The global coronavirus pandemic has infected nearly 25.7 million people worldwide with over 856,000 deaths from the disease. Here are updates for September 1:

A photographer wearing a face mask looks out towards the red carpet from inside the festival palace on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival, on September 1, 2020.
A photographer wearing a face mask looks out towards the red carpet from inside the festival palace on the eve of the opening of the 77th Venice Film Festival, on September 1, 2020. (AFP)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Venice reclaims spotlight

Venice is reclaiming its place as a top cultural destination with the opening of the Venice Film Festival — the first major in-person cinema showcase of the coronavirus era after Cannes cancelled and other international festivals opted to go mostly online this year.

But don’t be fooled. The 77th edition of the world’s oldest film festival opening Wednesday and which will last until September 12 looks nothing like its predecessors.

The public is being barred from the red carpet, Hollywood stars and films are largely absent and face masks are required indoors.

Other measures to limit contagion include reserved seats, spaced apart, for all screenings and a requirement to wear masks even during screenings and outdoors.

La Biennale chief Robert Cicutto said the decision to hold the festival at all was an important sign of rebirth for Venice and the film industry, and said the experience on the Lido will serve as a “laboratory” for future cultural gatherings.

Turkey reports over 1,000 recoveries

Nearly 1,600 new coronavirus cases and more than 1,000 recoveries were reported in Turkey on Tuesday.

In a tweet, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 1,572 more infections have raised the country’s overall count to 271,705.

"The number of active cases continues to rise. If we follow [protective] measures, we will be the winner. The power is on precaution," Koca said on Twitter.

He also said 1,003 more patients recovered over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 245,929.

The death toll climbed by 47 to reach 6,417, he added.

A total of 109,443 more Covid-19 tests were done over the past 24 hours, pushing the total up to over 7.24 million.

French rugby season opener postponed 

This weekend's opening match of French rugby's Top 14 season featuring Stade Francais against Bordeaux-Begles has been postponed due to coronavirus, the league announced.

Paris-based hosts Stade Francais recorded a reported 25 positive cases of the virus last month and had asked the league (LNR) to delay the fixture due to a lack of healthy front-rowers.

"Players' health is the absolute priority for the professional rugby bodies" the LNR said.

The move comes as the French health ministry reported 4,982 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, up on the 3,082 reported on Monday, but below the highs of nearly 7,400 seen last week.

The number of people who have died from Covid-19 infections increased by 26 to 30,661, and the cumulative number of cases now totals 286,007.

Nigeria doctors on strike over coronavirus allowance

Doctors in Nigeria's capital Abuja have started an "indefinite strike" due to non-payment of a special coronavirus allowance, local media reported.

The Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) announced the decision following a meeting on Saturday, according to the Premium Times news website.

"The association would embark on a strike action with effect from 8 am 1st September 2020 until the payment of the Covid-19 hazard and inducement allowance is received," their statement said.

Hazard pay or inducement allowance is paid to employees to encourage them to work on a particular project, especially under dangerous conditions. Health care workers are constantly at risk of exposure to the novel virus.

Roland Aigbovo, head of the group's Abuja chapter has said members have not received hazard allowance since April, are suffering financial distress, adding that despite repeated ultimatum and warnings, authorities have done nothing to help them.

Third virus vaccine reaches final US testing

A handful of the dozens of experimental Covid-19 vaccines in human testing have reached the last and biggest hurdle — looking for the needed proof that they really work.

AstraZeneca has announced that its vaccine candidate has entered the final testing stage in the US. The Cambridge, England-based company said the study will involve up to 30,000 adults from various racial, ethnic and geographic groups.

AstraZeneca said development of the vaccine known as AZD1222 is moving ahead globally with late-stage trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Further trials are planned in Japan and Russia. The potential vaccine was invented by the University of Oxford and an associated company, Vaccitech.

Two other vaccine candidates began final testing this summer in tens of thousands of people in the US One was created by the National Institutes of Health and manufactured by Moderna Inc., and the other developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech.

Meanwhile, a US advisory panel was expected to release a draft plan Tuesday for how to ration the first doses of vaccine. 

Google, Apple roll out built-in Covid-19 exposure notifications

Alphabet Inc's Google and Apple Inc have announced a new system that will enable public health authorities to use smartphones to assist in contact tracing without having to build an app.

The new system — called Exposure Notifications Express — will allow public health officials to submit a small configuration file to Apple and Google. The two tech companies will then use the file to set up systems that phone owners can opt in to in order to determine whether they have been near someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In the case of iPhones, a new version of the iOS operating system being released on Tuesday will alert users whether an exposure notification system is available from local health authorities and allow users to set it up without downloading any new apps.

On Android devices, users will also get a prompt from the phone's operating system, but will still have to download an automatically generated app.

The two companies said Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, DC, will be the first US places to use the new system. 

Russia's virus cases exceed 1 million

Russia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million as authorities reported 4,729 new cases.

With a total of 1,000,048 reported cases, Russia has the fourth largest caseload in the world after the US, Brazil and India. Over 815,000 people have so far recovered, authorities said, and more than 17,000 have died.

Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is much higher than all reported figures, due to limited testing, missed mild cases and concealment of cases by some governments, among other factors.

As of Tuesday, Russia has lifted most lockdown restrictions in the majority of the country’s regions.

Poland bans direct flights from Spain, Israel 

Poland is banning direct flights from 44 countries including Spain, Israel and Romania in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Central European country, the government said.

The United States, Malta, Montenegro, Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and India are also on the list of countries, but local media reported that Russia and China had been removed from it.

The move follows measures to reintroduce restrictions on public life in the worst affected parts of the country, as the government tries to tackle the spread of the virus without resorting to a complete lockdown.

Poland, a country of 38 million, has officially registered 67,922 Covid-19 infections and more than 2,000 people have died from the virus. On Tuesday 550 new infections were registered, according to Health Ministry data. 

Japan to participate in WHO vaccine programme

Japan's health ministry said it planned to participate in the World Health Organization's Covid-19 vaccine programme known as COVAX.

A ministry official told reporters Japan would join COVAX, which had an Aug. 31 deadline for countries to express interest. The decision is non-binding, the official said, and financial contributions would be decided ahead of a Sept. 18 deadline.

The COVAX programme, launched in late April, is designed to serve as an insurance policy to secure access to Covid-19 vaccines. Participation has been uncertain as several wealthier nations, including Japan and the United States, have struck their own deals for vaccines.

Through overseas deals and domestic production, Japan is on track to have more than 500 million doses of six different Covid-19 vaccines by next year for its population of 126 million.

Indonesia reports 2,775 new cases, 88 deaths

Indonesia reported 2,775 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 177,571, data from the country’s Covid-19 taskforce showed.

The Southeast Asian country also added 88 new deaths on Tuesday, taking the total number to 7,505, the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia. 

French children head back to school

Millions of French children starting going back to school Tuesday despite a recent rise in virus infections, in a nationwide experiment aimed at bridging inequalities and reviving the economy.

“The virus is still there, and you have to protect yourself,” President Emmanuel Macron said in an Instagram video aimed at France’s more than 12 million schoolchildren on their first day back.

He spoke masked. Masks are required throughout the school day for all students 11 and over, and all teachers and school staff.

Masks are also mandatory starting Tuesday in all French workplaces, as the government encourages parents to return to the job while trying to keep infections under control.

India's coronavirus cases near 3.7 million

India reported 69,921 new coronavirus infections, the lowest daily jump in six days, taking its overall caseload to 3.69 million.

India, the world's second most populous nation, has been reporting the highest single-day caseload in the world every day for more than three weeks, and is the third worst-hit country behind the United States and Brazil.

The death toll in India from Covid-19 rose by 819 on Tuesday to 65,288.

Chinese students begin full return to school

Chinese students began a full return to regular classes following two weeks without new cases of local transmission in the country.

About 75 percent of students had already returned to school and the remainder will return beginning from Tuesday.

Reports said students had their temperatures checked on arrival but rules on social distancing and mask wearing varied depending on the region.

Çhina’s National Health Commission reported 10 new cases of coronavirus, all of them brought from outside the country. China has reported a total of 4,634 death s from Covid-19 among 85,058 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Germany reports 1,218 new cases, four more deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,218 to 243,599, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 4 to 9,302, the tally showed.

More businesses reopen in Philippine capital

Fitness gyms, barber shops and internet cafes were allowed to reopen partly in the Philippine capital Tuesday as the government further eased quarantine restrictions despite the country having the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, placed the southern city of Iligan under a mild lockdown after a rise in community infections, underscoring how Covid-19 cases have spread away from metropolitan Manila, the epicenter of the country's outbreak.

Nighttime curfews have been shortened in most cities in the capital area and outlying provinces under the new arrangements, which will last for a month.

Duterte also said medical personnel would get free food and lodging if they would otherwise be ejected by landlords and dormitory owners fearing they were virus carriers. If the landlords get sick “don’t let them into hospitals too, maybe that’s better, tit-for-tat,” the tough-talking president said, but later added he was joking.

More than 220,000 Covid-19 cases, including about 3,500 deaths, have been reported in the Philippines, which has struggled to balance public restrictions and econom ic concerns.

Hong Kong starts voluntary mass-testing program

Hong Kong has kicked off a voluntary mass-testing program for coronavirus as part of a strategy to break the chain of transmission in the city’s third outbreak of the disease.

The testing program began Tuesday with residents making their way to more than 100 testing centers staffed by over 5,000 volunteers. It is aimed at identifying silent carriers without symptoms who could be spreading the disease.

The virus-testing program has become a flashpoint of political debate in Hong Kong. Many are distrustful over resources and staff provided by China’s central government and fear that their DNA could be collected during the exercise.

Brazil passes 3.9 mln cases, death toll at 121,381

Brazil has reported 45,961 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 553 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry has said.

Brazil has registered 3,908,272 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 121,381, according to ministry data, in the world's worst coronavirus outbreak outside the United States.

Australia's virus deaths in hotspot fall to 2-week low

Australia's second-most populous state Victoria - the epicentre for Covid-19 infections in the country – reported the lowest one-day rise in deaths from the virus in two weeks as a second-wave outbreak eases.

Victoria said five people died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day rise in fatalities since August 15, while 70 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a seven-week low.

The fall in the number of Covid-19 cases comes as the state capital Melbourne begins its fourth week of a six-week lockdown that sees residents confined to their homes, a nightly curfew imposed and large parts of the state economy ordered to close.

S.Korea unveils aggressive spending plans for growth

South Korea's left-leaning government has unveiled plans to increase spending aggressively for the next few years, to safeguard jobs and boost welfare for an economy hit by the coronavirus, taking public finances further into the red.

The finance ministry said total spending will increase 8.5 percent to a record $468.30 billion next year, while expected revenue is seen increasing a mere 0.3 percent to 483 trillion won, as businesses and income earners are hurt by the pandemic.

That will take South Korea's public finances further into deficit, raising its debt-to-GDP ratio by 6.9 percentage points to a record 46.7 percent in 2021.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said it would be difficult to avoid a full-year economic contraction for 2020 if the rate of coronavirus infection continues to rise.

Algeria approves more measures to ease lockdown

Algerian authorities have said they will carry out further measures to ease a coronavirus lockdown from September 1, including lifting a ban on some cultural activities such as reopening museums and libraries.

Nurseries would also be reopened with 50 percent of their capacity but prohibit the use of air conditioners and access to children by family members.

The new steps will also end a paid leave for pregnant women and those with children under 14 years.

Algeria has already eased restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus, including reopening some businesses, mosques, leisure venues, and beaches.

It has so far reported 44,494 infections and 1,510 deaths.

UK schools reopen with pressure on PM Johnson

Schools in England and Wales will finally reopen on Tuesday to all students for a new term after the Covid-19 pandemic forced their closure, leading to cancelled exams and throwing student grades into chaos.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to get schools back up and running before the summer break but was forced to shelve those plans, contributing to criticism over how his government has handled education during the crisis.

The Department for Education said that a "system of controls" would be in place to keep pupils and teachers safe, with social distancing maintained whenever possible.

Mexico records 3,719 new cases, 256 more deaths

Mexico has reported 3,719 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 256 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 599,560 cases and 64,414 deaths.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies