South African economic output has shrunk 51 percent in the second quarter, as a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus shut down most activity.
- China’s President Xi Jinping has told a ceremony in Beijing that the country had acted in an “open and transparent” manner over the coronavirus.
- There have been more than 27.3 million cases of coronavirus confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 892,443 people have died. At least 18.3 million people have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, September 8
21:44 GMT – England tightens virus rules as cases mount
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a tightening of rules on social gatherings amid concern at rising infection rates, particularly among young people.
The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions.
Johnson’s government also unveiled a new public information campaign entitled “Hands. Face. Space”, to emphasise the importance of hand washing, face coverings and social distancing.
“We need to act now to stop the virus spreading,” the prime minister said, ahead of a press conference on Wednesday where he will explain the changes.
More than 41,500 people confirmed to have coronavirus have died in Britain, the worst toll in Europe.
20:22 GMT – Egypt air to resume direct flights between Cairo and Moscow
Egypt Air will resume direct flights between Cairo and Moscow as of September 17, at the rate of three flights per week, state news agency MENA reported, citing a statement by the company.
Travellers to Moscow must obtain a medical certificate with a negative PCR test result for coronavirus (COVID-19) from an accredited laboratory in Egypt, issued 72 hours at most before the date of arrival, MENA added.
19:15 GMT Jordan reopens main airport after six-month shutdown
Flights resumed at Jordan’s main airport after a near six-month shutdown to stem cases of the novel coronavirus.
A Fly Jordan plane carrying 141 passengers from Istanbul landed at Queen Alia Airport near Amman on Tuesday evening, according to the airport’s website.
It was the first scheduled commercial flight to arrive since Jordan shut its airports and suspended international flights in mid-March.
Restrictions have hit Jordan’s key tourism industry.
In a normal year, five million visitors come to Jordan. Tourism generates 14 percent of GDP and employs some 100,000 people.
19:00 GMT – Canada frets over rising coronavirus cases as schools start to reopen
Canada is seeing a worrying increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus as schools across the country are starting to reopen, a top medical official said.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said an average of 545 new cases had been reported daily over the last week, up from around 300 in July.
Several of the 10 provinces have started to reopen schools this week for the first time since March after investing millions in added protections. Quebec, which welcomed back pupils last month, has already reported several cases.
Canada has recorded a total of 132,142 COVID-19 cases and 9,146 deaths.
18:45 GMT – French COVID-19 cases and deaths mount up
The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France rose by 6,544 over the last 24 hours to reach a total of 335,524 cases, the health ministry said, as the country battles to avert a second wave of the virus.
The number of deaths also climbed by 39 over the last 24 hours to reach a total of 30,764.
France has the world’s seventh-highest COVID-19 death toll, and authorities are scrutinising the data to see what measures might be needed to help it cope with an expected second wave of the virus this winter.
17:10 GMT – Ireland reports most daily coronavirus cases since May
Ireland reported 307 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number of cases reported in one day since mid-May, amid concern that new restrictions could be introduced to the capital, Dublin.
The National Public Health Emergency Team said 182 of the new cases were in Dublin, a city that government minister Simon Harris earlier on Tuesday told journalists was at a “delicate point” due to a surge in cases.
Newstalk radio earlier cited government sources as saying additional restrictions may be introduced in Dublin and Limerick if cases continue to increase.
17:00 GMT – Fears Britons abandoning social distancing as COVID-19 cases jump
Rising numbers of coronavirus cases are leading to fears Britons are easing social distancing measures too hastily, with the United Kingdom’s deputy chief medical officer worrying people had “relaxed too much” over the summer.
Warning people on Monday that they must continue to follow guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, Jonathan Van-Tam said: “We have got to start taking this very seriously again.”
In its latest bulletin on Monday, the health ministry reported 2,948 new cases – the second daily high since May – bringing the total number to 350,100.
Read more here
16:45 GMT – Israel imposes week-long restrictions on coronavirus contagion zones
Israel has begun a week-long campaign of night curfews and school closures in dozens of towns and neighbourhoods with high coronavirus counts, hoping it will help stem a spike in cases.
Most of the 40 zones subject to the partial lockdowns are identified with Israeli Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, minorities where crowding has helped spread the pandemic.
Israel, with a population of nine million, has recorded 135,288 cases of COVID-19 and 1,031 deaths.
Some government officials have called for a nationwide lockdown if the partial measures fail. That could disrupt celebrations of the Jewish high holy days, which run from September 18 to October 10.
15:30 GMT – Vast majority of virus cases in Karachi asymptomatic: study
Up to 95 percent of the coronavirus cases in Karachi have been asymptomatic, researchers said, shedding possible light on why Pakistan has been able to weather the pandemic.
Research by the Aga Khan University in Pakistan’s largest city found that more than nine out of 10 people who contracted the coronavirus showed no sign of the disease.
Public health experts tested 2,000 people from several neighbourhoods across the sprawling metropolis of about 20 million.
Researchers said more surveys were needed to understand why so many cases appear to be asymptomatic in Karachi, but they suggested Pakistan’s young population might have been a factor.
To date, Pakistan has confirmed about 300,000 infections and is recording a few hundred new cases per day, while the daily death toll continues to hover in the single digits.
15:05 GMT – South Africa daily virus cases drop below 1,000, lowest in months
South Africa has reported fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus infections, the lowest daily increase in three months, as health authorities warn that a second wave remains a risk.
The country is the hardest-hit in Africa, registering around half of the continent’s more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases.
But the number of new infections has been declining steadily since an average daily peak of around 12,000 in July.
A woman has a sample collected for coronavirus testing during the screening and testing campaign aimed to combat the spread of COVID-19 [Themba Hadebe/AP]
South Africa recorded 845 new cases on Monday, taking its total number to 639,362, according to a health ministry report released overnight.
It also registered 115 more COVID-19 related deaths, raising its total toll to 15,004.
14:50 GMT – EU parliament moves Strasbourg session to Brussels over virus
The European Parliament has cancelled plans to hold a plenary session in Strasbourg next week after the French city was placed in a coronavirus “red zone”.
“We are very saddened by this decision, but the transfer of the administrative operation of the European Parliament would mean all the staff would have to be quarantined on their return to Brussels,” said the speaker, David Sassoli.
13:55 GMT – UN reports first COVID-19 cases inside Syrian refugee camps in Jordan
Two Syrian refugees at Jordan’s Azraq camp have tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first confirmed cases to be reported inside a refugee camp in the kingdom, the UN said.
The Azraq refugee camp is Jordan’s second-largest and home to almost 37,000 refugees. It is located around 100 kilometres east of the capital Amman.
Jordan hosts more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees, including some 650,000 registered with the United Nations.
Read more here
13:51 GMT – Teachers in Bosnian village build open-air classroom to protect children from COVID-19
Teachers at an elementary school in the village of Kacuni in central Bosnia have used their summer holiday to build an open-air classroom outside their school to the joy of their students and local community.
“Our model offers a breath of fresh air both for teachers and students. It allows us to breathe, speak and work freely. I am so proud of it,” said Mirza Begovic, a language teacher at the Kacuni school, which has 1,000 students.
Bosnia has registered 21,961 cases of COVID-19 and 669 deaths.
12:45 GMT – Face masks outside compulsory in Turkey
Turkey has made it compulsory for people to wear face masks outdoors in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus, media reports.
Turkey is experiencing the second peak of its outbreak, and currently, it has 281,509 registered cases.
12:30 GMT – Dutch coronavirus infections jump to highest level since April
The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands jumped 51 percent last week to their highest level since the end of April, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday.
Newly confirmed infections increased to 5,427 in the week to Tuesday, up from 3,597 in the previous week, while the total number of tests rose 10 percent to slightly more than 180,000.
12:00 GMT – India weighing Russian offer for Sputnik-V vaccine trial, manufacturing: official
India has received an offer from Russia to conduct a trial and manufacture its “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine, with several Indian companies currently studying the proposal, an Indian government official said.
“The government of India attaches great importance to this offer of partnership from a friend,” said VK Paul, member of the Indian federal government think-tank NITI Aayog.
11:45 GMT – Liberia’s Taylor denied coronavirus jail move
Judges have rejected a bid by Liberian ex-President and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor to be moved from a British jail, where he claimed he risks dying from coronavirus.
Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence at Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England after being convicted in 2012 by a court in The Hague of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.
The warlord had argued that due to a “massive outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK” his life was at risk from continued detention and that he wanted to be moved to a “safe third country”.
11:20 GMT – Hong Kong to further ease virus measures
Hong Kong is further relaxing social distancing measures, as the territory’s number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.
Hong Kong reported another six cases of the virus on Tuesday.
From Friday, the limit on public gatherings will be relaxed to four people, up from two people. Most indoor and outdoor sports facilities, as well as museums, will be allowed to reopen.
11:00 GMT – Russia completes early trials of second potential COVID-19 vaccine: Report
Siberia’s Vector virology institute has completed early-stage human trials, known as Phase II, of a second potential Russian vaccine against COVID-19, the state consumer safety watchdog was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Russia registered its first vaccine candidate, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, in August. Late-stage trials of this vaccine, due to involve 40,000 participants, were launched last week.
Human trials of the second potential COVID-19 vaccine, a peptide-based jab, began on July 27 and involved a group of 100 volunteers, Interfax cited watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying.
10:45 GMT – Montenegro: Protests lead to a spike in coronavirus cases
Montenegro reported 106 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 5,659.
The spike came after the government declared the country coronavirus-free. The director of the Institute of Public Health, Boban Mugosa, said that the latest protests have contributed to the rise of numbers.
10:30 GMT – UN reports 42 virus cases among Syria staff, families
More than 40 members of UN staff and their families have caught coronavirus in Syria, a UN official told AFP, warning the illness was spreading in the war-torn country.
There were about 200 people including “staff and dependents, spouses, children, parents, who have displayed symptoms of COVID19,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“From these 200, there are 42 staff and dependents who have been confirmed positive with COVID-19,” he added, speaking to AFP from Geneva, without specifying the nationalities of the infected personnel.
10:15 GMT – ‘Don’t kill your gran’ – the UK sounds COVID alarm
Ministers and medics are urging the public to get serious again about the coronavirus after a sharp rise in infections raised fears the outbreak was slipping out of control in some parts.
Close to 3,000 new cases were recorded on Sunday and again on Monday – a sudden jump from numbers much closer to 1,000 for most of August, and the highest since May.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said young people had become too relaxed about social distancing and could endanger older relatives through complacency.
“Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on. And you can pass it on before you’ve had any symptoms at all,” he told a BBC radio programme aimed at younger audiences.
09:45 GMT – Japan’s Suga says coronavirus will take priority in deciding on snap election
As Japan’s governing party formally kicked off its leadership race, frontrunner and chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that preventing the spread of the coronavirus should take priority in any decision to call a snap election.
Suga, a favourite to succeed incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down due to poor health, also stressed that the biggest job for the new prime minister will be to revive the coronavirus-ravaged economy.
“Thinking about the dissolution of parliament and a general election, of course, we have to prioritize the coronavirus infection situation,” Suga told a news conference.
09:30 GMT – S.Korea’s Celltrion to begin commercial production of COVID-19 antibody drug
South Korea’s Celltrion Inc will begin commercial production of its experimental treatment for COVID-19 this month, as it pushes ahead with clinical trials of the antibody drug.
The company said it planned to make a request soon to regulators for emergency use authorisation of the drug, but that it would start mass production – likely to amount to around one million doses – before receiving that approval.
The treatment became the country’s first COVID-19 antibody drug to be tested on humans after receiving regulatory approval in July for clinical trials.
09:15 GMT – Egypt coronavirus cases top 100,000: ministry
Egypt has detected more than 100,000 COVID-19 infections and reported 5,541 deaths from the virus disease, the health ministry has said.
The North African country of more than 100 million people had imposed a night-time curfew from March to June to curb the spread of the illness but since eased restrictions.
Daily life has since returned in the largest Arab country, with cafes, restaurants and tourist sites again open to the public.
08:50 GMT – Taj Mahal to reopen even as virus rages in India
India’s top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal is set to reopen more than six months after it was shut, officials have said, even as the vast nation battles soaring coronavirus infections.
India, home to 1.3 million people, on Monday overtook Brazil to become the world’s second-most-infected nation with more than 4.2 million cases, behind only the United States.
“The Taj Mahal will reopen on September 21. All Covid-19 protocols, like physical distancing, masks will be followed,” northern Uttar Pradesh state’s Tourism Department deputy director Amit Srivastava told AFP.
By mid-March, the iconic Taj Mahal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – was closed to visitors as part of measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic [File: Sunil Kataria/Reuters]
08:35 GMT – Philippines expand mandatory wearing of face masks
The government of the Philippines has expanded its face mask requirement by making the wearing of it mandatory in supermarkets, shopping malls and government venues.
According to local reports, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said that in “all other public areas, the wearing of face shields shall be highly encouraged.”
The Philippines has the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia, with 238,727 confirmed cases.
08:20 GMT – Russia reports 5,099 new coronavirus cases, 122 deaths
Russia has reported 5,099 new coronavirus cases, pushing its national tally to 1,035,789, the fourth-largest in the world.
Authorities confirmed 122 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 17,993.
08:00 GMT – Election countdown starts in Myanmar under virus shadow
Myanmar’s election campaign begun with Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains widely admired and respected at home despite her tarnished image abroad, hoping for a landslide win to further cement her status as the country’s civilian leader.
The Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) swept to power in 2015 – the first national polls since the Southeast Asian nation emerged from decades of junta rule.
Wearing a red face mask, plastic visor and rubber gloves, Aung San Suu Kyi raised the NLD flag – with its fighting peacock symbol – at the party’s office in the capital, Naypyidaw.
“We want our victory to be the country’s victory,” she said, thanking supporters for flying the NLD colours across the nation.
07:45 GMT – South Korea: Five people from China test positive for coronavirus
Five passengers from China arriving in South Korea have been tested positive for coronavirus since August 16, according to South Korea’s health authorities, raising a question over the credibility of China’s claim of no local infection cases for more than three weeks.
Among the five people, two were South Korean nationals and three were Chinese nationals. All of them showed no symptoms.
China has announced that there have been no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus since August 16.
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a ceremony to honour those who have been working to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was widely seen as China’s declaration of a victory over its battle against coronavirus.
07:30 GMT – Ukraine reports record number of daily coronavirus deaths
Ukraine has registered a record 57 deaths related to the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the national security council said, up from a previous record of 54 deaths registered last week.
The council said a total of 140,479 cases were registered in Ukraine as of September 8, with 2,934 deaths and 63,546 people recovered.
04:50 GMT – India reports highest number of deaths in a month
India has reported the most deaths from coronavirus in a month.
The health ministry says 1,133 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, lifting the total death toll to 72,775.
The number of cases was 75,809, the lowest daily figure in a week.
04:00 GMT – Xi says China ‘open and transparent’ on COVID-19
More from the ceremony in Beijing where President Xi Jinping has been speaking.
He told the audience that China acted in an “open and transparent” manner over the virus, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
The country has also made “concrete efforts” to help other nations affected by the disease, he said.
President Xi Jinping presents the national medal to respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]
03:50 GMT – Victoria to strengthen contact tracing as it doubles down on virus
Victoria is strengthening its contract tracing programme to ensure is maintains a steady decline in cases.
State Premier Daniel Andrews says the state government will set up five contact tracing teams to focus on different geographic areas of the southeastern state of Australia, making it easier to target specific areas when patients are diagnosed.
Andrews says the lower daily case figures show the state’s on the right track with its tough lockdowns.
“I think we’ll be able to take some significant steps soon because the trend is with us, the trend is good,” he said in a televised news conference, referring to more rural areas of the state.
03:30 GMT – Zhong Nanshan honoured in China special COVID-19 event
China is holding a special event to recognise its ‘role models’ in the fight against the coronavirus with Zhong Nanshan, China’s top respiratory disease expert, awarded the Medal of the Republic – China’s top honour.
Zhong was among a group of specialists who first went to Wuhan in January to investigate the mysterious new virus that had emerged at the end of December.
“We must not lower our guard and must finish the battle,” Zhong said in his acceptance speech.
China came down hard on doctors in the city who tried to raise the alarm over the disease, and there was outrage after the death of Li Wenliang, an eye doctor who was reprimanded by the authorities for raising his concerns about the new illness with colleagues. Li was ‘exonerated’ in August.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) September 8, 2020
Never has a building been more aptly named: Outstanding individuals, set to be honored for the parts they played in the nation’s COVID-19 fight, travel to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing https://t.co/jPKTJsFodI #ThankyouCOVID19Heroes pic.twitter.com/2itUE75GlV
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) September 8, 2020
03:15 GMT – South Korea daily cases below 200 for sixth straight day
South Korea has reported 136 new cases of coronavirus, the sixth day in a row that the number has been below 200, according to Yonhap.
The country’s been trying to control a spike in cases that begun in August 14 and has been linked to a church service and a political rally in central Seoul.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says stricter distancing measures are beginning to have an impact although the emergence of case clusters remains a concern.
02:50 GMT – Antigen tests in focus as Bali cases surge
Medical experts are linking a surge in coronavirus cases on the Indonesian island of Bali to the inaccurate, low-cost rapid antibody test kits that are being used to screen domestic visitors.
Foreign tourists can’t travel to the popular island, but Indonesians have been able to do so since July 31.
Since then, the island’s tourist authority says it has been welcoming an average of 3,000 domestic tourists every day.
But along with the tourists’ return it has also seen a spike in coronavirus cases, and health experts say the use of cheap, but unreliable, antigen tests could be creating a false sense of security.
You can read more on that story here.
Balinese people, who are Hindu, wear protective suits during a cremation ceremony called ‘Ngaben’ in Klungkung last month. The island has seen a growing number of cases since domestic tourism resumed in August [Made Nagi/EPA]
01:40 GMT – Japan to tap emergency reserve for $6.3b for coronavirus vaccines
Japan has approved the use $6.3 billion from its emergency budget to secure coronavirus vaccines.
The government says it hopes to have enough vaccine for every citizen by the middle of next year, providing any innoculation for free.
01:30 GMT – Japan’s economy shrinks more than thought in Q2
It seems Japan’s economy shrank even more than initially thought in the second quarter to the end of June.
The government initially said the economy contracted by 7.8 percent compared with the first quarter.
Now it’s taken a closer look at the figures and says it shrank 7.9 percent.
It’s the country’s worst economic contraction in its modern history.
Japan shrinks: Coronavirus sends economy into record contraction
00:15 GMT – Victoria in Australia reports 55 new cases, eight deaths
Victoria state has reported 55 new cases of coronavirus and a further eight deaths.
The southeastern state now accounts for about three-quarters of Australia’s 26,377 cases. Melbourne, its capital city, is under a strict lockdown and curfew until September 28.
#COVID19VicData for 8 September, 2020. Yesterday there were 55 new cases reported and 8 lives lost. Our thoughts are with all those affected. More information will be available later today. pic.twitter.com/GEo5Iio7vU
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) September 7, 2020
00:00 GMT – South Korea doctors say they will return to work
Doctors’ associations in South Korea say their members are returning to work after a weeks-long strike over government plans to reform the medical system.
The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA), which represents interns and residents, at general hospitals, says the doctors will resume work from 7am (22:00 GMT), Yonhap News Agency reported.
A separate committee representing physicians and clinicians who also took part in the strike says its members will also report for duty.
The Korean Medical Association, the country’s largest doctor’s group, reached an agreement with the government to end its strike on Friday, as coronavirus cases surged.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur and will be keeping you updated over the next few hours.
Read all the updates from yesterday (September 7) here.