The coronavirus, which caused a global pandemic, has now infected over 17.6 million people and has killed more than 680,000. Here are the latest updates for July 31:

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organised by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents, Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organised by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents, Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool (Reuters)

Friday, July 31, 2020

WHO reports global increase

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 292,527.

The biggest increases are from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the last week, around double the number that did so the previous week, showing a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world.

Turkey reports nearly 1,000 recoveries

Turkey has conducted more than 4.8 million Covid-19 tests so far, with some 46,500 tests over the past day, the country's health minister said on Friday.

According to figures Fahrettin Koca shared on Twitter, Turkey registered 982 new coronavirus cases and almost 1,000 recoveries over the past day.

A total of 17 more patients lost their lives due to the disease, bringing the death toll to 5,691.

More than 214,500 patients have successfully recovered from the virus in Turkey.

The tally of cases has hit 230,873.

Argentina extends lockdown

Argentina has extended its mandatory lockdown until August 16, which was due to expire on Sunday.

The lockdown has been the strictest in the capital Buenos Aires.

The South American nation has seen its caseload spike in recent weeks and recorded a record daily tally on Thursday with 6,377 new cases. There are now 185,373 confirmed cases and 3,466 deaths, according to the latest government data.

France's cases above 1,300 third day in a row

France's number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 1,346 in the past 24 hours, reaching over 1,300 cases for the third day in a row.

The government gave local authorities the power to order the wearing of face masks in outdoor public spaces as the country fights a resurgence of Covid-19.

But while new infections are now back to lockdown and pre-lockdown levels, fewer people are dying or falling seriously ill compared to a few months ago.

Greece sees highest increase since May

Greece reports 78 new Covid-19 cases and three deaths. 

It's the highest increase of new cases in the country since the end of the lockdown in May.

The total number of infections has now reached 4,477.

Ten of the new infections were imported and detected at the country’s airports and other entry points, according to the National Organization of Public Health (EODY). The death toll stands at 206.

WHO warns of coronavirus effects

The global coronavirus outbreak is the sort of disaster whose effects will last far into the future, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

"The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come," Tedros told a meeting of the WHO's emergency committee.

As some countries are seeing an increase of cases, Tedros warned, "most of the world's people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks."

Covid-19 vaccines

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE agree to supply Japan with 120 million doses of their mRNA-based vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus in the first half of 2021.

The companies said, assuming success of the vaccine in clinical studies, they are on track to seek regulatory review for the vaccine as early as October.

Meanwhile, the US plans to pay Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1 billion to develop and deliver 100 million doses of their potential coronavirus vaccine, pushing its total number of doses to one billion.

Florida reports record increase

Southern US state of Florida reports a record increase in new Covid-19 deaths for a fourth day in a row on Friday, with 257 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

Florida also reported 9,007 new cases, bringing its total infections to more than 470,000, the second highest in the country after California. Florida's total death toll rose to nearly 7,000, the eighth highest in the nation.

United States records fatalities for July

The United States has recorded 25,000 deaths for the month of July. Eighteen states saw their infections double this month, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.

The country has a total of 4.5 million cases. The death toll rose at least 19 percent in July to more than 152,000 total.

Spain sees major jump

Spain's Health Ministry on Friday reported 1,525 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June and beating the previous day's record rise.

It is the third day in a row Spain has diagnosed more than 1,000 infections.

Hong Kong to postpone elections

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the government will postpone highly anticipated legislative elections by one year, citing a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The government is invoking an emergency ordinance in delaying the elections, and said it has the support of the Chinese government to hold the elections on September 5, 2021.

New cases in Vietnam

Vietnam has recorded 37 new cases, 26 of which were imported from abroad and discovered while the patients were in quarantine.

This brings the total number of infections in the Southeast Asian country to 546. The first case in 100 days was discovered recently in the tourist town of Danang.

Philippines highest daily increase in two days

The Health Ministry in the Philippines confirmed 4,063 novel coronavirus infections on Friday, reporting the highest daily case increase in Southeast Asia for a second day in a row.

The ministry confirmed that infections have risen to 93,354, while deaths increased by 40 to 2,023.

President Rodrigo Duterte extended restrictions in the capital and some provinces for another two weeks to try to control the spread of the virus.

Indonesia reports more than 2,000 new cases

Indonesia has reported 2,040 new coronavirus infections and 73 additional deaths, according to data published on the country's Covid-19 task force website.

This brings Indonesia's total number of confirmed infections to 108,376 and deaths to 5,131.

Russia sees more than 5,000 new infections

Russia has reported 5,482 new cases of Covid-19, pushing its national tally to 839,981, the world's fourth largest caseload.

Officials say 161 people have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,963.

Norweigian cruise quarantined

Three members of the crew of Norwegian cruise vessel Roald Amundsen were diagnosed with Covid-19, according to the University Hospital of North Norway.

All 160 crew members have been quarantined, while passengers who travelled with the ship are being told to self-isolate.

The vessel had close to 200 passengers on board when it arrived at the Arctic port of Tromsoe.

UK tightens lockdown in northern England

Britain imposed a tougher lockdown in swathes of northern England after a rise in the rate of novel coronavirus transmission, raising concerns that a second wave of the deadly virus could sow yet more turmoil.

Official data showed 846 new positive tests in Britain, the highest number of daily infections since June 28 as ministers fretted about a second wave of cases in Europe and warned more quarantine restrictions were possible.

The measures were introduced hastily at the start of the annual Muslim Eid al Adha "feast of sacrifice."

People in the areas affected were told not to socialise with other households at home or in gardens, or to meet with other households in pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship or leisure venues.

Nepal reopens Everest despite uncertainty

Nepal has reopened its mountains, including Everest, for the autumn trekking and climbing season in a bid to boost the struggling tourism sector, officials said, despite coronavirus uncertainty.  

The Himalayan country shut its borders in March just ahead of the busy spring season when hundreds of mountaineers usually flock to the country, costing jobs and millions of dollars in revenue. 

A nationwide lockdown was lifted last week, and Nepal is now open "for tourism activities, including mountaineering and trekking." Mira Acharya of the tourism department said. 

The government will permit international flights to land in the country from August 17. 

The decision comes despite over 1,000 new infections reported this week, with a total of 19,547 cases.

Hong Kong reports 121 new cases

Hong Kong reported 121 new cases, including 118 that were locally transmitted, as authorities said the global financial hub faced a critical period to battle a third wave of the virus which has seen a resurgence this month.

Since late January, over 3,100 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 27 of whom have died.

Poland reports record high cases for second day

Poland reported its highest number of new daily virus cases since the global pandemic started for the second day in a row, with 657 new cases, according to the Health Ministry.

The ministry reported seven new deaths, with a total of 45,688 reported coronavirus cases and 1,716 deaths.

Of the new cases, 227 were in the Silesia region, which has been grappling with an outbreak amongst miners. 

Russia's case tally nears 840,000

Russia reported 5,482 new cases of the virus, pushing its national tally to 839,981, the world's fourth-largest caseload.

Officials said 161 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,963.

Philippines extends restrictions amid vaccine pledge

Philippine President Duterte extended restrictions in the capital Manila, until mid-August and reiterated that the country would be given priority in supplies if China made a breakthrough with a vaccine.

The Philippines this month recorded Southeast Asia's biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths and biggest single-day increase of confirmed infections, overwhelming healthcare workers and hospitals in some cities.

The lockdowns imposed in mid-March, among the world's strictest and longest, crippled the Philippines economy. The country's cases went up nearly five-fold to 89,374 and deaths more than doubling to 1,983 since the tough lockdown was eased in June.

India records another surge

A record surge of 55,079 new cases in the past 24 hours took India’s coronavirus caseload past 1.6 million, as the government decided to lift a nighttime curfew that has been in force since late March.

The Health Ministry also reported 779 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 35,747. The ministry said more than 1 million people have recovered from the virus at a rate of 64 percent.

The night curfew will be lifted this weekend and yoga institutes and gyms will reopen on August 5, according to the Home Ministry. The government also removed interstate restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

Libya to impose full lockdown

Libya's internationally recognised government in Tripoli will impose a full lockdown in areas of the country it controls, after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Libya's National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), one of the few bodies that operates across the country despite the conflict, has confirmed 3,222 cases.

Libya's health system is in tatters after nearly a decade of chaos and war that has fragmented the state, destroyed infrastructure and left many people living in crowded conditions after fleeing their homes.

The main outbreaks are focused in Tripoli, the port of Misrata and in the southern desert town of Sebha, according to the NCDC, though cases have also been confirmed in most other major population centres.

Vietnam records first death after virus re-emerges

Vietnam confirmed its first coronavirus fatality, state media reported, after the death of an elderly man who had tested positive in Danang, the city where the virus re-emerged in the country last week after 100 days.

Vietnam is battling a new outbreak of the virus following months of successful countermeasures which saw the country keep its coronavirus tally to just a few hundred cases.

The man, 70, died early on Friday, state media said.

Authorities reported 45 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest daily jump in the country, bringing the total cases in the country to 509.

Trump offers, Democrats reject fix for $600 jobless benefit

With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.

Other stark differences remain between the $3 trillion proposal from Democrats and $1 trillion counter from Republicans.

Money for states and cities is a crucial dividing line as local governments plead for help to shore up budgets and prevent deeper layoffs as they incur Covid-19 costs and lost tax revenue in shutdown economies.

Australia's Victoria reports 627 new cases 

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria reported eight deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 627 new cases, compared with a record 723 cases and 13 deaths a day earlier.

The deaths take the state's total fatalities from the pandemic to 112, which is more than half of Australia's total death tally.

The state now has topped more than 10,000 cases, with total infections in the country at just over 17,000.

Vietnam reports 45 new virus cases

Vietnam's health ministry reported 45 new virus infections linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Danang, marking the highest daily increase since the first cases emerged in the country in late January.

The new patients, with ages ranging from 27 to 87, are linked to four hospitals and a hotel in Danang. Total infections since the virus resurfaced have reached 93, the ministry said in a statement.

Vietnam has registered 509 cases of the virus in total, with no deaths. The country had recorded 100 days without a locally transmission case before the reemergence of the virus.

Mexico's virus death toll rises to 46,000

Mexico's health ministry posted 639 new deaths from the virus bringing the country's toll to 46,000.

Total confirmed infections in Mexico stand at 416,179 cases, up 7,730, according to the ministry's official count.

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

As Cubans let guard down, coronavirus rebounds slightly

Just 10 days ago, Cuba registered zero new virus cases for the first time since the start of its outbreak, burnishing its reputation for a textbook handling of disasters like hurricanes and now the fearsome pandemic.

But top epidemiologist Francisco Duran berated Cubans in his daily briefing for letting their guard down too quickly, resulting in several new focal points of local transmission.

"People are holding different types of gatherings without taking into account distancing and often without even using a face mask," the usually mild-mannered Duran said, visibly irritated.

He reported nine new cases over the last day, after the daily count jumped as high as 37 over the past week.

Masks to be mandatory in 8 more Mississippi counties

Mississippi is continuing to see a sharp increase in reported cases of the virus, and Gov. Tate Reeves says he will put eight more counties under restrictions that include mandatory masks in public.

The restrictions are already in place in 29 of the state’s 82 counties, covering more than half of the state’s population. Those are being extended until August 17.

The eight counties that will be added Monday have seen a rapid rise in cases.

The state epidemiologist says Mississippi has “astoundingly high” numbers of people hospitalised with the virus.

US counts nearly 1,400 deaths in 24 hours

The United States counted 1,379 new deaths from the virus in 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

It was the third day in a row with more than 1,200 deaths, according to the Baltimore-based school. 

The US has tallied a total of 151,826 deaths from the virus, making it the hardest-hit country in the world. 

There were also 72,238 new infections officially recorded, meaning the US has seen a total of nearly 4.5 million infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with at least 1.4 million of them having recovered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies