Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 4.4 million people and infected over 210 million globally. Here are all coronavirus-related developments for August 19:

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk at an underground shopping centre in Yokohama near Tokyo on 18, 2021.
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk at an underground shopping centre in Yokohama near Tokyo on 18, 2021. (AP)

Thursday, August 19:

Japan reports daily record for new virus cases

Japan has reported a record for daily cases at more than 25,000, which is likely an undercount in a nation where testing hasn’t been widespread.

The Health Ministry gave the total as 25,141, of which 1,223 cases were still being confirmed. Japanese media gave different tallies, but all surpassing 25,000.

Much of Japan, including Tokyo, is under a “state of emergency” that asks restaurants to close at night and people to stay home. Worries are growing about overcrowded hospitals. Japan has had more than 15,500 deaths in the pandemic.

Number of jabs administered in Turkey tops 87M

Turkey has administered more than 87 million doses of vaccines since launching a mass immunisation campaign in January, according to official figures.

Over 45.3 million people have received a first dose and more than 34.4 million are now fully vaccinated.

Ankara reported 19,320 new infections and 216 deaths in the last 24 hours, while as many as 14,743 more patients recovered.

Turkey's teachers, personnel to undergo PCR testing

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that teachers and school personnel will be required to provide negative PCR tests at least twice a week with the start of face-to-face learning on September 6.

“We will require our unvaccinated university students and university staff to undergo regular PCR testing,” he said.

Public events such as concerts, theatres, and movie theatres will soon require a negative PCR test to curb the spread of the virus.

“Airplanes and inter-city bus travels will also require PCR test to travel,” he said.

Italy reports over 7,200 new case

Italy has reported 55 deaths against 69 the day before while the daily tally of new infections increased to 7,260 from 7,162.

Italy has registered 128,634 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.46 million cases to date.

Britain records over 36,500 new cases

Britain has reported 36,572 new cases and a further 113 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test.

The data compared with 33,904 new cases on Wednesday and 111 deaths. 

Few masks as millions throng Iraq shrine

Masks have been almost nowhere to be seen as millions of pilgrims thronged the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala for the Shia commemoration of Ashura, ignoring pandemic fears.

Six million pilgrims marked Ashura this year, the official Iraqi news agency reported, quoting authorities in Karbala.

They came from across the country but also from neighbouring Iran and from Pakistan, despite concerns over the pandemic.

EU-J&J vaccine arrangement

The European Commission said it had reached a temporary agreement with South Africa to use a plant there to bottle Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines that are being imported into the EU.

On Wednesday the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters he was "stunned" by news that J&J vaccines were being exported from South Africa to the EU, because the EU has already very high vaccination rates while in many African countries not even the most vulnerable have been vaccinated.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters on Thursday the agreement with South Africa was reached after J&J faced problems in producing vaccines in the United States at a factory belonging to its partner Emergent Biosolutions.

Iran Covid-19 deaths top 100,000

Recorded deaths from Covid in Iran passed the 100,000 mark on Thursday, the health ministry said, amid tighter restrictions nationwide to contain the spread of the virus.

In the past 24 hours, 31,266 people tested positive for coronavirus and 564 died, the ministry said. That brought total infections since the pandemic started to 4,587,683, and deaths to 100,255.

Malaysia reports 22,948 cases, new daily high

Malaysia has reported 22,948 new cases, a new daily record.

The country has recorded nearly 1.49 million infections overall.

Russia records 791 deaths, 21,058 new cases

Russia has reported 791 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours as well as 21,058 new cases, including 2,142 in Moscow.

Russia was hit by a surge in cases this summer that peaked in July and that authorities blamed on the Delta variant and slow uptake for domestically-produced vaccines.

Philippines reports second largest daily infections

The Philippine health ministry has recorded 14,895 new cases, the second highest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic.

In a bulletin, it said total confirmed cases were 1.79 million, while deaths have reached 30,881, after 258 fatalities were recorded. Active cases rose to a near four-month high at 111,720. 

WHO urges action as Indonesia mobility returns to pre-pandemic levels

The World Health Organization has urged Indonesia to take action to stem transmission of the virus, following new data showing that mobility for retail and recreation has reached pre-pandemic levels in some key regions.

Indonesia, which last month became the epicentre of Asia's virus outbreak, has social mobility restrictions in place, that currently allow malls and restaurants in designated areas to operate at 25 percent of capacity.

The WHO's latest situation report highlighted "a notable increase in community mobility in retail and recreation" in the provinces of Banten, West Java and Central Java, collectively home to about 97 million people.

Latvians protest mandatory vaccination

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Latvia’s capital of Riga to protest mandatory vaccination.

The Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency, said the number of people exceeded the maximum allowed for public protests, people did not observe distance, and many didn’t wear face masks.

Up to 3,500 people participated, BNS reported, quoting police.

Virus cases rise again in two Australian states

Australia's two most populous states have recorded new highs in their daily infection tallies.

New South Wales reported a record 681 cases over the past 24 hours, mostly in Sydney. The previous record for New South Wales was set on Wednesday, at 633 cases.

Neighbouring Victoria reported 57 new cases, the state's highest daily tally since early September last year.

NZ allows youths to get vaccinated against virus

New Zealand has announced that it will start offering youths aged 12 to 15 the Pfizer vaccine.

Previously, only those aged 16 and over were eligible.

The government announcement came as the nation remains in a strict lockdown as it deals with a new outbreak of the fast-spreading delta variant - its first virus outbreak in six months.

Covid vaccines loses efficacy over time against Delta variant

A British public health study found that protection from either of the two most commonly used Covid-19 vaccines against the now prevalent Delta variant of the coronavirus weakens within three months.

It also found that those who get infected after receiving two shots of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccine may be of greater risk to others than under previous variants of the coronavirus.

Based on more than three million nose and throat swabs taken across the UK, the Oxford University study found that 90 days after a second shot of the Pfizer or Astrazeneca vaccine, their efficacy in preventing infections had slipped to 75 percent and 61 percent respectively.

That was down from 85 percent and 68 percent, respectively, seen two weeks after a second dose. The decline in efficacy was more pronounced among those aged 35 years and older than those below that age.

Mexico logs a record 28,953 new cases, 940 more deaths

Mexico posted a record 28,953 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 3,152,205, health ministry data showed.

The figure is the highest daily total since the pandemic began, excluding statistical blips that heath authorities said were caused by one-off adjustments to back data.

Mexico also reported 940 more deaths and the total confirmed death toll now stands at 250,469 although health officials have said the real number is likely significantly higher. 

US to offer Covid-19 vaccine booster shots in September

Covid-19 vaccine booster shots will be made widely available to Americans starting on September 20, US health officials said, citing data showing diminishing protection from the initial vaccinations as infections rise from the Delta variant.

US officials will offer a third shot to Americans who received their initial inoculation of two-dose Covid-19 vaccines made by Moderna Inc and by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech AG at least eight months earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement

Brazil reports 41,714 cases, and 1,064 additional deaths

Brazil has had 41,714 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 1,064 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 20,457,897 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 571,662, according to ministry data, in the world's third worst outbreak outside the United States and India and its second-deadliest after the United States.

Facebook removes dozens of vaccine misinformation 'superspreaders'

Facebook Inc said it removed over three dozen pages spreading misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, after the White House called on social media firms to tighten controls on pandemic-related facts shared on their platforms.

A recent report showed 12 anti-vaccine accounts are spreading nearly two-thirds of anti-vaccine misinformation online.

Facebook disputed the methodology behind the report, but said it removed over three dozen pages, groups and Facebook or Instagram accounts linked to these 12 people for violating its policies.

"We have also imposed penalties on nearly two dozen additional Pages, groups or accounts linked to these 12 people," Facebook said in a blogpost.

Rwanda receives US-donated Covid vaccines

Rwanda’s Health Ministry said that it had received the first consignment of nearly half a million doses of Pfizer Inc's Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US.

Around 188,000 doses were received as part of the 489,060 donated, and the remainder will be received on Friday, the ministry said.

South Africa records 14,728 new Covid cases, 384 deaths

South Africa registered 14,728 new Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period, taking the country’s total number of confirmed infections to 2,638,981, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

The NICD said a further 384 coronavirus-related deaths have also been reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 78,377.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies