The World Health Organization is forming a team of international experts to go to China to study the origins of the novel coronavirus, but it will not be in place before the end of July, the head of the WHO’s emergencies programme said.
More than 13.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while more than 7.7 million have recovered and more than 588,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates.
Friday, July 17
19:04 GMT – French PM Castex say it is “essential” to reach deal at EU recovery plan summit
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that it was “essential” that European Union leaders meeting for summit talks in Brussels reach a deal on a multi-billion euro recovery plan for the European Union.
“A deal is essential in view of the gravity of the situation,” Castex told France 2 television.
18:43 GMT – France’s coronavirus death toll reaches 30,152
The number of deaths in France from the new coronavirus rose to 30,152 on Friday from 30,138 on Thursday, the country’s health department said.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, fell to 6,688 from 6,796 on Thursday, continuing a weeks-long downtrend.
18:15 GMT – Czech PM says EU no closer to deal on economic recovery from COVID
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that views remained widely different among EU leaders after hours of talks on Friday on a plan to inject hundreds and billions of euros to restart growth in Europe hit by coronavirus pandemic.
Babis also said he did not feel the 27 EU heads were getting closer to a deal and that there was no agreement on the size of a new fund proposed at 750 billion euros to help economic revival.
17:28 GMT – Canada medical officials worried about recent spike in coronavirus cases
A recent spike in coronavirus cases in Canada is worrying and can be linked to groups of young people gathering in bars and elsewhere, a top medical official said.
“When we examine recent trends in case reporting, there is some cause for concern. After a period of steady decine, daily case counts have started to rise,” deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo told a briefing.
16:56 GMT – Millions of Catalans urged to stay home as coronavirus cases jump
Catalonia urged some four million people, including residents of Barcelona, to stay home, in a major toughening of its response to an increase in coronavirus cases.
The stay-home call stopped short of a mandatory confinement, but it was the strongest measure taken to battle new clusters since Spain emerged from a nationwide state of emergency one month ago.
Residents of Barcelona, its suburbs and the areas of Segria and Noguera, further away from the city, were urged to shop online and leave home only to go to work, to visit a doctor or carry other essential activities. Those affected amounted to more than half the population of the northeastern region.
Catalonia’s regional authorities and the city council announced restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease in Barcelona, Spain [Nacho Doce/Reuters]
16:24 GMT – WHO says COVID-19 cases in Brazil no longer rising exponentially
Coronavirus infections in Brazil no longer appear to be rising exponentially but have reached a plateau, creating an opportunity to get the outbreak there under control, WHO emergencies programme head Mike Ryan said.
Ryan told a news briefing that the “R” number – the number of people each infected person goes on to infect – now appeared to be between 0.5 and 1.5 across states in Brazil, and the number of new cases was plateauing at 40,000-45,000 per day.
“The virus is not doubling itself in the community as it was before, so the rise is not exponential,” he said. But there was “absolutely no guarantee that it will go down by itself”.
15:57 GMT – WHO preparing full mission to China to study virus origins
The World Health Organization is forming a team of international experts to go to China to study the origins of the novel coronavirus, but it will not be in place before the end of July, the head of the WHO’s emergencies programme said.
A two-person WHO advance team has been in China for a week preparing for the visit of the larger team. WHO emergencies programme chief Mike Ryan said the health body was “very pleased” with the collaboration from Chinese officials so far, but setting up and deploying the larger team would take time.
Medical workers wear PPE suits as they prepare for their shift in a dedicated COVID-19 ward in Kuala Lumpur Hospital [File: Rahman Roslan/Getty Images]
15:43 GMT – UK COVID-19 deaths from confirmed cases rise to 45,233
The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 45,233, up by 114 from the previous day, the government said.
15:21 GMT – Treasury’s Mnuchin open to blanket forgiveness for smaller business relief loans
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday policymakers should consider blanket forgiveness for all smaller businesses that received “Paycheck Protection Program” loans.
Mnuchin told lawmakers that they should consider such an approach to reduce complexity, coupled with some form of fraud protection.
He also said the Trump administration supports adding more funds to the $660 billion program, as well as allowing especially hard-hit businesses to apply for a second emergency loan.
14:59 GMT – Kenya police arrest prison warden over rape of patient in COVID-19 quarantine
Kenyan police arrested a prison warden accused of raping a female patient in a COVID-19 isolation facility he was meant to be guarding, a police report said
It was the latest in a string of incidents highlighting substandard conditions at some government-run coronavirus treatment centre in the East African country.
The attack may add to fears over treatment in government facilities that health experts have warned may deter Kenyans from coming forward to be tested for the new coronavirus.
14:37 GMT – Russia’s R-Pharm signs deal to make UK-developed COVID-19 vaccine
Russian drugmaker R-Pharm has signed a deal with AstraZeneca for it to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the British pharmaceuticals giant and Oxford University, it said.
Following allegations from Britain, Canada and the United States that hackers backed by Russia were trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research, the head of Russia’s wealth fund said the deal showed that Moscow has no need to steal anything.
“We have formalised this plan in the form of signed agreements in the area of production and supply of the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, using R-Pharm to fulfil the project,” said R-Pharm’s board chairman, Alexey Repik.
14:04 GMT – British PM says experiences of other countries show what can go wrong
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the problems other countries are currently experiencing with the Covid-19 pandemic shows what can go wrong if rules are not followed by the public.
“Look at other countries around the world, we can see all too clearly what could go wrong if we don’t continue to follow the guidance, if we don’t continue to keep this thing under control,” he said at a Downing Street media briefing.
“There are parts of the world where it’s continuing to spike, we don’t want to see that in this country,” he said, without naming any countries.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust [File: Ben Stansall/Reuters]
13:20 GMT – UK COVID-19 reproduction number remains at 0.7-0.9
The reproduction number of COVID-19 across the United Kingdom is between 0.7-0.9, the government said on Friday, unchanged on the previous week’s value.
The current growth rate of the epidemic in the UK is between -5% to -1%, the government office for science said
Hi, this is Arwa Ibrahim in Doha, taking over from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.
12:55 GMT – Brazil hospitals overwhelmed as coronavirus cases cross 2 million
Hospitals in Brazil are struggling to cope with an influx of coronavirus patients, as confirmed cases have crossed the two million mark in the world’s second-hardest hit nation by the pandemic.
More than 45,000 new infections were reported by the health ministry on Thursday, but the real figures are believed to be much higher due to insufficient testing. The overall confirmed number of coronavirus-related death stood at 76,688, also the second-highest globally behind the United States.
Read more here.
Even as cases wane somewhat in the biggest and hardest-hit Brazilian cities, infections are peaking in new locations across the country [Amanda Perobelli/Reuters]
12:40 GMT – Georgia governor sues Atlanta officials over face mask mandate
The governor of Georgia has sued officials in the US state’s largest city, seeking to block a mandate that would require Atlanta residents to wear face masks in public as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The lawsuit, filed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday, alleges Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms does not have the authority to require stricter public health measures than the state, which has encouraged mask-wearing but not required it.
Read more here.
12:15 GMT – Pakistan extends lockdown in southern province of Sindh
Pakistan has announced a lockdown in its southern-most province of Sindh amid rising coronavirus cases.
According to an official notification by the provincial government, the lockdown will remain in place until August 15.
All public places including parks and restaurants will remain closed to curb the spread of the virus.
11:58 GMT – Flights resume between Tehran and Dubai
Iran has received its first passenger flight from the United Arab Emirates’s flag carrier in five months after it arrived at Tehran’s main airport.
It was the first commercial flight since late February when the airliner halted the route after Emirati authorities found two Iranians who were infected with the coronavirus.
11:30 GMT – Fans allowed back into English sports events from next week
Spectators will be allowed back into some sports events in England from next week as coronavirus prevention measures are tested ahead of a planned wider reopening of stadiums in October.
Domestic cricket on July 26-27 is set to be the first sport that fans are allowed to watch in person since March. Some spectators will also be allowed into the world snooker championship in Sheffield from July 31.
“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia … in a COVID-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at Downing Street.
Play in the English Premier league has resumed behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease [Justin Setterfield/Pool/Reuters]
11:00 GMT – COVID-19 transmission rate spikes in France’s Brittany region
The reproduction rate of the novel coronavirus in the Brittany region, popular with tourists, has risen sharply in less than a week, according to government data, the latest indication that the virus is again gaining momentum in France.
The government on Thursday accelerated plans to make it compulsory to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces amid concerns about renewed flare-ups of COVID-19, especially in areas in western and southern France that had been relatively spared during the height of the outbreak between March and May.
10:29 GMT – British Airways retires 747 early due to coronavirus crisis
The world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s, British Airways, will retire its entire jumbo jet fleet with immediate effect after the COVID-19 pandemic sent air travel into freefall.
For more than 50 years, Boeing’s Queen of the Skies has been the world’s most easily recognised jetliner with its humped fuselage and four engines. But its days were already numbered before the pandemic struck earlier this year.
British Airways Boeing 747-400 flies into Heathrow Airport [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]
10:05 GMT – Catalonia restricts some activities in Barcelona, but no lockdown
Catalonia’s regional authorities have announced they would restrict some activities in Barcelona, including asking people not to gather in groups of more than ten, to fight an increase in coronavirus cases.
But they stopped short of imposing a lockdown and said the measures were meant to avoid having to do so for Spain’s second-largest city.
09:37 GMT – Russia expects to make COVID-19 vaccine being developed in UK – wealth fund head
Russia expects a deal with AstraZeneca for it to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the pharmaceuticals giant and Oxford University to go ahead despite allegations it has been trying to steal vaccine data, its wealth fund head said.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said on Thursday that hackers backed by the Russian state were trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, allegations the Kremlin denied.
A medical worker wearing protective equipment takes a swab from a woman at a medical facility in Moscow [Kirill Kurudryavtsev/AFP]
09:10 GMT – Hong Kong reports 50 locally transmitted coronavirus cases
Hong Kong authorities have reported 50 locally transmitted coronavirus cases, stoking further concern about an escalating third wave of infections in the global financial hub.
Including imported cases, the number of new cases in the past 24 hours was 58, taking the tally since late-January to 1,714 patients, 10 of whom have died.
08:49 GMT – Indonesia adds 1,462 new coronavirus infections, 84 new deaths
Indonesia has reported 1,462 new coronavirus infections, bringing total cases to 83,130, its health ministry said.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 rose by 84 on Friday to 3,957, ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.
Firefighters wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the National Monument area to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia [File: Antara Foto/Wahyu Putro/Reuters]
08:26 GMT – Two US diplomats among new virus cases in Cambodia
A pair of US diplomats are among five new cases of coronavirus in Cambodia announced by health officials.
All five cases involve people who had travelled from the US. Three are Cambodians who arrived Wednesday via Taiwan, said a Health Ministry statement.
The statement described the two Americans as senior diplomats who had flown from the US via South Korea and also arrived Wednesday.
07:59 GMT – Philippine health ministry reports 17 coronavirus deaths, 1,841 more cases
The Philippines has recorded 17 new coronavirus deaths and 1,841 additional infections, with the capital Manila still accounting for the bulk of newly confirmed cases and casualties.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have reached 1,660 while confirmed infections have risen to 63,001.
07:38 GMT – Australia hopes to lure Hollywood studios with virus success
Australia is hoping its success in dealing with the coronavirus will lure more big-budget Hollywood productions Down Under, with the government announcing incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Promising “lights, camera, jobs”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a 400 million Australian dollar ($280m) boost in cash grants for film productions, a move he said had already piqued the interest of major studios.
“Jerry Bruckheimer’s outfit and Ron Howard’s outfit have already reached out to Australia on the basis of the announcement we have made today,” Morrison said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a 400 million Australian dollar ($280m) boost in cash grants for film productions in the country [File: Patrick Hamilton/AFP]
07:10 GMT – India’s Cadila to end late-stage trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine in March
India’s Zydus Cadila plans to complete late-stage trials for its potential coronavirus vaccine in March 2021 and could produce up to 100 million doses a year if trials are successful, Chairman Pankaj Patel said.
Cadila’s vaccine candidate, dubbed ZyCov-D, is one of dozens being developed around the world to fight the coronavirus.
06:40 GMT – China’s Xinjiang reports five new coronavirus cases
Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, has reported five new coronavirus cases by noon local time (04:00 GMT) on Friday, the regional health commission said.
The city also reported eight new asymptomatic cases, it added, taking Xinjiang’s tally to six infections and 11 asymptomatic patients.
Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheen Rasheed.
05:47 GMT – Israel sets new weekend shutdown
The Israeli government has imposed a new weekend shutdown to lower infection rates, ordering the closure of malls, shops, pools, zoos and museums from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning.
But people will be allowed to leave their homes this weekend, the government said in a statement.
Full weekend lockdowns that could confine people to their homes may be imposed by July 24, after the government gains parliamentary approval for that, Israel Radio reported.
05:22 GMT – Philippines to allow some foreigners to enter from August 1
The Philippines will allow foreign nationals with long-term visas into the country from August 1, the presidential spokesman has said, but they would need to undergo quarantine upon arrival.
Harry Roque, the spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said long-term visa holders refer to foreigners who have valid visas that allow them to live and work in the country.
Applications for new entry visas will not be accepted and returning Filipinos will have priority on inbound flights given existing caps on airport capacity, authorities said.
05:01 GMT – China’s Urumqi cancels flights after positive case
Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, cancelled hundreds of flights on Friday, after the report of its first coronavirus case in about five months fuelled concerns of a potential new outbreak.
Epidemic control measures led to the cancellation of more than 600 scheduled flights, more than 80 percent of the day’s total, at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, figures from aviation data firm Variflight showed.
Urumqi also suspended subway services from late Thursday.
Read more here.
Data taken from information provider Flight Master showed that as of 9:17 am on Fri, 89% of Urumqi airport’s inbound and outbound flights had been canceled, following #Xinjiang’s announcement that it reported one confirmed and three asymptomatic #COVID19 cases in Urumqi. pic.twitter.com/1RsMBnhwrJ
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 17, 2020
04:40 GMT – India’s coronavirus cases cross one million
India’s cases of the new coronavirus crossed the million mark, Ministry of Health data showed on Friday, as infections spread to smaller towns and rural areas following the lifting of a vast lockdown.
Only the United States and Brazil have cases higher than India. India’s total deaths stood at 25,602 the ministry said. Read more here.
A health worker in personal protective equipment in Mumbai, India, on July 14, 2020 [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]
04:19 GMT – Melbourne sees record rise in cases despite lockdown
Australia’s second-biggest city of Melbourne reported a record jump of more than 423 new infections on Friday despite a week-old lockdown of more than five million residents.
Brett Sutton, chief health officer for Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, said there were five more cases in rural parts of the state. The total was higher than any single-day increase in COVID-19 cases for the entire country since late March.
“We have not turned the corner here, worse than that,” he said.
Read more on this story here.
People are seen outside Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station during morning peak hour as the city is in lockdown [James Ross/ AAP Image via Reuters]
04:10 GMT – Georgia governor sues to end cities’ defiance on mask rules
Brian Kemp, governor of the US state of Georgia, is suing Atlanta to block the city from enforcing rules requiring face masks in public and other rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp said in a statement. “I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.”
Meltdowns over masks amid coronavirus outbreak go viral (1:27)
03:54 GMT – US counts 342 child inflammatory syndrome cases
An official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the most recent count shows 342 US children and teens have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to COVID-19 infections.
Dr Ermias Belay told physicians that among the US cases reported as of July 15, the average age was eight and most children were aged between one and 14.
Figures show that 40 percent of the cases were in Latino kids and 35 percent were in Black children. One in four affected children were put on ventilators, but deaths have been rare.
03:18 GMT – CDC extends US ban on cruise ships
The US CDC has extended a ban on cruise ships through to the end of September as coronavirus infections continue to rise across the country, including in the state of Florida.
The no-sail order is scheduled to expire on July 24.
02:55 GMT – US notches yet another record for new cases
The US has reported 68,428 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
In that period, the death toll also climbed by 974, taking the total number of deaths in the country since the pandemic began to 138,201, and the total number of cases to 3,560,364.
Meanwhile, a Reuters tally showed 70,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, while the New York Times said its tally showed more than 75,000 infections in the same period.
02:41 GMT – Canada to spend $14bn on ‘safe restart’ after lockdown
Canada’s federal government will give the 13 provinces and territories more than 19 billion Canadian dollars ($14bn) to help pay for the costs of restarting the economy after several months of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The cash is meant to cover extraordinary costs over the coming six to eight months, Trudeau said in a news conference, and will take care of “the kinds of things that actually really matter to Canadians”, including preparing for a possible “second wave” of contagion.
Measures under the “safe restart agreement” include contact tracing, providing protective equipment to workers, helping struggling municipalities pay operating costs, aiding local transit operators, “safe spaces” for daycare, and improving long-term care for the elderly.
02:25 GMT – New York not ready to open malls, museums yet
New York City will not open malls and museums on Monday even if the city is allowed to move into the next phase of reopening, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, promising more crackdowns on bars and restaurants.
Cuomo said the city is on track to move to the fourth phase of his gradual reopening plan, but said his administration will review the latest infection data and decide by 4pm local time on Friday. The rest of the state is in phase four, which typically permits opening malls and certain arts and entertainment centres and restarting professional sports games without fans.
But Cuomo said no “additional indoor activity” will open in New York in the fourth phase because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus indoors. Cuomo has not allowed New York City to open up indoor dining, unlike the rest of the state.
People drink outside a bar during the reopening phase of COVID-19 outbreak in the East Village neighbourhood in New York City, US [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]
“You see the inside, interior spaces, air-conditioned spaces, where the virus is tending to spread,” Cuomo said in a Thursday conference call with reporters. “So we’re going to take that precaution in New York City.”
01:47 GMT – Algeria plans law to protect medics as attacks rise
Algeria is planning a law to protect health workers after an increase in “physical and verbal attacks” since the country’s coronavirus outbreak began, Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s office has announced.
The incidents have also in some cases involved “acts of damage and destruction of public assets and medical equipment”, Tebboune’s office said in a statement.
01:08 GMT – UK boosts healthcare funding to ward off winter COVID-19 wave
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to pour 3 billion pounds ($3.77bn) into England’s National Health Service (NHS) to try to ward off any resurgence of the coronavirus.
“The prime minister is clear that now is not the time for complacency, and we must make sure our NHS is battle-ready for winter,” a spokesman said before a news conference by Johnson on Friday afternoon.
The UK is the worst-affected country in Europe by COVID-19 with a death toll from confirmed cases of more than 45,000.
Staff at the Leeds General Infirmary participate in a national NHS celebration clap in Leeds on July 5, 2020 [Oli Scarff/ AFP]
00:30 GMT – Brazil cases reach two million, doubling in less than a month
Brazil has passed the two million confirmed coronavirus cases mark, with little sign that the rate of increase is slowing as anger grows over President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the outbreak.
In recent weeks, there have been nearly 40,000 confirmed new cases a day, according to government figures, and it took just 27 days for Brazil’s total caseload to rise from one million to two million cases.
On Thursday, confirmed cases in Brazil totalled 2,012,151, while deaths numbered 76,688.
Experts blame denial of the virus’s deadly potential by Bolsonaro and lack of national coordination combined with scattershot responses by city and state governments, with some reopening earlier than health experts recommended.
00:17 GMT – ‘Step up now or pay price later’: G20 urged to support poor countries
Coronavirus support to poor countries has been so far “grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted”, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said, as he asked wealthy countries for billions more dollars in assistance.
The United Nations increased its humanitarian appeal by more than a third to $10.3bn to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and Latin America, tackle the spread and destabilising effects of the coronavirus. This is up from the world body’s initial $2bn request in March, then $6.7bn in May.
So far, Lowcock said, the UN has received only $1.7bn.
As finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies prepare to meet virtually on Saturday, Lowcock told reporters: “The message to the G20 is step up now or pay the price later.”
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 16, here.