The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 21.5 million people and has killed more than 772,000. Here are the updates for August 16:

Worshippers attend a Sunday morning service at the Christ Church Spitalfields, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in London, Britain August 16, 2020
Worshippers attend a Sunday morning service at the Christ Church Spitalfields, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in London, Britain August 16, 2020 (Henry Nicholls / Reuters)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

UK struggles with continued second wave of infections

The United Kingdom recorded 1,040 new positive tests for coronavirus, the government said, the sixth day in a row there have been more than 1,000 infections in daily figures.

A further five people were reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

Hundreds protest safety restrictions in Belgium

Some 500 people in Brussels protested against mandatory masks and other restrictions to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Stop the measures, stop the madness” rally was organised by a civil group called Viruswaanzin (Virus craziness), which has said the government overreacted to the pandemic.

Protesters pleaded for relaxed mask rules, support for the hospitality industry, and not focusing efforts exclusively on the fight against Covid-19 by marginalising other policy areas.

They also accused the government of curbing individual rights and treating people like a “sheep” with their “sanitary dictatorship.” 

Virus claims 6 lives in Libya, 2 in Sudan

Health authorities in Libya and Sudan confirmed additional fatalities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Libya’s National Center for Disease Control said six people had died from the virus and 411 others tested positive.

The country’s tally now rose to 7,738 confirmed cases, including 145 deaths, and 894 recoveries.

In Sudan, the Health Ministry recorded two deaths along with 103 infections and 10 recoveries .

The country's total infections now stand at 12,314, including 798 deaths, and 6,350 recoveries.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 769,000 lives in at least 188 countries and regions since last December. 

First Mediterranean cruise to set sail after virus tests

Cruise ship passengers were having their temperatures checked and taking Covid-19 tests so they could set sail on what is being billed as the first Mediterranean cruise after Italy's pandemic lockdown.

The MSC Grandiosa has made the procedures, for crew as well as passengers, part of its new health and safety protocols. 

Any one testing positive, or with a fever, or having other virus symptoms will be denied boarding, the company said.

Guest must wear face masks in elevators and other areas where social distancing is not possible. The crew spent time in quarantine before the start of the cruise.

China's local cases fall as Xinjiang cluster recedes

China's new locally transmitted virus cases fell to a one-month low as a cluster in the western region of Xinjiang receded, data released by the country's health authority showed.

The number of locally transmitted cases in China dropped to four on August 15, all of which were in Xinjiang, the National Health Commission said in a statement. 

That compares with eight cases nationwide a day earlier and is the lowest since July 16.

No new locally transmitted cases were recorded on August 15 in the city of Shenzhen in southern Guangdong province after provincial authorities there reported fresh infections a day earlier.

New virus restrictions come in force in two Spanish regions

New restrictions to stop the spread, including the closure of discos and a partial ban on smoking outdoors, went into effect in two Spanish regions.

The small, northern wine-growing region of La Rioja and the southeastern region of Murcia are the first Spanish regions to implement a raft of new measures which Spain's Health Minister Salvador Illa unveiled Friday to be enforced nationwide as the country battles a surge in the disease.

The measures include the closure of all discos, night clubs and dancing halls, while restaurants and bars are required to close by 2300 GMT, with no new guests allowed in from midnight.

Visits in retirement homes will be limited, while smoking outdoors in public places is banned when a distance of two metres cannot be maintained.

The ban on smoking on the streets is already in place in two of Spain's 17 autonomous regions, Galicia and the Canary Islands.

Spain's remaining regional governments are expected to start implementing the new measures in the coming days.

Russia reports nearly 5,000 new daily Covid-19 cases

Russia has reported 4,969 new virus cases, bringing its nationwide tally to 922,853, the fourth highest caseload in the world.

Russia's crisis response centre said that 68 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing its official coronavirus death toll to 15,685, adding that 732,968 people have recovered.

Indonesia reports 2,081 new cases, 79 deaths

Indonesia reported 2,081 new cases and 79 deaths from the virus, according to data from Indonesia's Covid-19 governmental task force. 

The data takes the total number of infections in the world's fourth-most populous country at least to 139,549 cases.

South Korea reports most cases since early March

South Korea has reported 279 cases, the most cases since early March, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Out those, 267 were locally transmitted cases, mostly in Seoul and surrounding areas.

The new cases bring the country's tally to 15,318 infections, with 305 deaths.

Greece sees 230 new coronavirus cases
Greece has reported 230 new cases, the National Organization for Public Health said.

The total cases have now jumped to 6,858 since the pandemic broke out in the country, while three more deaths were added to the total number of deaths, now standing at 226.

According to authorities, 27 of the new cases were recorded at the country's entry points.

As of Monday, bars, cafes, and restaurants in the capital Athens and several other parts of the country will have to close at 12 midnight and not reopen before 7 a.m.

New Zealand reports 13 new cases

New Zealand reported 13 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus for the last 24 hours, as the country’s first outbreak in months continues to grow.

All but one of the new cases were community transmissions and appeared to be linked to a cluster in Auckland where the most recent outbreak started, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a media briefing in Wellington. The 13th infected person was a traveller returning from abroad and in a managed quarantine.

The new cases bring the number of active cases in New Zealand to 69.

Trinidad and Tobago ramps up measures

Trinidad and Tobago's government will implement tougher measures aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus after the number of infections increased in August, the prime minister said.

The Caribbean nation registered a jump in Covid-19 cases in August after a gradual rise in July, and has now recorded 474 cases and ten fatalities. Two of the deaths were reported on Friday.

South Africa eases restrictions

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that all indications were that South Africa had reached the Covid-19 peak of infections, as he announced a sweeping removal of lockdown restrictions on the economy.

In a televised address, Ramaphosa said the government would end the ban on alcohol and tobacco, allow restaurants and taverns to return to normal business, subject to strict hygiene regulations, and remove the ban on travel between provinces.

"All indications are that South Africa has reached the peak and moved beyond the inflection point of the curve," Ramaphosa said, adding that the cabinet had decided to move to lower, "level two" restrictions from midnight on Monday.

"The move to level two means that we can remove nearly all of the restrictions on the resumption of economic activity across most industries," he said.

Mexico requires 200 million vaccine doses

Mexico will need up to 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses, according to a senior government official, and inoculation of its 120 million inhabitants could start as early as April if clinical trials and regulatory approvals for pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca Plc go as planned.

In partnership with the governments of Mexico and Argentina, AstraZeneca initially plans to produce 150 million doses in early 2021 and eventually make at least 400 million doses for distribution throughout Latin America.

AstraZeneca is among those working on Covid-19 vaccine candidates now in development around the world.

France mulls masks at work

France is to propose that masks be worn in shared workspaces as the country grapples with a rebound in cases that rose again in the past 24 hours to over 3,000.

The health ministry reported 3,310 new virus infections, marking a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row.

The number of clusters being investigated increased by 17 to 252, it said in a website update.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies