Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
- The top medical expert in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci is warning that the country, which has been “hit badly” by the coronavirus, is facing a dangerous surge in new cases. The warning came as Arizona, Texas and Nevada each reported a record number of daily cases.
- European Union countries are considering banning entry to Americans as the US has failed in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, according to the New York Times.
- Worldwide, nearly 9.2 million people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. More than 4.6 million have recovered, while more than 474,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, June 24
05:30 GMT – Maldives to open borders to all tourists on July 15
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the president of the Maldives, said the island nation is opening its borders on July 15 to tourist arrivals from all countries.
The Indian Ocean archipelago’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and arrivals will not be subject to quarantine measures and only travellers with symptoms will be required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing at the airport, according to the tourism ministry.
Testing will be made available for travellers who require it to return to their countries or continue on their onward journeys, the ministry added.
— Ministry of Tourism (@MoTmv) June 23, 2020
05:08 GMT – Indonesia volunteers launch ‘alertness index’
Volunteers in Indonesia introduced an “alertness index” mapping coronavirus cases in every city and regency in the country, with the worst affected placed colour coded in deep red.
“At the end of the day, the public needs transparent data about their risks. With reliable and open data, they can cautiously decide whether to carry out an activity in the public sphere,” Ronald Bessie, coordinator for the KawalCOVID-9 database, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.
— KawalCOVID19 (@KawalCOVID19) June 23, 2020
04:59 GMT – Virus deaths surpass 100,000 in Latin America
The number of people who have died from coronavirus in Latin America surpassed 100,000 at the end of Tuesday, with more than half of confirmed deaths logged in Brazil, according to tallies by Reuters and AFP news agencies.
Here’s a breakdown of case-loads and death tolls in the worst affected countries:
- Brazil – 52,960 deaths and 1,145,906 cases
- Mexico – 23,377 deaths and 191,410 cases
- Peru – 8,404 deaths and 260,810 cases
- Chile – 4,505 deaths and 250,767 cases
Brazil’s COVID-19 crisis spirals out of control (02:31)
04:23 GMT – In conflict-hit countries, coronavirus testing may not reach women
Big gaps between the number of male and female coronavirus cases in parts of Africa and the Middle East suggest that women may be struggling to access testing or care, an aid agency told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, more than 70 percent of reported cases were male, compared to a global average of 51 percent, and the same was true in Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia, said the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“What we are seeing is a situation in which women are potentially being left out of testing and their health deprioritized,” said Stacey Mearns, senior technical advisor of emergency health at the IRC.
“This could have serious ramifications for their physical wellbeing.”
Studies in China, Europe and the United States have shown that men are more likely than women to be hospitalised and die of coronavirus.
But they have not shown the gender gap in confirmed cases that set off warning signals for the IRC. In most of Europe, the numbers of cases are roughly equal between men and women.
“The numbers do not add up,” said Mearns.
Indonesia children at risk as COVD-19 disrupts vaccination drives (2:35)
04:13 GMT – Beijing’s outbreak appears to be firmly waning
Health authorities in China reported 12 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with seven recorded in the country’s capital, Beijing, indicating that a roughly two-week spike in the city appears to be firmly on the wane.
Beijing’s June outbreak saw more than 200 cases, most linked to the city’s biggest wholesale market, and led to some new lockdowns and the cancellation of classes.
Since then, three million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people in the city, a senior municipal health official said on Tuesday. A total of 249 people have been infected in Beijing since June 11.
The city can now conduct more than 300,000 nucleic acid tests per day, compared with 40,000 in March, said Zhang Hua, deputy director of the Beijing Health Commission.
“It is very important for the early detection of infections, the timely isolation and treatment, the quick cutting off of spreading and the effective containment of the epidemic,” Zhang said.
A worker in protective suit sprays disinfectant as medical workers conduct nucleic acid tests at a testing site in Beijing [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]
03:00 GMT – Washington state makes face masks mandatory
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state in the US, ordered residents to wear face masks in public after the region saw its positive tests rise by 35 percent last week.
“This is about saving lives. It’s about reopening our businesses. And it’s about showing respect and care for one another,” Inslee said.
The move as the states of Arizona, California, Mississippi and Nevada reported record numbers of new cases of COVID-19. Texas set a record on Monday. About a dozen other US states and some major cities have face-covering rules.
02:42 GMT – Mexico logs another record rise in cases
Mexico posted another record one-day increase in coronavirus cases, logging 6,288 confirmed infections on Tuesday. The Health Department also reported 793 more deaths.
That brought Mexico’s total case-load to 191,410 and death toll to 23,377.
Officials acknowledge both are undercounts due to extremely low testing rates. Mexico has performed only about half a million tests, or about one for every 250 inhabitants.
Mexico has also had an extremely high rate of infections among health care professionals. About 39,000 of the country’s confirmed cases are health care workers, about 20 percent of the total. There have been 584 deaths among doctors, nurses, technicians and hospital workers.
A man has his temperature checked at Iztapalapa market in Mexico City on June 22, 2020 [Pedro Pardo/ AFP]
02:00 GMT – MSF calls on GAVI to get drugs companies to sell vaccine at cost
Medecins Sans Frontieres, and 40 civil society groups, are calling on GAVI to reviews its pricing mechanism for future coronavirus vaccines, ahead of a Gavi board meeting due to start in Geneva later on Wednesday.
At issue is the COVAX Facility, a new mechanism Gavi has developed to pay pharmaceutical companies up front for potential future COVID-19 vaccines.
MSF is concerned about the lack of transparency on pricing that’s being required of the drugs firms as well as the two-tier system of access to future COVID-19 vaccines (bought through the COVAX Facility) based on countries’ economic standing. Gavi only requires that countries financed through donor assistance adhere to the forthcoming WHO-developed global equitable allocation framework, which ensures that the most vulnerable populations are prioritised, MSF said.
“Some pharmaceutical corporations are pledging to sell future COVID-19 vaccines at a ‘not-for-profit’ price, but with pharma’s track record, why would we believe that when there’s no transparency to prove it?” Kate Elder, the senior vaccines policy adviser at MSF Access Campaign said in a statement. “With governments professing left and right that future COVID-19 vaccines will be global public goods, we need to see some strong actions taken to actually make these proclamations a reality. COVID-19 vaccines must be sold at cost – now is not the time to try and turn a profit on the back of a global pandemic.”
The #COVID19 pandemic has exposed the flaws in the current drug development system.
As @Gavi prepares for a Board meeting this week, we have some urgent recommendations to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines 💉 are accessible, affordable and available to EVERYONE who needs them. 👇 pic.twitter.com/2bLmPFF175
— MSF International (@MSF) June 23, 2020
01:30 GMT – Australia records first coronavirus death in more than a month
Australia has recorded its first death from coronavirus in more than a month, as new cases continue to spike in the southern state of Victoria.
The man who died was in his 80s, health authorities said.
Victoria recorded 20 new cases overnight, taking the state’s total to 1,900.
23:45 GMT – Trump claims border wall ‘stopped’ virus
US President Donald Trump visited the border with Mexico on Tuesday and claimed his new wall had stopped both undocumented immigration and the coronavirus.
In the blazing heat, Trump briefly stopped to inspect a new section of the wall and scrawled his signature on the concrete and rebar structure.
“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” he claimed.
Trump is looking to regain campaign momentum after a poor turnout for a weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
23:00 GMT (Tuesday) – ‘We’ve been hit badly’: Fauci warns US on coronavirus surge
Dr Anthony Fauci has warned that the next few weeks will be critical to stamping out coronavirus hotspots around the United States.
“We’ve been hit badly,” Fauci told a House committee. He said he was “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states, including Arizona, where US President Donald Trump was holding a rally on Tuesday and viewing the construction of a border wall.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges,” Fauci said.
Fauci, who also stressed that testing would be stepped up, was speaking at the committee along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Find out more about what they had to say here.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the COVID-19 pandemic [Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP Photo]
Read all the updates from yesterday (June 23) here.