The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 879 to 211,281, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.
The reported death toll rose by eight to 9,156, the tally showed.
Hong Kong extends social distancing measures
I mentioned a few posts ago that Hong Kong recorded fewer than 100 cases of Covid-19 for 3 August. Here’s some analysis from our correspondent, Helen Davidson:
For the first time in two weeks Hong Kong has reported fewer than 100 new cases of Covid-19 in a day.
On Monday evening health authorities said 80 people had been diagnosed with the virus, with the infection source unknown for 24 of them.
Hong Kong is experiencing its third and worst wave of the outbreak since the virus first appeared there in January. Driven largely by community transmission, 2,342 of Hong Kong’s 3,590 total cases have been recorded in the past month.
The centre for health protection said they would observe the trend over the coming days before making any determination about whether the infection rate was declining.
Strict social distancing measures, which were due to expire on Wednesday, have been extended another week. Pools, beaches, gyms, and various clubs will remain closed, and restaurants will continue to be limited to takeaway services between 6pm and 5am, with a maximum of two people at a table the rest of the time. The government had banned all dine in services last week but quickly reversed the decision after community backlash.
Citing anonymous sources, the South China Morning Post said mainland Chinese experts deployed to Hong Kong last week are assisting the construction of two temporary Covid-19 hospitals, and increased testing. Photos published in Chinese state media, Xinhua, show hundreds of beds separated by temporary dividers in an exhibition hall of the AsiaWorld-Expo centre, which opened Saturday. According to the SCMP, this will be expanded with another 400 beds in a second hall.
The high number of infections has threatened to overwhelm Hong Kong’s public hospital system. Unlike other countries, which allow, encourage, or even require Covid-19 patients to recuperate at home if they have mild systems, Hong Kong sends everyone to a hospital isolation bed.
As of Monday there were 1,243 patients in the 1,256 beds across 19 hospitals and one community isolation facility.
Of those, 43 people are critical, 49 in serious condition, and 1,151 stable.
Data from the hospital authority shows the occupancy rate of the isolation wards rose from about 60% to above 80% during this latest wave. Individual bed occupancy increased by about 50% in the same time. Current rates are around 75%.
New Zealand has recorded no new cases of Covid-19.
There are now just 22 cases of the disease in the country, all in managed isolation.
But the country’s health director general, Ashley Bloomfield said a single case outside of the quarantine facilities could turn into a wider outbreak if people were not vigilant. “We have worked too hard to let that happen here,” he said at a news conference.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting that two members of the army have tested positive for coronavirus, citing the defence ministry.
Yonhap says one is a draftee and the other is a military intelligence command officer:
The soldier based in Pocheon, some 45 kilometers north of Seoul, has been in isolation after coming into close contact with an outside counselor who was infected with COVID-19 late last month, according to the ministry.
The soldier tested positive on his second test required to exit mandatory quarantine, it added.
The counsellor was found to have visited several front-line units in the Pocheon areas before he tested positive, and 19 virus patients at the barracks are believed to be linked to the man.
The other fresh case is a warrant officer affiliated with the Defence Security Support Command in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, according to the defence ministry.
He appears to have contracted the virus after visiting a restaurant in Seoul where a COVID-19 patient stayed, command officials said, adding that contact tracing is under way.
The Beijing-baked Global Times has reported that Hong Kong has confirmed 78 new cases of coronavirus, citing to China’s National Health Commission.
Andrews is now announcing new fines for anyone who breaches their isolation orders:
If you are supposed to be at home and you are not, then you face the prospect of a fine of up to $5,000. If there were repeat breaches, if there were particularly selfish behaviour like, for instance, going to work when you had the virus, then there is the alternative pathway and that is, of course, taking you to the magistrates court, where the maximum penalty that can be applied to you is $20,000.
These are substantial new penalty measures. Andrews says the on-the-spot fine is the largest on the statute books in the state of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state.
Australian state of Victoria announces 439 new cases, 11 new deaths
We are hearing a news conference form the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, which is battling a major coronavirus outbreak. Daniel Andrews says there are 439 new cases in the state and 11 new deaths. All of the deaths were in aged care settings.
On Monday Andrews announced major new restrictions in the state for another six weeks to try to get control of the virus. You can follow all the live updates on this story on our Australian live blog here.
Andrews says of the 3000 people visited who should have been self-isolating, 800 were not at home. He says the system will change so that anyone who should be self-isolating will not be able to leave their homes for exercise.
“You will need to stay in your home or on your property. Fresh air at the front door. Fresh air in your front yard or backyard or opening a window. That’s what you’re going to have to do,” Andrews says.
China reports 36 new cases
China has reported 36 new cases of Covid-19 (including 6 imported cases). Of the 30 local cases, 28 are in the western province of Xinjiang, and two in the eastern province of Liaoning.
Of the six imported cases four are in Guangdong, one in Shanghai, and one in Sichuan.
A 22-year-old female passenger on board the cruise ship Paul Gauguin has tested positive for Covid-19, and has been isolated in French Polynesia.
The woman was tested for Covid-19 before departing the United States for French Polynesia. She initially tested negative, but a subsequent test, on board the ship (following French Polynesia protocols), returned a positive result.
The woman, who was asymptomatic, was isolated and the ship – sailing between Bora Bora and the Rangiroa islands – turned around for its home port, Papeete, in Tahiti, docking early on Sunday morning.
Testing of passengers and crew who were in contact with the woman, as well as her mother, with whom she was travelling, have all returned negative results.
Passengers have been disembarked under a cordon sanitaire: crew members will remain in quarantine on board for seven days.
All passengers and crew will be re-tested within a week.
Vietnam in ‘decisive’ fight against Covid-19, says premier
Vietnam is in the midst of a “decisive” fight against the novel coronavirus, its premier said on Monday, focusing on the city of Danang where infections have appeared in four factories with a combined workforce of 3,700.
As Reuters reports, Vietnam was widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, but is battling several new clusters of infection linked to Danang after going more than three months without detecting any domestic transmission.
“We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicentres, especially those in Danang,” official broadcaster Vietnam Television quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc telling government officials.
“Early August will be the decisive time within which to stop the virus from spreading on a large scale.”
The country of 96 million has confirmed at least 642 infections, with six deaths.
Authorities on Monday reported 22 new cases linked to Danang, in central Vietnam and a tourism hot spot where the country’s first domestically transmitted case in 100 days was detected on July 25.
The source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places, including the capital Hanoi in the north and the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City in the south, infecting almost 200 people and killing six.
New Philippines lockdown hits 27 million people
Authorities in the Philippines have had to reimpose curbs after infections surged past 100,000, forcing more than 27 million people – including in the capital Manila – back into lockdown for two weeks from Tuesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved placing Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan under so-called “Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” until 18 August.
Some businesses and public transport are expected to be closed in the capital, which is currently under the less restrictive General Community Quarantine classification.
Latin America records 5m cases – report
Latin America broke through 5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday according to a Reuters tally, underscoring the region’s position as the area of the world hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Reuters says the more than 10,000 new cases Colombia’s health ministry reported on Monday pushed the region past the 5m mark, a day after the Andean nation reported a record 11,470 cases.
Mexico has also racked up record numbers of new confirmed infections in recent days, registering more than 9,000 daily cases for the first time on Saturday, a day after Mexico overtook Britain as the country with the third-highest number of deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday it reported 4,767 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 266 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 443,813 cases and 48,012 deaths.
In the region’s second hardest-hit country, Peru, daily cases have almost doubled from 3,300 to 6,300 since bus and air travel resumed a month ago, according to official figures.
Across Latin America, which has now topped over 200,000 deaths, countries are struggling to stall the spread of the virus, with infections picking up pace in many countries even as governments look to ease lockdowns and revive economic growth
Brazil president’s chief of staff tests positive
The chief of staff to Jair Bolsonaro, General Walter Souza Braga Netto, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said on Monday, becoming the seventh Brazilian minister to have contracted the disease. Braga Netto is doing well and has no symptoms, the office said in a statement. He will remain in isolation until a new examination and medical evaluation is carried out, and will continue to work remotely.
Last week, Bolsonaro’s wife tested positive. Bolsonaro also contracted the disease in early July. On Monday he told reporters he was fine and was already cured, after last week saying he was on antibiotics for an infection.
Brazil has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in the world after the United States, with more than 2.75m and 94,665 deaths, according to health ministry data.
President Trump has rejected a national lockdown to bring the coronavirus pandemic in the US under control at one of his White House press briefings.
“It’s important for all Americans to understand that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path towards producing the result that you want,” Trump said, arguing that lockdowns cause more harm than good.
The president said the US had done “very well” fighting the virus.
The US has recorded 4.7m cases and more than 155,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The rolling seven-day average of new cases is trending slightly down at 60,488 cases per day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.
He also announced he had signed an executive order expanding access to tele-health services for 57 million Americans in under-served rural areas and elsewhere, after virtual visits soared during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, who is counting on votes from backers in rural areas in the presidential election, said the new order would ensure that tele-health services expanded during the pandemic remained in place even after the public health emergency ended.
As our Guardian US blog, Lois Becket writes:
“As Trump touts his administration’s efforts to keep rural hospitals functioning during the pandemic, it’s worth noting that the number of rural hospitals that closed permanently this year rose to 13 today, according to the NC Rural Health Research Program. In all, 130 rural hospitals have closed in the past decade.
WHO warns there may never be a Covid-19 ‘silver bullet’
The World Health Organization chief has said he is pleased about the progress that has been made in in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of Covid-19 recover. However, he has warned that there may never be an effective vaccine.
“A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.”
Speaking in Geneva, he said for now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.
“Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all,” he said. “Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all.”
For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.
The message to people and governments is clear: do it all.
And when it’s under control, keep going! Keep strengthening the health system.Keep improving surveillance, contact tracing and ensure disrupted health services are restarted as quickly as possible.
Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to a resurgence.
You can read his full remarks here.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Alison Rourke.
There might never be a “silver bullet” for Covid-19 in the form of a perfect vaccine, and the road to normality could be long, the World Health Organization has said.
In a news conference in Geneva, the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “A number of vaccines are now in phase 3 clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be.”
Donald Trump meanwhile held another of his coronavirus briefings, in which he said the US is doing “very well” in fighting the virus. “We have done as well as any nation,” he said, pointing to other countries battling second waves. “China’s having a massive flare up right now,” he said.
The president also pushed back against the idea of a national lockdown to stop the spread of the virus: “It’s important for all Americans to understand that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path towards producing the result that you want,” Trump said, arguing that lockdowns cause more harm than good.
In other coronavirus developments:
- Confirmed cases of coronavirus passed 18 million, according to the tally kept by the US-based Johns Hopkins University. The university’s coronavirus resource centre had counted 18,178,736 cases at the time of writing, with 691,111 deaths. The worst affected countries by caseload were, in order, the US, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa.
- The US Treasury Department plans to borrow $947bn to cover coronavirus impact. Congress has already allocated about $3tn for coronavirus-related economic aid so far.
- Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the seventh Brazilian minister to have contracted the disease.
- Spain on Monday reported 968 new coronavirus infections in the past day, showing a slower pace of contagion than last week when the country reported more than 1,000 new cases for three days in a row.
- One person is dying from Covid-19 every seven minutes in Iran, state television said on Monday, as the country’s health ministry reported 215 new deaths from the disease. The combined death toll in Iran rose to 17,405 on Monday, Sima Sadat Lari, the health ministry spokeswoman, said, while the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,598 to 312,035. Of those, 270,228 have recovered.
- The number of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units in Belgium has doubled in a month and the epidemic is spreading “intensively”, health officials warned on Monday. On average 2.7 people died of Covid-19 every day in Belgium in the last week of July, up by about a third from two in the previous seven days. At least 9,845 have died since the epidemic arrived.
- The Russian government said it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year. “We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” the industry minister, Denis Manturov, said. Russia is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes.
- Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are falling in California. Governor Gavin Newsom said the state’s Central Valley agricultural hub was still being hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic and there was not yet enough data to consider lifting pandemic restrictions.