Coronavirus live news: Belgium PM warns country could go into second ‘complete lockdown’

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Global death toll passes 650k as Belgian PM warns of total lockdown – as it happened” was written by Helen Sullivan (now and earlier), Jessica Murray , Damien Gayle, Kevin Rawlinson and Aamna Mohdin, for theguardian.com on Monday 27th July 2020 23.28 UTC

12.11am BST

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11.41pm BST

Amazon is under investigation in California for failing to protect its warehouse employees from the new coronavirus.

California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the San Francisco Ddepartment of public health “have all opened investigations into Amazon’s practices” around the pandemic, San Francisco superior court judge Ethan Schulman wrote in a court filing on Monday.

Amazon and the government agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment:

11.21pm BST

Summary

Here are the latest global coronavirus developments from the last few hours:

  • Global virus deaths passed 650,000 as new surges prompt fresh curbs. More than 100,000 deaths have been recorded since 9 July, and the global toll has doubled in just over two months.
  • Donald Trump wore a mask and talked up the possibility of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year in battleground state North Carolina. During a visit to a Fujifilm plant in Morrisville, the president wore a mask publicly for a second time and expressed confidence in the country’s economic recovery.
  • Spain’s PM said the UK quarantine decision not justified. Britain’s decision to impose a two-week quarantine on people travelling from Spain is unfair, Pedro Sánchez said. He added that the Spanish government is in touch with British authorities in a bid to get the country to reconsider its position.
  • Google employees will work from home until at least summer 2021. The company will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported, marking the largest tech firm to commit to such a timeline in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Lebanon reimposed severe Covid-19 restrictions for the next two weeks. It has shut places of worship, cinemas, bars, nightclubs, sports events and popular markets, after a sharp rise in infections.
  • The International Monetary Fund approved .3bn in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s finance minister, Tito Mboweni, in June predicted the economy would shrink 7.2% in 2020, its deepest slump in 90 years.
  • Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli issued scathing criticism of the Italian government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. He said he was humiliated by a recent lockdown, surprise comments as the 61-year-old superstar was a symbol of national unity at the height of the lockdown.

10.47pm BST

The British government has promised to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get people moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown.

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge comes on the heels of a plan to force restaurants to display calories on menus as part of a broader effort to combat obesity.

Government data show two-thirds of UK adults are above a healthy weight. Some studies suggests that the virus is especially deadly to people who are obese. Johnson said:

To build a healthier, more active nation, we need the right infrastructure, training and support in place to give people the confidence to travel on two wheels.

That’s why now is the time to shift gears and press ahead with our biggest and boldest plans yet to boost active travel – so that everyone can feel the transformative benefits of cycling.

Johnson introduced a bike-sharing programme in London during his spell as the British capital’s mayor from 2008 to 2016.

But the so-called “Boris bikes” stood largely untouched during a months-long lockdown that still sees swathes of central London stand empty during working hours.

The government’s efforts to tease people out of lockdown and into their old spending habits that can give shops and restaurants a boost are complicated by Britain’s inability to safely reopen its schools.

Polls show people are also worried about using public transport. Many trains and buses are running half-empty during morning and evening commutes.

Johnson’s plan envisions more Briton’s biking and walking to work in the long term.

It promises to build “thousands of miles of protected cycle routes in towns and cities” as part of a £2bn (.6bn) “cycling and walking revolution”.

The government has also promised to start releasing the first batch of £50 “bike repair vouchers” to help people get old cycles fixed.

Britain’s official virus death toll of 45,759 is the highest in Europe.

Updated at 10.57pm BST

10.37pm BST

A trade association representing British airports called on the government to drop the need for holidaymakers to quarantine for two weeks after returning from Spain’s Balearic and Canary Islands, warning of a further hit to the beleaguered sector.

A total of 15% of flights leaving Britain in August last year were destined for the islands, carrying just under 2.4 million people, the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said on Monday.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said:

The government must look urgently at introducing air bridges on a regional basis which would allow travel to islands such as Lanzarote, Majorca and Tenerife, where infection rates are lower, to continue.

UK airports have already lost around £2bn (.6bn) since the start of the pandemic and this announcement reinforces the fragile nature of the industry.

Last year, Britons made up over a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, which relies heavily on tourism revenues, and the government there has said it is focussing its efforts on trying to persuade London to exclude the islands from its quarantine plans.

Britain has defended the decision as a response to a rise in infections.

Updated at 10.39pm BST

10.34pm BST

The death of an inmate suspected of having Covid-19 prompted rioting in four of the most populated prisons in Bolivia’s Cochabamba region over access to medical care, a government watchdog has said.

Local media showed images of inmates climbing to the roofs of the prisons, calling for medicine and access to doctors.

“We urge the entry of medical teams to do an evaluation inside the prison facilities to prevent more deaths,” said Cochabamba ombudsman Nelson Cox.

Eight inmates in total have died with symptoms of Covid-19, according to Cox, spiking concerns that the virus will spread throughout the prison population.

“There are no doctors, there are no medicines. They are dying inside,” said Susana, a relative of a prisoner in the San Sebastián prison who declined to give her last name. “It is not possible to let them die. We are human beings.”

Authorities have reported more than 60 deaths due to the coronavirus in Bolivia’s prison system, which is overcrowded at more than 240% capacity.

There have been several other deaths in recent months that were not confirmed as caused by the coronavirus due to a lack of testing.

10.32pm BST

President Donald Trump wore a mask and talked up the possibility of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year as he looked to show voters in the battleground state of North Carolina that he is responding to the pandemic.

Trump, whose approval ratings have dropped as many Americans believe he has handled the virus badly, sought for the second week to look in command after setting aside his hands-off approach. He said:

I trust all Americans to do the right thing but we strongly advise everyone to especially, especially focus on maintaining a social distance, maintain a rigorous hygiene, avoid crowded gatherings and indoor bars and wear masks when appropriate.

The Republican president spoke during a visit to a Fujifilm plant in Morrisville, North Carolina, where work on a vaccine is being carried out.

During a tour of the facility, he wore a mask publicly for a second time, the first being on a trip to Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington earlier this month.

Trump visits Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center in Morrrisville, North Carolina
Trump visits Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center in Morrrisville, North Carolina
Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

“I heard very positive things, but by the end of the year, we think we’re in very good shape to be doing that,” Trump said of a potential vaccine.

He expressed confidence in the economic recovery and said: “A lot of governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening.”

Infection rates have climbed since June in the United States, which is world leader in total numbers of deaths and cases.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien became the most senior official in Trump’s inner circle to test positive for the coronavirus, the White House said on Monday.

Trump, who is seeking re-election on 3 November, has his work cut out for him in North Carolina, a state he won narrowly in 2016 and where he had originally hoped to accept his nomination for a second term.

A new NBC News/Marist poll said Democrat Joe Biden led Trump by 7 points in North Carolina.

It said respondents by a 2-to-1 margin favored Democratic governor Roy Cooper’s opposition to a large Republican nominating convention event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late August.

Cooper’s opposition prompted Trump to try to arrange a big event in Jacksonville, Florida, but that plan fell apart last week and now it is unclear where Trump will give his acceptance speech.

Republican delegates are still to meet in Charlotte in late August to conduct some convention business.

10.25pm BST

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli has issued a scathing criticism of the Italian government’s handling of the coronavirus, saying he was humiliated by a recent lockdown.

His surprise comments at a conference in Italy’s senate were remarkable because the 61-year-old superstar was a symbol of national unity at the height of the lockdown on Easter Sunday when he sang in an empty Milan cathedral in a live streamed solo performance called Music for Hope.

“I felt humiliated and offended. I could not leave the house even though I had committed no crime,” Bocelli said at the conference attended by opposition politicians including Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party who has attacked the government of prime minister Giuseppe Conte over the handling of the coronavrius crisis.

Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli rehearsing in an empty Duomo square on Easter Sunday ahead of a livestreamed concert inside the empty Duomo cathedral.
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli rehearsing in an empty Duomo square on Easter Sunday ahead of a livestreamed concert inside the empty Duomo cathedral.
Photograph: Alex Fraser/Reuters

A national lockdown began in early March and was eased in stages over three months.

Bocelli confessed he disobeyed lockdown rules “because I did not think it was right or healthy to stay home at my age”.

He also said he believed the situation could not have been as serious as authorities were saying because he did not know anyone who had to go into intensive care.

“So what was all this sense of gravity for?” he said.

More than 35,000 Italians have died from the coronavirus.
Regulations regarding social distancing and wearing masks in indoor public places such as stores are still in effect and Bocelli seemed to encourage civil disobedience.

“Let’s refuse to follow this rule. Let’s read books, move around, get to know each other, talk, dialogue …” he said.

10.10pm BST

Quarantine for people arriving from Spain and other countries with high levels of Covid-19 will be cut to 10 days under plans being finalised by UK ministers, The Telegraph has reported.

The UK government will announce this week a new policy of testing arrivals from high-risk countries eight days after they land, it said.

If they test negative they will be allowed to come out of self-isolation two days later, reducing the mandatory quarantine period by four days, the report said.

A government spokesman told the Telegraph the 10-day quarantine period is under discussion but a final decision has not been made.

The government is also considering telling everyone who has come into the UK from Spain since 23 July, including returning holidaymakers, to take a coronavirus test, the report added.

Britain dealt a new blow to Spain on Monday by extending guidance advising against all non-essential travel, which already applied to mainland Spain, to include the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Updated at 10.39pm BST

9.56pm BST

The mayor of Medellín, Colombia’s second city, has sparked outrage by calling on Cuba to send brigades of doctors to help battle his city’s coronavirus outbreak.

Daniel Quintero, the mayor of the South American city, sent a letter earlier this month to Cuba’s communist government requesting personnel to man 600 intensive care units, as the city braced for climbing Covid-19 cases.

Colombia has confirmed 248,976 cases of Covid-19, with 8,525 deaths. Cases and deaths climbed Sunday evening by 8,181 and 256 respectively.

Antioquia, the province of which Medellín is the capital, has seen 24,143 cases.

Cuba has long sent its doctors and technicians abroad, as part of a medical mission founded in the wake of Fidel Castro’s communist revolution in the 60s.

Since March, when the coronavirus pandemic swept through Europe, the Caribbean nation has sent 1,500 medical professionals abroad. One brigade was well received by locals in Lombardy, The Guardian reported in May.

Cuba’s government, led by the Communist Party since 1965, claims to have sent 400,000 health workers to tackle crises around the world.

But the Cuban government, now led by Miguel Díaz-Canel, has received staunch criticism from rights groups over the conditions its overseas doctors face.

Health workers are prohibited from forming relationships with anyone “whose actions are not consistent with the principles and values of the Cuban society,” according to Cuban law.

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement last week:

Cuban doctors deployed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic provide valuable services to many communities, but at the expense of their most basic freedoms.

Governments interested in receiving support from Cuban doctors should press the Cuban government to overhaul this Orwellian system that dictates with whom doctors can live, fall in love, or talk.

The Trump administration has also sought to undercut Cuba’s medical diplomacy, leading Bolivia and Brazil – both countries with new right wing leaders – to expel Cuban medical personnel.

Quintero, Medellín’s mayor, facing criticism for calling on support from one of conservative Colombia’s ideological and regional rivals, defended his decision to call for help on Sunday evening, after news of the letter was made public.

He tweeted:

We haven’t understood the message of the coronavirus. Beyond borders, races and ideologies, it was reminded as that as people we need each other.

He went on to say that his administration has also requested vaccines from the US and UK, tests from the United Arab Emirates, and personnel from span.

“Life has to come before politics,” Quintero said.

9.52pm BST

Dozens of people practice martial arts in front of the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, as a protest against the closure of gyms and martial arts centres in the region due to coronavirus
Dozens of people practice martial arts in front of the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, as a protest against the closure of gyms and martial arts centres in the region due to coronavirus
Photograph: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA

9.47pm BST

Nearly 200 federal healthcare workers have been deployed to California’s Central Valley, where hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases as new infection rates soar, governor Gavin Newsom said.

The arrival over the past several days of Department of Defense personnel will help hospitals in the stricken region, where some hospitals and intensive care units are two-thirds full of Covid-19 patients.

That has left little room for people who are ill from other conditions and is putting immense pressure on doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers trained in providing care to the sickest patients.

To combat the virus’ spread, the state is committing m to the eight counties that make up the San Joaquin Valley, Newsom said.

The state is also dispatching strike teams of health care workers, employee safety specialists and business regulators to the San Joaquin Valley to educate and persuade residents and employers to adopt public health practices such as social distancing and wearing masks.

As many as 18% of those tested are showing to be infected with the coronavirus, more than twice the level as the state as a whole, Newsom said.

The spread is being driven by a number of factors, including community and family gatherings, work in close quarters in agricultural businesses, nursing homes and prisons, he said.

California is one of several US states that has become a hotspot for a second wave of coronavirus cases.

An average of 109 Californians have died daily over the past two weeks, Newsom said, and nearly 8% of those tested for the coronavirus are confirmed to have contracted it, he said.

The state has rolled back efforts to re-open its economy, closing bars, banning indoor restaurant dining and postponing the resumption of in-person school instruction in 37 counties that are home to 93% of Californians.

9.32pm BST

US senate Republicans will shortly introduce a new coronavirus relief programme to address health, economic assistance and schools, senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said.

Speaking on the senate floor, McConnell said the package would include direct payments to Americans of ,200 each, and help for the unemployed.

It would also include “strong legal liability protection,” over 0bn for schools, more money for a small business program, and a programme to incentivise manufacturing of personal protective equipment in the United States.

9.30pm BST

An additional 61,795 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the US, according to the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday, taking the total to 4,225,687.

It said the number of deaths had risen by 564 to 146,546.

The CDC reported its tally of Covid-19 cases s of 4pm ET on Sunday versus its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

8.38pm BST

Spain’s PM says UK quarantine decision not justified

Britain’s decision to impose a quarantine on people travelling from Spain is unfair, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has said.

He added that the Spanish government is in touch with British authorities in a bid to get the country to reconsider its position.

Sanchez said the UK’s “error” was to consider the rate of coronavirus infection in Spain as a whole, when most regions have a lower rate than Britain’s.

8.20pm BST

The International Monetary Fund has approved .3bn in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa is the continent’s most-industrialised economy and has the largest number of detected Covid-19 cases, with more than 445,000 and 6,769 deaths as of Monday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The South African finance minister, Tito Mboweni, in June predicted the economy would shrink 7.2% in 2020, its deepest slump in 90 years, and compared the ballooning public debt to a “hippopotamus … eating our children’s inheritance”.

The money from the IMF is the latest disbursement under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which allows nations to circumvent the lengthy negotiations usually needed to secure a full economic assistance program – time most countries do not have as they struggle to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, IMF deputy managing director, Geoffrey Okamoto, said “a deep economic recession is unfolding,” exacerbated by South Africa’s slow rates of growth, high unemployment and widening inequality.

The RFI money will specifically address “the fiscal pressures posed by the pandemic, limit regional spillovers and catalyse additional financing from other international financial institutions,” the IMF said.

Updated at 8.22pm BST

8.17pm BST

Long-haul operators will suffer worst from coronavirus rules that have hit the sector hard, writes the Guardian’s financial editor Nils Pratley.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has raged about “a badly managed overreaction” and, up to a point, one can sympathise: Spain is a big place and regional variations in travel policy ought to be possible.

O’Leary, though, should probably also count his blessings. Ryanair is better-capitalised than most of its peers; it has cut costs more quickly; and a few rivals, such as Flybe and Germanwings, have disappeared. Ryanair, when conditions eventually improve, ought to be well placed to recover.

It is harder, though, to glimpse much light for long-haul operators, such as the British Airways owner, IAG.

Transatlantic travel was always going to be slower to recover than the European version. Now the clock has been reset.

8.02pm BST

Google employees will work from home until at least summer 2021

Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, marking the largest tech firm to commit to such a timeline in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The chief executive officer of parent company Alphabet Inc, Sundar Pichai, made the decision himself last week after debate among an internal group of top executives that he chairs, according to the report, which cited unnamed insiders.

Google did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Google had earlier said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June this year, but most Google employees would probably work from home until the end of this year.

7.49pm BST

School closures in Malawi due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to an alarming increase in child marriages and early pregnancies, child rights activists and government officials have warned.

The Malawian government announced the closure of all schools on 20 March, even before a single coronavirus case had been reported in the landlocked country.

However, over the past four months, infections have surged with a total of 3,664 cases registered so far, including 99 deaths.

Benedicto Kondowe, director of the Civil Society Coalition on Education, told AFP the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the course of young women’s lives.

He pointed out that before the pandemic struck, Malawi already had one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world, but now “Covid-19 has led to a surge in underage unions”.

Kondowe’s organisation has reported 5,000 cases of teenage pregnancies in the southern Phalombe district, while over 500 girls have entered into early marriages since the onset of the pandemic.

“What the figures show is that girls lack the needed protection as they get plunged into the margin of life,” Kondowe said, adding that increases in gender-based violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse against adolescent girls had also been noted.

In an interview with local radio station Capital Radio, the district education officer for the southern town of Nsanje, Gleston Alindiamawo, said over 300 girls in the district were carrying unwanted pregnancies since schools closed.

In the eastern district of Mangochi, meanwhile, at least 7,274 teenage girls have become pregnant from January to June this year.

The figure is 1,039 more compared with those who became pregnant during the same period last year, the district’s youth health services coordinator Peter Malipa said.

That figure included 166 girls aged between 10 to 14 years old.

Habiba Osman, a United Nations Women specialist for the elimination of violence against women and girls, told AFP the long period of idleness as a result of coronavirus restrictions was resulting in pregnancies and child marriages across Malawi.

Osman called on community leaders to monitor and assist young people from engaging in “risky behaviours”.

7.43pm BST

Lebanon has reimposed severe Covid-19 restrictions for the next two weeks, shutting places of worship, cinemas, bars, nightclubs, sports events and popular markets, after a sharp rise in infections.

Shops, private companies, banks and educational institutions will be permitted to open, but only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with a near total lockdown in place Thursday through Monday until 10 August.

This week’s lockdown coincides with the Eid al-Adha holiday when Muslims normally hold large gatherings.

Officials said they were alarmed by a spike in cases in recent days, with at least 132 new infections and eight deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours.

Lebanon has recorded just 51 deaths from the coronavirus since February.

The minister of health, Hamad Hassan, was quoted in state media as saying:

We have to go back a step and work with determination as though the pandemic has now begun.

We have to work more seriously to avoid a medical humanitarian catastrophe.

Beirut’s airport, land border crossings with Syria and sea ports will be kept open, as well as medical institutions, industrial and agricultural firms and critical government functions.

Those arriving from high risk countries will be held in quarantine for 48 hours until they receive the results of a coronavirus test.

Those arriving from other areas will be expected to quarantine at home.

7.31pm BST

Latin America will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with higher poverty rates as efforts to control the virus lead to spikes in unemployment and debt, the Inter-American Development Bank president, Luis Alberto Moreno, said.

Latin America, where economic growth has already been slowing in recent years, is expected to see an economic contraction of 8-10% in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus and associated quarantine measures, Moreno said.

The pandemic “will impoverish not only Latin Americans, (but also) the world in general, but clearly Latin America is going to be hit much harder because we are an emerging (market) region.”

The IADB, which is Latin America’s largest regional lender, will this year approve nearly bn dollars in loans.

Around bn of those will go to governments to strengthen healthcare systems, he added.

Though the sharpest contraction in the region has been in Venezuela, Moreno said the IADB cannot provide any funding for the government of Nicolás Maduro because his administration is in default on some 0m in loans.

Venezuela has been in recession for six years and annualised inflation exceeds 3,500%, according to the opposition-run National Assembly, which calculates economic indicators due to delays in the release of official figures. Moreno said:

There is absolutely nothing we can do for Venezuela.

There’s no country in the history of humanity that has seen a contraction as deep as that of Venezuela without having had a war or a natural disaster or both.

Updated at 7.33pm BST

7.27pm BST

Ireland’s schools will reopen at the end of August as the nation navigates its way out of coronavirus lockdown, the prime minister, Micheal Martin, has said.

Ireland’s blueprint for reopening schools for the first time since mid-March includes 370m euros (£338m) in spending to ensure safety.

The package will allow schools to hire 1,000 more post-primary teachers to reduce class sizes and enable social distancing, the government said.

“There is no zero-risk scenario, but we can dramatically limit the risk of the spread of the virus through our schools,” Martin said.

The new money will also cover the costs of protective equipment and cleaning supplies, and make special provisions for those deemed vulnerable to Covid-19.

Psychologists and other forms of emotional support will also be mobilised. Martin said:

Major emergencies always lead to a much higher level of anxiety and other similar issues.

We fully understand that we can’t just declare that the schools are open and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Irish schools were shut on 12 March, two weeks before the nation entered a full lockdown.

Ireland has officially suffered 1,764 deaths from the virus, with a single-day peak of 77 in April.

In recent weeks there have been many days with no new deaths.

However, earlier this month the government delayed its plan to end lockdown early because of a surge of the number of cases and a rise in the infection rate.

Updated at 7.31pm BST

7.24pm BST

One of France’s most iconic cinemas is to shut its doors for the month of August because so few people want to risk seeing movies on the big screen.

Managers at the enormous Grand Rex in the centre of Paris – which remained open throughout World War II – said Hollywood studios were also to blame for holding back the release of so many summer blockbusters.

The exterior of the Grand Rex film theatre in Paris.
The exterior of the Grand Rex film theatre in Paris.
Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

The Federation of French Cinemas said on Monday the double whammy was crippling the industry as they demanded state aid to help them through the crisis.

The Grand Rex’s manager Alexandre Hellmann told AFP:

Between the drop in admissions (because of the coronavirus) and the lack of fresh American films that traditionally are a big summer draw, we have decided to close our doors from 3 August.

We will lose less money by closing than by staying open with this depressing box office.

With 2,700 seats, the seven-screen Grand Rex’s largest theatre is one of the biggest in Europe with a 300 square-metre screen.

Many French cinemas have been all but empty since they were allowed to reopen after an eight-week lockdown last month.

The cinema federation appealed to banks and landlords to give their members leeway, saying it was “absolutely necessary that the government also take urgent action to refinance” the sector.

Updated at 7.29pm BST

7.20pm BST

Global death toll passes 650,000

The global Covid-19 death toll has reached 650,029, with over 16 million cases now confirmed worldwide.

The disease has surged back at hotspots in Asia, Europe and the Americas, prompting renewed restrictions, targeted lockdowns and compulsory mask-wearing orders.

Australia has been rocked by its deadliest surge since the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong is experiencing record daily numbers and Spain’s caseload has tripled in the last fortnight.

The US is still ahead in cases and deaths, with 147,143 fatalities from the virus.

The number of cases is still rising rapidly around the country as it approaches 150,000 deaths.

The WHO said today that experts would meet this week to discuss downgrading Covid-19’s emergency status, six months after it was declared.

Updated at 7.24pm BST

7.09pm BST

Hi everyone, this is Jessica Murray, I’ll be taking over the coronavirus blog for the next few hours.

Please do get in touch with any story tips or suggestions.

Email: jessica.murray@theguardian.com
Twitter: @journojess_

7.00pm BST

Summary

Here are the top lines of our coronavirus world news coverage so far on Monday:

  • The coronavirus pandemic is the worst global health emergency the World Health Organisation has faced, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said, according to Reuters. Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world beat it, Tedros told a virtual news briefing in Geneva.
  • The trade body representing Spain’s hotel industry has offered to pay for coronavirus tests for foreign visitors, in an effort to lure back visitors put off by a fresh wave of cases. The UK government on Saturday shocked hoteliers and holidaymakers with an unexpected 14-day quarantine on people returning from Spain. On Monday, the UK extended a travel warning to the Balearic and Canary islands.
  • The UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could take 18 months longer than expected with hopes of a V-shaped recovery fading fast, according to a leading economic forecaster. Britain’s economic output is not expected to return to its 2019 level until the end of 2024, the EY Item Club said on Monday in its latest projections on the health of the UK economy.
  • Coronavirus has reached the high reaches of the US government, with Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, having tested positive. The White House confirmed that he had mild symptoms and said he “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site.” Officials did not respond to questions about the last time the president and O’Brien had contact.
  • Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn has just announced he is planning to introduce obligatory testing for travellers returning from areas considered high risk because of their level of cases. “I will mandate obligatory testing for travellers from risk areas,” he said a few minutes ago. It is unclear when or how the regulation will come into force.
  • Belgium’s prime minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a series of further restrictive measures following a significant spike in coronavirus infections, warning that the country could be put into a second “complete lockdown”. “If we cannot reduce the coronavirus, it will be a collective failure,” Wilmès said at a press conference following a meeting of the country’s national security council.
  • A US biotechnology company has announced it has started a government-backed late-stage trial to assess its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna’s RNA-based vaccine will be given to about 30,000 adults who do not have the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine project with nearly a billion dollars.
  • Indonesia confirmed has its 100,00th coronavirus case, as the Red Cross warned the that the pandemic in the vast archipelago risked “spiralling out of control”. The country – home to more than a quarter of a billion people – has been recording 1,000-plus new infections a day after relaxing movement restrictions this month. As of Monday, it had reported a total of 100,303 coronavirus cases and 4,838 deaths.
  • Vietnam is evacuating 80,00o people from the central city of Danang and has reimposed disease-prevention measures, after 11 local coronavirus cases were detected, the first to be recorded in the country for more than three months. The source of the new cases is not clear.
  • Chinese health authorities have announced they plan to test all six million plus residents of a northeastern city where a growing infection cluster has spread to seven other cities. Dalian, in Liaoning province, reported 12 new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, and 14 asymptomatic cases. The first of the 24 cases confirmed so far was reported on Wednesday, in a 58-year-old man.

That’s it from me, Damien Gayle, for today.

6.34pm BST

The World Health Organization has called on Bosnia to step up its contact tracing and testing, with a rising number of coronavirus cases threatening the country’s health service, according to the Associated Press.

“We see a really sharp increase and concern is that this will lead to an overcrowding of hospitals,” said Victor Olsavszky, the head of the WHO office in Bosnia.

On several occasions over the past two weeks, major hospitals around Bosnia have warned that their Covid-19 care units were nearing capacity.

So far, the Balkan country of 3.5 million people has recorded almost 10,500 virus cases, with 294 deaths. Nearly 80% of all virus cases were registered since mid-May, when a strict, nearly two-month-long, coronavirus lockdown was lifted.

Masks on display outside a shop in Sarajevo’s main street on Monday.
Masks on display outside a shop in Sarajevo’s main street on Monday.
Photograph: Eldar Emric/AP

Olsavszky said the pandemic trajectory in Bosnia was similarly worrying in Western Balkan countries, singling out North Macedonia and Serbia as having even bigger surges.

Despite the mounting number of infections, people in Bosnia and around the Balkans appear to be bending or ignoring social distancing rules, increasingly gathering in uncomfortably close quarters and ditching protective face masks.

6.15pm BST

Spanish hotels offer to pay for guests’ coronavirus tests

The trade body representing Spain’s hotel industry has offered to pay for coronavirus tests for foreign, in an effort to lure back visitors put off by a fresh wave of cases, according to Reuters.

The UK government on Saturday shocked hoteliers and holidaymakers with an unexpected 14-day quarantine on people returning from Spain, in a major blow to a tourist season already hanging on by a thread. On Monday, the UK’s foreign office extended a travel warning for mainland Spain to the Balearic and Canary islands, both holiday hotspots.

“Not only is it unjust but it’s also totally illogical and lacking in rigour,” Spain’s main hotel association CEHAT said of the quarantine.

The association proposed a system of reciprocal testing across Europe that would provide greater safety for travellers, workers and people who live in tourist destinations.

“We are prepared to bear this cost,” CEHAT’s president, Jorge Marichal, said in a video posted on social media.

5.59pm BST

The Archbishop of Barcelona is to be investigated for possibly breaking hygiene rules by holding an unauthorised mass, the Associated Press reports.

Juan José Omella held a service Sunday at La Sagrada Familia Basilica in memory of victims of the coronavirus.

The Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, and priests leave after officiating a mass for victims of Covid-19 at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
The Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Juan Jose Omella, and priests leave after officiating a mass for victims of Covid-19 at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Photograph: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

Catalonia has implemented tight restrictions on gatherings as it tries to stem a growing outbreak of Covid-19. The region reported 133 new cases on Saturday, the second-highest increase across Spain.

The head of Catalonia’s regional government, Quim Torra, said on Monday that regional health authorities gave no prior permission for the ceremony, as required under the current rules.

5.43pm BST

The Spanish health ministry has reported 855 new Covid cases over the past 24 hours – 474 of them in the hard-hit Aragón region – down from 922 last Friday and 971 the day before that, writes Sam Jones, the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent.

A total of 6,361 cases were recorded over the weekend, bringing Spain’s total number of Covi-19 cases to 278,782.

When the pandemic was at its peak on 31 March, Spain had 9,222 new infections in a single day. According to the ministry, six people have died from the coronavirus in Spain over the past seven days.

5.26pm BST

Trump’s national security adviser tests positive

Coronavirus has reached the high reaches of the US government, with Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, having tested positive — the highest-ranking official known to have contracted the virus so far.

The Associated Press reported O’Brien’s positive diagnosis, citing two anonymous sources. The White House confirmed that O’Brien has mild symptoms and told the agency he “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site.”

Officials did not respond to questions about the last time the president and O’Brien had contact, but the White House insisted that, “There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president” and that the “work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.”

Donald Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, in a file photo wearing a US government-branded face mask.
Donald Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, in a file photo wearing a US government-branded face mask.
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The news was first reported by Bloomberg News, which said O’Brien came down with the virus after a family event. The White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters on Monday morning that O’Brien’s daughter also has the virus, and that that is how they think he got it.

O’Brien is the highest-ranking White House official known to have contracted the virus and the first since May, when a personal valet to the president and the vice president’s press secretary tested positive for coronavirus, which has now infected more than 4 million people across the country.

Numerous US Secret Service agents and Trump campaign staffers have also tested positive, including Kimberly Guilfoyle, the national finance chair, who is the girlfriend of Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

Senior White House staff and anyone who comes into close contact with the president and vice president are tested for the virus daily.

4.59pm BST

Travellers between Spain and the UK have expressed their shock at the UK government’s sudden decision to impose a two-week quarantine on Saturday 25 March.

Spain has said it is in talks over the potential removal of quarantine restrictions for travellers going to the UK from the Canaries and Balearics where the rate of infection is ‘well below’ that of the UK.

4.48pm BST

Kenya has banned the sale of alcohol in restaurants and extended a curfew in a bid to halt a steep rise in coronavirus infections, according to AFP.

In a stern lecture, the president, Uhuru Kenyatta, rebuked Kenyans for “reckless” behaviour that has seen cases triple in the past month to 17,975

So far, 285 have died.

Kenyatta said there was an “aggressive surge” among young people socialising “particularly in environments serving alcohol”, then in turn infecting their elders.

He ordered that a nationwide curfew from 9pm to 4am will remain in place for another 30 days and “there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages or drinks in eateries and restaurants” over the same period.

Restaurants will also close from 7pm.

“All bars shall remain closed until further notice,” Kenyatta said.

Like many nations in East Africa, Kenya took swift action to combat the coronavirus, closing its borders on March 25 when it had only 25 cases, shutting schools and imposing a curfew while advising people to work from home.

However bars took advantage of the fact that restaurants were allowed to remain open and began selling food.

4.34pm BST

The UK’s caseload has exceeded 300,000, according to official figures. The latest UK government data show 685 new cases have been detected, taking the total to 300,111, while seven more people have died, meaning the country’s overall official death toll is 45,759.

4.27pm BST

Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn has just announced he is planning to introduce obligatory testing for travellers returning from areas considered high risk because of their level of cases.

“I will mandate obligatory testing for travellers from risk areas,” he said a few minutes ago. It is unclear when or how the regulation will come into force.

Obliging travellers to undergo a test will entail an emergency law change that lawmakers have already said will be complicated and could be problematic. Several airports have been running test centres for the past few weeks for travellers who have volunteered to have one, with at least two major airports charging for the service. Berlin Airport has introduced free testing from today for any incoming passenger who wants one.

This morning, Bavaria’s leader Markus Söder announced his state would introduce mobile testing at sea ports, airports, railway stations and road border crossings, and urged the federal government to make testing obligatory at all the country’s entry points.

4.09pm BST

The biotech group Biocad is discussing handling production of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in China, according to the St Petersburg-based company’s director.

The potential vaccine – based on the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) – is expected to enter clinical trials in mid-August, the Biocad chief executive Dmitry Morozov has told Reuters.

The vaccine is one of six vaccine prototypes Russia’s Vector state virology institute is developing, a World Health Organization list showed.

Biocad is gearing up to produce four to five million doses per month of the VSV-based vaccine by the end of this year, if early-stage trials prove it to be safe and effective, Morozov said.

Biocad plans to handle industrial scale production of the vaccine entirely in-house, from manufacturing the virus strain in its bioreactors to dealing with registration and packaging, Morozov said.

“We can do it all at our current facilities,” Morozov said, adding there was no need to expand their production capacity to meet output targets.

We have received requests about deliveries for export based on the potential success of this vaccine … on the level of countries as well as private companies.

He added that Biocad had received requests from Egypt, South Africa and Thailand.
It is in discussions about producing the Vector VSV vaccine in China, where it has a joint venture with Shanghai Pharma launched in September last year. Shanghai Pharma was not immediately available for comment.

3.33pm BST

Belgian PM outlines new restrictions

Belgium’s prime minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a series of further restrictive measures following a significant spike in coronavirus infections, warning that the country could be put into a second “complete lockdown”, writes Daniel Boffey, the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief.

“If we cannot reduce the coronavirus, it will be a collective failure,” Wilmès said at a press conference following a meeting of the country’s national security council.

Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s prime minister, arrives at a meeting of the national security council.
Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s prime minister, arrives at a meeting of the national security council.
Photograph: Stéphanie Lecocq/EPA

The prime minister said she “very strongly recommended” the return of teleworking for those who are able to do so. She announced that for a period of four weeks from Wednesday each household may only have social contact with a further five people.

People must go shopping alone and they will need to restrict themselves to just 30 minutes in a shop. Group outings will be limited to ten people, except for children of 12 years of age or younger. The city of Antwerp will take extra measures to be announced later on Monday in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease following a 500% week on week rise in infections.

Wilmès said:

We know that if we do not intervene drastically, even the start of the school year could be undermined. We are taking strong, difficult measures to avoid this [complete] lockdown. You can continue to confine, limit freedoms but we want to avoid the situation of March which was very trying on a human level, especially for the weakest among us …

Experts say it is possible to avoid another lockdown. But it must be remembered that the world’s leading scientists are incapable of knowing how the situation will develop. We must not frighten people, but neither should we abuse them by pretending to know everything.

Updated at 4.36pm BST

3.10pm BST

In Greece, mandatory mask-wearing may be extended beyond supermarkets to other enclosed spaces, the government warned today as coronavirus cases continued to rise in the country, writes Helena Smith, the Guardian’s Athens correspondent.

Addressing reporters earlier, the government spokesman, Stelios Petsas, alluded to it only being a matter of time before face-coverings were made obligatory in churches and other places where social distancing was otherwise difficult. Masks are already mandatory on all forms of public transport including ferries. Violators face fines of €150.

“The increase in cases worries us and perhaps it will be necessary for masks to become obligatory in churches and other enclosed spaces,” Petsas said. “The growth in incidents in urban centres, such as Attica and Thessaloniki, is a reminder that the virus continues to be here and to feed on our relaxation [in maintaining restrictions].”

Holidaymakers listen to a tourist guide in front of Athens’ cathedral.
Holidaymakers listen to a tourist guide in front of Athens’ cathedral.
Photograph: Helena Smith/The Guardian

The tourist-dependent country has seen a marked rise in infections since reopening its borders to foreign travellers on 1 July. Health officials say incidents of coronavirus have leapt from 4,017 in the week beginning 20 July to 4,193 today – a big jump in a nation that has otherwise managed to keep contain the pandemic. Two hundred and two people have died from Covid-19 to date in Greece.

A surge in infection rates among Balkan neighbours has prompted Greek authorities to increase monitoring and other preventative measures at land frontiers with Bulgaria and Albania as well as re-enforcing a ban on tourists from Serbia.

Petsas said as of tomorrow through to 4 August passengers flying in from Romania and Bulgaria would be required to have tested negative for the virus 72 hours prior to arrival. Entrants will have to carry a doctor’s certificate proving the negative molecular test for Covid-19 has been conducted within the required timeframe.

Tourists are beginning to arrive en masse in Greece with anecdotal reports on popular islands such as Paros of a steep rise in visitors – and those descending on beaches – even if the influx is but a pale imitation of that seen last year. For the first time ever, more than 15% of hotels nationwide have not opened for the season. In Athens, where bigger hotels opened this month, tourists have also begun to trickle with guided tours finally being spotted in the capital’s historic city centre.

Updated at 3.23pm BST

2.43pm BST

The World Health Organization has said that keeping borders closed to halt the spread of coronavirus is unsustainable, as the supranational health agencies urged governments to adopt strategies based on local knowledge of the virus’s spread.

Rising cases in a range of countries in Europe and elsewhere that had loosened measures after appearing to get their outbreaks under control have spurred discussions of possible fresh border closures.

But the UN health body warned that such measures can not be kept up indefinitely, and are also only useful when combined with a wide range of other measures to detect and break chains of transmission.

“Continuing to keep international borders sealed is not necessarily a sustainable strategy for the world’s economy, for the world’s poor, or for anybody else,” Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director, told journalists in a virtual briefing.

“It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing out that “economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.”

He acknowledged that when it comes to Covid-19, it is impossible to have a “global one size fits all policy” because outbreaks are developing differently in different countries.

Updated at 3.24pm BST

2.34pm BST

The UK government has confirmed that a pet cat has been diagnosed with Covid-19, the first case of animal infection with coronavirus in the country, writes Jessica Elgot, the Guardian’s chief political correspondent.

The feline is believed to have caught the virus from its owners, all of whom have made a full recovery.

The animal, which is said to have only experienced mild symptoms, is not believed to been involved in transmitting the disease to its owners or other humans and animals.

2.11pm BST

People in Iran have been warned against holding wedding and funeral gatherings, as the latest update from the country’s health ministry reported another 212 deaths from coronavirus.

“Despite repeated calls to not hold weddings and mourning ceremonies, reports from across the country still indicate they are taking place,” said health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari, according to the French news agency AFP.

“The presence of people at these overcrowded events increases the risk of mass infection,” she added, in remarks broadcast on state television.

An man buys hand sanitiser from a woman at a metro station in Tehran.
An man buys hand sanitiser from a woman at a metro station in Tehran.
Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

While there is no nationwide ban on weddings and funerals, the venues in which they are staged have been ordered shut and authorities have repeatedly urged people to keep such gatherings small.

Lari said another 212 people had died of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 15,912. She added that 2,434 new infections during the same period took the total number of confirmed cases since the virus was first detected in Iran in February to 293,606. Of those, 255,144 have recovered.

Virus-related deaths and infections in Iran have risen to record highs since hitting months-long lows in May. That has prompted authorities to make masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and reimpose restrictions in some areas.

1.54pm BST

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the actor, and her eight-year old daughter, Aaradhya, have recovered from Covid-19 and left hospital after a 10-day stay, her husband, Abhishek Bachchan, said on Twitter, according to Reuters.

Abhishek Bachchan, who is also an actor, and his father, the renowned actor Amitabh Bachchan, 77, are still recovering from the disease and remain in a Mumbai hospital.

The Bachchans have been the most high-profile of India’s growing number of Covid-19 cases.

Amitabh Bachchan and his son tested positive on 11 July. Rai and Aaradhya tested positive a day later, but were admitted to hospital only on 17 July, after they developed symptoms, local media reported.

Abhishek Bachchan, his wife actress Aishwarya Rai and their daughter Aaradhya.
Abhishek Bachchan, his wife actress Aishwarya Rai and their daughter Aaradhya.
Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

India, which has 1.3 billion people, has recorded more than 1.4 million new coronavirus cases, the third highest in the world after the US and Brazil. It has recorded nearly 33,000 deaths so far.

Cases in India have been rising rapidly, and the country on Monday reported a record number of 49,931 new cases.

1.36pm BST

In the US, more than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, the Associated Press reports.

“The whole church has got it, just about,” Al.com quoted pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist church in Marshall County as saying.

The pastor says the churchgoers, including himself, tested positive after the congregation held a series of religious services featuring a guest pastor over the course of several days last week.

Ross said the services were shut down by Friday after learning that one of the members who attended had tested positive for the virus. The member presented no symptoms, but got tested when several of his coworkers received positive tests, according to the pastor.

Over the weekend, dozens more fell ill, Ross said, adding: “I’ve got church members sick everywhere.”

“We knew what we were getting into,” he said. “We knew the possibilities.”

1.16pm BST

My colleagues over in the US of A have launched their live blog, with coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, its election campaign, protests in Portland and other cities and a lot more besides.

Click the link below to follow their latest updates.

1.12pm BST

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun a deep clean of Mecca’s great mosque.

1.03pm BST

Moderna vaccine to be tested in 30,000 healthy people

A US biotechnology company has announced it has started a government-backed late-stage trial to assess its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Reuters reports.

Moderna’s RNA-based vaccine will be given to about 30,000 adults who do not have the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

The trial, named COVE, is the first to be implemented under the US government’s Operation Warp Speed that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19.

The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine project with nearly a billion dollars and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials.

The main goal of the study will be prevention of the symptomatic Covid-19 disease, the company said.

Updated at 1.51pm BST

12.59pm BST

Vietnam has now reported 11 new locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus, all linked to a hospital in the central province of Danang and including four healthcare workers, the country’s health ministry said.

Earlier we reported that the south east Asian country had detected four cases.

Vietnam, whose campaign against the coronavirus has so far been a success story, has registered a total of 431 cases, with no deaths. The country has carried out more than 430,000 tests and nearly 12,000 people are under quarantine.

12.47pm BST

The German state of Bavaria is spear-heading the mass roll-out of coronavirus testing facilities in the hope of reaching as many returning holiday makers as possible, writes Kate Connolly, the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent.

Airports, railway stations and main border crossings used by cars, are to be kitted out with mobile testing units, Markus Söder, the leader of the southern state announced this morning.

Hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers employed on farms across the state will also be offered tests after a big outbreak at a vegetable plantation in eastern Bavaria.

Particular attention will be paid to people returning from 130 areas considered high risk, by the government’s public health advisers. The number has risen from 100 regions last week, reflecting the global growth of the outbreak in recent days.

Söder has also increased fines for employers who contravene coronavirus health and safety regulations from 5000 to 25,000 Euros, in an effort to stem the virus’ spread.

Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Soeder, arrives for a press conference on Monday.
Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Soeder, arrives for a press conference on Monday.
Photograph: Peter Kneffel/AFP/Getty Images

Testing will initially be voluntary, and will be free to the person being tested, Söder said. But he has requested the federal government to investigate the legal hurdles which would need to be overcome in order to introduce an obligatory system.

“We need the federal government to ensure this becomes obligatory,” Söder said. “And this needs to happen as quickly as possible”.

There is growing political consensus across the parties that obligatory testing makes increasing sense amid a spike in cases of the virus both at home and abroad.

Helge Braun, chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, has said he will be looking into the legal requirements in conjunction with Jens Spahn, the health minister.

The leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, said that people should be expected to pay for their own tests.

So far the German government is not considering a blanket quarantine requirement for returnees from Spain, as was introduced by the UK government for its citizens at the weekend.

But the northern state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern, itself highly dependent on tourism, has said it is examining the possibility of introducing stricter quarantine rules for those returning from areas considered high risk. Manuela Schwesig, the state leader, said anyone wishing to avoid a two-week quarantine would have to present health authorities with two negative coronavirus test results. Her government is expected to make an announcement tomorrow.

Bavaria is taking a particularly cautious approach because it has so far been one of the hardest hit regions in Germany. Its schools broke up for their six week summer break on Friday, so many of its 13 million citizens will be travelling further afield at a crucial time. Bavaria itself is also a popular tourist destination and heavily dependent on agriculture. Harvest workers are considered vulnerable targets for the illness.

“Corona is creeping back,” Söder said on Monday morning, “and unfortunately with all its might.

“Caution must be our top priority.”

Over the weekend, five hundred people were placed under quarantine in Mamming, eastern Bavaria, after 170 harvest workers on a vegetable plantation were tested positive for coronavirus.

In neighbouring Austria at the Wolfgangsee, a popular lakeside resort frequented by many German tourists, authorities there were tackling an outbreak of 53 cases thought to have been spread by young hotel staff, who were reportedly living in close quarters. Seven hotels, a pizzeria and two bars in St Wolfgang, the main town, are affected and have had to close.

Germany currently has around 6,100 active cases of the virus. But the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has expressed its concern in recent days that the number of cases was growing. However in the last 24 hours no one in Germany died from the disease, the RKI said on Monday morning.

Updated at 1.27pm BST

12.26pm BST

The coronavirus pandemic is the worst global health emergency the World Health Organisation has faced, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said, according to Reuters.

Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world beat it, Tedros told a virtual news briefing in Geneva. “Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up,” he said, praising Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for controlling outbreaks.

The WHO emergencies programme head, Mike Ryan, said far more important than definitions of second waves, new peaks and localised clusters, was the need for nations around the world to keep up strict health restrictions such as physical distancing.

“What is clear is pressure on the virus pushes the numbers down. Release that pressure and cases creep back up,” he said, acknowledging, however, that it was virtually impossible for nations to keep borders shut for the foreseeable future.

Tedros emphasised the priority remained saving lives.

“We have to suppress transmission but at the same time we have to identify the vulnerable groups and save lives, keeping the death rates if possible to zero, if not to a minimum,” he said, praising Japan and Australia in that respect.

12.16pm BST

Spain is hoping that continuing negotiations with the British government will soon pave the way for Britons to visit the Canary and Balearic islands without having to self-quarantine on their return, writes Sam Jones, the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent.

At the moment, the UK government is advising against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain, but the Canaries and Balearics are exempt from the de facto travel ban. However, anyone visiting any part of Spain – including the islands – is currently required to self-isolate for a fortnight when they return to the UK.

Passengers arrive at Son Sant Joan airport on the Spanish Balearic island of Palma de Mallorca on Sunday.
Passengers arrive at Son Sant Joan airport on the Spanish Balearic island of Palma de Mallorca on Sunday.
Photograph: Joan Mateu/AP

“There have been conversations since the weekend with the British authorities about dropping quarantine for those visiting the islands as soon as possible,” Spain’s tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, said on Monday.

Maroto also said that the government was providing the UK with epidemiological updates about each of Spain’s 17 regions, adding that six of them were currently in a better epidemiological situation than the UK.

“We’ll be talking to all the Spanish regions to see what they propose, and any proposals will be brought to the British authorities,” she added.

The autonomous governments of Andalucía and Valencia have already asked for their regions to be included in the talks on lifting quarantine restrictions.

Maroto said Spain was trying to be as open and transparent as possible when it came to sharing information.

“We want to use that information to bring confidence and transparency when it comes to taking decisions,” she said.

“Our opposite numbers around Europe are doing the same thing and keeping us informed about the outbreaks, which are happening across all European countries and not just in Spain.

“We’re living alongside the virus but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel or enjoy some well-deserved holidays. But we need to be prudent and we need to respect the virus. But that doesn’t mean we can’t control it and enjoy a certain kind of daily life when living alongside it.”

12.04pm BST

Indonesia passes 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus

Indonesia confirmed has its 100,00th coronavirus case, as the Red Cross warned the that the pandemic in the vast archipelago risked “spiralling out of control”, according to AFP.

The country – home to more than a quarter of a billion people – has been recording 1,000-plus new infections a day after relaxing movement restrictions this month. As of Monday, it had reported a total of 100,303 coronavirus cases and 4,838 deaths.

Official figures are thought to understate the true extent of the outbreak.

Passengers wearing protective masks and face shields queue for a bus in Jakarta.
Passengers wearing protective masks and face shields queue for a bus in Jakarta.
Photograph: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

The country of nearly 270 million is among the worst hit in Asia by the pandemic, with cases in all of its 34 provinces, including the remote Maluku islands and easternmost Papua.

Critics have blamed the government’s so-called “new normal” policy for discouraging Indonesians from remaining vigilant about the spread of the virus. They point to re-opening offices in the capital Jakarta as a major culprit in the surge, while restaurants, shopping malls and tourist attractions are also swinging open their doors around the country.

“We are intensifying our efforts to educate the public about the importance of changing their behaviour for good by physical distancing, wearing masks and practising good hygiene,” the Indonesian Red Cross said Monday, adding that it has enlisted some 7,000 volunteers nationwide.

“This calls for a unified, unprecedented, large-scale effort to reach all parts of society, in every corner of our country,” it added.

Updated at 12.07pm BST

11.49am BST

More than 16.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus have so far been counted around the world, and more than 646,000 have died from, Covid-19, the respiratory disease is causes, according to statistics aggregated by Johns Hopkins university.

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Follow the link below to see a further breakdown of the statistics from around the world.

11.32am BST

The southern German state of Bavaria is to set up coronavirus testing sites at its two biggest railway stations and at key points on motorways, as fears grow that the virus could be spread by travellers on their way to summer getaways.

The tests will be offered at Munich and Nuremberg train stations, as well as on three major motorway routes near the border, the state premier, Markus Soeder, told a press conference, according to the French government-funded news agency AFP. Testing centres are already in place at the state’s airports.

“We cannot completely prevent corona, so the goal must be to detect it in time to stop it from spreading,” he said.

Compared with many other European countries, Germany has been successful in suppressing the virus, reporting just over 200,000 cases and 9,118 deaths to date, according to the Robert Koch Institute for disease control.

Updated at 11.33am BST

11.14am BST

Hi, this is Damien Gayle taking the reins on the live blog, with thanks to Aamna Mohdin for keeping things ticking over for the last few hours.

If you feel like dropping me a line with any comments, tips or suggestions for stories we could be covering, you can reach me via email at damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or via Twitter direct message to @damiengayle.

10.53am BST

The Irish government is facing accusations of discrimination for stopping pandemic unemployment payments to people who holiday abroad.

Opposition parties and civil rights advocates condemned the policy after it emerged that 104 people had their payments halted after authorities detected them leaving Ireland. Another 44 people had other welfare payments stopped after boarding flights.

Under the rules of the social welfare benefits people are supposed to avoid foreign travel in accordance with public health advice to curb the spread of Covid-19.

However, critics say last week’s publication of a “green list” of countries deemed relatively safe for travel has confused people and undermines the stay-home message.

Leo Varadkar, the tánaiste, told RTE on Sunday:

The Department of Social Protection gets information from the airports and if someone is not genuinely seeking work or is not genuinely living in the country any more, their welfare payments can be stopped.

Updated at 11.34am BST

10.51am BST

Belgium expected to tighten restrictions after a sharp increase of cases

Belgium’s government is expected to tighten restrictions designed to reduce the spread of Covid-19 after a sharp increase in the national number of infections and a 500% week-on-week spike in the city of Antwerp.

The country’s national security council (NSC), led by the prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, will meet on Monday to decide whether to to enact local lockdowns and reduce the permitted size of social bubbles in the face of a second wave of the disease.

Marc Van Ranst, a member of Belgium’s coronavirus advisory committee, said the meeting was “the most important … to be held since March”, when the national lockdown was imposed.

He added:

“We are acting earlier than during the first wave, we also want to stop [a new wave] earlier.

Updated at 11.17am BST

10.39am BST

French health minister Olivier Véran has warned youngsters to maintain coronavirus safety measures including keeping their distance, washing hands and wearing masks after a rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 among young people

Véran appealed for “vigilance”. The minister said at the weekend:

When we carry out mass testing we are seeing a lot of young patients … more youngsters than during the previous wave.

This is particularly the case in the Île-de-France (Paris) region where we are seeing young people who are infected without knowing how it happened. Clearly, older people are still being very careful, while young people are paying less attention.

The French government has announced that Covid-19 nasal tests will be fully reimbursed by the country’s health service even without a medical prescription. Until now, anyone wanting to be tested had to first consult their GP.

Véran told Le Parisien France was carrying out nearly 500,000 tests a week and the rate of positive results was 1.5%. “As we are testing more, we are finding more people invected,” he said.

Asked if he had a message for youngsters, Véron added:

I say to them that I completely understand their need to get out and breathe some air, but the virus is not taking a holiday. We haven’t yet won the war.

A total of 30,192 people are believed to have died in hospitals and care homes in France since the pandemic began, according to the latest figures on Friday. Last week, the number of new cases rose to more than 1,000 per 24 hours.The statistics are no longer given over the weekend but will be updated on Monday evening. The last figures from the public health authority suggests 1.2% of tests were found to be positive and 127 clusters are currently under investigation.

In Quiberon, in Brittany, which has seen a rise in coronavirus cases, the local authority closed the beaches from 9pm to 7am after 54 young people were diagnosed with Covid-19.

Officials have warned more bars and beaches will be shut to the public if the number of cases continues to rise.

Updated at 11.21am BST

9.14am BST

Catalonia may take stricter measures to limit coronavirus outbreak if situation does not improve

Spain’s Catalonia may take stricter measures to limit coronavirus outbreak if situation does not improve in the next 10 days, regional leader Quim Torra said on Monday.

PA reports:

Torra warned that in many parts of Catalonia the data was similar to the situation before Spain declared a national lockdown in March. He added his administration’s goal was to avoid taking as strict measures as the ones that were taken back then.

Catalan authorities on July 17 advised some four million people to remain home and leave only for essential trips, banned gatherings of more than ten people and limited the occupancy of bars and restaurants as the number of cases in the region is rising faster than in the rest of the country.

8.40am BST

Hong Kong announcing new measures to tackle growing outbreak

Hong Kong’s chief secretary, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, is announcing new measures for the city as it battles a growing outbreak. We earlier reported that Hong Kong has seen five consecutive days with figures in the triple figures. More than half of Hong Kong’s total case count in the pandemic has been in July, the vast majority of it community transmission.

Cheung has just told media.

The next two to three weeks will be critical. We need to prevent the further spread of the disease in the community,”

There is a high risk of a major outbreak in the community. That’s why the community as a whole and the govt must remain highly vigilant. The pandemic is worrying, there is no sign of any improvement.

The new measures will come into place from Wednesday:

  • Mask wearing is mandatory in all public places.
  • Apart from specified premises, all dine-in services are suspended. Take-away service can continue.
  • Sports venues, swimming pools will be included among businesses forced to close.
  • Group gatherings are restricted to no more than two people.

It’s going to be a grim Summer in Hong Kong.

Prof Sophie Chan, secretary for food and health, tells media the government is continually expanding its testing capability (widely reported to be under pressure despite being in numbers far below other countries – around 10,000/day).

They’ll concentrate on vulnerable groups, aged care homes, and taxi drivers, and they aren’t ruling out bringing in more private labs to reinforce government testing capacity.

Updated at 8.50am BST

8.38am BST

Protesters hold signs during a demonstration against Israel’s government in Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Protesters hold signs during a demonstration against Israel’s government in Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

The wave of colorful and combative demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent weeks have been dominated by young Israelis, AP reports.

The unprecedented economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, and a crisis of confidence in leadership, have spurred a younger generation of Israelis wary of their future to take on a more prominent role in the protests. Many of them have little or no history of political involvement.

7.57am BST

Ryanair said it suffered the “most challenging” quarter in its 35-year history after reporting a loss of 185 million euro (168 million). The low-cost airline said a second wave of the disease was now its “biggest fear”.

The company said:

The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history.

Covid-19 grounded the group’s fleet for almost four months (from mid-March to end June) as EU governments imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns.

During this time, group airlines repatriated customers and operated rescue flights for different EU governments, as well as flying a series of medical emergency/PPE flights across Europe.

7.46am BST

Hi, I’m Aamna Mohdin taking over the liveblog from Helen Sullivan. If you want to contact me, you can email me (aamna.mohdin@theguardian.com) or Tweet me (@aamnamohdin).

7.03am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. Thanks for following along – my colleague Aamna Mohdin will be bringing you the latest pandemic news from around the world for the next few hours.

7.01am BST

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people amid new Covid-19 cases in Danang

Vietnam is evacuating 80,00o people from the central city of Danang and reimposed disease-prevention measures, after four local coronavirus cases were detected, the first to be recorded in the country for more than three months.

The source of the new cases is not clear. Vietnamese media reported that the 57-year-old man, a retired grandfather, had not left the city in recent months, but had visited three healthcare facilities and had recently attended a wedding. He visited hospital with a cough and fever on 20 July and is reportedly in critical condition:

Updated at 8.40am BST

6.51am BST

South Korea says defector who fled to North ‘did not have’ Covid-19

South Korea has said that a defector who recently fled to the North does not appear to have contracted Covid-19, a day after Pyongyang imposed a lockdown near the border, claiming the man was its first recorded case of the illness.

North Korean state media reported on Sunday that the 24-year-old man, who was reportedly in quarantine, was displaying symptoms of coronavirus after returning to his homeland across the border separating the two Koreas last week.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, declared a state of “maximum emergency” and ordered the border town of Kaesong, where the defector was discovered, to go into lockdown, the state-run KCNA news agency said.

But on Monday, health authorities in the South said there was no evidence that the defector had contracted the illness:

6.38am BST

Chinese authorities to test six million in Dalian

Chinese health authorities have announced they plan to test all six million plus residents of a northeastern city where a growing infection cluster has spread to seven other cities.

Dalian, in Liaoning province, reported 12 new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, and 14 asymptomatic cases.

The first of the 24 cases confirmed so far was reported on Wednesday, in a 58-year-old man working at a seafood processing facility. All employees and close contacts are now under quarantine. The national health commission said cases in seven other cities had links to the Dalian outbreak.

Health workers carry out Covid-19 coronavirus tests in a shopping mall in Dalian, in China’s northeast Liaoning province.
Health workers carry out Covid-19 coronavirus tests in a shopping mall in Dalian, in China’s northeast Liaoning province.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Head of the commission, Ma Xiaowei, said Dalian should aim to have every resident tested within four days. The costs will all be covered by the Chinese government.

Ma said there were still uncertainties in the Dalian outbreak, and testing resources needed to be increased in nearby cities, China Daily reported.

As outbreaks pop up across mainland China, authorities are responding quickly with transport shut downs, building lockdowns, and city-wide testing on massive scales.

In May a resurgence of the virus in Wuhan saw city authorities directed to have all 11 million residents tested within 10 days.

6.33am BST

UK front pages, Monday 27 July 2020

Many of this morning’s papers lead with the quarantine measures for travellers returning to the UK from Spain. Metro and the Daily Record are winning in the pun stakes, with “The pain in Spain” and “Spain in the neck” respectively:

The Guardian’s headline is “Tourists may face more ‘handbrake restrictions’” – you can read that story here.

6.26am BST

The UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis could take 18 months longer than expected with hopes of a V-shaped recovery fading fast, according to a leading economic forecaster.

Britain’s economic output is not expected to return to its 2019 level until the end of 2024, the EY Item Club said on Monday in its latest projections on the health of the UK economy. It had previously expected GDP to match fourth-quarter 2019 size in early 2023.

EY is predicting that Britain’s economy will shrink by a record 20% in the April to June quarter, rather than 15% as it forecast last month. The economy expected to return to growth in the third quarter, with a quarterly expansion of around 12%:

5.54am BST

Summary

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Global deaths are nearing 650,000 as cases climb by over 250,000 for four straight days. The number people who have died in the pandemic so far is nearing 650,000 according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, with the total currently at 647,928. Cases are showing no sign of slowing, with the last four days seeing more than 250,000 cases reported worldwide each day. Three of the last four days saw more than 280,000 daily cases – a rate that would mean the global total would increase by 2m cases per week. There are over 16.2m cases worldwide.
  • Vietnam will evacuate 80,000 tourists from the city of Danang, the government announced in a statement, following the discovery of four locally transmitted coronavirus cases over the weekend – the first cases in the country for 99 days.The government has also reintroduced social distancing measures in the city.
  • China recorded 61 new coronavirus cases on Monday – the highest daily figure since April, propelled by clusters in three separate regions that have sparked fears of a fresh wave. The bulk of 57 new domestic cases were found in the far northwestern Xinjiang region, according to the National Health Commission, where a sudden outbreak in the regional capital of Urumqi occurred in mid-July.Fourteen domestic cases were also recorded in the northeastern province of Liaoning where a fresh cluster broke out in the city of Dalian last week.
  • India has for the first time recorded over 50,000 cases in one day. The Times of India reported that India’s one-day case total was higher than 50,000 for the first time on Sunday, taking the country’s total to 1.4m cases – the third highest worldwide.50,362 new cases were reported, toppling the previous one-day case record of 49,055.Last week was also India’s deadliest, the paper reports, “when total cases grew by 28% and the death toll jumped by 19%.”
  • Australia saw its highest one-day case increase of the pandemic so far, after the state of Victoria recorded 532 new cases, along with six more deaths of people aged in their 50s to 90s.
  • The Australian state of New South Wales recorded 17 new cases, about average for the last week. Of the new cases eight are international travellers in hotel quarantine. Another four are linked to the four are linked funeral gatherings cluster, three are household contacts of cases associated with Thai Rock Wetherill Park, and two are under investigation.
  • New Zealand reported another day with no new cases of Covid-19 – the third day in a row. All of the country’s 21 active cases of the virus were diagnosed in travellers returning to the country, all of whom are quarantined in government-managed isolation facilities.
  • Coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea have nearly doubled in a weekend, with the emerging pandemic threatening to overwhelm the country’s already-fragile healthcare system. The pandemic has, so far, been largely suppressed in the archipelagic nation, with low infection rates and only one death – of an already seriously-ill patient – linked to Covid-19.But authorities fear persistent community transmission, particularly in the crowded capital Port Moresby, could soon see the virus running unchecked.
  • The US has recorded 5,000 deaths in five days. The US has suffered more than 1,000 deaths a day from Covid-19 for five days running, as cases surge in southern and western states, the national caseload nears 4.2m and the death toll approaches 150,000.
  • Dr Birx urged five US states to close bars and limit social gatherings. The co-ordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Dr Deborah Birx, told reporters In Kentucky on Sunday that that federal health officials recommend that five US states – Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia – “close their bars, cut back indoor restaurant capacity and limit social gatherings to 10 people,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports, as well as recommending that “100%” of people wear masks when they are in public.
  • Pacific islanders living in the US are being hospitalised with Covid-19 at up to 10 times the rate of some other racial groups. In Washington state, rates of confirmed cases for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander people are nine times higher than those of white people, while hospitalisation rates are 10 times that of white people, according to department of health figures.
  • Morocco announced a new lockdown. Morocco will stop people entering and leaving some of its biggest cities from midnight to contain a surge in coronavirus cases, the interior and health ministries said on Sunday. On Sunday, the health ministry said 633 new Covid-19 cases were recorded, one of the biggest daily rises so far, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 20,278, with 313 deaths and 16,438 recoveries.
  • Some 500 workers are in quarantine on a large Bavarian farm to contain a mass coronavirus outbreak, German officials said, as they announced free Covid-19 tests for local residents. A total of 174 seasonal workers have tested positive for the virus since Friday.
  • The number of confirmed infections to Covid-19 has passed 36,000 in Afghanistan as the death toll in Kabul topped 500, amid raising concerns about a second wave of the pandemic over the upcoming Eid celebration. Coronavirus related deaths rose by 12 from the previous day to stand at 1,259 on Sunday.
  • Spain’s Covid-19 death toll could be 60% higher than the official figure. An investigation by Spanish newspaper El País, in which reporters counted regional statistics of suspected, as well as confirmed fatalities, reached a total of 44,868 deaths.
  • Spain is in talks with the UK about exempting the Canary and Balearic islands from strict quarantine rules. From midnight on Sunday, travellers returning from Spain to the UK have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, following a surge of cases in the country. The Spanish foreign minister said conversations between the countries were focussed on excluding the islands, which have seen far fewer Covid-19 infections and deaths, from the measures.
  • Vietnam has reintroduced social distancing measures in the city of Danang. The rules, reimposed by the government, follow the detection of four new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases in the country, after three months of no new infections.
  • North Korea has declared a state of emergency in a border town over a suspected coronavirus case. State news agency KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un also imposed a lockdown in Kaesong after a person who illegally crossed the border from South Korea displayed symptoms of the virus.

5.42am BST

Reuters is reporting that 80,000 tourists are being evacuated from the central city of Danang, the Vietnamese government announced in a statement, following the discovery of four locally transmitted coronavirus cases over the weekend – the first cases in the country for 99 days.

The government has also reintroduced social distancing measures in the city.

Updated at 6.57am BST

5.20am BST

‘People don’t want to fly’: Covid-19 reawakens Europe’s sleeper trains

For all their promise of romance and adventure, Europe’s sleeper trains had appeared to have reached the end of the line.

Cripplingly expensive to run and forsaken by travellers for budget airlines, a decision by the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn to terminate the service connecting Paris to Berlin six years ago ushered in the closure of routes across the continent including almost all of France’s network.

But as Europe continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, there are tentative signs of a new dawn for the couchettes and twin bunks, as the concerns of both governments and travellers’ over the environmental impact of short-haul flights are being complemented by a desire to avoid airport departure lounges and security queues:

5.00am BST

More on China from AFP: a second wave of mass testing was also launched in Xinjiang’s Urumqi on Sunday to detect residents who had previously tested false negative, reported the state-run Global Times, following a mass testing effort earlier this month.

More than 2.3 million people in the city of 3.5 million have been tested so far, according to a local press conference Friday.

The outbreaks come as the Chinese Super League football tournament kicked off its much-delayed season on Saturday.

Residential communities in both Dalian and Urumqi have been placed under lockdown, with authorities declaring a “wartime mode” to combat the virus.

Experts still have not confirmed the origin of the recent Xinjiang cluster, which has infected 178 people to date.

The fresh infections in Jilin were announced just days after President Xi Jinping concluded an inspection tour of the province last week.

The area announced four new asymptomatic cases on Sunday, after screening travellers returning from Dalian.

Another 302 asymptomatic cases in China are under medical observation, health authorities said Monday, and there are currently 331 people ill with COVID-19 across the country, 21 in a severe condition.

4.41am BST

China records highest new daily coronavirus case increase since April

China recorded 61 new coronavirus cases on Monday – the highest daily figure since April, AFP reports, propelled by clusters in three separate regions that have sparked fears of a fresh wave.

The bulk of 57 new domestic cases were found in the far northwestern Xinjiang region, according to the National Health Commission, where a sudden outbreak in the regional capital of Urumqi occurred in mid-July.

Fourteen domestic cases were also recorded in the northeastern province of Liaoning where a fresh cluster broke out in the city of Dalian last week.

Two more local cases were found in the neighbouring province of Jilin near the North Korean border – the first since late May. The last four infections confirmed on Monday were imported from overseas.

It is the highest daily tally of new virus cases since April 14, when 89 cases, mostly imported, were recorded.

Chinese authorities have rolled out mass testing for hundreds of thousands of people in the port city of Dalian.

4.34am BST

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 340 to 205,609, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

The reported deaths remained unchanged at 9,118.

4.22am BST

Here is the full story on the Australian state of Victoria reporting the highest number of Covid-19 identified in a 24-hour period in Australia to date, with 532 new cases, along with six more deaths of people aged in their 50s to 90s:

3.55am BST

Japan’s economy minister says the government will urge businesses to aim for 70% telecommuting and enhance other social distancing measures amid a rise in coronavirus cases among workers, some infected during after-work socialising, Reuters reports.

Though Japan has largely avoided the mass infections that have killed tens of thousands overseas, a record surge in cases during the past week in Tokyo and other major urban areas has experts worried the country face a second wave.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura late on Sunday called on business leaders to enhance anti-virus measures such as encouraging the level of telecommuting achieved during Japan’s state of emergency this year.

An employee wearing a protective face mask and face guard works on an automobile assembly line in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan, 18 May 2020.
An employee wearing a protective face mask and face guard works on an automobile assembly line in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan, 18 May 2020.
Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Tokyo last week reported a daily record of 366 cases, with 239 on Sunday. The southern city of Fukuoka reported a record 90 cases on Sunday, along with rising numbers in Osaka.

“At one point, commuter numbers were down by 70 to 80%, but now it’s only about 30%,” Nishimura said. “We really don’t want to backtrack on this, so we have to explore new ways of working and keep telecommuting high.”

He also called on companies to avoid large gatherings and to urge staggered shifts.
Nishimura said last week that concern was rising about clusters, specifically those involving host and hostess bars as well as others connected to workplaces and after-work socialising.

Though the number of serious cases remains relatively small, the government is also concerned about a rise in infections among people in their 40s and 50s. The rate of telecommuting has lagged in Japan because of a paper-driven culture and technological shortcomings, experts say.

More than 30,000 people in Japan have been infected and nearly 1,000 have died.

3.42am BST

Hi, Helen Sullivan here. I’ll still be bringing you the latest for the a few hours – your questions, suggestions and news tips are welcome.

Send them to me on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

3.32am BST

Coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea double in days

Coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea have nearly doubled in a weekend, with the emerging pandemic threatening to overwhelm the country’s already-fragile healthcare system.

The pandemic has, so far, been largely suppressed in the archipelagic nation, with low infection rates and only one death – of an already seriously-ill patient – linked to Covid-19.

But authorities fear persistent community transmission, particularly in the crowded capital Port Moresby, could soon see the virus running unchecked.

A fortnight ago, the country had recorded just 11 cases of Covid-19. This jumped to 32 by Friday last week, and to 62 by Sunday.

Now, 80% of PNG’s Covid cases have been recorded in the past 10 days:

3.22am BST

New Zealand reports zero new cases for third straight day

Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand has reported another day with no new cases of Covid-19 – the third day in a row. All of the country’s 21 active cases of the virus were diagnosed in travellers returning to the country, all of whom are quarantined in government-managed isolation facilities.

Only New Zealanders, and essential workers given exemptions, are allowed to enter the country. All travellers spend two weeks in quarantine, during which they are tested twice for the coronavirus.

New Zealand has recorded 1,206 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 22 deaths.

There is no known community transmission of the virus, widely attributed to a swift, early lockdown of the country. Health officials said on Monday that it had been 87 days since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source.

New Zealand now has no restrictions in place on daily life other than the border measures.

3.07am BST

The Hong Kong government is on the defensive over its extensive quarantine exemptions which have now been identified as driving much of the current outbreak. More than 1,400 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 this month – more than half of Hong Kong’s total infections in the coronavirus pandemic. Medical and testing systems in the city are overwhelmed.

Hong Kong has had strict entry bars on non-residents and mandatory quarantine for others coming into the city. However tens of thousands of individuals considered to be carrying out essential work were exempt – including about 10,000 cross-border truck drivers, as well as crew members of sea and air vessels.

In a statement released on Sunday the government defended the decision, saying the exemptions were “essential to ensure an uninterrupted supply of goods and daily necessities to maintain the economy”.

“Though exempted from mandatory 14-day quarantine, exempted persons are issued with medical surveillance notices by the Department of Health and are asked to comply with precautionary and personal hygiene measures including the wearing of masks.”

A man wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus walks past a closed bar in Hong Kong.
A man wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus walks past a closed bar in Hong Kong.
Photograph: May James/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

It said the exemption arrangements had “worked well in the past few months”, but in recognition of the recent rise in cases among air and sea crew personnel, some measures have been suspended or tightened.

Taking effect on Wednesday, the new measures include requiring all cargo ship crew members to stay on board while the ship is in Hong Kong waters. Incoming flight crews must possess a negative Covid-19 test from within 48 prior to their arrival. Airlines must also arrange point to point private transport for crew traveling between the airport and their accommodation, and ensure that the crew self-isolate.

On Sunday Hong Kong reported another 128 cases, the fifth straight day of results in the triple figures.

On Saturday Hong Kong confirmed a record 133 cases of Covid-19 were under investigation, all but seven of them locally transmitted.

It included one student living in a University of Hong Kong hall of residence. One roommate had returned a preliminary positive test result, and another with symptoms was waiting for a result.

“For the University of Hong Kong residential hall, because they are living on the same floor, they share bathrooms and toilets, there are around 10 to 20 students there, so we plan to put them under quarantine,” head of the centre for health protection, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said.

3.02am BST

We’re leaving that press conference in Victoria now.

Here is a summary of the news from Victoria and New South Wales:

  • The state of Victoria has reported a record 532 cases – the highest one-day total for Australia over the course of the pandemic so far – and an additional six deaths.
  • There are 400 active cases among healthcare workers and 683 active cases connected to aged care facilities, said Premier Daniel Andrews. “The key message today for every single Victorian, regardless of where they work and regardless of where they live, you simply can’t go to work if you have symptoms,” he said.
  • New South Wales recorded 17 new cases of Covid-19 to 8pm last night, about average for the last week. Of those, eight are international travellers in hotel quarantine. Another four are linked to the four are linked funeral gatherings cluster, three are household contacts of cases associated with Thai Rock Wetherill Park, and two are under investigation. There are now 70 cases linked to the cluster at Thai Rock Wetherill Park.
  • More than one in five Victorians have been tested for coronavirus. The state has conducted more than 1.5m tests since January, which is one of the highest rates on the world, said Andrews.
  • Andrews said he will look at closing certain key industries if the workplace transmission of coronavirus is not slowed.But he said his health advisors have not recommend taking that step at this stage.He was asked the question specifically with regards to meat works.

2.53am BST

Back in Australia, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said he will look at closing certain key industries if the workplace transmission of coronavirus is not slowed.

But he said his health advisors have not recommend taking that step at this stage.

He was asked the question specifically with regards to meat works.

If we were to continue to see outbreaks, if we were to continue to see people quite obviously attending work when they shouldn’t be, then every option becomes on the table. And that’s not the position at the moment and I’m very grateful to those employers and they’re not the only high-risk sites. We shouldn’t single them out to the exclusion of others. It’s not just cool stores, meat works, abattoirs, whatever you want to term them, it’s not just big warehouses, distribution, freight, logistic centres, there’s lot of different sites, aged care, healthcare, the list goes on.

But… You know, next steps may well have to include closing a number of these industries if we continue to see people attending work.

He added:

So employers have got, business owners have got, a really big stake in this also. We have to work together to keep anyone who’s got symptoms away from work. Otherwise businesses will have to close and the thing is this: When you have an outbreak, that business will shut, they’ll be the subject of deep-cleaning, they’ll be the subject of literally of hundreds of thousands of hours of public health team work, contact-tracing, testing, all of that.

There’s an economic cost to that, there’s a very significant public health cost also. So that work is not just me standing here asking people to do it. It’s got to be enterprise by enterprise workplace by workplace and I’m really confident that they are stepping up to do that work with us because they need to.

2.45am BST

India records over 50,000 cases in one day

The Times of India reports that India’s one-day case total was higher than 50,000 for the first time on Sunday, taking the country’s total to 1.4m cases – the third highest worldwide.

50,362 new cases were reported, toppling the previous one-day case record of 49,055.

Last week was also India’s deadliest, the paper reports, “when total cases grew by 28% and the death toll jumped by 19%.”

Coronavirus testing in Mumbai, India on 26 Jul 2020.
Coronavirus testing in Mumbai, India on 26 Jul 2020.
Photograph: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

2.40am BST

More than one in five Victorians have been tested for coronavirus

Back in the Australian state of Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews says that since January, more than one in five Victorians has been tested for coronavirus:

We don’t have capacity to do 100,000 tests a day. There are limits, and if you look at our average over the last three to four weeks, it’s certainly higher than 25,000.

[…]

We think we’re doing enough testing to find positive cases, we’re doing enough testing to have a good sense of where the virus is, but it’s a big and complex system. We have done – my notes tell me – we have done more than 1.5 million tests. In fact, we have done a total of 1,518,507 tests. That gives you a sense of how big a challenge that is. That’s since January one. That is one of the highest testing rates in the world up over one-in-five Victorians have been tested. That’s a massive, massive task.

2.35am BST

China records 57 new locally transmitted cases

To step away from Australia for a moment: China has reported 57 new locally transmitted cases today, with 41 of those in the Uighur Autonomous Region, according to the National Health Commission:

From 0-24 o’clock on July 26, 31 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps reported 61 new confirmed cases, including 4 imported cases (2 in Inner Mongolia, 1 in Fujian, and 1 in Sichuan). There are 57 local cases (41 in Xinjiang, 14 in Liaoning, and 2 in Jilin); no new deaths; no new suspected cases.

2.32am BST

Australian state of New South Wales records 17 new cases

Stepping away from Victoria for a moment – the neighbouring Australian state of New South Wales recorded 17 new cases of Covid-19 to 8pm last night – that’s about average for the last week.

Of those, eight are international travellers in hotel quarantine. Another four are linked to the four are linked funeral gatherings cluster, three are household contacts of cases associated with Thai Rock Wetherill Park, and two are under investigation.

There are now 70 cases linked to the cluster at Thai Rock Wetherill Park. The Crossroads Hotel cluster, which did not record any new cases yesterday, is at 56.

Updated at 3.00am BST

2.19am BST

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton is speaking now. He breaks down the cases linked to aged are facilities, and says, “Where there are outbreaks in aged care, the mortality is extremely high”:

The aged care outbreaks are absolutely a consequence of community transmission, but they represent a tragedy for the families involved for some private aged care facilities, the numbers are disturbing. There are now 84 cases linked to St Basil’s Home for TheAged in Fawkner. 82 in Estia Healthcare, 77 in Epping GardensAged Care in Epping. 62 in men Rocklife aged care in Essendon, 53 in Glenndale aged care in Werribee. 57in Kirk Bray Presbyterian homes in Kilsyth and 50 in Estia aged care inHeidelberg.

It’s hard to read these out without considering the residents in these facilities will be people’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and they are at significant risk of dying. That’s an inescapable fact in these settings. Where there are outbreaks in aged care, the mortality is extremely high.

2.10am BST

Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews says six more people have died overnight, a lower toll than yesterday’s 10 deaths.

The deaths are, says Andrews: “A female in her 90s, a female in her 80s, a man in his 80s, a female in her 70s, and a male in his 70s, and a male in his 50s. Five of those six deaths are connected to outbreaks in aged care.”

There are 400 active cases among healthcare workers and “683 active cases connected in someway to aged care,” says Andrews.

“The key message today for every single Victorian, regardless of where they work and regardless of where they live, you simply can’t go to work if you have symptoms,” he says.

“This is what is driving these numbers up and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested because they have symptoms.”

2.03am BST

Australian state of Victoria sees record case rise

In Australia, the state of Victoria, in which residents of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are around half way through a six-week lockdown, has reported a national record 532 new cases in one day, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced at a press conference. The previous national record was 472 cases, most of them from Victoria, on 22 July.

Yesterday was Australia’s deadliest day over the course of the pandemic so far, with ten deaths – all of them in Victoria.

ADF personnel and Victorian police officers are seen patrolling the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Sunday, 26 July 2020.
ADF personnel and Victorian police officers are seen patrolling the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, Sunday, 26 July 2020.
Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP

The state is battling outbreaks in aged care facilities and among healthcare workers, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying on Monday that the outbreak in aged care in Melbourne, which by Sunday had grown to 560 cases across 71 residential and non-residential aged care facilities, was a reminder that when community transmission increases, people living in aged care are at risk.

There were 381 active infections in Victorian healthcare workers announced on Sunday – an extra 81 since Friday, the Guardian’s Melissa Davey reports. And that figure doesn’t include the hundreds of healthcare workers now furloughed while awaiting test results after being in close contact with a known case:

1.54am BST

Pacific Islanders in US hospitalised with Covid-19 at up to 10 times the rate of other groups

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson reports for the Guardian:

Pacific islanders living in the US are being hospitalised with Covid-19 at up to 10 times the rate of some other racial groups.

The US is the most infected country on earth, with more than 4 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and nearly 150,000 deaths, and the 1.5 million Pacific islanders living there are massively overrepresented in infection and hospitalisation rates.

In Washington state, rates of confirmed cases for Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander people are nine times higher than those of white people, while hospitalisation rates are 10 times that of white people, according to department of health figures.

The numbers are most dramatic in that state’s Spokane county. People from the Marshall Islands make up less than 1% of the county’s population but represent around 30% of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Across the country, states with significant islander populations are showing similar trends:

1.44am BST

Global deaths near 650,000 as cases climb by over 250,000 for four straight days

The number people who have died in the pandemic so far is nearing 650,000 according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, with the total currently at 647,784.

Cases are showing no sign of slowing, with the last four days seeing more than 250,000 cases reported worldwide each day. Three of the last four days sawmore than 280,000 daily cases – a rate that would mean the global total would increase by 2m cases per week.

There are 16,189,581 known coronavirus cases worldwide.

1.32am BST

Dr Birx urges five US states to close bars and limit social gatherings

The co-ordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Dr Deborah Birx, told reporters In Kentucky on Sunday that that federal health officials recommend that five US states – Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia – “close their bars, cut back indoor restaurant capacity and limit social gatherings to 10 people,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports, as well as recommending that “100%” of people wear masks when they are in public.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, the paper reports, “said he is prepared to announce further restrictions Monday to try to control the coronavirus spread in Kentucky. He already has ordered people to wear masks, limit gatherings to 10 people or less and recommended avoiding travel to states with high rates of Covid-19.”

The New York Times reports that four US states – Four states set single-day case records — Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alaska – reported record case rises on Sunday.

1.08am BST

US records 5,000 deaths in five days

The US has recorded more than 1,000 deaths a day from Covid-19 for five days running, as cases surge in southern and western states, the national caseload nears 4.2m and the death toll approaches 150,000.

In Washington, Senate Republicans and the White House continue talks over what to put in the next stimulus package, as Democrats fret over the imminent expiration of enhanced unemployment payments and evictions of those unable to make rent.

House Democrats passed a tn package, the Heroes Act, in May. On Sunday, key Republican negotiators said their proposals would be unveiled on Monday, with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell expected to outline a package priced at tn. They did not count out a need to pass short-term funding measures first:

12.54am BST

Spain’s Covid-19 death toll could be 60% higher than official figure

In case you missed it: Spain’s coronavirus death toll could be nearly 60% than the official total of 28,342, an investigation by Spanish daily newspaper El País has found.The country’s official death toll includes people who were formally diagnosed with coronavirus, not suspected cases who were never tested.A lack of widespread testing, particularly in the early stages of the outbreak, means the official count could underestimate the virus’ toll, like in many other countries.By counting regional statistics of all suspected and confirmed fatalities from the virus, El Pais reached a total of 44,868 deaths. If accurate, that would make Spain’s outbreak the second deadliest in Europe after the UK.

Spain’s health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The El País figure is roughly in line with figures from the National Epidemiology Centre and National Statistics Centre (INE), which register excess mortality by comparing deaths across the country with historical averages.In June, the INE reported 43,945 more deaths in the first 21 weeks of 2020 than in the same period of 2019, though it could not say how many could be attributed to the pandemic.

12.30am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.

I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours and welcome your questions, suggestions and news tips.

Send them to me on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

The United States has recorded around 1,000 deaths per day for five days in a row, as the national caseload nears 4.2m and the death toll approaches 150,000. Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator, told reporters in Kentucky that federal health officials recommend that five US states – Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia – close their bars.

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:

  • The health minister of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, has died nearly two weeks after being hospitalised with Covid-19. “I have no words to express all my feelings in this moment, except for profound sadness,” Chihuahua governor Javier Corral wrote on Facebook on Sunday morning of the minister, Dr. Jesus Grajeda.
  • Brazil death toll surpasses 87,000. The death toll from coronavirus in Brazil has reached 87,004, up from 86,449 yesterday, according to the country’s health ministry.The number of cases registered is at 2,419,091, compared to 2,394,513 yesterday.
  • Morocco announces new lockdown. Morocco will stop people entering and leaving some of its biggest cities from midnight to contain a surge in coronavirus cases, the interior and health ministries said on Sunday. On Sunday, the health ministry said 633 new Covid-19 cases were recorded, one of the biggest daily rises so far, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 20,278, with 313 deaths and 16,438 recoveries.
  • Some 500 workers are in quarantine on a large Bavarian farm to contain a mass coronavirus outbreak, German officials said, as they announced free Covid-19 tests for local residents. A total of 174 seasonal workers have tested positive for the virus since Friday.
  • The number of confirmed infections to Covid-19 has passed 36,000 in Afghanistan as death toll in Kabul topped 500, amid raising concerns about a second wave of the pandemic over the upcoming Eid celebration. Coronavirus related deaths rose by 12 from the previous day to stand at 1,259 on Sunday.
  • Spain’s Covid-19 death toll could be 60% higher than the official figure. An investigation by Spanish newspaper El País, in which reporters counted regional statistics of suspected, as well as confirmed fatalities, reached a total of 44,868 deaths.
  • Spain are in talks with the UK about exempting the Canary and Balearic islands from strict quarantine rules. From midnight on Sunday, travellers returning from Spain to the UK have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, following a surge of cases in the country. The Spanish foreign minister said conversations between the countries were focussed on excluding the islands, which have seen far fewer Covid-19 infections and deaths, from the measures.
  • Vietnam has reintroduced social distancing measures in the city of Danang. The rules, reimposed by the government, follow the detection of four new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases in the country, after three months of no new infections.
  • North Korea has declared a state of emergency in a border town over a suspected coronavirus case. State news agency KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un also imposed a lockdown in Kaesong after a person who illegally crossed the border from South Korea displayed symptoms of the virus.
  • India’s prime minister has warned citizens to be “extra vigilant” towards the ongoing threat of Covid-19. Narendra Modi’s comments come after the country recorded more than 48,000 cases in 24 hours. India’s total coronavirus caseload now stands at 1.4 million, while more than 30,000 people have died after contracting the disease.

Updated at 12.51am BST

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