign citizens will not be allowed to enter the territory of Hungary," said Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff Gergely Gulyas.

Gulyas told reporters most new infections in the country had originated abroad.

Gulyas said Hungarian citizens returning from other countries will be allowed to enter as long as they can show two negative coronavirus tests or quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Thousands arrested for ‘virus-related crimes’ in China

Nearly 5,800 people suspected of killing health workers, selling defective medical equipment or lying about their travel history have been arrested in China for epidemic-related crimes since January, the state prosecutor's office has announced.

One case involved a shopper who beat another customer to death for not wearing a mask in a supermarket.

Other cases included a person who deliberately mowed down medical workers with a car, while another was arrested for stabbing a health inspector with a dagger when monitoring temperatures.

Merkel: Virus fight 'will be more difficult' in autumn, winter

Coping with the coronavirus will become more challenging in the coming autumn and winter months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her annual summer press conference on Friday.

"Some things are likely to be more difficult over the next few months than they are in the summer," Merkel said.

"We have all enjoyed the freedoms and relative protection from aerosols in the summer, which is possible through life outdoors," she said, referring to micro-particles that are thought to spread through the air, especially in enclosed spaces.

South Korea sect members donate blood for virus research

Nearly 200 coronavirus survivors from a secretive South Korean sect blamed for the country's early outbreak donated blood plasma on Friday to help treatment research, as the group seeks to redeem itself.

Scientists have pointed to the potential for treatment using blood plasma containing antibodies to the virus from individuals who have recovered from Covid-19.

By far the South's largest contingent of coronavirus survivors is from the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is often condemned as a cult.

It was at the heart of the country's early outbreak and according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is linked to more than 5,000 virus cases in the country.

Its elderly leader, Lee Man-hee, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly hindering the government's efforts to contain the epidemic.

More than 1,000 Shincheonji members will be donating plasma.

India continues dangerous streak of highest daily case 

India reported a record spike of 77,266 coronavirus new infections on Friday, bringing its total to 3.39 million, as cases surged across the country according to data from the federal health ministry.

This marks the highest single-day caseload in the world every day since August 7, a Reuters tally showed, with India pegged as the third-most affected country by coronavirus behind only the US and Brazil.

Germany's second wave isn't going away 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,571 to 239,507 on Friday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

The reported death toll rose by three to 9,288.

UK: return to work, save the economy 

The British government will begin urging people to return to offices and other workplaces where it is safe to do so to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to UK Transport Minster Grant Shapps. 

"Our central message is pretty straightforward: we are saying to people it is now safe to return to work," he told LBC radio referring to a campaign set to be launched next week. 

Exceptions to face mask rules announced in Paris

The Paris police department announced on Friday that people doing outdoors exercise and cyclists will not have to wear face masks outdoors after authorities made masks mandatory everywhere in Paris from August 28.

In their statement, the police department also made an exception for children under the age of 11 who would also not have to wear face masks. The police department also warned that establishments with patrons not respecting face mask rules would risk being closed down.

Indonesia marks second day of record daily cases

Indonesia reported 3,003 new coronavirus cases on Friday, its biggest rise in new infections for a second successive day, data from the country's Covid-19 task force indicates.

The new cases bring Indonesia's total coronavirus infections to 165,887, while 105 new fatalities took the death toll to 7,169, the data showed.

Russia infections and death toll aren't slowing down

Russia reported 4,829 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, bringing its nationwide tally to 980,405, the fourth largest caseload in the world.

Russia's coronavirus taskforce also confirmed that 110 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 16,914.

Havana announces new curfew to curb coronavirus spread

Havana's governor announced an overnight curfew, a ban on travel from the Cuban capital to other provinces and greater restrictions on the circulation of vehicles on Thursday in a bid to curb a new peak in coronavirus cases.

The new measures come into effect on September 1 for 15 days, Reinaldo Garcia Zapata said on state television.

Cuba had mostly contained its novel coronavirus outbreak by the end of June, by isolating patients and conducting rigorous contact tracing, going on to ease lockdown restrictions.

But it tightened them again six weeks later after cases jumped again, especially in Havana. Nonetheless, it allowed domestic tourism over the summer as long as would-be vacationers took a coronavirus test before heading out.

Latin America's cases pass seven million mark

The number of coronavirus cases has passed the 7 million mark in Latin America, the region with the most infections in the world, despite some countries beginning to show a slight decline in infections, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily average of cases fell to about 77,800 in the last seven days through Wednesday, against almost 85,000 the previous week, the tally based on government figures showed. 

Brazil reports 44,235 new cases, death toll at 118,649

Brazil has reported 44,235 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 984 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours.

Brazil has registered 3,761,391 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 118,649, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The country faces the world's worst coronavirus outbreak outside the United States. 

China reports 9 new mainland cases vs 8 a day earlier

China has reported nine new Covid-19 cases in the mainland, compared with eight a day earlier, the country's health authority said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new infections were imported cases involving travellers from overseas, marking the 12th consecutive day of no local transmissions.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 85,013, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

China also reported 16 new asymptomatic cases, down from 19a day earlier. China, however, does not count these symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Australia's Victoria state reports 113 new cases

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria has said 12 people died from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours and it reported 113 new cases.

Victoria, which has become the virus hot spot of the country, a day earlier reported 23 deaths and 113 cases, its lowest daily rise in nearly two months.

Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of Covid-19 infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.

Gaza records 54 new cases

The Palestinian health ministry has recorded 54 new coronavirus cases in the densely populated Gaza.

The number of confirmed cases in the blockaded enclave now totals 192, including three deaths and 72 recoveries.

On Monday, authorities in the territory announced a 48-hour total lockdown after the first virus cases were detected outside of quarantine facilities.

On Wednesday, the Hamas-run interior ministry in the Gaza extended the lockdown for another 72 hours.

Shops, government offices, educational and private institutions and mosques have been shut as part of the lockdown.

Netherlands to close mink farms after virus outbreak

More than 100 mink farms in the Netherlands will be ordered closed by March after animals at dozens of locations contracted the coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of the ferret-like animals, which are bred for their fur, have been culled in the Netherlands and other European countries since the virus outbreak.

The Netherlands had already intended to halt its mink breeding industry by 2024, but decided to bring forward the closures after several farm employees contracted Covid-19.

The government has set aside $212 million to compensate farmers, the Dutch news agency ANP reported on Thursday, citing sources.

According to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers, the Netherlands exports around $101 million worth of fur a year for use in China and globally. 

The country had roughly 900,000 mink at 130 farms, Statistics Netherlands data said.

California, Florida, New York, Texas won't follow new US Covid-19 testing plan

Several large US states are not heeding new federal health officials' calls to reduce Covid-19 testing of some people exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and New York all plan to continue to test asymptomatic people who have been exposed to Covid-19, despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting that such tests may not be needed.

"The current Texas guidance recommends testing for all close contacts of a confirmed case because it allows for early case identification among people who are at a higher risk of infection," a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services in a statement. "There’s not a planned change at this point."

California and New York made similar statements. The Florida Department of Health said asymptomatic testing was continuing while the new CDC recommendations were evaluated, and Texas also said it would evaluate.

The CDC said this week that people exposed to Covid-19 but not symptomatic may not need to be tested, shocking doctors and politicians and prompting accusations the guidance was politically motivated.

Even before the CDC guidance, coronavirus testing in the US had dropped. The US tested on average 675,000 people a day last week, down from a peak in late July of over 800,000 people a day.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies