Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, has announced that a team of international experts will travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan to begin a study into the origin of the coronavirus.
Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s John Nkengasong said 23 of Africa’s 54 countries have reported a sustained decrease in new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past couple of weeks.
- South Korea reports the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since March, and parliament forced to close amid expectations that authorities will impose tougher restrictions.
- The U-turn by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on testing close contacts of people with COVID-19 raises concern among experts about asymptomatic spread of the disease.
- More than 24 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 15.8 million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 826,000 people have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, August 27
16:35 GMT – UN Syria talks resume after coronavirus cases forced suspension
The United Nations has said talks aimed at rewriting the Syrian constitution have resumed after a three-day pause caused by positive cases of coronavirus among four participants.
The discussions between the representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society resumed in Geneva on Thursday after Swiss health authorities gave the green light.
UN envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, who is moderating the talks, has voiced hope it could pave the way towards a broader political process in Syria.
Read more here.
Struggling designers find ways to help fight COVID in Indonesia (2:18)
16:20 GMT – International team of experts to probe coronavirus origins in Wuhan: WHO’s Tedros
A team of international experts will travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan to begin a study into the origins of the coronavirus, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced.
15:35 GMT – UK reports highest daily COVID-19 cases since June 12
The United Kingdom has recorded 1,522 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest daily government statistics, the highest number since June 12 and up from 1,048 cases a day earlier.
A further 12 people were recorded as having died within 28 days of their first positive test for COVID-19, taking the UK’s cumulative death toll on this measure to 41,477.
Croatia virus surge: Infections increase as tourists arrive (2:25)
15:05 GMT – WHO panel to review international health regulations – Tedros
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that his agency was setting up a review committee to evaluate the performance of its International Health Regulations (IHR) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement to Geneva diplomats hours ahead of a press conference. “The Committee will make technical recommendations on the functioning of the IHR as well as regarding possible amendments,” he said, according to his remarks.
He said the review committee’s first meeting would be on September 8-9.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, one of Tedros’ predecessors at the helm of the UN agency, told reporters in June that the WHO should change the IHR guidelines that led it to oppose travel restrictions early in the outbreak – a step criticised later by the United States
14:35 GMT – Mass public events to remain banned in Germany until end of year
Mass public events where coronavirus contact tracing and hygiene rules can’t be maintained are to remain banned in Germany until the end of the year.
That was decided during talks on Thursday between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, as rising infection rates in the country strengthen calls for tougher nationwide rules.
But sources from the talks said the state administrations are to form a working group on how to deal with fans at national sporting events, with a proposed framework to be presented by late October.
This is set to ignite some hope that Bundesliga football games could welcome back crowds under certain conditions before the end of the year.
Peru economy: COVID-19 puts millions of people out of work (2:27)
14:30 GMT – EU pays 336 mln euros for doses of AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine
The European Commission has paid 336 million euros ($396 million) to secure at least 300 million doses of the potential COVID-1 vaccine being developed by British drug maker AstraZeneca, a spokesman has announced.
Brussels signed the deal on behalf of EU states for the supply of at least 300 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. It has an option for a further 100 million, the spokesman said.
“We cannot indicate at this stage the specific pricing per dose. However, a significant part of the overall costs are funded by a contribution from the overall ESI funding for vaccines,” he said, referring to the bloc’s so-called emergency support instrument.
13:35 GMT – Poland to shorten coronavirus quarantine period to 10 days
Poland will shorten its quarantine period for those suspected of being infected with coronavirus to 10 days from 14 days, the health minister has announced, amid a spike in new daily cases.
“We will change the rules for quarantine and isolation… We would like to propose the shortening of quarantine to 10 days,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a press conference.
Poland has recorded 64,689 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,010 deaths.
What’s behind the record rise in global COVID-19 infections? | Inside Story (25:00)
13;25 GMT – Swedish public health agency says can ease COVID-19 rules for some public events
Rules over public gatherings in Sweden can be eased to allow up to 500 people to attend if they can be seated, the Public Health Agency has said, proposing such venues can be granted an exception from the current rule that sets a ceiling of 50 people.
“The proposal relates to evens where there are numbered seats,” the Agency’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters.
He said that if the government accepts the proposal, its effects should be evaluated “and if it works well, the limit can be raised”.
Coronavirus: What did they get wrong? | Start Here (9:04)
12:35 GMT – WHO Europe chief cites coronavirus warning signs ahead
The World Health Organization’s top official in Europe Dr Hans Kluge said younger people are likely to come into closer contact with the elderly as the weather cools in Europe, raising the prospect of spread to the most vulnerable.
“We don’t want to do unnecessary predictions, but this is definitely one of the options – that at one point there would be more hospitalisations and an uptick in mortality,” he said from Copenhagen, the WHO Europe headquarters.
“It may be that younger people indeed are not necessarily going to die from it, but it’s a tornado with a long tail and it’s a multi-organ disease,” he said.
11:40 GMT – EU signs supply contract with AstraZeneca for potential vaccine
The European Commission said it has signed a contract on behalf of the EU states with British drugmaker AstraZeneca for the supply of at least 300 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The move follows an advance purchase agreement signed by Brussels with AstraZeneca earlier in August.
It is the first contract signed by the EU with a maker of potential COVID-19 vaccines, it envisages an option to purchase 100 million additional doses to be distributed on a population-based pro-rata basis among the 27 EU states.
11:08 GMT – Masks to be compulsory across Paris
Face masks will be made compulsory in all public places in Paris, one of the French regions hardest-hit by a resurgence of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
The Paris police chief, after consultation with the mayor, “will expand mask-wearing” – which is already compulsory on public transport, in enclosed spaces, and in certain busy areas of the city – “throughout the capital”, Castex told reporters.
10:30 GMT – Germany agrees tougher rules to fight rising infections
Germany plans to keep fans out of stadiums until at least the end of the year and get tougher on mask-wearing to combat a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, according to a draft seen by AFP.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states to officially agree on a package of new measures, which will apply nationwide.
The new regulations will include a minimum fine of 50 euros ($59) for anyone caught without a face mask in places where wearing one is compulsory, such as in shops and on public transport.
10:00 GMT – Africa reports sharp decline in new infections
Africa’s top public health official says the continent has seen a 20-percent decrease in confirmed cases in the past week, with 23 of 54 countries reporting a sustained decrease in new cases in the past couple of weeks
John Nkengasong with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters testing and other efforts to contain the virus have been largely working, but just one or two cases could reignite infections.
The African continent has reported more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, roughly half in South Africa.
09:35 GMT – Doctors in Kenyan capital end strike over pay delays, lack of PPE
Doctors employed by Kenya’s Nairobi County government resumed work following a six-day strike over delayed salaries and a lack of protective equipment when handling patients who may have COVID-19, a union official said.
Thuranira Kaugiria, Nairobi County secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said in a WhatsApp message the doctors had returned to work after signing an agreement with county officials on Wednesday.
In the agreement, the government promised to pay doctors on the fifth day of every month, failing which the doctors were free to stop work without notice, and to provide the doctors with adequate supplies of high-quality personal protective equipment.
09:05 GMT – Hungary PM Orban’s cabinet chief quarantined over coronavirus
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s cabinet chief will remain in quarantine until he tests negative for the coronavirus after he attended a private event last Saturday where a participant tested positive for the disease, Orban’s office said.
The first test taken by cabinet chief Gergely Gulyas was negative, the office said in a statement on state news agency MTI. A state secretary working in Orban’s office, Balazs Orban, has also been quarantined since Wednesday.
The office said Gulyas would only be able to leave quarantine and attend a government meeting on Friday if his second COVID test proves negative as well.
08:35 GMT – Coronavirus hits isolated Indian island tribe
Ten members of India’s dwindling Great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, fuelling concerns about the safety of the group and other Indigenous people in the remote archipelago.
Of the 10, six have recovered and have been put in home quarantine, while the rest are undergoing treatment in a local hospital, officials told AFP.
Only slightly more than 50 Great Andamanese people survive today and live on the tiny Strait Island where the Indian government looks after their food and shelter.
08:10 GMT – Novacyt launches test to differentiate COVID-19 and flu
Clinical diagnostics company Novacyt , one of many healthcare companies whose shares have surged during the pandemic, has launched a test to differentiate between COVID-19 and common winter diseases.
Novacyt said its “Winterplex” test panel included two gene targets specific to COVID-19, as well as gene targets for influenza A&B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
07:45 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus cases surpass 975,000
Russia has reported 4,711 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide tally to 975,576 – the fourth-largest caseload in the world.
Russia’s coronavirus task force said 121 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 16,804.
07:30 GMT – Rwanda again tightens COVID-19 measures as cases surge
Rwanda has lengthened its evening curfew and prevented movement in and out of the western area of Rusizi after a recent surge in the number of new coronavirus cases.
After a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, the government announced the tightening of a national curfew to 7pm to 5am from the current 9pm to 5am and the banning of all public transport between Kigali and other districts.
All transport was also banned in and out of Rusizi, where there has been a significant increase in cases.
07:00 GMT – Aerospace giant Rolls-Royce logs $7.1bn H1 loss
British aerospace giant Rolls-Royce said it has suffered a massive net loss in the first half of the year as the coronavirus outbreak sparked a crisis in air transport.
Rolls-Royce, which operates in the air, defence and energy sectors, posted a net loss of 5.4 billion pounds ($7.1bn) in the six months to June, after a net loss of 909 million pounds ($1.2bn) a year earlier.
The company also unveiled a 2-billion-pound ($2.6bn) asset disposal programme.
06:45 GMT – India reports record 75,000 new virus infections
India has recorded another single-day record of new coronavirus cases: 75,760 new infections in the past 24 hours.
The health ministry also reported 1,023 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 60,472.
India’s previous highest daily count was 70,488 on August 22. India has been recording more than 60,000 new infections per day for the last two weeks and now has reported 3.3 million cases since the pandemic began.
Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin taking over the blog from my colleague Kate Mayberry.
04:40 GMT – Online schooling excludes 463 million children: UN
The UN Children’s Fund says 463 million children are not able to access virtual schooling, which has become necessary during the pandemic, because they do not have the equipment or access to the internet.
After gathering data from 100 countries, UNICEF said children in South Asia, Africa, the Pacific and East Asia were most seriously affected.
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,’ said Henrietta Fore, executive director of the fund.
03:50 GMT – South Korean parliament closed; lawmakers in self-quarantine
South Korea’s parliament has closed after a photojournalist covering the governing party tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Yonhap news agency.
Parliament said more than 50 people, including 14 senior members of the Democratic Party, had been in contact with the journalist and would need to go into self-quarantine and get tested.
Several government offices have also been forced to close because of reported cases, Yonhap said.
03:40 GMT – South Korea urges people to work from home
South Korea is urging employers to allow their staff to work from home.
The country is battling a surge in new cases, mostly linked to churches and an anti-government rally earlier this month, and are worried offices could become hotspots.
“Please carry out thorough checks of risk factors at workplaces, where the work environment is especially vulnerable to infection, such as call centres and logistics warehouses,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo as he reminded businesses of the need to adopt flexible working practices.
02:30 GMT – Hong Kong moves to relax some coronavirus restrictions
Hong Kong is moving to relax some of its rules on social distancing measures from midnight (16:00 GMT) on Thursday for seven days.
The first phase of relaxation includes the re-opening of indoor premises such as cafes and restaurants for limited hours, as as well as outdoor sports premises where activities involve little physical contact.
Gatherings of more than two people will remain banned.
02:10 GMT – Urumqi begins new round of testing: state media
In China, the People’s Daily says the city of Urumqi in the far western region of Xinjiang, has begun nucleic acid testing of “key communities” as part of measures to “gradually restore normality”.
The city has reported no new infections for 11 days.
Urumqi in NW China’s Xinjiang on Wed started to conduct a new round of nucleic acid tests among key communities and later adjust its current prevention measures for #COVID19 to gradually restore normality. The city has reported ZERO new infections for 11 consecutive days. pic.twitter.com/wQIo6HLeYD
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) August 27, 2020
01:35 GMT – South Korea reports biggest jump in cases since March
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the country recorded 441 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since March.
This is the first time the number has been above 400 since March 7, and raises the prospect of tighter restrictions to curb the disease’s spread. Cases have been in triple digits since August 14.
Tougher restrictions would include a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, while cinemas, cafes and wedding venues might also have to close.
00:00 GMT – Victoria reports lowest number of daily cases in two months
The Australian state of Victoria reported 23 deaths and 113 new infections – the lowest figures in nearly two months, helped by a strict lockdown.
The state is battling a second wave of the virus thought to have been set off by returning travellers breaching quarantine rules.
23:00 GMT (Wednesday) – Air New Zealand posts $300m loss
Air New Zealand has posted a net loss of 454 million New Zealand dollars ($300m) for the financial year ended June 30.
Like many around the world, the closing of borders has led to a collapse in the airline’s passenger traffic.
About one-third of Air New Zealand’s 12,500 employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result.
22:30 GMT (Wednesday) – Concern at US testing U-turn
Health experts are concerned a sudden decision by the US to change testing guidance for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 patients but have not developed symptoms risks spreading the virus further.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says so-called “close contacts” of people with COVID-19 do not “necessarily need” to be tested if they do not have symptoms.
The CDC has not explained the decision.
We can’t control #covid19 if we can’t identify asymptomatic cases. We need MORE testing, not less.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) August 26, 2020
At what point does society rise up?
We have a Trump administration apparently placing politics and image over American lives. At every turn, the administration has afforded #COVID19 every opportunity to spread further. This is a national travesty and should be called out as such https://t.co/VUVpVhCfaw
— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) August 26, 2020
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from yesterday (August 26) here.