The coronavirus pandemic has now infected over 18.8 million people and has killed more than 706,000. Here are the latest updates for August 5:

Tourists with protective masks walk in the streets of the old city of Bonifacio on August 5, 2020.
Tourists with protective masks walk in the streets of the old city of Bonifacio on August 5, 2020. (AFP)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

France sees highest daily increase in two months

France has reported 1,695 new Covid-19 infections over 24 hours, bringing the total to 194,029, the highest daily increase in two months. 

On May 30, new cases were up by 1,828, according to health ministry data.

In a statement, the ministry also said the number of patients in intensive care units in French hospitals for the disease went down by four cases after increasing for two days in a row.

Turkey's coronavirus tests pass 5 million mark

Turkey has run over 5 million coronavirus tests since its outbreak in the country in early March.

Health care professionals conducted 53,842 tests for Covid-19 over the past day, raising the tally to over 5.02 million, health minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter on Wednesday.

A total of 1,015 more people won their battle against Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally of recoveries to 219,506.

Citing Health Ministry data, Koca said that 1,178 more people contracted coronavirus in the past day, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 236,112.

The country's death toll from the disease rose to 5,784, with 19 new fatalities registered in the last 24 hours.

Spain sees spike in hopitalisations

Spain has seen significant jumps in both hospitalizations and new Covid-19 cases, with nearly 34,000 people in the country infected over the past two weeks, according to the Health Ministry.

Hospitalizations are beginning to follow the new surge of cases that began just a few weeks after Spain entered into the new normal in late June. 

The ministry registered 163 more hospitalizations on Wednesday and 980 more within the last week.

Indonesia's economy contracts

Indonesia’s economy has contracted for the first time in more than two decades, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) announced.

The gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 5.32 percent in the second quarter of 2020, down by 4.19 percent from the previous quarter, according to BPS head Suhariyanto.

“This is the first contraction in over two decades,” he said in a virtual news conference, referring to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Colombia faces lockdown anxiety

Colombia's nationwide stay-at-home order remains in effect four months later. 

The country now has the ninth-highest total of Covid-19 infections worldwide, prompting President Ivan Duque to prolong the quarantine again until late August.

The effects of the long isolation are beginning to surface: in the capital of Bogota, the mayor's office reports that suicide attempts are up 21 percent since the start of quarantine.

Psychologists have seen a dramatic rise in new patients complaining of anxiety and depression.

Divorce lawyers say they are getting more inquiries, although clients also have found they cannot afford to separate.

Biden won't attend convention in person

Joe Biden will not attend the Democratic convention to accept the party's nomination to be its presidential election candidate, after the event was further scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials.

The party announced that no speakers would physically attend the August 17-20 convention, which will be entirely virtual.

Virus kills leading Brazil indigenous chief Aritana

One of Brazil's leading indigenous chiefs, Aritana Yawalapiti, has died of respiratory complications caused by Covid-19.

Aritana, 71, a chief of the Yawalapiti people in the Amazon, was known for fighting to protect the world's biggest rainforest and the rights of the indigenous peoples who live there.

"He was a great advocate in the struggle to preserve and perpetuate his people's culture for future generations and a tireless activist against the effects of deforestation," his family said in a statement.

US signs $1 billion vaccine deal with Johnson & Johnson

The US government has announced a new $1 billion investment in a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson, guaranteeing 100 million doses.

J&J, via its subsidiary Janssen, had already received $456 million in March.

The new money will allow the company to ramp up production so that doses are ready for shipping if and when the drug receives regulatory approval.

The government also has the option to acquire additional doses sufficient to vaccinate 300 million people.

With the latest deal, President Donald Trump's administration has spent $9.4 billion on vaccine agreements, with five companies agreeing to provide at least 700 million doses, according to an AFP tally.

Turkey set for biggest Covid-19 checks yet

This Thursday Turkey is set to conduct its most comprehensive checks yet on Covid-19 measures nationwide, according to the Interior Ministry.

Amid a rising number of coronavirus cases in recent days, the importance of following preventative measures in every aspect of life has become even more clear, said an Interior Ministry circular sent on Wednesday to all of Turkey’s 81 provinces.

For that reason, officials will conduct the most extensive checks on Covid-19 measures across the country, it added.

The ministry said Thursday’s checks will be carried out for the public health with the participation of local and provincial officials, professional chambers, and security officers.

New York City erects quarantine checkpoints

New York City will put up Covid-19 quarantine checkpoints at key entry points to ensure that travellers from 35 states on New York state's travel advisory comply with the state's 14-day quarantine mandate.

"Travellers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine and will be reminded that it is required, not optional," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday. 

He added that, under certain circumstances, fines for not observing the quarantine order could be as high as $10,000.

The Sheriff's Office, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, will begin deploying checkpoints at major bridge and tunnel crossings into New York City on Wednesday.

"This is serious stuff and it's time for everyone to realise that if we're going to hold at this level of health and safety in this city, and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who's travelled," de Blasio said.

Poland plans to fully reopen schools in September 

Poland intends to fully reopen its schools on September 1, the education minister has said, despite a recent renewed spike in coronavirus infections.

Poland was initially successful in containing the outbreak, but cases started rising after restrictions on public gatherings were eased. On Tuesday authorities reported the fourth record daily increase in a week, with 680 new infections.

Poland, a nation of 38 million people, had recorded a total of 48,789 cases and 1,756 deaths as of Wednesday.

Another cruise ship in Norway stalled over virus case

A cruise ship carrying more than 200 people has docked in a Norwegian harbour and ordered to keep everyone on board after a passenger from a previous trip tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning home to Denmark.

Bodoe Mayor Ida Pinneroed told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the SeaDream 1's 85 crew members would all be tested for the virus and that authorities were in contact with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on whether the 123 passengers should be as well.

“We take the situation very seriously,” the mayor said.

'Wake-up week' for Greece as cases climb

Greece has announced a "wake-up week" on Covid-19, tightening restrictions after a steady rise in mostly domestic infections.

The country has seen infections increase this month to levels last seen in April, with officials blaming overcrowding in clubs and social events.

"We are calling this a wake-up week. We are trying to awaken people with messages and daily announcements on additional measures," government spokesman Stelios Petsas told Mega TV.

"The virus is here, it feeds on our complacency," he said.

Over 380 new infections have been announced in August by the national public health organisation.

Only 10 percent of cases in Greece can be traced to foreign arrivals, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Greece has so far recorded 209 Covid-19 deaths and over 4,800 infections.

Over 10M Afghans infected with Covid-19

At least 10 million Afghans have been infected with the novel coronavirus, a recent survey by the country's Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Sharing details of this nationwide survey, Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Usmani said Covid-19 has infected at least 31.5 percent of the total population in the war-ravaged country.

Afghanistan, however, has recorded 36,829 confirmed cases after conducting 89,822 tests by August 5. “The survey shows 37% of tested urban population and 27 percent of tested rural population have been infected with coronavirus,” said Usmani.

The study showed the capital Kabul is the worst affected city with 53 percent of all cases, while the central highlands comprising mountainous provinces of Daikundi and Ghor had the least number of cases.

Chicago public schools to begin year entirely online

The 350,000 students who attend Chicago Public Schools, the third largest district in the US, will start the school year by taking all of their classes remotely amid the Covid-19 pandemic, school officials said on Wednesday.

The decision to go to all-remote learning came after the city saw an uptick in virus cases in recent weeks that made public health officials concerned about the implications of in-person learning, Chicago Public Schools said in a statement.

Oman to lift internal travel restrictions, reduce curfew

Oman will on Saturday lift a domestic ban on travel between provinces, imposed on July 25 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus during the Muslim Eid al Adha holiday.

From Saturday it will also reduce its curfew for a week to between 9 pm and 5 am (1700-0100 GMT), instead of 7 pm to 6 am (1500 to 0200 GMT). A full lockdown of the Dhofar province in the south will be maintained until further notice.

Oman, a country of 4.7 million people, has recorded almost 80,000 coronavirus infections and 421 deaths.

Cases in Southeast Asia top 300,000

The number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asian countries has reached 300,901, including 7,802 fatalities and 200,498 recoveries.

A total of 6,249 more cases and 73 deaths were recorded in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over the past day.

US Open will still be a proper Grand Slam despite pullouts – Nadal

Rafa Nadal believes this year's US Open champion will still feel like a Grand Slam winner despite the tournament losing some glamour due to the withdrawal of top players amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Spaniard said.

The hardcourt Grand Slam, which starts on August 31, lost its men's defending champion in singles with Nadal deciding against travelling to New York.

Women's world number one Ash Barty also pulled out last week, worried about significant risks due to Covid-19.

Gambia cases surge 60 percent in a week

Coronavirus cases in Gambia, mainland Africa's smallest country, have surged over 60 percent in the last seven days to nearly 800 cases, health ministry data showed.

Authorities attributed the rise to people relaxing their guard on protective measures that had so far kept Gambia's case total the lowest in Africa. Testing has also increased in the country, where the number of deaths is 16.

"There is increased enforcement of mask-wearing and other measures across the country," government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh said.

Gambia will increase police, paramilitary, marine and immigration presence on its border as scores of Senegalese return from celebrating Eid al Adha in neighbouring Senegal, which has recorded over 10,400 cases, he added.

The health ministry said six people who were confirmed cases are still at large, while two other positive cases have fled from a treatment centre in the capital.

Vietnam says expects virus outbreak to peak in 10 days

Vietnam's novel coronavirus outbreak that began late last month in the central coastal city of Danang will peak in the next 10 days, the deputy minister of health told local media.

Nguyen Truong Son said the number of infections in the Southeast Asian country will continue to rise until then, the Lao Dong newspaper reported.

Vietnam reported 43 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 713, with eight deaths.

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna for experimental vaccines

Canada has signed separate deals with Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc to supply millions of doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand also told a news conference that Ottawa was negotiating with other potential domestic and international vaccine suppliers but did not give details.

There are no approved vaccines for Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, but 19 vaccines are being tested in humans around the world.

Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate, she said. Pfizer - which is working with German biotech firm BioNTech SE - said separately it planned deliveries of the BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate over the course of 2021.

Swiss add mainland Spain to places requiring quarantine

Swiss health authorities have added mainland Spain to its list of countries from which people arriving must enter a 10-day quarantine that aims to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, they said on Wednesday.

Patrick Mathys, head of crisis management for the federal public health office, told a briefing in Bern the measure would take effect from Saturday.

The measure excludes Spain's Balearic and Canary Islands.

Moderna prices vaccine at $32-$37 per dose for smaller volume deals

Moderna Inc has said that smaller volume agreements for its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate have been executed between $32 and $37 per dose.

"We will be responsible on price well below value during the pandemic," Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said on a conference call, adding that larger volume agreements under discussion will be at a lower price.

Portugal's Azores breached constitution by imposing quarantine on visitors

Portugal's Azores Islands, some 1,400 km from the Portuguese coast, breached the national constitution by forcing air passengers to the popular tourist destination to quarantine for 14 days, the country's Constitutional Court has ruled.

The court said authorities on the islands had treated people as if they were serving a short prison sentence by confining them in hotels, regardless of whether they had symptoms.

Cases continue to climb around Europe

Daily Covid-19 cases continue to rise around Europe, with some countries ringing alarm bells over a possible second wave of infection.

France's leading scientific body issued a sobering warning Tuesday amid a surge in coronavirus cases this summer and growing concerns over a second wave of infections. 

The Scientific Council said another outbreak of Covid-19 was “highly likely” this autumn or winter due to an uptick in cases in France over the last two weeks – with 3,000 cases registered over the last three days alone.

Cases slow in South African hotspot provinces

Three South African provinces considered coronavirus hotspots have seen new infections slow in recent weeks, though it is too early to say whether the country's peak has passed, the health minister said.

South Africa has the world's fifth highest number of infections, with cases passing 500,000 over the weekend, despite a strict lockdown since late March.

On Wednesday the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was sending a "surge team" of 43 experts to the country to help the Health Ministry with "surveillance and streamlining of epidemiological systems and WHO global Covid-19 response guidelines".

Financial hub Gauteng, tourist centre Western Cape and the Eastern Cape have seen steep rises for months, with total cases at roughly 183,000, 97,000 and 80,000 respectively.

Iran sees 185 new deaths

As many as 185 new coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 17,802.

A further 2,697 people tested positive for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the case tally to 317,483, according to ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

She said more than 274,932 patients have recovered so far, while 4,129 are still hospitalised in critical condition.

Over 2.58 million tests have been conducted in Iran to date, Lari added.

The surge in daily fatalities has increased fears of a collapse of Iran’s already overwhelmed health care system.

Vietnam says contagion 'under control' in virus epicentre

A new coronavirus outbreak in Vietnam has spread to two more provinces, the country's health minister said, as the Covid-19 task force declared the contagion "under control" in the central city where the outbreak began.

Aggressive contact-tracing, targeted testing and strict quarantining had helped Vietnam contain earlier outbreaks, but it is now battling infections in at least 10 cities and provinces, after going more than three months without domestic transmission.

Valneva sees full UK investment in possible Covid vaccine sealed within weeks

French vaccine maker Valneva has said that Britain was committing an initial investment of more than $13 million (10 million pounds) to increase production capacity for a possible Covid-19 vaccine, and it expected to finalise a full package within weeks.

Chief Finance Officer David Lawrence said the overall investment would extend into clinical development and manufacturing, as governments race to secure a vaccine to help their citizens, and economies, recover from the pandemic.

Valneva was committing to supplying 60 million doses of an eventual vaccine to Britain in the second half of 2021, he said.

Hong Kong reports 85 new cases

Hong Kong has reported 85 new cases, including three that were locally transmitted, as authorities battle to control a third wave of the outbreak which has seen a resurgence in infections over the past month.

Since late January, around 3,700 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 42 of whom have died. 

The latest figure was up marginally from Tuesday's 80 cases.

Philippines confirms 3,462 more cases

The Philippines' health ministry reported 3,462 new infections and nine additional deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total infections had risen to 115,980, putting the tally just behind Indonesia's 116,871 cases, which is the highest in East Asia.

Virus deaths in the Philippines have reached 2,123.

Indonesia reports 1,815 new cases

Indonesia recorded 1,815 new infections, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 116,871, data by the country's health ministry showed.

There were 64 additional deaths, taking the overall number of fatalities to 5,452, the data showed

Russia's cases surpass 865,000

Russia reported 5,204 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally to 866,627, the fourth largest case load in the world.

Russia's coronavirus task force said 139 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 14,490.

Switzerland nears deal to get Moderna Covid vaccine

Switzerland is close to signing a deal to secure access for a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna of the US, a government official has said.

Switzerland will soon sign a reservation and supply deal, Pascal Strupler, the director of the Federal Office of Public Health, told the Swiss TV programme Club late on Tuesday.

"We are only a few hours away from completing a purchase contract. With this contract we will get it very quickly," Strupler said.

He declined to give financial details of any deal.

If the vaccine passes trials and is authorised for use, it could be produced in Switzerland under a deal between drugmaker Lonza and Moderna.

Ukraine reports record jump in cases

Ukraine recorded a record daily jump of 1,271 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the council of security and defence said.

The number of infections has increased sharply in Ukraine in the past two months as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen.

Health minister Maksym Stepanov urged people to obey broader restrictions that are still in place.

"Ukrainians, the fight against coronavirus is impossible without you. The rules are very simple - the use of masks, antiseptics and a distance of 1.5 meters. Following these simple rules significantly reduces the risk of disease," Stepanov told a televised briefing.

The total number of cases rose to 75,490, including 1,788 deaths and 41,527 recovered as of August 5. 

Czechs record biggest daily jump since end-June

The Czech Republic reported its biggest daily jump in new cases since the end of June as a recent uptick in infections stays elevated.

The central European country of 10.7 million recorded 290 new cases on Tuesday, Health Ministry data showed, bringing the total number of cases detected to 17,286. Of those, 11,812 have recovered and 383 have died of the Covid-19 illness. 

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 741 to 212,022

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 741 to 212,022, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 12 to 9,168, the tally showed.

Virus lockdown shuts Kashmir 

Authorities enforced security restrictions in many parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir, a year after New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomy in a decision that set off anger and economic ruin amid a harsh security clampdown.

Officials lifted a curfew in the restive region’s main city of Srinagar late Tuesday, but said restrictions on public movement, transport and commercial activities would continue because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government forces erected steel barricades and razor wire across many roads, bridges and intersections.

Shops and businesses remained shut and police and soldiers stopped residents at checkpoints, only letting an occasional vehicle or pedestrians pass.

Several residents said government forces stopped them at checkpoints, saying the curfew was still in place.

“You call it a curfew or virus lockdown, the fact is that we’re under a brutal siege and this siege is a year old now,” said Ishfaq Ahmed, a Srinagar resident.

On August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government stripped Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrapped its separate constitution and removed inherited protections on land and jobs.

New Zealand unemployment rate shows improvement

New Zealand’s unemployment rate showed a surprising improvement to 4% during the midst of the nation’s virus lockdown, although the headline number doesn’t tell the full story and joblessness is likely to increase in the months ahead.

Still, the figure was far better than most people expected and came as welcome news to the government led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ahead of a general election next month.

The figures from Statistics New Zealand showed the unemployment rate in the quarter ending June fell from 4.2% in the previous quarter. But the number of hours worked also fell a record 10% and the number of people not in the labor force rose.

Because people who aren’t actively seeking work are not counted as unemployed, the figures didn’t reflect many job losses because most people couldn’t search for jobs during the lockdown. And many workers have been protected by a government-funded wage subsidy scheme during the pandemic which is due to expire next month.

Australian state reports record virus increase

Australia’s hot spot Victoria state announced a new record 725 cases and 15 deaths, while businesses in Melbourne city prepared to draw down their shutters as new pandemic restrictions are enforced.

The new 24-hour record was marginally higher than the 723 cases and 13 deaths reported last Thursday.

From late Wednesday, many non-essential businesses including most detail retailers, hair-dressers and gyms in Australia’s second-largest city will be closed for six weeks. People employed in essential jobs will have to carry passes under Australia’s toughest-ever lockdown restrictions.

Like Melbourne hospitals, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that non-emergency surgeries will be restricted in hospitals in regional Victoria, where infections rates are lower.

“It will be very challenging, but it is necessary to drive these numbers down,” Andrews said of the new restrictions.

He added that the “notion of more than 700 cases is not sustainable.”

Brazil reports 51,603 news cases in one day - ministry 

Brazil has reported 51,603 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,154 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said. 

Brazil has registered more than 2.8 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 95,819, according to ministry data, in the world's worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.

Mexico reports 857 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 6,148 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 857 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 449,961 cases and 48,869 deaths. 

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

Honduras to reopen domestic and international flights

Honduras has announced that it would reopen its airports to domestic and international flights in mid-August, after a nearly five-month closure due to the pandemic.

The reopening of the airport terminals is part of the government's efforts to reactivate the economy, which is expected to contract between 7 percent and 8 percent, according to the Central Bank of Honduras.

"Under strict biosecurity measures, domestic flights will resume on Aug. 10 and international flights will resume on Aug. 17," said Maria Antonia Rivera, minister of economic development, in a virtual presentation.

Scientists say France could lose control of virus

France could "at any moment" lose control over the spread of the coronavirus, the government's Covid-19 scientific council warned as official data showed the first rise in intensive care patients since April.

In an opinion prepared for policy-makers, the council warned "the virus has recently been circulating more actively, with an increased loss of distancing and barrier measures" since France emerged from a strict two-month lockdown in May.

"The balance is fragile and we can change course at any time to a less controlled scenario,"  it said .

The council also warned of a possible "resumption of circulation of the virus at a high level" by autumn 2020, after the August summer holidays.

In the short term, retaining control is largely in the hands of citizens, it said.

US announces clinical trial of antibody treatment

The US has begun late stage clinical trials into a drug formulated to fight Covid-19, officials said.

The medicine is an antibody against the new coronavirus called LY-CoV555, which was identified in the blood sample of a recovered patient by Canada's Abcellera Biologics.

It was then developed synthetically for mass production by US-based Lilly Research Laboratories in partnership with Abcellera.

The Phase 3 trial — being led by Jens Lundgren, of the University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet — will initially enrol some 300 volunteers around the world who have been hospitalised with mild to moderate Covid-19 with fewer than 13 days of symptoms, and could expand to up to 1,000 people if the medicine appears safe and effective after the fifth day.

The trial's main goal is the patients' sustained recovery for 14 days after release from the hospital.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies